The Avengers has been a massive undertaking years in the making. It all started 6 years ago with the surprise hit that was Iron Man. A small post credits scene had Samuel L. Jackson set up what he’s calling The Avengers initiative, something with caused a lot of nerdgasms around the world. Since then 5 other movies were released, 4 of them featuring a member of The Avengers in their origin story and a sequel to the highly successful Iron Man in which a lot of ground work was done for this movie. The idea was to flesh out every character in their own movie, so you can skip all the introductions in The Avengers and focus more on the story. It was a big gamble, but it did pay off. The close involvement of Marvel with these movies featuring their characters paid off really well, among all of these movies they all score an above average and stay close to the source material pleasing the nerds while reaching a wider audience with ease.
In The Avengers Loki steals The Tesseract and wants to use its power to create weapons, he also plans to take over the world (no points for originality there) with the aid of the Chitauri, an alien race bend on taking over the galaxy (again zero points). To stop this from happening Shield agent Nick Fury, previously cameoing in almost every other Avenger-movie, gets “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” together, even though one is a Norwegian god. These characters are of course: Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Thor, with the aid of the Black Widow (introduced in Iron Man 2) and Hawkeye (introduced in Thor). But before they can defeat Loki they must first overcome their differences.
If the above synopsis has you riddled with questions about “who’s Loki” and “what the hell is a Tesseract” I suggest you watch the first five movies before watching The Avengers. The Avengers can be watched as a stand alone movie and it would still be fairly easy to follow, but the movie is so much richer when you have watched all the previous films. You get more gags and references that way, and if you’re a comic book nerd you’re going to have the time of your life. The Avengers is chock-full of small little throwaway remarks and references.
The interaction of the reluctant heroes is part of what makes The Avengers so fun to watch. These people aren’t really compatible and they know it. There’s a flag wearing patriot from a different era, two scientists who don’t trust the government and a grumpy Norwegian God. This is an old cliche, having these people overcoming their differences for the team, but it still works. Luckily because it’s not like Loki’s story is all that interesting. His plan is fairly simple and I was expecting some more twists and turns or even a more elaborate scheme, but his goal is set early on and not even him getting captured midway through changes the dynamics. This is no Joker from the Dark Knight or Hans Gruber from Die Hard.
At the end of the movie The Avengers falls into the same trap Transformers 3 did, despite a few small scenes at exotic locations like India, the entire finale takes place in Manhattan, New York. For a movie dealing with world domination by a God who has an army of aliens at his disposal it’s a bit disappointing that it all comes down once again if these aliens can destroy an American city. If a threat is international, I would like to see how the whole world respond to it, not just people in one American city. Thor had the same problem; with all this interplanetary stuff going on the finale all takes places in a small American town. Of course I can see why they choose American locations, but in this day and age, when movie releases become a more global event themselves, it would be nice if studios would take a gamble and set it in a more international setting. Despite the hate Transformers 2 has received, at least it was a more international event and had a finale on the pyramids in Egypt.
Other than that this is a pretty neat movie. It’s fun, it’s entertaining and it actually benefits of having all these characters layered out in earlier films. It doesn’t feel like a retread of older movies and Marvel has created something unique with the Avengers. Too bad some of their characters are still under license at other movie studios as this movie makes clear that their approach to their creations is the way to go. We have come a long way since The Punisher wasn’t running around in a shirt with a skull on it and Captain America was battling an Italian Red Skull.