Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Marvel has done a fantastic job at bringing its comic book superheroes to life. With a string of movies featuring Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Thor, the company set out on an ambitious project: combine all of these characters in a grandiose, action packed film—“The Avengers.”
Watching the individual movies for each superhero isn’t necessary in order to understand “The Avengers,” but it helps. The background story for Thor and Loki is perhaps the most important. Hailing from the planet Asgard, Thor and Loki grew up together as brothers. Loki always felt as if he was stuck in his brother’s shadow and resented his father’s favoritism toward him. To put it nicely, Loki goes off the deep end and decides to hurt Thor by attacking earth, the planet that has been placed under his protection. Loki wants to make humankind subject to his authority and power. He strikes a deal with an alien race called the Chitauri: if he gives them a powerful energy source, known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on earth in exchange.
Loki opens a portal to earth and steals the Tesseract, which is in the possession of the special military operations group S.H.I.E.L.D. He then proceeds to implement his evil plan. Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to assemble The Avengers—a team consisting of men (and a woman) of exceptional talents and powers—to stop Loki and take back the Tesseract.
While exceptional, the team is far from perfect. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is rich and egocentric. He thrives off of his popularity and public image. But, when suited up as Iron Man, Tony is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save Manhattan. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a WWII veteran who is coping with the fact that the world he once knew, and the people he cared about, is gone. As Captain America, he strives to maintain honor and integrity within the group. He challenges Stark, “The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.” Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) struggles with the monster inside him, the Hulk, and does his best to keep it under control. He admits, “I don’t get a suit of armor. I’m exposed, like a nerve. It’s a nightmare.” Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), has a dark past, but is willing to atone for her mistakes and save the man she loves, fellow Avenger Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is torn between saving his brother and the world Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is trying to destroy. He pleads with him to come home, but denies Loki’s feelings, sharply referring to his grievances as “imagined slights.”
Separate, the heroes have their problems, but put them all together and you have controlled chaos. Banner hits the nail of the head when he says, “What are we, a team? No. We’re a time-bomb.” That bomb eventually does go off and puts a halt to the mission. But, when tragedy hits close to home for all of the Avengers, they finally band together and put aside their differences.
“The Avengers” is a big budget, action-fest that is impressive on all fronts. Director Joss Whedon does a great job at capturing the suspense, humor, and heroics on film. All of the actors and actresses succeed in portraying their respective characters and showcasing their individual styles and personalities. The graphics are top-notch and realistic. And, of course, the storyline and message of the movie is heard loud and clear: even if you have your faults, you can rise above considerable odds to make a difference. That’s why the general public goes to the movies to watch superheroes; they want to see people do the right thing. And, at the end of the day, The Avengers do.