Review: The Avengers Finally Assemble On Screen, But Does Joss Whedon Give Fan's Their Dream Team-Up?

The long wait is over; Earth's mightiest heroes have finally assembled together on the big screen. The moment we’ve been waiting for since Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury first meet Tony Stark in the Iron Man after credits scene. Whether you’re a Marvel fan or not, you can't ignore how big of an event and how monumental The Avengers really is. After a series of amazing origin film including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel Studios hasn't missed a step while envisioning their ultimate goal; the team up of a lifetime. It's almost hard to believe Marvel Studios has really managed to bring this to the big screen, and more importantly just how perfect it was.

As great as it is seeing the ensemble of amazing characters meet up for the first time, it is also incredible seeing all these excellent actor sharing the screen. Robert Downey Jr., as usual, practically steals the show as Tony Stark. If there is anyone who fit their comic book counterpart perfectly, it’s Downey, and of course he offers the same charisma, humor, and sarcasm he has given throughout all the Iron Man series. Stark’s lines in the movie are some of the best, and it also great seeing how he has grown as a character since Iron Man and how he interacts with other character including Bruce Banner, and of course his rivalry with Steve Rogers. For such a key character to this film, both Downey and Whedon did an excellent job at doing him justice in the film, while still keeping this from being a too Iron Man focused film.
One of the biggest surprises of the film was Black Widow’s importance to the story, considering the fact that both in the marketing and in the actual comics she really doesn’t do much. But Whedon makes sure to give her a lot more to say here, and he gives her character a lot more to do this time around in comparison to in Iron Man 2. While I’ve never been a big fan of Scarlett Johansson being chosen to play Black Widow (Considering the fact she isn’t even Russian like the character is supposed to be), her role in The Avengers pretty much changes my mind, she even actually speaks Russian in the film. Johansson does a great job establishing the chemistry between Black Widow and Hawkeye, as well as her relationship with Stark and Banner.
Believe it or not the actual characters in the film that feels less focused on are Captain America and Thor, both of whom got great solo movies last year, and have been heavily marketed as well. Chris Evans does a pretty good job as Steve Rogers, while we do get to see a lot of Rogers confusion of being in a new time period, we really don’t get the full feel of the man out of time aspect that Rogers is going through because of everything else that is going on. Honestly I though Evans did a better job in The First Avenger, but I think that it helped that he was written more in depth there. What Evans does succeed at very well is pulling off the second half of the Stark/Rogers rivalry. While there was no question the RDJ would do great at it, I was a bit worried that Downey would out do Evans in those scenes, but he managed to pull it off well. Evans also does a great job at showing the natural leadership of Rogers, especially during the battle in the second half of the film.
Similar to Evans, Chris Hemsworth was also not as good as Thor as he was in his solo movie, mainly because he wasn’t as important here. I don’t really blame it on Hemsworth as opposed to how Thor was written in the film, but I’ll talk about that later. While Hemsworth doesn’t get as much chemistry with his teammates in comparison to other characters, we do get to see the famous head butting between Thor and the Hulk throughout the film, although it isn’t nearly as complex as the Stark and Rogers rivalry. Hemsworth really shines in some great scenes opposite Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, both of whom have great chemistry and their brother relationship really feels real, such as how Thor still sympathizes over his brother and still sees good in him.
And now I’ll get to the most important performance in the film, the villain, Tom Hiddlestion’s Loki. While we got to see a sort of preview of just how evil Loki could be in Thor, for the most part of the film he really came off as more of an angered son who was betrayed and was looking for revenge, and he was actually a character who you could sympathize for. While this aspect of the character was good to introduce in an origin, in order for him to be a much more menacing antagonist to the Avengers, both Whedon and Hiddleston have really evolved him into a truly evil rival. It seems hard to go from A to B so quickly, but the film does a good job at showing how Loki has grown and what has really driven him to become what he is now. Hiddleston gives a fantastic performance, which could’ve already been predicted from his work in Thor, but here he really has the chance to go all out with Loki. He is by far one of the better superhero villains that we have seen on screen recently, not nearly on the level of Heath Ledger’s Joker of course, but he really makes for a great threatening and vicious mastermind behind the Avengers problems.
One of the most controversial aspects of The Avengers was the last minute recasting of Bruce Banner/Hulk. I personally was a fan of Edward Norton’s portrayal of Bruce in The Incredible Hulk, and I was excited to him meet paths with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. So I must admit I was pretty disappointed to hear the negotiations between him and Marvel fell through. But as soon as I heard Mark Ruffalo was taking his place, I couldn’t have been happier. Ruffalo does a better job then Norton probably would have, he really has great chemistry with the cast, and is able to pull of the shy yet frustrated Bruce Banner. Unlike with Norton he also makes it very believable that when Bruce becomes the Hulk, there is still a little bit of Bruce in there. It helps that the special effects this time around for the Hulk actually carry out a lot of Ruffalo’s features and facial expressions onto Hulk’s face. While it is still Lou Ferrigno voicing Hulk and not Ruffalo, he does get a few lines in there and the size/personality of the Hulk this time around is much more accurate to his comic book counterpart, a version of the character that works much better in the team up with Avengers. Looking back I honestly can’t see Norton’s Hulk working as well as Ruffalo’s, so even if it wasn’t really planned, it ended up working in Marvel’s favor.
The special effects in the movie were really a marvel to watch (No pun intended). Like I said earlier the effect for Hulk this time around weren’t as over the top as The Incredible Hulk, although The Incredible Hulk’s version did look much more muscular and menacing, I think the changes ended up making him much closer to the comic book version (No exactly very tall and ripped, but a more monster like body to him). There are some scenes where the Hulk’s effect do look a little bit shaky, such as when he is in a smaller environment like the Hellacarrier. But by the time we get to the final battle the Hulk couldn’t have been better, providing some of the best action sequences of the film, and even comedic ones.
The aliens in the movie known as the Chitauri have a pretty cool design to them, but while some CGI bits of them were a little bit dodgy, overall the provided a cool and interesting physical opponent for The Avengers. I was a bit disappointed that the Chitauri were sort of generic in the film, not offering as much interest or threat as some other aliens that the Avengers come face to face with in the comics, such as the Skrulls (They can shape shift into anyone and can actually speak). But I can see why Whedon and Marvel didn’t want to go with any aliens that were to big, because due to already having Loki already as the primary villain and time constraints, aliens like the Skrulls couldn’t have been done right in such little time, but they still would’ve been cooler.
A key element to a big blockbuster like this is a score that matches the epic scale of the film, and Alan Silvestri’s score couldn’t have been a better fit. It is able to catch a classic action/adventure vibe to it that will surely be iconic years from now, and while I was nervous that he’s score would be too similar to his Captain America score, it really stand it’s grown as it’s own while still have some hints of Cap’s score in there for some scenes that just involve Rogers. The score slightly reminded me of Henry Jackman’s score for X-Men: First Class which is definitely a good thing because it is the perfect music for a superhero team up film.
Many people will probably say that the hero that didn’t really get their fair share in the film was Hawkeye, considering the fact that he wasn’t even on the team till the end of the film. But honestly I thought the fact that they made him an antagonist for half the film actually helped him get much more screen time than he would’ve if he was just hanging out with the team. So even though he missed out on a lot of the important moments that evolved the team in the first half of the film, his presence there wouldn’t have been of much use anyway. In my opinion the hero that actually didn’t play as a big a role as I was hoping for was Thor. I loved Thor in his solo movie last year, but for some reason here I didn’t feel like he was as involved with the team as he should’ve been. Must of Thor’s standout scenes and dialogue were really between him and Loki, and not him and the team. While I still liked Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal as Thor in the film, and I think he got some great action scenes, I just didn’t feel like he was as big of a part of the team as he should’ve been. Bruce, Tony, Steve, and Natasha all had great dialogue between each other and their relationships with each other were well established, as opposed to Thor who was just sort of there. Maybe it was done on purpose because Thor doesn’t have as much in common with them because he’s a god, but that’s just a guess.
The costumes this time around honestly were a bit disappointing, and they actually felt like a downgrade from their costumes in there solo movies. Captain America’s suit had to be my least favorite, I personally loved Cap’s suit in the First Avenger and I thought it had the right balance between the comic book costumes, as well as actual soldier equipment and a more rough and realistic look. I makes sense that he gets a new suit considering the fact that it’s been seventy years since he last wore it, but I was expecting just slight modifications to the old suit. Unfortunately there was practically nothing left of the old suit, and everything from the helmet to the actual costume looked kind of ridiculous on Chris Evans. I really hope the bring back some of the more realistic and rough design they had the first time around in a sequel.
On the other hand, Iron Man’s suit as usual is fantastic, with many upgrades from his suit in Iron Man 2. We actually get to see two new suits in the film; the Mark VI and Mark VII, but the real main suit in the film is the Mark VII. It definitely offers a much wider variety of weaponry for Stark to us against the Chitauri, including laser beam gauntlets and four missile launchers, which really provide for some great action moments as well as making Iron Man’s physically more equipped to take such powerful enemies. While it is a bit disappointing that we don’t get to see the Hulkbuster armor that was rumored to be in the movie, Whedon makes up for that by making the Mark VII very different from it’s predecessors. Just the way Stark actually puts on the suit is a pretty visually impressive moment in the film, that manages to out do any of the previous ones from the Iron Man franchise.
Hawkeye and Black Widow’s costumes are both pretty basic, considering in the film they are really just agents of SHIELD. Black Widow’s costumes is pretty much identical to her costume in the comics and Iron Man 2, but this time around she has the bullet gauntlets that she uses in the comics. Hawkeye on the other hand doesn’t use his original comic book costume, which is definitely a good thing since the original suit is pretty ridiculous (It’s basically a purple Wolverine suit). It takes influence from Hawkeye’s costume in the ultimate comics, where Hawkeye pretty much just wears sunglasses rather than a mask. Although it did look similar to the Ultimate suit, it actually seemed more simple than that, and in the end his suit was a bit disappointing. His suit looked too much like a basic SHIELD uniform rather than an actual superhero costume, which seemed to have been what they were going for but at the same time kind of misses the point of Hawkeye being considered a superhero in the first place. It did look pretty cool though, for an agent’s uniform, and is was cool to see an upgraded mechanical version of Hawkeye’s arrow dispenser, it was just a little underwhelming.
Thor also had two costumes this time around, one that is more reminiscent of his Ultimate comics’ suit, and the other pretty much the same one he wore in his solo movie. While it was cool to see a version of the Ultimate suit, I was glad that the reverted back to the original suit once we got to the more action packed half of the film. While the first costume was a cool nod to the Ultimate comics, it almost made Thor not even look like a god, as opposed to his original suit that has a lot of more Norse and Viking type armor to it. Thor still doesn’t wear his helmet here, which is a bit disappointing since he wore it for the beginning of Thor, but I wasn’t really expecting him to wear it. Loki’s costume is actually a huge improvement over his previous costume in Thor, unlike Thor he wears his iconic helmet throughout the film. The new costume helps display him as much more godlike and as a leader in comparison to his old suit, and it makes him looks for menacing and royal, which is an actual change Loki’s character has gone through since Thor.
With so many amazing characters fighting side by side, well performed quotable scenes, none stop action, and an after credits scene that will leave some comic book fans speechless, it's safe to say Joss Whedon and Marvel have done it. In the end, Marvel was successfully able to pull off one of the biggest cinematic events ever through The Avengers, meshing all these popular heroes and storylines all into one epic film. This is just the beginning for Marvel's cinematic universe as we now wait for what's to come from the heroes own sequels including Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, and of course all the other beloved Marvel characters that have now have had the door to the MCU opened for them including the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and many more. The possibilities for the MCU are endless, your move DC.

I give The Avengers 4.5 Out of 5 stars:

And if you haven't seen it yet here's the trailer for The Avengers:
What did you think of The Avengers? Did it live up to your expectations?