In a shameless attempt to get screener copies of upcoming movies, I’d like to share my thoughts on the recent blockbuster, The Avengers. While technically released by Paramount in conjunction with Marvel Studios, The Avengers does have a single distribution credit for Disney Pictures at the very end of the credits. To no one’s surprise, the opening night of The Avengers proved quite profitable with an estimated $80,517,000 in ticket sales on Friday alone.
Update: The Avengers shattered box office records for an opening weekend, earning an estimated $200.3 million. The previous high was Deathly Hallows Part 2 at $169,189,427.
Last August, I had the good fortune of seeing the Disney Studios presentation at the D23 Expo. The Avengers assembled on stage at the Anaheim Convention center as they showed the teaser trailer and an extended clip. Some awkwardness ensued surrounding Robert Downey, Jr. at the event but that turned out to be linked to the presentation’s stage manager trying to wrap up the presentation instead of letting the cast have a chance to speak.
Prior to seeing The Avengers on Friday May 4th, I wanted to make sure I had enough of the back story to get by. I’m not a big comic book fan, but I did watch Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor. In terms of best to worst rankings, I would probably rank them as I listed them, they were all enjoyable and technologically and visually appealing. My expectations for The Avengers was that it would be as good if not better than the original Iron Man and I feel that it succeeded in that. I was also pleased to see that Iron Man director Jon Favreau was an executive producer on The Avengers.
Joss Whedon (co-writer and director) did an exceptional job bringing together the collection of leading actors and actresses for this film. As many of our fans know, I’m a big fan of comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla. Adam Carolla has stated on multiple occasions that the place where many sequels go wrong is that they lack the slow build that made whatever preceded it successful. In a movie like Jaws, everyone went into the movie looking forward to seeing the shark. But they didn’t show the shark in the first scene. Ominous music led up to the reveal of the shark, and when it finally comes on screen it’s that much more exciting. While The Avengers isn’t a true sequel, all of the characters had their backstories explained in previous movies, and with the exception of The Incredible Hulk, the actor remained the same. So with that said, I was looking forward to two things going into this movie:
- All of The Avengers assembling
- When would we see The Hulk?
In both cases, there was a build up. At this point, I’ll be referring to specific content in the movie so if you want to avoid any spoilers you may want to stop reading. Individual members of The Avengers would appear on screen either by themselves or with another person, but it was well into the movie before The Avengers truly assembled. Additionally, the conversion of Bruce Banner into The Hulk was treated as an integral plot point, once again building up expectations. In both cases this was done very well.
In favor of a scene by scene review, my preference would be to bullet point my likes and dislikes of the movie.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor was a bit too dramatic. I recognize that this was part of his role though, and I think they recognized this with a few good one liners on Thor’s behalf. In one situation, Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man refers to Thor fighting as “Shakespeare in the Park” and when The Avengers assembled, Tony Stark refers to Thor as, “Point Break”.
- Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury reminded me an awful lot of Mace Windu from the new Star Wars trilogy. While not necessarily a bad thing, it was hard for me to separate the characters other than that Nick Fury had an eye patch and Mace Windu wore a robe.
- Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. I don’t know what it is about him, but I really haven’t liked him in anything. Part of that is that he often takes the role of an unlikeable character. In The Avengers he switches between being a villain and a hero after being manipulated by Loki. With his weapon of choice being a bow and arrow, there seems to have been very exaggerated motions with the weapon, and many of his dramatic moments seemed far more out of place and unbelievable than any of the other Avengers. This could be a lack of knowledge of Hawkeye’s backstory, but I had less of an issue with a demi-God drawing lightening from a hammer than I did with Hawkeye shooting an arrow in mid-air.
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki was fantastic. He had a great evil grin and while he was far from the biggest name in the movie, he was the primary driver of the story.
- Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk was a very pleasant surprise. As Bruce Banner, he played the nerdy scientist role very well. As a character that hasn’t worked in previous movies, The Hulk stole the show at many times. Some of the better lines in the movie centered around Bruce Banner and The Hulk as well. After The Hulk jumped on a plane, the line, “I think he’s angry” was uttered. And during his second transformation into The Hulk, Bruce Banner explains, “The secret is, I’m always angry.”
- Scarlett Johansson’s butt.
- Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson. I first saw Clark Gregg in a short lived Aaron Sorkin show, Sports Night and have been a fan ever since. While serving a valuable roll in assisting Nick Fury, Agent Phil Coulson also provides comedic relief just by the timing of his appearances. Additionally, his infatuation with Captain America made for some of the best comedy in the movie.
- Chris Evans as Captain America. While I don’t think he stood out, I do feel that Chris Evans was solid in this role. The fact that Captain America was frozen for a period of time made for a few amusing one liners, but may have been played out by the end of the movie.
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man. He was everything you would expect. While some of his comedic moments may have been a bit overwritten, there were others that were genuinely funny. The movie wouldn’t have worked without him.
All in all, this was a very solid effort. On the heels of recent blockbuster failures by Disney, this was a very strong rebound. The problem is, Disney was barely attached to the project. I’m not sure how much of the credit goes to Disney Studios for this production, but nonetheless I was entertained.
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