"Avengers" review

I got to see "Marvel's The Avengers" at the theater on Saturday, and have been very slow in getting up my review. Which is a shame, because everything I would have said has already been said multiple times, but I wanted a good excuse to talk to my fellow geeks about it. So here goes!

The Wasp Version (i.e. short but hot): It was great! Not the best super-hero movie ever, but right up there. Awesome ending extended action sequence that was everything any fan could have ever hoped for, plenty of laughs, enough quality character moments to make followers of each individual Avenger happy, and an extremely impressive overall presentation. A+!

The Wonder Man Version (poorly dressed but mighty): I say this isn't the greatest super-hero movie of all time only because, in my personal opinion, several other smaller films were more moving or affecting, like "Iron Man" and "Dark Knight". But it's still crazy good.

Look, I won't waste your time dissecting the entire movie because you should just go to see it already. If you're on this site, it's probably because you love super hero stuff. And if you love super hero stuff, you'll love the film. When we were kids reading comics and imaging how awesome it would be to see in live action, this is the movie we were hoping for. Only better.

Explosions galore, characters kicking ass, fantastic in-jokes, all the stuff that makes us love comic books is there. I used to think there was simply no way to make a team super hero movie work, at least for a team like the Avengers or the Justice League, made up of disparate characters from various parts of the company brought together in an "All Star" format. Too many characters in too many competing costumes, and trying to deal with all of that while also having a plot? No way. Unmakeable. Impossible, I always thought. Yes, you can do "X-Men" or "The Incredibles", groups that were made from scratch to be together. But the Avengers? Nunh-unh.

Folks, Joss Whedon done kicked the ever-lovin' crap out of THAT notion. If this doesn't finally elevate him to the top tier of directors then there's no justice in the world. And major kudos to the Marvel Studio, which has managed to keep the thread alive through five previous movies, all with this ultimate goal in mind.

Clocking in at a hefty 2:22, I never really got bored or anxious. It moves at a nice clip, and while I can see how people who don't know anything about the characters might be a bit lost, I don't care about them. It's a comics-lover's wet dream.

The standouts for me were the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. Yes, Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic as always, but we've come to expect that from him. I was most nervous about Ruffalo's Banner going into the movie, since I thought Ed Norton Jr. was so outstanding in the last installation. But Ruffalo knocked it out of the park. His physical mannerisms, from the wringing of his hands to the slightly hunched posture, all brought a new dimension to the character that I just loved. And his signature line as he dashed into combat was an instant classic.

The back story of the Black Widow and Hawkeye provided the movie's heart, in my opinion, giving us some people to care about beyond "how hard can they hit the bad guy". I was especially impressed with how they fleshed out Hawkeye's role, because let's face it, in a world with Iron Man's repulsor beams and Thor's magic lightning, what the hell good is a bow and arrow? But I was a believer by the end.

Random bits I liked:
• Hulk and Loki in the Stark Tower penthouse. Laugh out loud funny and awesome.
• Hulk rampaging through the helicarrier after Black Widow. Genuinely tense.
• Everything Agent Coulson.
• Thor & Hulk going at it on the helicarrier.
• Black Widow's interrogation techniques.
• Seeing Stark and Potts together again.
• Cut-off blue jean shorts. Yummers.
• "Hang on, Legolas."

The Mockingbird Version (stuff I didn't like):
I thought that out of all the characters, Thor got the shortest shrift. Not a lot of great moments, not much humor, not much visceral impact besides the aforementioned tete-a-tete with Hulk on the helicarrier. And trust me, anything with Hulk in it automatically gets a +20 Awesomeness Bonus to its roll. Thor wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but out of the entire cast that role had the least meat on its bones. Which, given Chris Hemsworth's impressive physique, is NOT easy to do.

In terms of plot, let's be real, the ending was fairly hackish. Not that I mind, because coming off the nonstop super-powered fisticuffs and massive property damage immediately preceding it, they could've ended this thing with an attack of the Laser Cats and I'd still be happy.

However -- and I don't want to spoil anything here -- I was a little let down that apparently the bad guys bought their ship from Vader's Discount Megaships. 'Nuff said.

I thought Samuel L. Jackson mostly phoned it in. He's still great, but we didn't get a lot of "Hell yeah!" moments out of him.

I never really understood Loki's whole plan with the helicarrier. I mean (SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!), Hawkeye almost brought the entire ship down with one arrow. Let the guy shoot one more and it's all over, why the need for this elaborate ruse that had us spending so much time on that ship? It all smacked of MacGuffin chasing in a way, sort of a pointless exercise. But it was fun, so I can overlook it.

The Hulk Version (where we SMASH this review to a satisfyingly crunchy conclusion):
Nitpicks aside, the movie is a ton of fun; I can't think of a better way to spend two hours inside as the temperatures climb. At least, ways that don't involve writhing green extraterrestrials and a healthy dose of me as James T. Kirk.

Go see it. Stay till the last of the credits roll. And bring your big kid diapers because you're not going to want to miss a moment.

17 Responses to "Avengers" review

  1. Dan says:

    Completely agree about Thor, I would have liked them to actually show how he got back to Earth instead of just giving us a throw away line about Odin using Dark Magic. Other than that, I loved this movie. I have to respectfully disagree about it not being the greatest SUperhero movie ever. To me, it blows Dark Knight away. And I love me some Dark Knight. I’m a hugh Nolan fan, and I don’t even care that Rises will be out this year. My only real complaint about this movie is that it was so awesome, it makes me not want to watch other superhero movies because they just don’t measure up. As far as the story goes, I thought it was great. Yes, Loki’s plot may have been overly complicated, but it made it feel like he was just weaving a typical Loki web of deceit. And I don’t know how much we’re doing on spoilers here, so I won’t give away the big one, but seeing that character in a movie was probably the most amazing thing ever. I really want to go on about it, but just in case someone is living under a rock and doesn’t know what it is, I don’t want to be the one to spill the beans. A++ from me.

  2. Susie Q says:

    Thank you, THANK YOU, for putting “SPOILERS” plainly before all the spoily bits. I didn’t even accidentally read them as I scrolled by. Whew. Maybe I’ll even get to go see it in honor of Mothers’ Day…

  3. Gene says:


    I think that besides having the Hulk smash the helicarrier, he wanted the team fractured. Whether Hulk did it bu killing one of them, or they all just lost heart over working together.

    Loki is sneakier than hell, and Hiddleson pulls it of well. A great villain – I like the way he was played in Thor, and loved the way he pulled it off in The Avengers.

    I’m not so sure that Loki let anything slip to Widow – it seems like he let it slip to set things in motion.

    All in all Great movie, definitely my favorite superhero movie – Joss did an outstanding job.

  4. rex says:

    avengers was awesome my favorite part was when hulk grabbed loki an kept smashing him on the ground

  5. Robert L says:

    The movie was brilliantly laid out. I agree there were a few minor kinks here and there, but in all it kept you entertained. One thing I loved the most was it constantly kept you hooked and with no real dull moments, wether you were dying from laughter or going “HOLY S***” the movie never slowed down enough for you to even realise.

    One of the downfalls I found was I was (this next paragraph is a SPOILER!!) a little disappointed in the fight between the Capt, Ironman, and Thor ended so quickly, would’ve be awesome to see them really go at it.

    (Spoiler) Another thing was definitly what Jeff commented on about Thor, he didn’t stand out as much as the other Heroes (Even Hawkeye played a larger part), but He definitly saved him self with the bout between Hulk and taking a cheap shot from him after bringing down the dragon-like-beast (definitely the funniest moment in that movie).

    One of my favorite things is definitly Hawkeyes Outfit change, instead of looking like a purple…i dont even know what to call it. The black with the simple purple stripe was a definite plus for him. Plus i love the quill he has, definitly want one of those for my bow, if they exist. Not to mention how awesome he was with the bow.

    Ruffalo was a worry for me too, I agree that Norton really hit it out of the park as Banner, definitly topping Bana. But Ruffalo definitly won me over with how he toned his voice (the mix of nervous with a bit of sarcasm, like he’s constantly struggling to keep himself from losing it) as well as his actions and nervous motions. He is a winner by my standards, and made the Hulk his own.

    Now Capt, a bad*** soldier out of date with the society he lived in, Evans kept that true, especially in his choice of clothing and his persoanlity. It made me laugh when he showed how old Captian America really was, with little comments and even Robert Downey Jr making comments. Yet even years behind, Captian showed that one thing never changed, and that was how to be a real leader.

    Iron man next, seeing as Robert Downey Jr as been the only one of the cast that already had two movies of the same hero under his belt (Hulk may have more movies, but each one was a new actor, so he doesn’t count). We already knew what to expect from Downey, but even so he gave new material with the same attitude. So not much I can say except awesome job keeping Tony Stark as humorous and funny as the first movie.

    Black Widow was as bad*** as she was sexy. Johanson made her her own. Can’t say much since I don’t really follow Widow, but i can if anybody could potray a sexy SHIELD agent who had looks that killed…LITERALLY….it was Johanson.

    (Spoiler) I feel sorry for the woman who played Agent Hill, since I have read the Civil War series and have grown a distaste for the character, but thankfully she was just a MINOR role in this one.

    Cant say much about Nick fury that Jeff didnt already say so I’m just going to say that he had a couple cool moments but in all he was mainly just a figurehead.

    The last part of the movie I enjoyed was how well they colaborated the heroes into the movie. Instead of it being just one hero and rest as back up, each one (well of course minus thor) had their own moments and weaved together easily, even with the distbutes and disagreements of the heroes, in the end they truely…Assembled.

    Plus Agent Coulson definitly tied the movie together, he was the best.

  6. MaDPac says:

    Watched it in a not-so-crappy CAM format that’s around the web and liked it a lot. Can’t wait to be back in the city to watch it in IMAX and… have my mind blown away!

  7. McKnight57 says:

    Some of the greatest superhero lines came from this movie. Both from Tony and Hulk…
    Tony Stark/Iron Man: His name was Phil!!

    Bruce Banner/Hulk: Puny god…

  8. Malfar says:

    I liked the movie, although I prefer DC. And Hulk’s “Puny god” line is even better in Russian. Oh, and that nice moment when Hulk punched Thor after fighting off some poor aliens.

    One moment for me was better than almost anything else – when Hulk cought Iron Man falling (and then made him wake up by growling). That’s because I saw it already – you know, on Youtube, video in which Spidey, Iron Man and Hulk fight off giant killer robots.

  9. X-stacy says:

    I really do love this movie, in a way I probably never will the Nolan Batman movies, great as they are. It brings the fun, and I really miss the fun when it’s…well…missing.

    Banner/Hulk probably had the best bits, which surprised me, both because the previous Hulk movies have…not been fantastic and because I’ve never seen a movie Ruffalo’s in that I’ve liked. Turns out that totally wasn’t his fault! (…which makes me feel slightly bad for rooting for a different actor to play Banner in each and every movie the Hulk appears in, just for a laugh–I figure even the dimmer people in the audience would get the joke by the sixth or seventh film, when Grace Park took the Banner job and the Hulk was still a big green guy.)

  10. xavierking5 says:

    “Puny god.”

  11. Patriot_Missile says:

    (SPOILERZ!) I understood my buddy when he said, “It shoulda been called ‘Iron Man & Friends'”. But after watching it a second time Stark makes it clear that they all should follow Captain America’s lead, even though he never commanded “Avengers, assemble!”. This movie is a 9.8 out of 10 for not giving Thor more lines and especially for killing Agent Phil Coulsen. I hope the Avengers roster doubles for the next movie and it includes Black Panther and at least two estrogen riddled superheroes. Excelsior, indeed..!

  12. Dan says:

    I hope the Avengers roster doubles for the next movie and it includes Black Panther and at least two estrogen riddled superheroes.

    Yeah, I’m kinda hoping they use Ms. Marvel, but they would have introduce the Kree first, and Captain Marvel. Which would be AWESOME. As far as Black Panther goes, does Marvel Studios even have the rights for him, or does Fox? He’s one of thoses charcters that are both Avengers and Fantastic Four, so Fox may have gotten him when they got the FF deal.

  13. Jeff Hebert says:

    I only made it through half of one “Fantastic Four” movie, but I think they’re great examples of how horribly wrong a super-hero group movie can go. Ditto “X-3”.

    So in the sub-genre of those group super-hero movies, how would you rank “Avengers”? Personally “The Incredibles” remains my favorite super-hero movie of all time, so it tops my list. But I’d put “Avengers” at 2, “X-Men: First Class” at 3, “X-Men” at 4, and “X2” at 5. The rest, frankly, I don’t think should make any list at all.


  14. Dan says:

    Jeff Hebert:
    I only made it through half of one “Fantastic Four” movie, but I think they’re great examples of how horribly wrong a super-hero group movie can go. Ditto “X-3″.

    So in the sub-genre of those group super-hero movies, how would you rank “Avengers”? Personally “The Incredibles” remains my favorite super-hero movie of all time, so it tops my list. But I’d put “Avengers” at 2, “X-Men: First Class” at 3, “X-Men” at 4, and “X2″ at 5. The rest, frankly, I don’t think should make any list at all.


    I actually semi like the first FF. I think if they had actually cast someone to be Doom, and not whoever that was that showed up on the screen, it would have been great. The Four themselves were pretty much how they should have been, but I don’t think Sue needed to be a scientist. It just felt like Marvel trying to update some of the original female characters, like Jean Grey and Jane Forester. They were the weakest written ones of the original 60’s Marvel characters, in that they were mostly there to be attractive and “take care of the boys”. I once heard some one call them “Stan Lee’s housewife heroines” and that’s honestly a pretty good description of them. I think is wasn’t until Black Widow that he started to break that mold.

  15. Myro says:

    So, I thought I’d weigh in on a few things. Warning: I will be chock full of spoilers, so stop reading after the first paragraph if you haven’t watched the movie yet. First off, I loved this movie, and I might even dare to say this is, in my opinion,the best superhero movie yet. I loved Chris Nolan’s Batman movies, but they have a fairly dark tone and lack the humor, and as X-Stacy said, the fun, that The Avengers delivered in spades.

    A few comments on Jeff’s “did not care for” criticisms, and a couple additional nits to pick:
    1. As Jeff, and a few others have said, Thor was underutilized in this movie, which is exceptionally dissapointing, given that Loki was the main villain. It would have been nice to have a couple more Thor-Loki moments.
    2. Unlike Jeff, I could manage to feel my way through Loki’s plot on the Helicarrier. It’s pretty convoluted, but then, this is Loki we’re talking about. When is he ever going to do things the easy way? As for the simple question of why Hawkeye didn’t bomb the second rotor in the Helicarrier, Loki was still onboard, and you shouldn’t crash an aircraft that your boss is trapped on without first breaking him out.
    3. I liked Marc Ruffalo as Banner, he played the part well, but there was one part where he wakes up naked in an abandoned warehouse after Hulking out that I noticed something seemed a bit off: Ruffalo’s actually a big guy. Maybe not Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth big, but bigger than you’d expect Bruce Banner to be. Ed Norton was a physically better Banner because he did look small and scrawny. Ruffalo actually looks more like the Hulk, and it seemed a little off. Which was unfortunate, given that I was probably one of the few people that wasn’t originally disappointed with the recasting, and as I said before, his performance in the role was very good otherwise.
    4. SHIELD hires a bunch of stupid people. Even worse, they station them on the Helecarrier, something that one would consider to be a plum assignment. Basically, you can tell who the competent SHIELD agents are by whether they had a name or not. Fury, Maria Hill, Coulson, Hawkeye, and Black Widow could be counted on to display some level of competence, ranging from adequate to exceptional during the movie. Everyone else showed a combination of the worst traits of Red Shirts, Stormtroopers, and office drones (I’m looking at you, Galaga Guy). I mean really? Instrumentation is down on the Helicarrier, and you forget basic navigation principles to the point that Nick Fury has to remind you that the sun rises in the east? Normally I’d consider problematic, but no one really wants to see the extras winning the day in a movie.

    Also, Joss Weadon should be given an award for making Captain America into an actually funny character. Most of the Cap I’ve read or watched had him playing it so straight, jokes seem to come few and far between, but the “man out of time” angle can be a comedy goldmine. Tony spitting out pop culture references so rapidly that you barely even notice, and he mentions something about “Flying Monkeys,” and Rogers stops everything to say he actually understood that one. Or when Tony drags Cap along to reboot the broken Helecarrier rotor, and has Cap read the indicators off the control panel, and Cap’s response is “It looks to be running off some kind of electricity.”. Future advice, anyone else, even Thor, would have been a better choice. Don’t bring the guy who still thinks TV is cutting edge tech on your IT job.
    There were plenty if other great lines. I particularly loved Loki, after Thor trips himself up attacking one of Loki’s illusions, asking, “Are you ever going to stop falling for that trick?” And Coulson’s “Oh, so that’s what it does,” would have been among the best Famous Last Words ever if he hadn’t held on a little longer for Fury to show up.
    That’s about it. Go watch the movie again, I’ve wanted to since the very end of the Shwarma shop scene.

  16. SongBird says:

    Honestly, one of my favorite parts of the movie was when Black Widow got Loki to slip up about Hulk. “Thank you for your cooperation” *smile*

  17. Kit Walker says:

    Explosions? In-jokes? Action-sequences? What about character development? What about a thought-provoking plot? What about a movie using action to help tell the story? This review–which I doubt is anything less than accurate–makes me want to avoid the film at all costs. Though, I have to admit to being in the camp that thinks Whedon’s a hack, so I’m not exactly surprised.

    Iron Man showed us that a movie can use explosions and action to help tell a story about personal growth. The first X-Men showed us that you can have a large group of characters who still develop as people. So far, everything I’ve seen and heard tells me this is nothing but a schlock popcorn-muncher.