‘Joyous’ is the first word which comes to mind when discussing Joss Whedon‘s landmark superhero action adventure extravaganza, “The Avengers” (I can’t be bothered with that goofy UK re-titling – if there’s genuinely anybody in the country who could confuse these Marvel superheroes with John Steed and Emma Peel, the odds are quite good that they’re not in the demographic for this film anyway. “The Avengers” it is, then).
It’s a two and a half hour thrill ride quite unlike any of the other Marvel comic adaptations – the ensemble nature of the story makes it different and the dynamics brought to the film by the actors involved also help in that regard. What’s actually different about this film is the scale of the piece – its bloody massive and fully deserves what might seem an excessive running time to fit everything in. There’s no bloat here – not at all.
I wouldn’t dream of spoiling things for you, but I will say that your enjoyment of “The Avengers” is going to be very dependent on which of the team is your particular favourite – unsurprisingly, Joss Whedon gives Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow some decent stuff to do, but I was surprised by how well he balanced screen time for the principal characters and the supporting cast. I’m a Tony Stark guy myself, but I really warmed to Mark Ruffalo‘s Bruce Banner/Hulk and the prospect of a movie starring the latter would really sit well with me after this film.
Whedon’s often been criticised for not filling the screen in the same way as some feature directors do – ‘he’s a TV director’ is often the cry, but it’s one which I feel could be reasonably silenced by the way that Whedon works with his director of photography Seamus McGarvey in this film. If you’re still of the opinion, after seeing this film, that Whedon doesn’t know how to stage large-scale action sequences or throw special effects around with abandon, perhaps you might want to see the film without the chip on your shoulder and the blindfold over your eyes.
It’s a spectacular film – you wouldn’t really it want it to be any other way, but it genuinely feels appropriately big, thrilling and eye catching, all without some of the hand-held camera work and distracting editing which blights a lot of would-be action flicks. You can see what’s happening, know where the characters are on-screen and have a sense of what’s happening from moment to moment which seems as though it should be a bare minimum or sign of competence for a film maker but sadly seems to be an increasingly forgotten art. Thank Whedon for that.
I didn’t want to do spoilers, and this isn’t a spoiler in the truest sense of the term, but there’s one shot in the movie (in the climactic battle) which takes Whedon’s love of long takes and extended camera shots and runs with it – you’ll know it when you see it, because you’ll be grinning like a loon as you watch your every comic book team fantasy put on-screen seamlessly.
It’s not perfect – the initial coming together of the team takes a while to reach a point which really drives the plot forward – but “The Avengers” gets so many things right that it feels churlish to moan about little things. I’m confident in saying that your inner Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Penny would find something to enjoy in this film – it’s catnip for comic book fans, just plain exciting for regular citizens and a sterling effort by all concerned.
Joss Whedon – you’ve done us all proud and I thank you for it.