2012 is the year of the superhero, starting with the greatest comic book heros assembling to save the world, followed by Spidey returning to a brand new web accompanied by the delightful Emma Stone, and the Dark Knight rising from the ashes to battle to save Gotham from Banes destruction.
In the coming weeks cinemas across the world will be transformed into a ‘Fanboy Mecca’ with Marvel fans swarming in their numbers to watch their favourite superheros do battle with Loki.
On the face of it the equation seems to be pretty flawless. Add together Marvels six greatest superheros, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the result should be the greatest superhero film ever made. However it’s not quite as simple as that. The Expendables showed that simply adding together the greatest action film actors doesn’t necessarily give you the greatest action film ever made.
Marvel took a gamble placing the responsibility of developing Hollywoods biggest ever superhero film, and the small matter of $250m, in the hands of a fanboy whose previous feature (Serenity) was in no unkind terms, a flop. In the weeks prior to its release there were rumblings of discontent in the fanboy world with some questioning how Joss Whedon would be able to assemble six of Marvels greatest, and deliver a film that incorporated multiple stories, personalities and egos.
The egos and personality clashes of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk alone would have been enough to force fanboys to reach for the Kleenex, but add to that Black Widow going commando in her suit, the Samuel factor (Nick Fury) and everybody’s favourite S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Agent Coulson, and you had to wonder how it would all fit together?
As expected it takes a while to get going, with Nick Fury, Agent Coulson and Black Widow tracking down the five superheros to help defend the earth against Thor’s power crazy half brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who’s hell bent on retaining the all-power cosmic cube to enslave the people of earth.
Things begin to pick up pace once the Avengers are assembled, with Robert Downey’s Iron Man continuously trying to break through Bruce Banner’s cool, calm and collected self to let the Hulk out the cage (going as far to cattle prode him at one point), while at the same time sarcastically putting down goody-two-shoes Captain America one liner after one liner, and constantly mocking Thor’s Shakespearian tongue (“Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”).
After a three way, no holds barred, battle in the forest between Thor, Cap and Iron Man, an airship siege and the loss of a Marvel favourite, the Avengers, disheartened and split up, discover a little something about themselves before the film flies sonic speed towards an end of the world battle that would give Transformers a run for its money. This is where the team really begins to work as a team, with even Iron Man engaging in some self discovery and eventually self sacrifice.
It’s definitely third time lucky for the Hulk. He’s undoubtedly the star of the show. Mark Ruffalo delivers a revived and fresh performance as the shy and smart Bruce Banner, and has rightly been rewarded with a six picture contract with Marvel which will no doubt see the Hulk reach his full potential as a solo superhero.
Surprisingly despite minimal lines, the Hulk is incredibly funny (not since Flubber has anything green been remotely funny). His on going, almost play fighting with Thor, (punching him unprovoked in the middle of battle) gave the audience one it’s biggest laughs, but not nearly as much after Loki claims “I am a God, you dull creature and will not be bullied by….”, only for Hulk to pick him up and throw him around like a rag doll, and strut aways saying “Puny God!”.
Despite Hulk being the real show stopper of the film, I feel the biggest credit has to go to director and writer Joss Whedon. Usually with a film like this you would expect there to be rewrite after rewrite, Whedon nailed it first time, with Tom Hiddlestone (Loki) saying it was one of the best scripts he had read in years. Assembling these six, with the egos of Iron Man and Thor alone large enough consume the rest of the cast, was a feat in itself, but coupled with the pressure of delivering the greatest superhero movie in history, to arguably one of the most critical audiences (Fanboys) makes the achievement of this film even more remarkable.
Despite our heros never being in any real danger (Woody and Buzz were closer to death in Toy Story 3, than any of the Avengers were in this outing), there is 2 hours 20 minutes of humour, action, aliens and superheros which gives you a big enough ‘hit’ to keep any Marvel fan happy until Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 that hit screens in 2013.
The Avengers have raised the bar of superhero films and it will be interesting to see if Marc Webb can reinvent a fatiguing hero in Spiderman and whether the Dark Knight can rise up above Bane and take the crown as the ultimate superhero of 2012. July is going to be a hell of a month!
Check out interviews with Thor, Cap, Hulk and Loki, and talk of Thor 2.