Out of all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers is arguably the one that had the biggest pressure and expectation on it pre-release. After years of building up The Avengers and numerous teases toward this big, cinematic event in each film prior, Director Joss Whedon had a seemingly impossible task of bringing these mighty heroes together in a way that felt organic and consistent to the Marvel Universe. Armed with the usual dose of humour and excitement that makes these films so endearing, The Avengers not only succeeds in producing a 2 hour+ action blockbuster, it does so with enough flair along the way to make it a film that stands on its own, as well as part of a larger whole.
Picking up after the events of Thor, The Avengers sees a climactic fight with mischievous God Loki erupt over the arrival of the mysterious artefact, The Tesseract. Courtesy of S.H.I.E.L.D bringing Steve Rodgers (Captain America), Bruce Banner (Hulk), Thor and Tony Stark (Iron Man) together, Earth’s mightiest heroes join together to fight for humanity’s future. Unfortunately the contrasting ideologies of our heroes early on causes in-fighting and feuds to overshadow the main conflict.
As the film progresses, all of this builds up to the climactic showdown for Earth’s salvation as Loki calls forth the power of an alien army to enslave humanity. for the most part, the story is essentially split into two halves; the first seeing the Avengers learning to work together and the second battling together for a greater cause.
What’s particularly impressive with The Avengers is the way it handles all of its big personalities with ease, while shining a spotlight on every single individual character and giving them a good enough arc to continue their journies without it ever feeling contrived or forced. Both Hawkeye and Black Widow are given meaty roles here and both come into the foreground a lot more, which is a nice touch.
Some of the best stories are those that stick to the rigid structure of the three-arc plot and The Avengers stubbornly adheres to this throughout its 140 minute run time. In doing so, the film never feels like it drags or outstays its welcome, with a perfectly structured story injected with some cleverly timed action set-pieces right on the cusp of the film starting to stagnate a little.
Ultimately, it’s these action segments that stand out the most and along with the climactic fight at the end for Earth’s salvation (and that now-iconic rotating shot of our heroes), the early little skirmishes and brawls are some of my favourites in the film as they really show off the power each of our heroes wield without ever needing to tell us through exposition. It’s such a clever trick and between Thor throwing Mjölnir at Hulk and knocking him down or Tony Stark swooping in with his suit and blasting Thor with a barrage of lasers, these moments do more than just show the fractured alliances between superheroes, they demonstrate the limitations and strengths of their power and personalities. Because of this, the film flows a lot better than it otherwise would and it’s partly the reason The Avengers works as well as it does.
After years of waiting and built up expectation, The Avengers delivers an impressive and cohesive blockbuster event. The action scenes are well shot, with gorgeous cinematography that keeps the film feeling suitably epic and visually striking. The story never feels bloated or overlong and although the final fight with Loki is a little anticlimactic, it’s easy to look past these gripes in what’s otherwise a very solid and impressive film.