1.5 The Avengers

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Director:

Joss Whedon

Starring:

Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston

Release Date:

May 4, 2012 (US Premiere)

Summary for Moms: 

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is back with a vengeance. With a magical mind control staff and an army of zombie-like aliens provided to him by a mysterious cosmic benefactor, he wages war on Earth and attempts to acquire the Tesseract in the process. With the fate of the human race in the balance, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) finally plays his hand and assembles a team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: The Invincible Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Together, can ‘The Avengers’ stop the God of Lies, or will they tear themselves apart trying?

Review:

After four years of set-up, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers delivers exactly what we were all waiting for: a no holds-barred superhero smackdown followed by a quick reconciliation of differences before handling a bigger threat. It’s a very packed movie full of visual pizazz and exciting set pieces that leaves little time for reasonable plot or character development. To me, that’s okay, because this is the first Marvel Movie that made me feel like I was watching a classic comic book come to life. If you’ve read the original 60s era Avengers comics, there really is no significant plot or character development. It’s just an excuse to get everyone together to rail on the bad guy and have fun. Let’s face it, the Chituari and Loki’s motivation for doing a lot of this are barely justified or elaborated upon. And there’s a LOT to nitpick. But in the end, who cares if it’s fun? And that’s exactly what The Avengers gives us, which results in a very quickly paced movie, interspersed with relevant character moments that keep the audience from being completely overwhelmed.

When I told my mom about how fast the movie was going to go, she thought that was a good, literal, change of pace from the usual movies she watches, which are very “slow”. Then she made a dull “buh buh buh” sound and a motion with her hands that I guess approximated a turtle.

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The Avengers starts with a bang as Loki reappears — with what my mom calls a “killer smile” — and steals the Tesseract from returning characters Hawkeye, Erik Selvig and Nick Fury. As soon as Tom Hiddleston burst into frame with his signature evil panache, my mom screamed “Oh, my god. He’s alive?!” So I suppose that she’d forgotten Thor‘s post-credit scene. Either way, it’s a good sign that Loki is a memorable enough villain to elicit that response and, since he’s the first villain the Avengers faced in the original comic book, its a nice nod to the source material.

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It’s a good thing Whedon wasn’t too slavish to the original book, because the Hulk was hiding out as a robot clown in that one. Which makes sense, because nobody would ever think to look for him in that situation. Ever. But I digress..

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After Loki’s reintroduction, the movie shifts into high(er) gear and rarely lets up. Nick Fury, who my mom refers to only as “Samuel L. Jackson” — since, really, that’s who he’s playing — leads a good “getting the team back together” montage, along with Clark Gregg’s perennial Agent — now Phil — Coulson. While I call it a montage, it’s better than that, as it’s a selection of successive scenes that each reintroduce each character with a healthy dose of their backstory and personality, for those who haven’t necessarily seen each movie. But it does so with such a light touch that, for those of us who’ve devoured each movie, the scenes are unobtrusive and, more importantly, fun. It also introduces to us the newly re-cast Hulk in Mark Ruffalo, who does a great job as the “timid” Bruce Banner. Despite not having seen The Incredible Hulk (to the chagrin of a great many of you), my mom pegged him as the character instantly. She did seem sympathetic.

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The movie then bounces back and forth between large action scenes and shorter, slower, character beats where the would-be Avengers come to terms with their personality differences and learn to work as a team. This culminates, of course, in the gigantic Battle of New York, which is just a glorious comic book sequence put to film. The panning shot featuring all the Avengers holding back the Chituari is basically a movie splash page and is chock full of heroic “f**k yeah” moments that it’s hard to watch without a smile on your face.

Publicity photo from the film "The Avengers"

But while this may be glad tidings for comic book fans, my mom was only tangentially interested. It may have been a bit too action heavy for her, which is understandable. There are a lot of things going on at the same time that may have been difficult for her to track and I could see her attention fading in parts. Overall, though she said it was “Not bad” and thought the lesson of the movie was that “you can’t fight a war without a team”, which is not wrong.

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So, while The Avengers may be my favorite comic book movie, since it is basically a moving comic book, my Make Mom Marvel rating is going to have to put it at…

Mom Rating (Out of Five):

Avengers Logo Rating

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Throughout the course of the movie, Agent Coulson was upgraded from “that guy” to “this guy”, then, after his death, to “poor guy”.
  • A lot of Joss Whedon’s sarcastic comedy didn’t register with my mom, but she gave up big laughs when the Hulk pounded Loki into the ground and when his roar startles Tony Stark awake.
  • Hulk has been upgraded from “disgusting” to “okay”.
  • Once the credits started rolling, she asked “Is that it? Is it over? Are there no more movies?” No, mom. There’s more. Much more.

Post-Credits Sequence:

  • “Who’s that purple guy?”
  • The shwarma thing did not get a laugh. Sorry.
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