With $200 million banked on its opening weekend, “The Avengers” has
ushered in the 2012 summer blockbuster season, which this year also
will be revisiting The Men in Black, Spider-Man, The Dark Knight aka
Batman, and Sylvester Stallone and buddies known as The Expendables.
“The Avengers” is the latest showcase in the expanding universe of
film versions of Marvel comics heroes. At its core it is another
good-versus-evil epic, laden with spectacular special effects, and
left wide open for sequels and spinoffs. The hook in this movie is
that these superheroes, previously seen going up against villains on
their own or with some semi-reliable mortal allies, instead team up
to form a formidable group. It’s called The Avenger Initiative, and
when the world is in peril of being overrun by hostiles, Nick Fury
(Samuel L. Jackson), the head of the security entity known as
S.H.I.E.L.D., activates the initiative, against the will of the
Thus, brought together are Captain America aka Steve Rogers (Chris
Evans), Iron Man aka Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr. Banner aka
The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, taking over for Edward Norton who took over
for Eric Bana in previous depictions of the character), Natasha
Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor aka Norse God of
Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent Clint Barton, no aka (Jeremy
Renner) , the latter who needs a good thump upside the head from
Black Widow to get his act together and join the good guys.
Naturally, the adventure requires a strutting, overconfident bad
guy, and stepping up is Loki (Tom Hiddleston), aka exiled Norse God and half-brother
of Thor. Loki is one of these guys who gets off
having the vanquished masses kneel reverentially before him, and one
can just imagine, in prepping for this objective of conquering the
world, that he had a digital chat with General Zod, the fellow who coveted the
same goals in “Superman II:”
Loki: Hey, Zod. I plan to conquer Earth and have them kneel before
me. Any advice?
Zod: Yeah. Don’t do it. While it’s a rush initially, all this
genuflecting gets old real quick.
Loki: Ah, it can’t be that bad.
Zod: I’m telling you brother, I learned the hard way. But I guess
you won’t listen. But DO take this advice: Don’t bring along any
excess emotional baggage, like wanting to extract revenge or
anything. That just messes up the works.
Zod: By the way, we shouldn’t be chatting. You’re with Marvel and
I’m with DC. This kind of fraternization could get us in trouble.
Loki obviously will not heed anybody’s advice. With the volatile
Tesseract power source in his possession, with Dr. Selvig (Stellan
Skarsgard) under his spell and building a portal opener, and with a
Chitauri army ready to use that portal to drop in on Earth and do
battle, Loki believes he can smile triumphantly.
Meanwhile, The Avengers comprise of heroes of different walks and it
is evident these people are not likely to get together to watch
Monday Night Football or form a book club. A lot of bickering ensues
although they all step lightly around Dr. Banner, not wanting to rile
him up and have him turn into the nasty Hulk. Even Fury’s pep talks
are fruitless. It takes a tragedy to bring them together, whereupon,
As usual, Stark has a monopoly on all the humorous quips throughout
the movie, but it’s the Hulk of all things who gets all the big
laughs (those who have seen the movie know what I’m talking about).
Also livening things up are great cameos by Stan Lee, especially
Gwyneth Paltrow reprising her role as Stark’s able
assistant Pepper Potts and Harry Dean Stanton appearing in a brief
nod to a classic of 30 years ago, “Alien.”
Writer-director Joss Whedon does a good job of allowing each Avenger
a chance to showcase his/her skills or interact with one another. In
particular, a good mismatch of personalities is that of Tony Stark
and Steve Rogers, Stark being the self-absorbed partier and not known
to be a team player while Rogers is the total soldier, dedicated to
looking out for his fellow fighters.
Savvy fans of these Marvel movie adaptations have learned to sit
through the credits for an epilogue that will hint of things to come.
Such is the case with “The Avengers,” except there is not one, but
two taglines, so stick around to the end. The final scene is
wonderful in its simplicity.