Ever since the end credits of the first Iron Man movie in 2008, the world has been anxiously awaiting one of the greatest cinematic collaborations to ever hit the big screen, The Avengers. After four years and five movies, the team has finally assembled and the result is a true masterpiece.
Most of the credit goes to writer/director Joss Whedon. Marvel Studio’s decision to have the director helm his biggest project yet was without a doubt the best thing they could have done for the franchise. Few people can weave together not only great dialogue but such a large cast in such a way that is not only entertaining but full of action and suspense. This isn’t Whedon’s first rodeo dealing with such epic personalities, as the creator of such cult shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly he is used to working with powerful ensembles.
Not only did Whedon have the massive task of creating a sequel to five different movies but he also had to create a story that would bring them all together. The Avengers manages to create a believable universe in which all the characters from the previous films interact in a completely natural and organic way. Marvel Studios has created a universe that, while oftentimes fantastical, seems truly believable for the audience.
A key factor in that believability lies in the casting. There was much controversy in the recasting of Bruce Banner with Mark Ruffalo, the third person in the last decade to play The Hulk. Edward Norton’s performance in The Incredible Hulk was impressive but, after seeing The Avengers, not quite the same tone that was needed to further the story of the character. Ruffalo brings just a quiet intelligence and world-weary mentality that takes Banner to a whole new level. Whedon managed to create a Hulk that audiences can love as well. By making the green giant actually look like Banner, it is much easier for audiences to identify with the big, green, smashing machine.
All the characters get their moments to shine, from the fish out of water Thor and Captain America to the consistently arrogant Iron Man. Each one fills a need in the team and once they all come together to fight you will find yourself squealing like a schoolgirl with excitement. There are few movies out today that truly make you feel like a little kid again just watching it. Watching these legendary heroes duking it out with the bad guys (and at times, each other) is worth the price of admission alone.
While it is amazing to see the heroes in action their interaction is just as interesting thanks to Whedon’s masterful use of dialogue. Besides writing for television and movies, Whedon also wrote for numerous Marvel Comics titles including Astonishing X-Men, a series that closely resembles The Avengers. That familiarity with the source material shines through in the movie and creates a much stronger world for the characters to move in throughout the film.
Since its beginning, Marvel Studio movies have managed to bring audiences together in a way that most other comic book movies, outside of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, cannot seem to master. The Avengers covers such a wide scope and gets so deep into comic book mythology you would think that it might alienate those that don’t read the comics. The record-breaking box office numbers have proved that theory wrong. Not only did The Avengers have the largest box office opening ever, beating out Harry Potter, but there are reports that IMAX theaters are running out of seats.
The Avengers is a true cinematic game changer. DC Comics, Marvel’s main rival in the comic book industry, is going to have to really step it up to catch up with this company at the box office. The company now has no excuse for at least trying to make a Justice League movie, something many said was impossible. Marvel’s ability to stick to its source material and still be successful has proved time and again that comic book movies can really be for everyone, not just fanboys.