THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS
The Avengers (I am not calling it Avengers Assemble) is the crossover that started the trend of studios desperately trying to build their own cinematic universes. The film is often hailed among the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and for good reason.
The Avengers brings together the heroes of the first phase of the MCU, to defend the Earth from an alien invasion.
Director, Joss Whedon, manages to expertly handle the character interactions amongst the heroes. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse or Firefly. As you’d expect from six larger-than-life people, all with different ideals, the characters initially clash, however, throughout the film, the characters begin to bond and develop a respect for each other. The relationships between the characters are well developed, as the film takes its time to make their friendship believable.
Continuing that, it’s no surprise that the entire cast has excellent chemistry together. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, takes on the role of the lead character in The Avengers, naturally as his film was the starting point for the entire MCU. However, every cast member gets their moment to shine and not just the major characters, with smaller characters such as Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Phil Coulson (Clark Cregg) having great individual moments. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is arguably the standout performer as he gets a chance to further showcase his talents, which The Avengers heavily relies upon. Loki’s desperate quest for power is one of the most compelling storylines within the MCU and The Avengers manages to utilise that storyline better than the Thor films.
The script, written by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon, does a fantastic job of introducing the team during the first act. It establishes the characters’ dynamics and personalities in a certain way that makes the film easily understandable for those who have not seen the previous MCU films. Another aspect that the script excels at is the humour. The Avengers is filled with jokes, none of which fall flat. There is an extremely memorable cameo from the late-great Harry Dean Stanton which after 20-plus viewings, still brings a smile to my face.
The action set pieces are brilliantly crafted and are thoroughly entertaining. The standout action is, of course, the ‘Battle of New York’. Watching the heroes taking on an alien army is enough to bring out the child in all of us. The final confrontation isn’t the only excellent action scene with the initial meeting of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor being another standout and memorable moment. Joss Whedon perfectly combines action with his rather genius sense of humour, which adds further enjoyment to the experience.
However, The Avengers does have its flaws. The film is very poorly paced. Unlike most MCU films which seem to fly-by, The Avengers feels a lot longer than its already long, 143 minutes runtime. There are several scenes that ultimately feel unnecessary and could have been cut as the film really could have benefited from being 15 minutes shorter.
Also for a film that had a budget of $220 million, it looks rather cheap, as The Avengers is plagued with poor CGI and rather amateur-looking production and costume design (Cap’s costume is just awful). The Avengers, specifically the ‘Battle of New York’ sequence is overly reliant on CGI which simply does not do justice to the film’s blockbuster budget.
Lastly, there is one major flaw that left both fans and cast member Jeremy Renner frustrated, and that is relegating Clint Barton/Hawkeye to the sidelines for the majority of the runtime. Hawkeye spends far too much time as Loki’s brainwashed slave rather than getting his own development as a hero. That being said, when he does break free from Loki’s spell, he is delightful to watch.
In the end, The Avengers is one of the most entertaining comic book films ever made and remains one of the strongest entries in the MCU to date. Joss Whedon’s fingerprints are all over it and he proves himself to be what of the most interesting directors working today. The Avengers will be remembered as a film which pulled off a feat considered to be impossible, by studios executives and audiences alike.