The Avengers is the fruition of one of the most ambitious cinematic projects undertaken by any studio in the entire history of the medium, and that this movie even exists is already cause for celebration. How awesome is it that this movie actually turned out to be great.
Under the helm of Joss Whedon, The Avengers features a tightly written, compelling story that weaves together the individual narratives of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk laid forth in the previous Marvel movies. What’s most impressive about it is how well the ensemble worked together and how balanced the story was, with no single Avenger really stealing the limelight. This isn’t an easy thing to do – this movie practically threw in four leading men whose characters have superhuman egos – but Whedon gave ample time for each of them to shine and be fully fleshed out. In fact, Whedon is a perfect fit for this franchise, with his offbeat humor and fluid fight scenes reminding me of his earlier work (Buffy, Dr. Horrible).
What I like the most about superhero movies in general is the introspection and self-examination that comes along with the job. Is having superpowers a blessing, or a curse? Questions about power, responsibility and what it really means to be a hero — that’s the stuff that gets to me, and this movie is chock full of brooding superheroes whose interior dilemmas we get to be privy to. In fact, a huge chunk of the movie focuses on them fighting each other and resolving their personal issues. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a team breakdown to realize that they need each other, especially when the fate of our entire planet is at stake. The premise seems clichéd, but the delivery is refreshingly novel.
The final climactic battle, which is a little reminiscent of the final scene of Transformers 3 (my only criticism of the movie), is the culmination of two hours worth of in-fighting and soul-searching. You don’t have to be a fanboy to appreciate the gravity of The Avengers finally assembling — the formation of the group doesn’t only mean that they’ve overcome Loki’s manipulative tactics but also that they’ve set their egos aside and have come to accept a purpose greater than themselves that they can sacrifice their lives to. And you don’t have to be a superhero to want that sense of meaning as well.