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Old August 17th, 2012, 04:38 PM
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Default Re: Marvel's The Avengers

The Avengers (2012)
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye)

Lokiís got a chip on his shoulder. The younger, adopted brother of Thor has possession of a fearsome power source, the tesseract, and has made an agreement with an extraterrestrial race that will serve as his army in his takeover of earth. Donít ask me why he wants earth; I know he wants it in a grand, self-glorifying way so he can demonstrate his superiority to his brother.

The Avengers need to stop Loki, to regain the stolen tesseract, to close the gateway through which Lokiís army is invading the planet, and to protect New York City, the location of the portal. Itís a plot with too many pieces because itís a group of superheroes with too many members; theyíve each got to have something to do, after all.

As an ensemble movie, The Avengers works if you donít try to make too much sense of it. Just go along with what happens and youíll probably enjoy most of what you see: fun interactions between the characters, a lot of stuff that goes boom, and some pretty neat-looking visuals involving super-able people in weird costumes.

The temptation is to compare it to the X-Men films, but I found those movies much more enjoyable; something about the X-Men plots is much more compelling, plus thereís an extra charisma that most of the X-Men have, something the Avengers are lacking. For all their coolness, the Avengers are actually more interesting in their non-costumed alter-egos, except Thor who doesnít have one.

The real disappointment is in Loki as the villain. In 2011′s Thor, Loki is a great villain because heís Thorís brother. Heís a villain easy to sympathize with because his torment is believable and because thereís a genuine fondness and love between the brothers. This is pretty much completely absent in The Avengers, and Thor himself, while still a pretty cool superhero, lacks the layered conflicts that made his solo movie much more interesting. Where the X-Men films have the great tension and fondness between Professor X and Magneto, this film just seems to have a lot of ugly flying mechanical caterpillars and butterflies.

What can separate the good superhero movies from the not-bad superhero movies are themes that have universal and personal applicability. While the X-Men films tend to be a bit heavy-handed with these themes, the attempt to be about more than just their plot and heroes gives them a little more resonance, a little more stickiness. In the post-credits scene at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we get to see a quick dialogue between Logan and a bartender, and it rings like those bronze bells at Buddhist temples. Okay, not really like that, but it rings a little, and weíre meant to feel something for Logan in this small moment. Thereís very, very, very little of that in The Avengers, very little thatís meant to make us feel for the characters, a disappointing departure from the solo films of Thor and Iron Man, which give us enough angst and inner turmoil to make us feel like thereís a bigger and better reason to watch a superhero movie than just the costumes and explosions. Scenes with Bruce Banner (Hulkís alter-ego) hint that there could have been a lot more, but the film seems intentionally to avoid becoming a movie with Hulk as the central figure.

I really wanted to see a lot more interaction between different combinations of heroes, something there just isnít enough time for in this one picture. This can be forgiven if the intention is to build a long-term series with these characters. All by itself, though, the movie is fun to watch without being especially engaging. This is a bad decision, no matter what the box office receipts say.

6/10 (IMDb rating)
64/100 (Criticker rating)
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