The summer movie season just got cranked up to 11 with the release of Marvel’s “The Avengers” on May 4. This film has everything a summer movie needs to be successful and has helped comic book movies reach a new standard, only seen before in Christopher Nolan’s soon-to-be-finished “Batman” trilogy.
The credit for the success of “The Avengers” must go to director Joss Whedon, previously known by fans only for his shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” (and the movie spin-off “Serenity”) and “Dollhouse.” Whedon proves you don’t have to be a big name to make a spectacular action film, you just have to know how to direct. He was able to create one of the most fun, easy-to-follow end-of-movie fight scenes that has been created in awhile.
Whedon not only directed the movie, but also wrote the script, which is surprisingly funny and entertaining. The man has a gift for storytelling. He is able to combine all of the best parts of previous films into one timeline that makes sense. It helps if you have watched the earlier films, especially “Thor,” but for the most part even the non-geeks will be able to understand this movie.
The film kicks off with a bang, literally. Whedon wastes no time getting into the action as Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steals the tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. The tesseract comes from Thor’s planet and is an energy source that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is trying to harness.
From there, the need for a team arises and Fury and Agent Coulson (a hysterical Clark Gregg) gather the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes, to get back the tesseract and save the planet. If only they can learn to get along first. The witty banter ensues as the heroes, and their alter egos, learn to work together.
Despite the fact that the cast is jam-packed with the who’s who of superhero actors, there is not one who outshines the other. Sure, Robert Downey, Jr. is a standout in his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, making fun of Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hair and Captain America’s (Chris Evans) age, but here he seems to have met his match in Bruce Banner/the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo.
While Ruffalo lacks the darkness of previous Hulk actor Edward Norton, he brings a new kind of controlled anger that makes the character all his own. Ruffalo is given some of the funniest moments of the film and becomes a welcome addition.
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow also become well-developed characters, even in the small span of one film.
While “The Avengers” may not be as deep as some other films being released this year, it certainly is a fun ride. It’s what a summer movie should be: full of action, quotable lines and great characters. Go see the film, you won’t regret it. If you do, make sure to stick around. After all, the No. 1 rule of a superhero film nowadays is: Do not leave the theater until after the credits roll.