Whedon = New Nolan (until DKR)

Yes. I saw Avengers.
Yes. I saw it opening night.
Yes. I am still suppressing my internal organs’ desire to explode with joy.

Like the other $207.4 million of us, I went to see The Avengers on opening night.  The difference between the Costumed Nerds of the Night and myself was that I had extremely low expectations for the film.  None of the trailers had particularly wowed me and for the most part I expected a lot of things to go horribly wrong.  However, as I am sure you have surmised from every other review out there right now (and the $207.4 million 3-day gross), it actually turned out to be…well…not so terrible after all.

When trying to write this review, the main challenge I faced was that I thought the movie was spectacular…and so did everyone else.  As my friend Ryan has said, no point in calling something awesome when everyone else does.  So, the challenge was to find what I could say about it that few other reviews could.  Thus, the only place to start my review is to say that I really didn’t think this film would make any decent, let alone outstanding, impression on me.

You can ask nearly anyone in the APU film department and they will tell you that I had a real problem with this film well before it hit.  Namely, I could not understand how any filmmaker could pull off having so many big name characters (and stars) in one movie.  Like some around me, I figured it would turn into the Super Sausage-fest of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, with every other character being asked by audiences and critics alike – “Why are you in this movie?”

I expected Hulk to be a fun yet underdeveloped Boy Wonder to the Super Crew’s Batman.  While the trailers showed him doing some cool things, never in a million years would I have guess that their would be character development behind “Hulk? Smash.”

Also (and much more prominently), I had every intention of blasting Avengers in my review for being incredibly misogynistic in portraying Black Widow.  I have never been happy with the way the Iron Man franchise has portrayed women as helpless damsels in distress or, in the case of the Russian super-assassin in number 2, as a crude bit of sex appeal grafted onto a perfectly good film.  Thus, going into the male-dominated and over-populated super blockbuster that is The Avengers, I didn’t have high regard for how under-towed her character was surely going to be.

“And why the hell is Hawkeye even in this film?” thought my pre-screening brain.

Thank God!

However, I made one VERY massive mistake:  I failed to account for Joss Whedon.  I was not a Whedonite before seeing this film and, though I am watching Firefly this summer, I had no idea who this guy is.  Ryan and several others in my department seemed to be infatuated with him but I was in the dark.  So when he struck every chord perfectly, I was in cinematic shock for a week!

In case you have been living in another galaxy totally devoid of internet connection or television, the film is AMAZING!!!  It is extremely well balanced for any film, let alone one that has six above the line stars.  Whedon somehow managed to make the action fantastic, the character development compelling, and the humor hilarious!  The Nostalgia Critic got it right in his Bum Review:  “This is the greatest movie I have ever seen in my life!”

Okay maybe not that extreme but you get my drift.  I came in expecting something like Transformers 3 – a lot of fun and crazy action but little to no substance holding it up.  And yet I found the exact opposite.  As to the problems I expected to find, each one was beautifully handled and I dare to call it masterful.

What got my attention the most was that, instead of being filler characters or faces to pretty up the screen, the Black Widow/Hawkeye thing became the most interesting part of the film.  Partially that is due to the extremely low expectations I had for them coming in, but it is also, in part, because Whedon found the ONE AND ONLY way to make them both fascinating.  He actually stayed very true to the comics by having them in a very complicated relationship and gave them very excellent roles to play in the overarching narrative.  I am going to avoid spoilers but sufficed to say, “Scowly Arrow” plays a major role in the film as does my new favorite Russian assassin (sorry Felix Yusupov).

Beyond that, Hulk was handled very well.  Not spoiling anything, Banner’s story picks up AFTER the events of the other two movies (basically).  He references tearing up New York (Norton’s film) and draws his character from that backstory, which is really excellent.  It gives his character instant depth, both in the world of the story and internally, which is what he was sorely lacking.  Mark Ruffalo did a great job of bringing the clearly difficult character to life and making him fascinating.

The other thing that caught me off guard (besides the wit and general unexpectedness of the film as a whole) was the fact that Loki was actually a scary villain.  My problem with Superman and any team of Superheroes ever is that, much like Dragon Ball Z, enemies can only be ridiculously overpowered destruction mongers who for no reason want all of existence to end (cf – Doom, Lucifer, Kang the Conquerer, Thanos).  However, Whedon and Co. found the perfect way to thwart that trend by going with a villain who is physically inferior to the Avengers in every way.  Thus, Loki – God of Mischief – uses his rhetorical skills and superior mind to manipulate and connive his way to victory.  I love what Hiddleston did with the character and his words did much more for me than any super-punch from a giant alien titan could.  His craftiness was bewildering and his childish glee at rendering “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” incapable makes him one of my favorite villains ever.

Ultimately, I can do nothing but add one more “This film is awesome!” to the pile and say a hearty well done to the filmmakers for completely thwarting my expectations.  Everything in the film was well handled and seeing it at the midnight premiere is now one of my favorite movie-going experiences of all time.  Hat’s off to Whedon and Paramount for kicking off Le Summer Du Cinema in spectacular fashion.

Rating:  10//10

What did you think of the Avengers?  Did the expectations I had match up with some of yours or were you on board with them the whole time?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below and discuss exactly why this film is so awesome. 🙂

Welp, that’s one review down.  But believe me, there are plenty more on the way.  Thus far this summer, I have seen at minimum one film per day and so I have a lot of reviews to catch up on.  You can expect the next one early next week and we will see how it goes from there.  Just as a little teaser as to what is next, I leave you until next time with this clue:  “Coffee Mug Bong”.

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