In my opinion, Dark Knight is the finest superhero movie ever made. There’s something about the way it builds its own Batman mythos, borrowing minimally from the comics but adding its own twists to make a great movie that you’d love even if you perhaps weren’t a superhero fan.
Avengers on the other hand is a movie for fanboys. And ordinarily that would be a worry. You’d picture this big, soulless movie, with fanboy moments crammed in, trying to tick boxes instead of telling a story. And when you consider that this movie features the leads from three previous Marvel movies… well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this thing had ‘mess’ written all over it before the ink was dry on the script.
Except it’s not. Whedon plays on the fact that the movie shouldn’t work by making the Avengers a fragmented team. And in doing so, there’s plenty of excuse for your favourite characters to team up against each other. Yet it never feels forced, never feels like it’s ticking a box. If Dark Knight is a fantastic superhero movie, then Avengers is an authentic live-action comic.
Whedon is, of course, no stranger to the Marvel universe, and is not afraid to leave potential plot holes unexplained, just like the comics. But even when Thor suddenly turns up with minimal explanation, or Hulk suddenly learns how to be more than just a “big, green rage monster”, you don’t care. You’re just enjoying the ride.
What’s most amazing is how big Whedon has made Avengers. Serenity was the last movie I saw where I thought all the protagonists might die, and Avengers is the same. It’s big, dwarfing even SFX heavy movies like Transformers 3, but unlike Bay, Whedon never loses the soul of the movie. Even when the odds are dramatically stacking, it’s always about character not about SFX. The second act action scene was more action packed than most movies’ final act, and then when the final act hits the action goes atmospheric, it just builds and builds. Yet it never loses its focus on the Avengers and their learning to come together as a team.
The result is a fun, popcorn ride that doesn’t insult your intelligence but knows exactly what it is.
Probably the biggest surprise for me was Hulk. Here was a movie that got him right. His heroic entrance was something that physically made my jaw drop for about 30 seconds, it was utterly epic, a thing of beauty yet still undeniably Hulk. He also gets all the best lines, and has one of the funniest (but completely in character) moments of the whole movie. I didn’t like the previous 2 Hulk movies, but I left Avengers wanting a new Hulk movie.
Yet Whedon manages to ensure that the less powerful members of the team, like Black Widow and Hawkeye still have their epic moments. Whedon has always written strong female characters and here, Black Widow is no different.
The greatest compliment I can give this movie, is that it made me smile. I was beaming from ear to ear for the entire duration, thoroughly enjoying the journey. It is undeniably and, more importantly, unashamedly Marvel. I loved it.
It’s silly, epic, fun and definitely worth watching.