The Avengers (2012), directed by Joss Whedon
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s six people in varying levels of skin-tight costume! It’s an introductory paragraph that makes no sense because this Superman reference has nothing to do with The Avengers! Nanananana Batman!
So this it, finally. The big show. The whole schbang. The big bopper. I don’t know, you get the idea. For those unfamiliar with what the heck I’m talking about, this movie has been a long time coming, with lots of build up. Five movies worth of build up.
You may not have realized it but we have been being primed for this film for a number of years. It started with The Incredible Hulk (the Edward Norton one) and Iron Man in 2008. In 2010 we had Iron Man 2 and then 2011 brought Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger (big hint there). Oh right, and like 70 odd years worth of comic books. And now? Now they are all together in one super movie. Hot diggity dog!
And I’m going to say it and declare that it’s better then at least 84 per cent of the movies leading up to it. Keep in mind though that I don’t understand math and that I made that number up. Regardless, barring Iron Man perhaps, The Avengers is the best superhero, Marvel comic book movie of them all and it lives up to the hype.
This has to be one of the best movie audience experiences I’ve had in a long time. People were stoked. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard an audience break into applause, not even for the end of the movie, but during the movie. Everyone was totally digging it. People, adults even, were leaving the theatre fired up about how “awesome” it was. I was in a rotten mood when I saw it, but it managed to even pick me up. Which is what good entertainment movies should do.
And my matinee crowd were not alone in our excitement. I’m not a numbers, box office guy really, but The Avengers pulled in $200 million this weekend in the United States alone. That is huge. In fact, it’s the biggest opening weekend for a film ever. Ever. More than Harry Potter. More than Twilight. More than Hunger Games. You get the picture. People like their superhero movies it seems.
And why not? They’re a hell of a lot of fun. And The Avengers is no exception. It’s completely over the top, ridiculous and insane, just the way it should be. There are a lot of personalities up on the screen and Whedon, super geek that he is, knows how to wield them just right. The most enjoyable part of the movie is easily watching these characters that we already know from the lead up films come together and make with the wisecracks and the tensions and all the rest of it.
That’s what makes the movie work so well. It’s not just about special effects. It isn’t just explosions and garbled action sequences and shiny things (Transformers anyone?). Really, what it’s about is characters that we actually care about. Sure it’s got all that other stuff, and it would be quite a different movie if it was just about these characters in a room together (Superhero Carnage?), but it has a solid base to build off of. It’s that fundamentals of good movie making stuff: characters, relatable situations, a sense of humour, love, etc.
I have mixed feels about Whedon, but he was the man for the job here. This is his baby really, as he wrote and directed it. I thought Cabin in the Woods, which he produced and wrote, was a little too geeky smart for its own good. And although it was an interesting spin on a genre, I still prefer the genre itself. In this movie Whedon is in full genre mode and embraces it like a 12-year-old with a new comic.
You can tell he is just loving making this movie and that’s what makes it so much fun. Whedon knows what it’s all about, he gets it, and that’s a joy to witness. This is a big movie, and as a big movie I want it to be over-the-top, exuberant and, mainly, fun. And that’s what we get. There are insane, weird villains, huge action sequences, big special effects and fantastic characters. It’s got it all. But it isn’t a mess, which it so easily could have been. Whedon gets the balance right and pulls it off.
Movies often don’t live up to their hype, but The Avengers does. It is pure summer movie blockbuster squealy fun. If Hollywood could pull off more films like this you would hear fewer complaints from me. Because I’m sure that really bugs all those producers down there. “CineFile called us out again! Drat!” Right.
The Avengers is in theatres now.