‘The Avengers (2012)’- Throwback Review

Imagine an alternate universe where The Avengers ultimately failed to reach its massive potential. Nobody was prepared for how the ultimate crossover event would ever come out when it’s something comic book fans have been waiting to see. The buildup was successful for years before with its standalone films. We all know 2008’s Iron Man was the smartest launch for the MCU. Followed by The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, it culminated in one special superhero team up the likes we haven’t experienced before. 

When Thor’s evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Joining Fury’s “dream team” are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

There were really two movies everybody was pumped out of our minds for the summer movie season of 2012: The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Two films of opposite properties? What a time. But the wait finally arrived to see the long-awaited taste of what writer and director Joss Whedon had to show. The excitement was real, as it was all I could think about all week at school. If I weren’t going to love it, life would be meaningless. I recalled being a tiny bit sick that Sunday morning, worrying I would miss it, but I fought through it. It was packed for a noon showing at AMC Castleton Square 14 when seeing it with my mom. And after it was over, leaving the theater was one of the most fulfilling times that will live on forever.

We’re talking about the one movie Marvel has been riding on for years to come to life that isn’t an hour-long cartoon special or a cheesy show from the ’70s. As though he’s very much a disgrace now with learning about his work ethic, Whedon was the perfect choice to do this massive project years in the making. Everybody knows he’s all things geek among fanboys with his work on television with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the cult favorite Firefly, and its film continuation Serenity. So the task of not messing this up was high, especially for setting up the Avengers during the ironic post-credit sequence in the original Iron Man. What had us worrying was how a single movie would have all these characters we’ve known for the past few years into a story that can balance them and the conflict at the center. That hasn’t been done on this scale before that mattered. Short answer: Yes. Everything I had hoped for didn’t lead to disappointing reactions.

And the biggest factor as to why it worked is the group of characters at the forefront of it all. Many of us grew up with them through the comics or their movies, which made us appreciate them more. The focus is entirely on their shoulders to make them more than just your average heroes in a suit or mask. They’re surprisingly fleshed out to perfection, with these different personalities almost not getting along at first before having the idea of working together to stop a common enemy. It would’ve been strange to have a raging, green monster, a supersoldier who fought in World War II, a Norse god, a billionaire in an armored suit, and two humans with no fantastic abilities, but they all have a chance to stand out in their worth. Even while it’s going with the Earth is in peril, and they have to stop the bad guy throughline, let’s not hide the fact it isn’t the most groundbreaking story. However, there’s enough in here in the fast-paced two-hour-plus film that does not once leave you bored.

After rewatching it four years later, the performances have never been more impressive. Must I tell you why Robert Downey Jr. is incredible? Never once has he been phoning it in with his always perfect Tony Stark/ Iron Man with his great sense of humor and genius mind that as he described himself as a “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” that makes him mature by those around and pushes him to be a true team player. Chris Hemsworth as Thor was great so much more than in his first solo feature, wielding his mighty hammer. Chris Evans as Captain America is the more serious of the three, but he’s still adjusting to being unfrozen after 70 years. Some weren’t too pleased with Mark Ruffalo replacing Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/ Hulk. Though as much as I thought his solo movie was good, I didn’t mind seeing another actor take on the part. Nothing was a distraction when I thought Ruffalo’s performance really made me believe this was the best live-action version of the character we’ve gotten in. He hasn’t “hulked out” in a while, calming himself and making him with more humanity. He only becomes his alter ego twice, but he completely steals every scene he’s in. I even loved the CGI work for the character too. Why? Because they actually Hulk’s face looks like Ruffalo. That alone was one of the reasons why it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow pretty much showed the naysayers that she’ll feel pointless being included in the movie and she actually gets more to do in this than her screen time in Iron Man 2. And Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye was definitely the weakest addition out of the bunch since a large portion of the film has him under Loki’s mind control, alongside Stellen Skarsgard’s Dr. Erik Selvig. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do much else until then. At least he was developed more later on in the sequel and his Disney+ series. But we can’t have a great comic book movie without the villain, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki proves he’s the best baddie out of all of Phase One. Maniacal and evil who wants to take everyone’s freedom away and has a way of controlling our heroes’ minds. I loved every scene he’s in, along with the tense brotherly relationship with Thor.

But it’s able to keep your attention with the incredible action. When these movies get brought up on social media, the annoyance with nitpicking the look gets in my head. While Seamus McCarthy’s cinematography wasn’t outstanding compared to everything else in the MCU, it doesn’t take away from the spectacle of the screen. With a couple of characters at odds early on, the fight between Iron Man and Thor in the woods or Thor vs. Hulk inside the helicarrier can’t be unwatched. Everything leads up to the Chitauri invasion in New York in the last 40 minutes, which is simply amazing. Was it too much like the finale from Transformers: Dark of the Moon? That’s just insulting to think that, even though this might be the second movie to use a blue beam to the sky. But once all the Avengers come together to put an end to Loki’s plan and army, that’s even everyone uses their skills and abilities to save the citizens of the city in glorious stride. The geek inside me will never get sick of having a smile during the epic pan-around shot with Alan Silvestri’s score accompanying it. And without teamwork, what’s the point of living.

Unlike his shallowness and unprofessional work with the reshoots of whatever his Justice League was, you sense Whedon made the valiant effort to make this haven for fans everywhere. Marvel’s plan for creating this shared universe to exist only now is nothing but a reward for what’s been done here. It works as an old-fashioned superhero film that’s different from what we’ve seen in the three sequels later on. And this proves cinematic universes have the strength to be accomplished with a plan.

At the time, it was honestly one of my favorite behind The Dark Knight (obviously) and stayed high on my MCU ranking. I know a few who don’t appreciate the movie like everyone else, and I don’t know what’s wrong with them. The Avengers was the highest-grossing film of 2012, ranking at over $600 million domestically. This was the third biggest movie of all time behind Titanic and Avatar. I was eating at Five Guys when I saw it made over $200 million during its opening weekend. It was unbelievable, indeed, and it might’ve been the first Blu-ray I ever owned.

The Avengers should’ve not worked for a massive superhero film, but it did rightfully so. While it isn’t perfect, this is what a summer blockbuster should be like when it’s a fun and adventurous time with an ensemble of memorable characters and action wildly succeeding on every level. Of course, some will disagree, but I personally think this is one of the most fantastic Marvel movies ever to be released.

Grade: A-

The Avengers is now available to stream on Disney+. Runtime: 142 Minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference. Studio: Marvel Studios

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