The thing about superhero movies is they’re usually heavy on the action and special effects, and light on actual plot and character development. Going into The Avengers, I was apprehensive that there would be almost no plot, something I thought was even more likely given the number of superheroes in it. It seemed to me it would be a battle of the egos between Ironman, Thor and Captain America, with some gratuitous action sequences featuring ScarJo in a leather outfit so tight, it appears to have been painted onto her skin. The Avengers did, indeed, deliver all of that but where it surprised me was in the very present and interesting plot, something I didn’t expect. Which isn’t to say there weren’t holes. There were. And there were plenty of campy lines and over-the-top action. But there was a story in there, a good one, in fact, and some of the most entertaining, plain old fun performances we’ve seen at the cinema in a long time.
Robert Downey, Jr. is PERFECT as the egomaniacal genius philanthropist billionaire playboy Tony Stark. Despite the fact that a guy like him would be insufferable in real life, he’s a joy to watch on screen. ScarJo gave the weakest performance (though still decent) but I found the relationship between her character, The Black Widow, and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner, who continues to impress) intriguing. In fact, I’d pay to see a movie dedicated to telling their story. Chris Evans sells the all-American boy-turned-superhero and Chris Hemsworth is a perfect blend of delicious eye candy and noble heroics. The real stand-out, in my opinion, is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (and, of course, The Hulk). We’ve seen several actors try with this role but they all seemed to miss the mark. Ruffalo, on the other hand, had that whole uncontrollable rage simmering just below the surface thing down pat. For my money, the interactions between Banner and Tony Stark were some of the most entertaining moments in the film.
The other performance worthy of special notice was that given by the movie’s villain, Loki, played to perfection by Tom Hiddleston. We saw him back in Thor and got a taste of what he’s capable of but The Avengers really gave him his time to shine. He explained his theory about humans wanting to be ruled with such icy confidence, I totally bought his crazy. He and adopted brother, Thor, shared a few of the movie’s most emotional moments, during which his impenetrable coldness made him a wonderful villain.
Writer and director Josh Whedon (who recently gave us the surprisingly entertaining Cabin In The Woods) has proven himself capable of writing a plot at once fun and fast and also strong enough to support a cast full of larger-than-life characters. The blend of action and humor kept up the movie’s pace without ever letting it take itself too seriously. I wouldn’t put it in the same class as The Dark Knight, which created a whole league of its own, but I did enjoy the hell out of it. So much so, in fact, I’ve already seen it twice.