Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Some Assembly Required!

The Avengers  (Paramount, 2012)

Before the Camera:

Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2)
Jeremy Renner (Thor)
Tom Hiddleston (Thor)
Clark Gregg (Iron Man 2)
Cobie Smulders (TV's How I Met Your Mother)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Tina Benko (Photo Op)
Jeff Wolfe (Drive)
Arthur Darbinyan (X-Men: First Class)
Donald Li (Big Trouble in Little China)
Dieter Riesle (The Good Shepherd)
Kenneth Tigar (The Happy Hooker)
Samuel L. Jackson (Amos & Andrew)
Nick Fury

Look fast for:

Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)
Powers Boothe (Red Dawn)
Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London)
Jerzy Skolimowski (director - The Lightship)
Harry Dean Stanton (Alien)
Stan Lee  (Avengers co-creator)

And listen up for the voices of:

Lou Ferrigno (70’s TV Hulk)
Paul Bettany  (Iron Man)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Joss Whedon

Produced by Victoria Alonso, Avi Arad, Louis D'Esposito, Jon Favreau, Kevin Feige, Patricia Whitcher, Alan Fine, Jeremy Latcham and Stan Lee

Written by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon

The Avengers created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Captain America created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

First teased in a post credits tag scene in Iron Man in 2008, The Avengers Initiative was name checked in four more flicks – The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger usually by guest star Samuel L. Jackson – playing Marvel’s resident spymaster Nick Fury, and usually only showing up at the very end of each movie. Amazingly, all of those films were pretty darn good – with no misfires among them. Iron Man 2 was a bit of a sophomore slump – and the least of the five movies, but it was still pretty good. Now, all of those heroes - roll call: Iron Man (Downey), Captain America (Evans), Thor (Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Ruffalo) are brought together in The Avengers – and they are joined by quasi-superhero spies Hawkeye (Renner) and Black Widow (Johannson).

The story picks up the threads from each of the previous movies – some of which contributed more than others – with The Incredible Hulk being the least necessary to the story tapestry, due to Nick Fury being a no-show, and especially since that movie’s Bruce Banner – Edward Norton – has been replaced in this movie by Mark Ruffalo. The Cosmic Cube from the comics - here called the Tesseract, as Cosmic Cube is a little too 70’s comic book alliterative – serves as this movie’s McGuffin after appearing in Thor and Captain America. Thor’s adopted brother Loki pops up on Earth after his cosmic exile at the end of Thor – and he’s been driven more than slightly mad by his dimensional travels. He’s come to Earth to find the Tesseract and use it to open a dimensional portal that will allow his new allies – an army of aliens ready to conquer the Earth – passage through to this world. Nick Fury – the top dog of SHIELD – by the way, just to show off the geek feather in my cap - that used to stand for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law enforcement Division (1965-1991); then it became Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate (1991-present) in the comics; and that has since been changed in the Marvel movies to Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division for no good reason I can discover – anyway, Nick Fury discovers that his SHIELD forces are not going to be enough to go up against Loki and his crew of aliens and super-hypnotized good guys – and he dusts off his mothballed Avengers Initiative. With our old pal Agent Coulson (Gregg) and new face Agent Hill (Smulders) assisting, Fury brings in Iron Man, the Black Widow, and Captain America – along with Bruce Banner as a scientific consultant – with no one thinking it a good idea due to the brutish green Other Fellow Banner brings with him in in times of stress. Unfortunately, Thor is off planet, and Hawkeye has been mesmerized into working for Loki, so the heroes are a little shorthanded. Eventually Thor does join in on the fun – wanting to put a stop to his brother’s machinations; and you just know someone is eventually going to tick Dr. Banner off – and when all of the heroes get past their personality conflicts – settled with some good old fashioned Marvel Comics’ style brawling – they assemble as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – the Avengers – but can even their combined skills and powers stop a madman with Asgardian might and magic – and an alien fighting force that may number to infinity?

In all their glory - Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and the Hulk.

I had been looking forward to this movie from the moment I saw Sam Jackson in the movie theater in 2008. Four years is a long time for a movie to get built up in your head – and with all those heroes to juggle – could even a self proclaimed comics fan like Joss Whedon make an Avengers movie that fired on all cylinders for this longtime fan?

I’m afraid I have to admit –


The Avengers is a rollicking rollercoaster ride of a movie right from the get-go – with a terrific setpiece involving Loki’s arrival on Earth and first battle with the forces of SHIELD – right through each hero’s introduction – everybody gets some prime moments for their character – and on to the epic final battle in and above the streets of New York City. All of the actors are up to the game – no one is phoning it in because they’re part of an ensemble – and you get some fun cameos, including, I’m thrilled to report – Stan Lee himself. The storyline is a fine mix of simple and complex – complex because of bringing in all of the elements from the various movies that led to this one – and if you’ve watched none of the other movies you might find yourself a little lost in the early going – and simple because it’s really just a race to the McGuffin with an epic final battle – but there are lots of little character bits and funny lines throughout and every hero gets to save the day or someone’s bacon at least once. Downey leads the funny line count – which is to be expected – but there are several other humorous bits scattered around as well. Kudos must also go to Tom Hiddleston - who perfects his villainous act from Thor here with a great glint of madness in his every smirk and sneer. Everything to do with the visual side of the movie is spectacular – the sets, the costumes, the effects are superb – and surprisingly – this was mainly shot in New Mexico and Ohio, of all places. And after three attempts to do a CGI Hulk - this movie finally gets it right - with a Big Green who actually looks like the actor who he's based on, and just generally more "there" in the scenes than in either previous movie. Add in Marvel fanboy elements like getting to see the SHIELD flying base - the Helicarrier - and finally getting to see Nick Fury getting in on the action – plus a couple of interesting moments worth waiting through the end credits for - and you have a summer movie that is Marvelous (pun intended) in nearly every way.

In the end – I’m not going to call this the best of all time or the greatest ever made – I think movies need a little age on them before such labels can be applied – but it’s a heck of a movie and I give it my highest recommendation – check this one out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

I couldn't pinpoint the time - but I'm pretty sure I heard it while the baddies where sweeping through one of the office buildings near the end of the movie. Further research is required.

Eye Candy ?

Yes and yes again!

Cobie Smulders (in my heart)

Scarlett Johannson

Welcome to the list, ladies!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says: "The Avengers have definitely assembled -
a kickass Summer movie for everyone to enjoy!"

Thank you BM, and until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I'm one of the very few people on this planet who has no interest in watching this. Never been a Marvel fan, never been a comic adaptation fan, never been a Joss Whedon fan.
    Great write-up though!

    1. You know, though, Harry - as much as you enjoyed Battleship - I don't think there's any way you wouldn't have a good time with this movie - but there you go! Always appreciate a MM drop-in! And where's my German title?

  2. I thought it was AMAZING (my review is going up tomorrow). I was so terrified that it would fail after four years of expectation...but boy did it not!!

    1. I agree with you - and I look forward to your review! Now I can read everybody's - since it won't spoil/build up! Cheers!

  3. I have yet to watch any of the movies that tie into this except Iron Man 2, and that was because of the kids. I thought it was awful, but what do I know. I may have to check this one out. Excellent post by the way.

    1. Hmmm, do I smell a Crazy Movie Weekend: Superheroes 2 - with all of these movies as the main fare?

  4. I loved it. I'm going to carve out time to watch "Captain America" in the near future.

    I loved the fact that the film featured, to a large degree, the classic SHIELD I loved reading about in the comics when I was a kid. Complete with the Heli-Carrier! Yay!

    And an added bonus was that Samuel L. Jackson actually played Nick Fury instead of just doing Samuel L. Jackson-type schtick.

    1. Steve - good to see you! Yeah, they really knocked this one out of the park - hope you enjoy Cap - I thought it was a corker too!

      Yeah - I was thinking in the first third how much I'd enjoy a SHIELD movie, maybe with Hawkeye and Black Widow - but no one with any more powers than that!

      And it was awesome to see Fury finally do more than show up after the credits!

  5. Great write up and I agree with everything you said - except for the eye candy as I would have like to see at least one Chris get a mention!! ;-)

    K :-)

    1. Ha! Yeah, my Eye Candy department is definitely gender specific - and those boys - while cool as all get out - just don't qualify! But thanks for the kind words!

  6. Great write-up. Saving the best for last with the photos! Cobie Smulders, yowza! And Scarlett...sha-wingggggg!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, those ladies are zesty nice for the eyes!

  7. i want to see it again... period, yes period!
    though Agent Robin Sparkles was only thing i could think of with Cobie... sorry.

    1. I got away from watching HIMYM after the second season - so I've never actually seen her as Robin Sparkles - but I actually thought she came off well as a cool secret agent. No apologies needed!

  8. I want to see this again and again. I knew Joss would create the most excellent of Marvel films to date. I have a discussion up at 1:37 Exactly, Russell's movie site. Whedon was the perfect director and writer for this film as he comes from that comic world and has a unique understanding for being able to bring a powerful ensemble together and make it work. He even made Captain America cool for me. Something I thought impossible after that Boy Wonder Virgin from Brooklyn from his origin film. He got much more out of Evans than Johnston did.

    Avengers shocked with its amazing opening haul and I think the only film that will catch it is Dark Knight Rises. Spidey's not gonna come close. His director has no geek cred, only music videos for pop tartlets. He did do an interesting quirky film called 500 Days of Summer, though. However, I have heard virtually no buzz for Spidey and I'm not living under a rock. :)

    1. Yeah - I was so worried it wouldn't work - or I'd get it built up too much in my head after seeing the headlines for some of the early reviews - but it was exactly what I wanted it to be - hoping to see it again this weekend, actually.

      Ha! Your Cap fanhood finally came out! Excellent!

      Dark Knight's going to do a lot of business. I was actually not looking forward to the Spider-Man movie at all until the trailer on the front of this movie - now it looks good to me - though I totally agree that no matter how well it does it will be distantly behind this flick and Batman!

  9. ...must...satisfy...nerd craving...

  10. i just watched the grand-kids while my son and his wife went to see the avengers--mixed reviews--she loved it, him, not so much---great post

    1. I wish you could have gone along! And I would have bet real money on the opposite re: the reactions - any idea what had him not loving it? (I know all the reasons TO love it!)Thanks for the kind words!

  11. Great review! I still say it's the best superhero movie, but with THE DARK KNIGHT out there, it may not be the best comic book movie. It's a toss up between those two for me. But I did have a blast from beginning to end with this one. For a 2 hour-plus film, it felt like it ended way too soon for me. I could have stayed there for another hour and I usually dislike long films. Look forward to Phase Two of this universe starting with IRON MAN 3 next May.

    BTW, Cobie Smulders - *sigh*

    1. Thanks so much Fred! I do have to say you're splitting a fine hair there to get both The Avengers and TDK a "best" award - but there you go. I hope Nolan's final round of sturm und fledermaus is fun - and not a letdown with all the anticipation riding on it.

      Avengers could have been longer - true! I hardly noticed the length - and that's a pretty long movie! Cheers!

  12. An awesome film indeed. I was worried too since some of the movies have been great (Iron Man) to ok (Incredible Hulk), but it all came together. FYI, I added your list of reviews to our Avengers link list!
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

    1. Thank you so much for adding the review to your list! And doubly so because you aren't cataloging all of the Avengers blog reviews - but some you liked...I am honored!