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The Avengers Assemble: Review

May 7, 2012

Does The Avengers stay true to its roots? Becka Seehra talks in this guest review

Loki: What have I to fear?
Tony Stark: The Avengers. It’s what we call ourselves, sort of like a team. “Earth’s mightiest heroes” type thing.
Loki: Yes, I’ve met them.
Tony Stark: Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction, I’ll give you that one but, let’s do a head count here. Your brother, the demi-god; a super soldier, a living legend who kind of lives up to the legend; a man with breath-taking anger management issues; a couple of master assassins, and you, big fella, you’ve managed to piss off every single one of them.
Loki: That was the plan.
Tony Stark: Not a great plan.

I’ve seen most of the Marvel Comic adaptions with my dad. Although I’m not much of a comic reader myself, he all but grew up with the stories now re-written for a new generation and there was one phrase that was repeated after every film we saw: “It wasn’t like that in the comics”.

Now, we know it is difficult for adaption films – things that work in books or comics won’t always work on film – and, most importantly, things that worked for comic readers in the 60s and 70s may not have the same effect on film-goers today. One of my dad’s main gripes with Thor (2011) was that the origin of the superhero Thor was far different to the comic. In the comics, Thor was originally a crippled man who found a cave while on the run from aliens; in this cave was a stick the man took to help himself walk and then, suddenly, the stick becomes Thor’s hammer and the man himself acquires the powers of Thor (so long as he holds the stick/hammer). In the film, Thor is a god who is banished to Earth and stripped of his godly powers. Perhaps due to my interest in Norse mythology, I was more interested in this retake as it returned to the original Thor of myth.

Thor (2011) poster: not quite a cripple

In essence, my dad preferred the story of a crippled man gaining the powers of a god and I preferred the story of a god stripped of his power and having to redeem himself. Perhaps the reasoning behind this is to do with the generation gap, or maybe it’s our individual interests, but it caused quite the discussion over what would have made the better story.

Then came The Avengers (or The Avengers Assemble, but I think that sounds a bit silly). We went to see it one evening, in 3D, and when we left we had the usual discussion that follows and there was one phrase my dad didn’t say. Yes, The Avengers was the first Marvel film my dad saw where he didn’t complain about its differences to the comic. That is something of a glowing review in itself.

The way the film makers have gone about this film is a stroke of genius. By allowing each character their own ‘origin’ story they were able to bring the audience straight into the action, as it were; each had been established, you know where they came from and who they were and so there was not too much explaining required before we jumped into the story. This doesn’t really apply to Black Widow or Hawkeye but, without pushing them to one side, their backstories are briefly covered in the film and that’s all we really need.

Apart from Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, each of the actors and actresses return to play the heroes (and heroine) from the previous films and it’s clear they really know their characters. The hilarious Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man; a very buff Chris Evans as Captain America (yes, they ARE real); Chris Hemsworth’s scenery-eating Thor returns as does his disturbed brother Loki (“He’s adopted…”) played by Tom Hiddleston; we get to see more of Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner as Black Widow and Hawkeye, who originally appeared in Iron Man 2 and Thor respectively. After turning up only a handful of times in previous films we get to see Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in all his bad-ass glory. As for the change of actor for Bruce Banner/The Hulk, I will happily say Mark Ruffalo does a fantastic job as a nervous Banner, leaving both the characters and the audience unsure as to his mental stability.

Over all, this film really lives up to the hype and the long wait for it pays off. Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios have done a fantastic job with this and using everything that’s come before to their advantage. Looking forward to the next one!

(Note, stay until after the credits!)

Image link: Wikipedia

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