US, 2012, 142 minutes, Colour.
Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Jenny Agutter, Powers Boothe, Harry Dean Stanton.
Directed by Joss Whedon.
How many superheroes does it take to save the world, especially from invaders from other planets who plan global control and have the Tessaract, a source of unlimited energy, at their disposal? Such is the question posed by this new Marvel Comics extravanganza (3D and all).
With all respect to the particular powers of each of the superheroes gathered as the Avengers Team, they cannot save the world by themselves.
When Loki (that meddlesome god, Thor’s brother, here reappearing in the form of Tom Hiddleston who often steals the show with his smug presumption and mischievous repartee) arrives on earth to achieve his mission, S.H.I.E.L.D, under the leadership of Nick Fury (Samuel L.Jackson) decides to call in the help. This means that Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Robert Downey and Gwynneth Paltrow) have to make different plans. Bruce Banner (keeping his Hulk anger under control in the form of Mark Ruffalo) has to come in from charity work in India at the behest of Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson has a lot more to do in this one than in Iron Man 2). Now we know why Captain America (Chris Evans) has been frozen until this moment - for a new mission. And, since, Thor is Loki’s brother, the god himself turns up speaking, as one reviewer cleverly put it, like a Shakespearian Druid.
This takes up the first part of the film, audiences enjoying the opportunity to see their old heroes again. Robert Downey steals the show with his self-confident, boastful and amusing one-liners, especially taunting the rather stolid Captain America and the fighting-for-control Dr Banner. Meantime, Loki is enjoying himself at the expense of all.
The second part is the attack and the defence. Not all going well at first, especially for Hulk and Thor who find themselves hurtled into almost oblivion. But… After an attack on Manhattan (plenty of destruction) and the ruling council (very hawkish) sending a nuclear warhead to destroy the invaders, there is only split second timing for Iron Man to intercept and destroy the bomb and for Natasha Romanoff and scientist Erik Selvig (Skellan Skarsgaard recovered after he and agent Barton, Jeremy Renner, have been transformed into allies by Loki) to close the portal and destroy the aliens.
The closing credits include some indications of the future (but, the ever eager to rush to the exit at any sign of a credit audience will have missed them).
The fans are acclaiming Joss Whedon as the master of this kind of Marvel movie adventure.
1. The appeal of the superheroes? A super comic hero ensemble? Spectacle, action, saving the world?
2. The popularity of Marvel Comics, the screen adaptations, characters, the diversity, the idea of bringing them together?
3. Imagination, fantasy, suspending disbelief, images of heroism? Struggle between good and evil?
4. The opening situation, the tesseract? Unlimited power? Energy? A world of many planets? Aliens? The plan to subdue the humans? Loki coming to Earth, his plan for conquering, for ruling the world?
5. The introduction to the situation on Earth? Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D? His character? The loss of his eye? Samuel L. Jackson and his style? His interactions with the council? The way they were pictured, the visual panels, in the shadows? Hawkish attitudes? Agent Hill as his assistant, her efficiency? Clint Barton and his role, Erik Selvig and his scientific contribution? Loki taking over, his taking their personalities and controlling them? The loss of the tesseract? Fury and his plan?
6. The Avengers’ project? The introduction to each of the superheroes? Coulson and his visits? Meeting Tony Stark and Pepper Potts? Persuading them? Natasha, the interrogation by the Russians, her reversing the roles, on the phone? Her going to see Bruce Banner in India, tricking him into the meeting? His agreement? Captain America, the history of his being frozen for seventy years, his coming into action? His costume? Audiences’ response to each of these characters in the previous films? Loki? The villain? His clashes with Thor? Thor and his being recruited? Thor and his fighting Captain America, fighting Tony Stark?
7. Fury, his secrets, the plan for the weapons, the world situation, armament? The discoveries by the group? The reactions? Tony Stark and his unravelling the issues? The response of the council? Their reasons?
8. The squabbles between the superheroes, the comic touches, the verbal repartee? The fights? Captain America as upright and rather stiff in manner, his clashing with Stark and seeing him as self-centred? Bruce Banner and his research, being quiet, having things under control? Yet always angry? Stark taunting him? Thor and his suspicions?
9. Barton and Erik, their work for Loki, their hostilities, Barton and his arrows, destroying part of the spaceship? Natasha, the confrontation, the fight with Barton? Enabling his change? His being on-side, participating in the final battle, his arrows? The heroics, Natasha and her encounter with Erik, his change of heart? His having an inbuilt protection system?
10. The attack on the spaceship, the repairs? Thor being tricked by Loki? His being plunged into the abyss, landing on Earth?
11. Coulson, his work for Fury, loyalty, the weapon, confronting Loki, his death?
12. Bruce Banner, his anger, getting out of control? His raging through the ship? Confronting Natasha and the others? Natasha and her confrontation with Loki, tricking him into revealing his plan? The Hulk’s visuals, action, the rage against Natasha, landing on Earth? The encounter with the caretaker and getting some clothes and going back on the motorbike?
13. Loki, his character, arrogance, disdain, yet flawed? His presumption?
14. New York City, under attack, the alien creatures, their fighting, destruction? The reptile look of the spaceships? The police, helping the civilians?
15. The council, firing the bomb against New York? Fury and his contacting Stark? Iron Man getting the bomb, taking it through the portal, exploding the aliens? His return to Earth? His being frightened back into consciousness?
16. Iron Man, his sardonic attitude to life, realising that his building in New York was the centre for Loki? His selflessness, sardonic, his knowledge, his final heroism? Reunited with Pepper?
17. Erik, Natasha and the spear from Loki, closing the portal?
18. Thor and Loki, bound together, going back to space?
19. The happy ending for all? But the sinister postscript during the credits about possible further action by aliens against Earth?
20. The overall effect of this kind of mega-spectacle? With mega-heroes?