Some of the most epic story-lines in superhero series’ are when all of the bad guys of the superhero team up in one episode. It happened with the episode Night of the Rogues in Season 7 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon (1987 version). While it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been, it still always looks great on paper and makes for pretty dire situations whenever it happens in any cartoon series. Likewise, when all of the good guys team up against the one bad force that can take over the world, the resulting story can be pretty legendary because you know losing means the end of the world.
Marvel’s Avengers takes the second aforementioned scenario, years in the making, both for the movie itself and from the spectator’s point of view. Five previous films were made and put out as the setup for the Avengers, the first of which was Iron Man from 2008. The only one of those five I had seen was Thor (2011) so my knowledge going into the Avengers was pretty limited. Not to be discouraged with my limited backstory familiarity, I went into seeing The Dark Knight knowing even less, having never actually seen a Batman movie before, and that film was absolutely top notch.
Joss Whedon faced a potentially uphill battle with the Avengers. While his cult following is beyond respectable considering some of his past work, taking multiple superheroes, each with their own universe, and collectively putting them into the same film is a pretty ambitious thing to do no matter who you are. Even more especially when taking into account that each of the main superheroes were played by big names, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) plus Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), adding the additional challenge of ensuring each gets relatively equal screen time so as to appease fans of both the actors and the superheroes.
While The Avengers is jam-packed full of action from nearly the very beginning, it’s very delicate in how it treats the stars and their characters. While seeing the prior Marvel films is definitely an asset to the Avengers, it’s not an absolute must. Some of the backstory is provided for the important characters and the rest fill in the blanks needed for the story to be told, without sacrificing the flow of story itself. Each superhero is given appropriate time to develop who they are, why they’re there, their relationship with each of the others and ultimately what they have to do.
Some of the more notable aspects of the Avengers isn’t so much in the script and the storyline itself. The script is full of one-liners made for the self-proclaimed geeks, to laugh and cheer at, who came out in droves to see the film for its midnights screening. While for the rest of the audience, Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, provides the comic relief that the outsiders can welcome with relief, often as the sole provider of such instances but also in combination with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, aka Dr. Bruce Banner. Meanwhile, it is the work of the great camera work and angles that help to push this film beyond. Shots of the faces and expressions of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), for example, aren’t necessarily threatening but they are menacing all-the-same. The battle scenes show other instances of how the camera’s perspective works in favour of the superheroes, presenting them as a fighting team without focusing for too long on one individual battle.
The Avengers is a dream for any superhero fan, no matter what universe the superhero hails from. The challenges that likely faced before production were handled incredibly with a perfect level of action and humour, so much so that the overall storyline isn’t even particularly significant because everything else is made to be much more important.