Friday, May 18, 2012

The Avengers: That's entertainment

After much anticipation and delay I finally got to see The Avengers on Wednesday night. While I wouldn't quite put it up for a best picture nomination, it's non-stop entertainment and 2 1/2 hours of your life you'll spend with an ear-to-ear grin on your face. It's action almost start to finish, with a fun sense of humor (I laughed out loud 4-5 times; there are some great one liners), and plenty of heart-swelling, feel-good, superhero moments as well. Highly recommended.

I'm rather an easy sell for director Joss Whedon. As a kid I read three comics on a regular basis: Captain America, The Savage Sword of Conan, and The Avengers (with a smattering of other titles thrown in). I've still got my old issues. From time to time I've debated selling them off, but I can't seem to pull the trigger. First of all I doubt I would get back what I paid for them, but secondly I have too many fond memories wrapped up in these stories.

I read The Avengers faithfully from roughly 1984-88, a period highlighted by an epic battle at the Avengers mansion against the Baron Zemo led Masters of Evil, a powerful group of evil superheroes that included the Wrecking Crew, Absorbing Man, Goliath, Mr. Hyde, the Fixer, Blackout, and others. That was a great storyline. I remember being almost physically shaken when the Masters beat Hercules into a coma and nearly killed him, roughed up Captain America and tore up priceless photographs of his friends and family in front of his face, and tortured and permanently injured poor Jarvis the butler.

Back then in the pre-CGI days there was no way you could realistically portray the powers of characters like Thor and the Hulk on film. Even Captain America--a human being at the absolute peak of human strength, speed, and endurance--could not be realistically portrayed by an actor given the limitations of the special effects of the time. Today of course it's a very different story, as The Avengers has proven. The only limitation is the budget.

What really gives this film heart is its casting. I've never seen any of the Iron Man films but I already cannot imagine anyone other than Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark. All the actors are good but Downey Jr. was clearly the best. I was pleased to see Captain America emerge as the leader and rally the rest of the team and the local cops on the streets of Manhattan. At times Cap, Hawkeye and Black Widow seemed hopelessly overpowered and out of place amongst such heavy hitters as Thor, the Hulk, and Iron Man, but Cap's true strength is his leadership, his cool demeanor under fire, natural charisma, and an ability to bring together a disparate group of heroes. He also has arguably the best line in the film ("Hulk--smash") though Thor's "he is adopted" (in reference to Loki) is pretty close. Seeing Thor and Hulk go toe-to-toe was worth the price of admission alone (what does it say that I would pay to watch an hour of them fighting).

I'm already looking forward to the sequel, and would love one day to see The Avengers tangle with Zemo and co. on the big screen.


Barad the Gnome said...

I would argue Hulks "puny god" moment was funnier. Other than that, well said

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I loved it too-and Brian! Go rent those Iron Men 1 and 2.

Brian Murphy said...

Barad, you're right on. I forgot that part... funniest scene in the film.

David, I'm sure I will now.

Eric D. Lehman said...

Brian - I read those EXACT Avengers books, and am totally with you on the Baron Zemo storyline. The drunken Hercules going to the mansion and getting beat into a coma was chilling - a perfectly built, tense episode in a longer even better story.

Brian Murphy said...

Eric: I knew there was a reason we shared a special bond!