As a long time Marvel comic book devotee who knows each characters back story and the lore and mythos of the "Worlds Mightiest Heroes," I'm one of the ones who has been chomping at the bit since “The Avengers” film was first announced way back when.
I'm also a discriminating film critic and I'm glad to say that “The Avengers” fulfills everyone's expectations from the hardcore Marvel Avenger fan, to the casual moviegoer who has gotten engrossed in the crossover storytelling that Marvel introduced us to in the five films that preceded it.
Within minutes of the film's opening the action is in full swing and rarely lets up throughout the 2 hour 22 minute running time.
Serious Marvel fans like me, will finally have answers to the obscure hints and references that were scattered throughout the Iron Man, Captain America and Thor films to which classic Marvel characters and objects come into play in this superhero ensemble.
Brief flashbacks at strategic intervals help viewers re-familiarize themselves with characters introduced in one or more of the five preceding films and help tie together plot points that led up to this movie.
I won't spoil anything for those who haven't already learned all the secrets the film holds, but I will say that as in the original comic book iteration, Loki, Thor's quasi-brother, is the megalomaniac villain that brings the team together.
Played by Tom Hiddleston again, Loki is now on Earth and has stolen a super powerful weapon and teamed up with an army of aliens and in an attempt to rule mankind.
Of course this plan doesn't sit well with General Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) the head of S.H.E.I.L.D. and he assembles the heroes he's been collecting over the course of events into a super team to respond to the threat.
With the film being a collective effort, like the team it's named for, no one star gets more face time than any other, more or less. However, Samuel L. Jackson's, Jeremy Rener's and Scarlett Johansson's characters (Nick Fury, Hawkeye and the Black Widow respectively) are more involved in the plot than they were earlier in the franchise.
Noticeably missing are both of Iron Man's sidekicks James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War Machine and Happy Hogan. This is curious since both characters were featured so significantly on both Iron Man solo movies, but to be fair, neither character was involved with the formation of the Avengers in the comic book canon.
One of my few criticisms about the film is the fact that rather than being shot in 3D, the effects were added in post-production, which I have yet to see an instance where that's a good idea. Also, in an attempt to capture the framed feel of a comic book the cinematic rely on some odd camera angels and extreme close-ups that tend to be distracting.
Overall though, the special effects are outstanding. The computer rendering of the famous massive S.H.E.I.L.D. helicarrier is impressively realistic. At times the 3D effect really does work, like with the technology surrounding Iron Man. The truly noteworthy special effects belong to the team that brought this version of the Hulk to the screen.
Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island), who is seamlessly replacing Edward Norton as the Dr. Bruce Banner, is the first actor to play both sides of the beast on screen. This is accomplished by utilizing virtual-camera-motion-capture technology like what brought such realism to King Kong, Gollum (Lord of the Rings) and Cesar the chimp (Rise of the Planet of the Apes).
The highly anticipated final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes later this year will most likely be the other film that redefines what epic means to Hollywood. Until then, “The Avengers” has written the first entry in what looks to be a pretty good year for both comic book fans and movie fans.