Marvel Comics presents The Avengers All Meet Up in the Same Place!


8 years in the making, Marvel Avengers Assemble (or simply…’The Avengers’) has finally hit the big screen – and earlier than the US for once, hooray! – brought to life by Buffy creator and comic book aficionado Joss Whedon. It boasts a superstar ensemble including Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett ‘lycra’ Johansson, Samuel L Jackson and, of course, Stan Lee. Brit cinematographer Seamus McGurvery (who worked on the staggering We Need To Talk About Kevin last year) worked on the film, which was converted to 3D in post production.

When S.H.I.E.L.D attempt to use a cube called the ‘tesseract’ to open up a portal, they accidentally let Thor’s arch nemesis, Loki, into our world. Determined to rule the planet, Loki (played by a scene-stealing Tom Hiddlestone) plans to use the cataract to unleash an army of evil looking, Transformers imitating space baddies upon Earth called Chitauri. Nick Fury and Agent Caulson must gather…no, they must group…no that’s not right either…if only there was a word that described how S.H.I.E.L.D organised the group of heroes… Anyway, they have to assimilate a team of the world’s most badass heroes (though none of them as bad ass as Samuel L Jackson) in order to ‘avenge’ the Earth before Loki can let loose the Shakira. Essentially, it’s not quite expected of you to have seen all of the previous movies (Captain America, the least successful, has convenient flashbacks), but it helps.

The 3D itself isn’t particularly dazzling, with some of the darker scenes suffering the most from the light loss, tittering on the brink of incomprehensibility. The main problem for me wasn’t so much the effects or cinematography or performances, but with the concept of a team of superheroes, and how it doesn’t quite work on screen. At one point, Thor casually pulls out a dagger Loki stabbed him with. The only other visible injury is a scratch on Iron Man’s cheek. When you have six characters that are literally invincible, and hordes of weak enemies, just where does the tension deride from? There is no actual threat, at all. I had the same issue with Transformers 3: why should I care about the destruction of New York City and the invasion of Earth when all the main characters are totally immune to harm, exhaustion and even magic? Isn’t that the general rule of thumb, that a villain can only be a danger if he’s more powerful than the main hero(es)? Or that there should be some seemingly unavoidable moment of bleakness, like that moment in Toy Story 3 when they’re heading into the fiery incinerator and join hands as they accept their fate: The Avengers is in aching need of a moment like this, and it just never comes (performance issues, 1 in 5 apparently). This isn’t me being overly cynical or grouchy, I love escapist cinema and think Hollywood does it like no other, but for me, part of that ‘experience’ Ray Winstone keeps going on about is thethrill. There is one particular tracking shot seamlessly edited to include every hero mid battle that stood out, but other than this, The Avengers just wasn’t thrilling. And I think the reason for this is quite clear from what the producer Kevin Feige said in an interview:

“[Transformers 3] set a standard for that level of ZOMG-awesomeness and scale. We’re working to try to outdo that.”

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Can anyone help me with this? When Agent Caulson dies, why is everybody so devastated? None of them ever talked to him for longer than a minute; Iron Man made fun of him, Captain America barely knew him, Thor disobeyed him…is this something from the movies or comic books that I’ve missed out? Why do they all of a sudden seem determined to get Loki, when hundreds of others have died already? To me this seemed so forced and out of place.

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The Avengers has enough to make a decent action movie: it has the right cast, the spectacle, the comedy and, at times, the momentum. But in managing all of these things, Whedon seems to have lost the most important factor of all – suspense. There is just too many plot holes, too many clichés, too many cheesy lines and too little sombreness. I know this wont be the popular opinion, but I can only describe my experience. I can’t emphasise enough that The Avengers had many great moments and often made laugh, but that this isn’t enough to make it a good film. Hopefully the sequel will be better.

Did you think The Avengers is the most epic comic book movie of all time? Are you excited for any future Marvel films?

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