Tuesday, May 8, 2012

All Hail Joss Whedon And The Avengers

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you've been waiting for a movie to come out for a long time . . . a movie you've followed from the moment the studio announced it was in pre-production, watching daily for sneak peeks, and reviews, director interviews, anything related to it . . . waiting for months on end for it to finally, FINALLY make its way into theaters. And then it does, and it SUCKS. Do you know that feeling?

Yeah, this was not one of those times.

I have to admit, as I arrived at the theater last weekend to see Marvel’s The Avengers, I was somewhat terrified. I’d been waiting to see this movie for years. I’d watched avidly as Marvel Cinematic Universe broke away from Marvel Studios to independently pursue a line of films leading up to The Avengers. It’s first release, Iron Man in 2008, far surpassed my expectations (which were somewhat low following the four preceding Marvel films, X-Men: The Last Stand, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer).

But this new Universe of films signified a fresh start Marvel superheroes. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, even a revision of The Incredible Hulk (which, thankfully, made up for the utterly terrible Eric Banna version) – one after the other, they were all amazing, and shared an intertextuality that promised a planned future endgame.

For two years following Iron Man’s release I waited and watched, internet stalked and speculated with my friends. Only to find out in April 2010 that my idol – Joss Whedon himself – was going to write and direct The Avengers feature film. Joss-friggin-Whedon.

Which makes sense of course. The man is no stranger to heroes and villains – Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is chalk full of them. Not to mention Buffy, a superheroine if there ever was one. And of course, Firefly. Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew are, in their own words, “big damn heroes”. And the coup de gras, Whedon’s own experience writing for Marvel. He wrote several issues of The Astonishing X-Men, one of the most recognizable and beloved superhero teams. He was clearly the ideal choice for this project, already several years in the making.

So after yet another two years of agonizing anticipation, it was with trepidation that I took my seat and waited for the movie to begin. I went into The Avengers with the highest of expectations, trying to prepare myself for the likely possibility that it wouldn’t be able to hold up to four years of anticipation. And I came out with my mind BLOWN.

It was AMAZING. Beyond amazing. It was phenomenal.

First of all, let me praise the acting. This film had some huge names attached to it, but you just never know how all their acting styles, not to mention the diverse characters they portray, will mesh on screen. But with talent like this, I needn't have worried. These actors made a rag-tag team of superheroes come together in a very realistic way. They  managed to cover the whole spectrum of human emotion, from lost and out-of-time (Chris Evans), to sarcastic (Robert Downey, Jr.). Having been a big fan of Edward Norton's performance in The Incredible Hulk, I was adamantly opposed to recasting Bruce Banner for The Avengers, but I have to admit that Mark Ruffalo did a great job stepping into this titular role. And as the newcomer to the Marvel team, Jeremy Renner was spectacular as Hawkeye. So spectacular that I forgot his lack of superpowers at times (hint, hint: please make a Hawkeye solo film). Scarlet Johansson killed it as Black Widow (she's sort of my new idol), and Samuel L. Jackson – the key holding the entire team together – was, in his usual fashion, awesome. Though I personally felt that Robert Downey, Jr. stole the movie, he certainly didn't run away with it. The entire team pulled off one collectively incredible performance. 

While I cannot say enough about the acting talent, Joss Whedon's incredible script could have made the world's worst actor seem brilliant. With an undertaking this massive, it would be easy to get lost in the battle and sacrifice characterization for action. But Whedon manages to put the internal struggles all six heroes first, turning the movie into a human interest piece as well as an explosive action film. As is the Whedon way, he also finds the perfect balance between gravity and humor, something which we've seen time and time again in his work. There were sad moments of self loathing and doubt, broken up by hilarious one-liners that had me literally rolling with laughter. And amazingly, he manages to subvert some of the standard action film clich├ęs with a witty charm I can only describe as Whedon-esque. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the movie already, but for those of you who have, I’m referring of course, to the Hulk’s reaction to Loki’s attempt at a long, “I’m a god” speech. Hysterical.

At the end of the day, it was just a spectacular movie. And I cannot wait for the follow-ups. I know they're already getting started on Iron Man 3 (the first of Marvel's post-Avengers films), as well as Captain America 2 and Thor 2. I'd love to see Hawkeye and Black Widow in their own feature films (or even in one toegether), but I have my doubts as to whether that will ever come to fruition. But I'm already looking ahead to Avengers 2!

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE.


21 comments:

  1. Wow. I almost never go and see a movie in the theatre, but I really need to see this movie asap. I had my doubts along the way, so I'm really pleased with the positive reception it's been getting from critics and moviegoers. People are already hailing it as the finest superhero movie ever made, and a possible Avatar dethroner. Don't know about the first statement, but only time would tell with the second.

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  2. So I'm not gonna go off on anything since you already read my take on it. My understanding is that Whedon is on board for Avengers 2, though. And I just want to re-iterate about a solo Fury film.
    And I really would like to see Antman.

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  3. Agree!! I just saw it last night and loved it. I figured Chris Evans for the weak link but he was great, really just perfect for the role. I was concerned RDJ would take over but I don't know why I would; you're right that Whedon knows how to handle actors and he used Iron Man enough without making him the showrunner. I loved how each character had a few moments to develop their own story line and everyone had an awesome fight scene (or 3!). The actor who played Loki is amazing!

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  4. I'm pouting that I won't get to see it until it comes out on DVD.

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  5. I went in with nervous reservations. What if it did suck? Totally unfounded! It rocked.

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  6. I've never watched superhero movies, but anything with Whedon's name attached is worth a watch! Now, I only have to talk the hubby into going with me. :)

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  7. It's killing me that our frozen yogurt shop had it's grand opening on the weekend this came out so I've not been able to go see it. My free time is only in the mornings and the movies aren't playing then. : (

    Argh! I may have to go see it alone then tag my husband and let him go see it alone rather than hoping we'll find time to go see it together.

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  8. Ah, I cannot WAIT to see this. I'm hoping to this weekend. Joss Whedon is a master. :)

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  9. Hehe it's fun reading about your anticipation because it was pretty much the opposite of my experience. When the movie came out in Taiwan at the end of April I had very little idea what it was about and had not much interest in seeing it, but decided to go with my friends anyway. And I loved it! (It helped I didn't have any expectations.) And yes, totally with you on Stark -- he was AWESOME. I can see why people love Joss Whedon so much. Glad you enjoyed the film! :D

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  10. Terrific review! It's a highly entertaining flick - a near-perfect Summer Movie! Iron Man 3 is about to start shooting - almost in my backyard here in coastal NC! Cheers!

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  11. Going to see it tomorrow. Can't wait!

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  12. I've seen it an embarrassingly amount of times now. Even went by myself when I couldn't find a sitter so the hubs stayed at home with the kids. I wasn't a fan of Iron Man (the character) until this movie and I fell in love with him. And I love an action movie that makes me laugh throughout and is full of surprises. I think I said 'What the fart!' about twenty times the first time through :)

    Not to mention Chris Evans butt looks mighty fine in 3D. :)

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  13. You scared the ever-living out of me with that first paragraph. Don't do that again!

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  14. When I say I prefer the 1998 Avengers movie based on the British TV show, some people might interpret that wrongly. I like that movie. And I was amused by the new movie with the same name but totally unrelated. But it could have been so much better. Thanks to the bonzo success, they'll get a chance to do just that.

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  15. Hahahahahaha I ADORED the I'm a god moment. :-D

    I'd totally go watch the movie again.

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  16. Hail Whedon indeed. This movie would have been garbage without his steady hand and incredible script. I added this review to our link list of Avengers reviews.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

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  17. You scared me for a minute there. I thought is was brilliant, too. Great movie lines as well. Can't wait for the next one.

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  18. I haven't seen the Avengers yet, but have heard it is great! Have booked a date with the hubby for cheap Tuesday! Have seen the lead up movies - Captain America, Thor, Iron Man I and II, The Hulk and have enjoyed them all. I haven't visited before and have just become a new follower.

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  19. Loved the comment, I write therefore I am! Hope you are doing well with the agent.

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  20. I LOVED THE AVENGERS! Thor is my favorite! :) ahaha! I cannot wait for the second!

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