I believe that I need to preface this post with a little bit of background about my love for writer/director/ultimate geek, Joss Whedon. I first came across the brilliance that was Joss in high school when my sister got me watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer and my love heightened when I discovered sci-fi/cowboy series, Firefly. The fact that Firefly was cancelled way before its time and has developed cult status since it was generally misunderstood by network execs still breaks the hearts of the cast, the fanboys, Mr Whedon, and me on a regular basis.
With that being said, I think you can grasp some sort of understanding as to how exciting it is for me that Joss Whedon was announced to make one of the biggest superhero movies of all time – to have finally been given a budget and the respect to write and direct a giant money maker like The Avengers.
That, if this film was a success, Whedon may finally be taken serious by the people who money making means the most to. That, with this power comes great responsibility, for Whedon to prove to them that he was right all along. He is brilliant, and audiences get what him, and fanboys (and girls) love him, and even if the execs don't get it, they should roll with it because everyone else does!
The Avengers is, in my opinion, the perfect portrayal of this.
When Whedon stepped in as director, he also insisted that he write the screenplay – taking the reigns from Zak Penn, renowned comic book movie writer (including X-Men: The Last Stand, Elektra, Fantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk – can you blame him?). If Whedon was going to do this, he was going to do it right; the way so many comic book movies should have been made before this one.
With a cast including Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Ironman), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), and Samuel L. Jackson, this could be an easy task of effortless performances perfectly complementing each other or an absolute shit-fight of egos.
Massive props to both Joss Whedon and the exceptional cast that the former is what you see on screen in The Avengers. In fact, it is difficult to name a film that has handled a star-studded ensemble cast with such graceful ease, giving each character their moment to struggle and to shine. Knowing the ego of Tony Stark (and RDJ himself), one might expect Iron Man to steal the show, but it is made abundantly clear that Captain America is the leader of The Avengers and each character is there for a reason. The story assume an intelligent, informed audience giving very little backstory and predicting that viewers have at least seen the previous films, if not, having a greater understanding of the Marvel universe.
Loki (a brilliiantly evil Tom Hiddleston) returns, fresh from where the Thor film left off, and with a his sights set on vengence for Thor's precious Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) rallies the troops and sends Natasha Romanoff to fetch Mr Banner (and the 'other guy'). Mark Ruffalo steps into the shoes of Bruce in a way that I didn't expect, taking over from Hulk predecessor, Edward Norton, on Whedon's orders. I've been a fan for a long time but I didn't see Ruffalo as the character until he was right before my eyes, and now I couldn't imagine Bruce Banner or The Hulk any other way!
Scarlett Johansson really holds her own among this cast of dominant males and there is a moment of sheer brilliance on her part when she first encounters the would-be Hulk. She is strong, yet vulnerable, and this, my friends, is a Whedon speciality. Had another man written this film, I honestly believe there would have been little time for Black Widow, except as a hint of sex appeal amongst the testosterone, but in Joss' eyes, she is a crucial player and a kick-ass one at that!
Without going too far into plot and quoting the one liners and moments that had me crying with laughter, I will just say that this film has it all. If you're not big into this genre, The Avengers will change your mind (if, for no other reason than the serious degree of hottness present). It has the perfect combination of heart, intelligence, and witty one-liners, backed up with a truck load of action. If you, like I, were severely disappointed with the what Iron Man 2 and Whiplash promised in the trailer and failed so epically to deliver in the final battle, you will see more than that fight in the first 20 minutes of The Avengers. And they're only fighting amongst themselves!
The balancing act performed by Joss Whedon is more than commendable – the ingredients of well formed characters, chemistry, A-grade actors, and pre-existing storylines are always there in a comic book film, but so often the measurements don't add up, leaving you with a sour after taste. This film has the perfect balance of flavours, not too much Tony Stark that you cringe at his hedonistic antics, not too much Thor that you really do feel like you're watching Shakepeare, not too much of the corny lines saved mostly for this genre, and not too much of The Hulk smashing things (because, let's face it, there's no such thing as too much of the Hulk smashing things). No, my friends, this film has been baked into the perfect cake – sweet, moist, just the right amount of icing, and leaves you drooling for more. Yes, I just turned a comic book movie review into a cake analogy. What of it?
All hail, Joss; you are a true superhero.