“The Avengers” stormed onto big screens nationwide last weekend, and the highly hyped and eagerly awaited film boasting some of Marvel’s most prominent superheroes proved to be well worth the wait because it offers viewers a veritable feast of breathtaking action, stupendous adventure, tremendous battles, spectacular pyrotechnics, and mind-boggling special effects. What more could you ask for the price of admission?
As the film begins, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in the middle of a crisis at an isolated S.H.I.E.L.D. outpost where an emergency evacuation is under way. A powerful and mysterious energy source known as the Tesseract has self-activated and opened an outer space portal that allows Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Norse god of war, to return from exile. Loki wastes no time in stealing the Tesseract and using his powers of mind control to force Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Professor Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) into helping him escape.
Loki makes his way to Germany, where he wants to obtain a material that will stabilize the Tesseract. Realizing the threat Loki poses to mankind, Fury sends Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to Germany to capture him and bring him back. While Loki is incarcerated, some of his buddies are working to create a wormhole so that some aliens that he met in exile can destroy the Earth. All this sets up a giant confrontation between Loki and his alien army and the Avengers in New York City. And what a battle it is!
Joining Captain America, Iron Man, and Hawkeye on team Avengers are Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) along with his alter ego the Hulk. Now what is interesting about the way the story develops is that before they all band together to fight a common enemy, the superheroes show that they also have egos to match their powers because they end up insulting each other and even in some cases fighting. This is both exciting and humorous because some of the barbs they trade are really funny. Note especially a conversation between Iron Man and Captain America.
Now if you are a superhero fan, you know that Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk all have had their own movies, but what makes this film so much fun is that we get to see all of them joined by Hawkeye and Black Widow in the same movie. Without exception, each actor in the role of a superhero is superb. All of them have ample opportunity to exhibit their respective powers, and they certainly deliver. Although I enjoyed watching every one of them, my favorite in this movie is the Hulk. At one point he grabs the enemy, and the result is as funny as it is violent. I actually laughed out loud during this scene.
“The problem is most of them have already been introduced. The real joy of most superhero movies is that origin story because it’s that moment of ‘Oh, I have this power. I can do this. I can right this wrong, or stand up for someone.’ That glorious moment. I don’t have that. These people have been introduced in the other movies. We may not know that much about them. Hawkeye basically had a few lines in ‘Thor,’ but there isn’t anybody who’s going to be like, ‘Gosh, what’s this vat of radioactive acid doing here. Oh my gosh! I have superpowers!’
“That part of the story is gone. So what I’ve got is a bunch of more or less seasoned professionals: professional soldier, professional billionaire superhero, professional god. It’s an oddly mature movie, and I don’t just mean that it’s thoughtful, though I hope that it is. It’s about grown-ups. There’s an adolescent nature to the origin story that these guys don’t necessarily share. This is more about people who live in the world trying to deal with what they become, not about becoming it — except for the Avengers themselves, the team. It’s the origin of a team.”
As good as all the actors portraying the superheroes are, however, it is Hiddleston as the evil Loki who just about steals the show. The unmitigated arrogance he brings to the part is fabulous, and in a recent interview, he offered an interesting analysis of his character.
“At the end of ‘Thor’ Loki has not just let go of the rainbow bridge. He’s let go of Asgard emotionally, philosophically, and metaphorically. He doesn’t need Thor and Odin and the whole Asgardian deal anymore. That’s behind him. So he’s been around the block of the universe, and he’s made some shady deals, and he’s come to earth to subjugate it, to subjugate the human race and rule as their king. So he’s going to turn the planet earth into his own personal kingdom, and it takes every Avenger to stop him.
“Just in terms of the journey he’s been on between the end of ‘Thor’ and the beginning of ‘The Avengers,’ it’s almost like he’s been out on the streets, and he’s become a kind of like Asgardian gangster. But also I haven’t let go of the fact that he’s still motivated by this spiritual desolation. He’s still tragically jealous. He still feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere, and his reaction to that is if I don’t belong anywhere else, I’m going to find somewhere and make myself belong to it by having them worship me. So like all delusional fascistic autocrats of human history he thinks that absolute power will give him self-respect. And it almost does, but then the Avengers kind of step in and spoil the party.”
Fans of Marvel Comics and of all the heroes in that stable should revel in “The Avengers,” which gets a final score of eight. It offers fun-filled action from beginning to end, and I would be willing to bet that a sequel is already in the planning stages. I say, “Bring it on!”