Whoo! Big team up! Now that we’ve established each of our heroes’ origin stories, let’s throw them all into a box and mix them up together! Let’s see how this one holds up!
The Avengers (2012)
Overview: When Loki shows up on Earth and steals the tesseract, Nick Fury revisits the Avengers initiative to combat Loki’s powers, not knowing that Loki has an entire alien army waiting to attack Earth.
Joss Whedon’s script juggles a whole lot of bowling pins and manages to keep everything aloft pretty well. The script is hilarious at times, and at others, it feels like its trying too hard to be clever/funny, but overall, it’s pretty fantastic.
It leaves room for the actors to expand their characters while keeping the focus on moving the plot forward. I feel like I still prefer Iron Man when he’s in Jon Favreau’s hands, but other than that, this is a surprisingly dense script for such an explode-y movie.
This one blends the visual styles of literally every MCU film that came before it. When we first meet Tony, he’s fixing something.; Steve is boxing in a warmly lit sepia-esque room; and Bruce’s first transformation is in a darkened industrial environment. The characters are all given great looks and equal focus. And I love the organic baroque design of the Chitauri and their technology. And, of course, that final battle is one of the greatest action sequences ever.
My only complaint is that there are several darkly lit low contrast scenes don’t really show up well unless you’re in a completely dark room.
Other than that, it looks wonderful. And I like how it tones down the gloss in favor of more gritty realism. Stark’s suit, Cap’s shield, Thor’s armor: they all get suitably weathered by the end of the final battle.
The Villain: 9/10
I guess the REAL villain is Thanos who gives Loki the scepter, and The Other commands the Chitauri army, but Loki is the villain most often in the spotlight. And I love how his character is humanized here. He’s still blustery and insecure, but we get to see him get taken down a notch (or several) in this one. We see him change from beginning to end, and in the process, we grow to like him better. I love the moment when he realizes that he’s just being used by the Chitauri, and that he’s not going to get anything ultimately. This sets the stage for his downright amazingness in Thor: The Dark World.
Once the character turns away from trying to prove himself and embraces full on chaos, that’s when he really shines, and this represents a crucial step in his character development.
Plus, that insane demonic grin he sports when he first shows up at the beginning.
Count: I seriously stopped counting during the battle for New York. It was like forty something.
This is a very boom-y film and they are all suitably incredible. We’ve got the explosion in the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility at the beginning, the shockwave resulting from Mjolnir meeting Cap’s shield, the attack on the helicarrier, the attack on New York, the nuclear blast at the end. It’s all good. There’s not really much in the way of a deeper meaning represented by the explosions…but they’re really cool, you guys!
Favorite explosion: When Iron Man zooms through the big flying thingy and blows it up from the inside.
The Hero’s Journey: 8/10
There’s a lot so let’s do this in alphabetical order.
Black Widow: We get more backstory for her and she really feels like a fully realized character by the end of this (whereas she was just action eye candy in Iron Man 2). I love her first scene where she’s interrogating the guys who are interrogating her. Her ability to feign weakness so others say too much is a great one and also helps her get information from Loki. I just love her.
Captain America: I love how this one sets the stage for Steve’s conflict with those in charge who have less-than-honorable intentions. Plus, we get to see him rise to the role of leader.
Hawkeye: This is really the character’s introduction, and we get a good arc for him where he starts out falling under Loki’s control and then we grow to trust him again. Plus, he has some really amazing moments in the final battle.
Hulk: I don’t really mind the re-casting of Bruce because Mark Ruffalo is amazing, though I wish they hadn’t reset the character’s growth back to zero. When Bruce starts this film, he’s still out of control, and then for the final battle, he’s in control again. I love the character, but it’s clear the writer’s don’t really know of any other arcs to give the character.
Iron Man: I do like how Tony goes from prickly loner to team member. Plus, his big act of almost-self-sacrifice at the end is important for the character for his next film.
Thor: Thor doesn’t have much of an arc in this one. He’s already a team player, so he’s just sort of the reliable muscle. He and Loki have some great moments, but he doesn’t really grow at all.
Let’s see how this adds up!
Score and Rank
1. The Avengers (45/50) (New number 1!)
2. Iron Man (43/50)
3. Captain America: The First Avenger (40/50)
4. Thor (39/50)
5. The Incredible Hulk (34/50)
6. Iron Man 2 (33/50)