Heads up: a thunderbolt is about to rip into the blanket of bland we call summer movies.”The Avengers”, director Joss Whedon’s absolute stunner of a movie is a potent provocation decked out as a comic-book movie. Feverish action? Check. Dazzling spectacle? Check. Devilish fun? Check. But he’s just warming up. For summer movies, the first rule of fight club is that testosterone beats estrogen. Sorry ladies. And if every summer movie were as spectacular as this one, the world would be a better place. Ever since “Iron Man” hit screens back in 2008, we’ve been constantly teased about a possible gathering of superheroes. And I must admit: I’ve wondered how Whedon, or any other director for that matter would deal with so many heroes in a single movie. Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye and even The Black Widow! You do the math. My only complaint is that the movie- total blast that it is- doesn’t jazz us with the thrill of discovery. Screw it. I won’t complain. “The Avengers” knows how to jump the hurdles and have you smacking your lips for more. For that, all credit to Robert Downey Jr., who is still exuding his irresistible loose-cannon vibe as Mr. Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man. Add to the equation a terrific Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain “Steve Rogers” America, Mark Ruffalo (who replaced Edward Norton) as The Hulk, Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner as newcomer Hawkeye (give him his own movie already!). Hell even Scarlett Johansson is in it (as Black Widow). Need more proof to see this movie? Try a great villain. Locki’s the name, and you’ve seen him before in last year’s “Thor”. That’s right, that’s Thor’s brother, and he is plotting to destroy Earth, with help from an alien army. Sounds pretty damn straightforward. And it is. But Tom Hiddleston (excellent in “Deep Blue Sea”) brings so much to his Locki character, and makes him damn near irresistible. He’s smart, sarcastic, and occasionally funny. He’s the best villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker.Very cool. But The Avengers are a formidable opponent. I won’t spoil what happens, but prepare to be knocked for a loop.
Done with the plot? Time to unleash the special effects. It’s a spectacular experience for sure, but Whedon doesn’t just rely on cheap tricks. For him, character comes first. Always. Yes on the surface, it sounds like another “Transformers”, but with a heart, a clever script and a sense of humor all its own. We are only willing to go through over two hours of action if we are given a reason to care for these characters and truly believe that there’s something at stake. Whedon does exactly that, even if his film doesn’t always stay on track. Michael Bay, watch and learn.
At the end of the day, “The Avengers” is the shit because Whedon is too funky to settle for slick. And the actors do something even more resonant for their superheroes: They give them a soul. The movie is also proof that comic book adaptations can be both funny and dark. So who cares about plot holes and a few tacky effects? Go, Avengers! You just made this summer movie the badass place to be. And if my instincts are right, the movie may also turn out to be a party suitable even for ladies’ night. Now that would be something.