“The Avengers” is the smorgasbord comic book movie we’ve been waiting for years to see. Many middling films were made (I’m looking at you “Thor,” “Hulk,” and “Captain America”) just in order to set up origins for this one.
And it fell to director Joss Whedon to make this all come together. But he should have known better than to do so through nothing, but action sequences.
It starts with S.H.I.E.L.D trying to harness energy from some cube that E’ve already forgotten the name of, and accidentally unleashing the God Loki (Tom Hiddleston, still the same underwhelming mix of Jared Leto and Kate Beckinsale that he was last year in “Thor”) who now wants to use the cube’s energy to make slaves out of every one on Earth.
The “Avengers’ plot is the same as almost every other comic book film. It becomes the objective of Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to assemble a team of superheroes in order to fight the battles regular humans cannot. You’ve heard the names before: Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo is the newest in this revolving-door list of Bruce Banners), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), and newcomers who never got their own movie, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
Whedon and co-screenwriter Zak Penn will occasionally allow humanity to seep through; Bruce Banner’s control issues and Captain America’s adaptation into modern times are briefly touched upon. But by the time we’ve assembled all the characters and gotten all the science talk about the cube out of the way “Avengers” has lost momentum, the fact that the almost non-existent plot stands as pretext for characters to knock, smash, and throw each other around does not help, either.
The Avengers seem less like action heroes and more like action figures. They wise-crack (Downey of course does the best here) and kick-ass (Hulk CGI seems to do the best with this) but my impression of them is one of toys, not people, who are independent from each other when they should be more team-like. And the combination of smashing and tinted 3-D is mild headache-inducing.
“The Avengers” wants you to know that heroism still exists; hopefully this summer will offer better films to prove that.