Directed by Joss Whedon. With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner.
Eight point five. I came to The Avengers with high expectations. I’m not a comic book aficionado but have thoroughly enjoyed the recent spate of high-quality “hero” movies. The Dark Knight is at the top of my list of favorite action flicks and movies like R.E.D. and Kick-Ass are on our quarterly watch list and are thoroughly entertaining. The Avengers, I thought, had neither the soul of the Nolan films or the heart of analogue films like the wonderful Iron Man movies.
Sure, there’s a lot of CGI-fueled action, hot women in tight pants, popular actors having a lot of fun, and even a Stan Lee cameo for the true believers. But the film is manipulative in all the wrong ways. There are petty fights that enable the filmmakers to show us invincible superheroes beating the hell out of each other (if they can’t get hurt, why, exactly, do they fight?), enough drama to make the Kardashians blush, and a plot line that roughly follows the path of a sine wave. And then there’s the acting.
Heath Ledger set the benchmark for the modern villain in super hero movies. His portrayal of The Joker goes beyond playing a part to somehow bringing the character to life (and, no doubt, contributes to the notion that Chris Nolan is one of the great popular directors of our time). Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki as the arch-villain (and sub-par direction by Joss Whedon) is a shadow in comparison. His character is a cartoon playing a comic book character. He doesn’t get under the skin like Ledger managed to do, rather, he irritates it. By the third act I found myself involuntarily thinking, “Die already!”
Having said all this, it seems that it actually is a great movie and that I must not be the right demographic. As of this writing, The Avengers has grossed over 1.4 billion dollars just at the box office. Oh and 8.5, in case you were wondering, is not my rating. It is the IMDB rating—the movie sits at number 101 on their top 250. One of life’s little imponderables I guess.