The Avengers (2012)

Joss Whedon

Robert Downey, Jr. - Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/Captain America
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk
Jeremy Renner - Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Cobie Smulders - Agent Maria Hill
Clark Gregg - Agent Phil Coulson
Gwyneth Paltrow - Pepper Potts
Stellan Skarsgard - Dr. Erik Selvig

Genre - Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic Books

Running Time - 143 Minutes

In the secret laboratories of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Cosmic Cube known as the Tesseract is being studied to understand its amount of power. However, the experiments are cut short when Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), emerges from the Tesseract. Now equipped with a special scepter that allows him to control others, especially archery expert Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Thor's friend and scientist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), Loki steals the Tesseract and escapes - wanting to use its power to rule Earth.

Feeling the threat of the world is at its highest, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury (
Samuel L. Jackson) decides its time to make that "Avengers Initiative" happen sooner than later to defeat Loki. He brings in the arrogant genius Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), former World War II hero Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), the finally located Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Russian spy Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and eventually Thor himself - who wants to bring both The Tesseract and Loki back to Asgard. While these superheroes have the power to defeat Loki and his army as a unit, they must first get over their own insecurities and egos before they assemble as The Avengers.


- The story. I first read an Avengers comic book 22 years ago at the age of 9, loving the characters and starting my fan-boy ways with Marvel Comics. As I grew older, I always wondered how a live-action version of the comic books could be possible. It became harder to fathom after watching the X-MEN franchise - a team movie where the characters didn't get equal screen time or even character development, as they focused mainly on one character [that character being Wolverine]. Even the FANTASTIC FOUR films had issues, as Doctor Doom wasn't given enough time to really develop his character, becoming a cliche villain that would make the real Doctor Doom face palm himself. So while I was eagerly awaiting THE AVENGERS, especially after five films that set it up in the course of four years, I was wondering how director/writer Joss Whedon would handle a bunch of superheroes [who are so interesting individually] with equal screen time while focusing on a great villain like Loki.

Being a Whedon fan for so long now, I should have never doubted the man. He handles THE AVENGERS exactly the way it should be handled, and beyond. The main characters all get enough screen time to matter in the plot, while Loki gets enough screen time to become a captivating villain a film of this stature needs.

The reason why the team aspect works here is because most of the characters in the film already had their own individual films, so there's no origin story necessary to set things up. Characters that do need more development [Black Widow and Hawkeye] get their own moments to shine, which helps us understand their place in the group. And those who already have films [Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, and Thor] are even developed further due to the freshness of the team aspect. We see the different philosophies that put Captain America and Iron Man on opposite sides. We see Bruce Banner tired of struggling with keeping The Hulk in check, feeling that everything else that happens around him is nothing compared to what he's capable of as the Green Goliath. It's when Iron Man tells Bruce that The Hulk saved his life from gamma ray radiation that we see Bruce look at his alter-ego in a different light. We see the closeness between Black Widow and Hawkeye, especially after Hawkeye is a slave to Loki's manipulations, feeling lost without the man who changed her life for the better. We watch the other heroes look at Thor with distrust due to him being Loki's "brother". And Nick Fury's true motives in seeking the Tesseract adds conflict between everyone. And then there's Loki, who is used much better than he was in THOR, finally becoming the angry villain who wants to rule a "lesser" world to prove to Odin and Thor that he ought to be King of Asgard and prove that he's more worthy than Thor. Everything clicks. Every subplot leads to something important. Each character gets their time to shine and get better developed than they did in some of their respective solo films. It's amazing how Whedon managed to make that happen, but no character feels like they got the shaft. Even Hawkeye, who gets the least time to develop, still has memorable moments that will help secure him [and Black Widow] a solo film after this. And it's great to see supporting characters, like Pepper Potts and Dr. Erik Selvig appear as well. It really makes the five films before this feel like it's contained within one universe, which is awesome.

I read a lot of people complain about the main plot line - that's it's cliche and generic:

"An evil villain tries to destroy the world with an ancient and powerful artifact, leading to a group of superheroes coming together to stop him."

Supposedly that doesn't make much of a movie. That there isn't much depth to that plot other than what's on the surface. There doesn't need to be more depth than that. The Avengers has always been, first and foremost, about the characters. The fact that we get as much character development for each character in a team film is impressive and really elevates the main plot. These characters have egos and their own agendas, causing conflict amongst themselves rather than on Loki - which is exactly what Loki wants.

Plus, there doesn't need to be a lot of depth to the main plot because we already know what the plan was for these characters since 2008's IRON MAN. The Avengers Initiative was set up and we knew what it was going to lead to. What more do people want? The main plot has been set up within five films prior to THE AVENGERS. Because of this, the story can get right into the action and focus on the struggle in making this team happen as they all meet each other for the first time. And Whedon does that flawlessly because during the course of the film, we understand why they decide to put away their differences and become Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

As for the dialogue - simply amazing. Each character sounds perfect and distinct. The exposition used for some of the characters is subtle and leads to something interesting or important later on. And the humor is fantastic, making a serious plot feel more lighthearted and fun, while still being mature about its subject matter. Whedon just created a perfect balance in terms of the film's narrative. He's always been a great writer, but he worked miracles here. I thought everything worked here better than I had expected it to. I dug the screenplay a lot.

- The direction. Joss Whedon has always been a very good director on previous projects, especially on 2005's SERENITY - one of my favorite modern sci-fi films. On THE AVENGERS, Whedon's vision is just stunning and impressive. The editing is fantastic. The pacing is super quick, as this 143 minute film felt like 90 minutes. The handling of the action left me in awe. The action was shot better than I thought it would be, always building to something later on, rather than being there for the sake of being there. The final act alone was spectacular in every way.

Each character has their own moments and it looks like they popped straight out of the comic book and into reality. The Hulk, especially, is finally used the right away after all these years, smashing the crap out of anything and anyone. Thor finally feels like Thor, with his hammer and creating thunder out of the sky. Hawkeye and his special arrows had some nice surprises. Each character felt authentic and that's a testament to Joss Whedon's vision. The film is extremely stylish as well, with a lot of great use of angles and shadows and such. Just an amazing job, as I felt like a kid again. Instead of reading a comic book though, I was watching it happen before my very eyes in live-action form. Whedon brings the fun and entertainment through his visuals, making him the perfect director to handle such a huge project like this. He has an option for THE AVENGERS 2, which he's very interested in doing. I hope he comes back because I can't see anyone else handling this franchise as well as he did. Just amazing.

- The cast. THE AVENGERS wouldn't work if the actors weren't great. Robert Downey, Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark/Iron Man, finally feeling like the Stark from the first IRON MAN rather than the second one. He had great one liners and sarcastic quips, using his great comic timing for the benefit of the film. Chris Evans is still great as Steve Rogers/Captain America, showing us the confusion he's struggling with after waking up 70 years since his last battle. He handles not understand modern pop culture well, and has a great moment when he finally gets a reference for THE WIZARD OF OZ that makes his teammates look at him oddly. Evans seemed more confident in the role and I can see it getting better in the CAPTAIN AMERICA sequel. Chris Hemsworth is better here than he was in last year's THOR. Again, he's more confident in the role and gets to portray Thor more like the Thor from the comics. He has great chemistry with Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo in many memorable scenes.

Scarlett Johansson got a lot of flack for her Black Widow role in IRON MAN 2, which wasn't her fault really since the script didn't do much for her character until the final act. But in THE AVENGERS, she's a highlight and definitely gives Black Widow more of her fire, spunk, and intelligence. I thought she was great. Mark Ruffalo had a lot of criticism due to the fact that people wanted Edward Norton to continue as Bruce Banner/The Hulk. But Ruffalo proves that he's the best actor to perform the role in a live-action film, as he gives Banner a quiet, funny, and emotional portrayal of a man still struggling with the beast within. Ruffalo is also the first actor to also portray The Hulk as well as Banner, doing mo-cap for all the stuff CGI Hulk does in the film. I thought those scenes were massive highlights and Ruffalo did an amazing job being the best Hulk ever. I hope he gets his own solo film because I would love to see it. If any actor and character were the main highlight of THE AVENGERS, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk was definitely it. I loved his scenes with Thor and Loki - just funny and awesome.

Jeremy Renner doesn't really get much to do really as Hawkeye but shoot arrows and get close to Black Widow. But this is really his first major appearance and I'm sure he'll get his own film with Black Widow soon. What he does do is great and handles all the action stuff well. Plus I saw a bit of Clint Barton's stubbornness in him, which was great to see. Samuel L. Jackson was born to play Nick Fury and does it well. Tom Hiddleston is a lot better than he was in THOR, finally allowed to have fun with Loki's villianous ways while still wanting that acceptance from Odin and Thor. I couldn't think of a more perfect first villain than Loki, and Hiddleston has a blast playing him.

The other actors, like Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Stellan Skarsgard, are all very good in their shorter roles. And Buffy's and Angel's Alexis Denisof voicing The Other was great too. I think this was a fantastic cast in general.

- The special effects. Just amazing. The Hulk has never looked better on screen. Seeing Thor use his powers was a geek moment for me, since he barely did it in THOR. The Chitauri looked great. Iron Man changing in and out of the suit still gets a lot of love from me. And Loki's holograms and changing of outfits was subtle and cool. The special effects team did a fantastic job with this film. The destruction of Manhattan and the S.H.I.E.L.D. hovercraft were stunning and everything felt so epic. The CGI here was used in the right way and only enhanced the story rather than distract from it. This is a comic book blockbuster of a film and the visuals supported that in every way possible.

- The scenes during and after the end credits. I won't spoil the two extra scenes within and after the end credits. But both were great. The after credits scene was the punchline to a joke earlier in the film and I thought it was funny. I was also impressed that this scene was shot just two weeks ago, especially when some of the actors don't even look like their characters anymore [especially Chris Evans, who now has a buzz cut and a beard - he had to wear a fake wig and cover his face to hide the beard]. Just a cool scene.

But the mid-credits scene - WOW. If that's the sequel, I'm so there. I've been waiting for this comic book villain to show up for years. I can't wait for Phase Two of the Marvel Universe if that's where it's leading to. This is getting really good now.

I don't think I could recommend a superhero adaptation more than I can THE AVENGERS. It's everything I wanted in an Avengers movie, and beyond. Joss Whedon has done the unthinkable and actually brought us a team film where no one character feels more important than the other, letting the team aspect shine through in a believable and exciting way. Also watching The Hulk finally BE The Hulk left me giddy in anticipation in what's next for the character. Is the film perfect? I do think Hawkeye could have used more screen time, and maybe more Thor as well. But it's entertainment and geek factor can't be matched at the moment. And that's what THE AVENGERS is all about - entertainment and fun.

This is the way you start off the Summer Movies season. I'm still in awe and geeking out over this one. I really want to see this again and that's rare for me. THE AVENGERS assembled and I loved every second of it. Thank you Marvel and everyone involved for making it happen. Can't wait for Phase Two. I have a feeling it's going to get more interesting from this point on - and that's a good thing. Make Mine Marvel!


4 Howls Outta 4


  1. Stellar review Fred, you nailed it! :D I agree with you 100% This movie was everything I ever hoped it could be and then some. I've never really gotten into the Hulk movies but if Mark get's his solo movie, I'm there! I really wish we could of seen more of Hawkeye cause we all know how I feel about Jeremy Renner. ;) I love Chris Evans and I enjoyed seeing him reprise his role as Captain America. I busted out laughing when he got so excited at the fact that he got the reference to The Wizard of Oz. I leaned over to my sister and told her "He got that joke because he was alive during that time." LOL! My favorite parts involving Hawkeye were the parts he was flying down from the building and shooting arrows to the camera. The other part was when he pointed his arrow at Loki's face. Best movie of 2012. I'll definitely give this movie 5 Skulls! ;) Again Fred, rockin' review. Loved it! :D

    1. Thank you, Jenny. Definitely then some. And I've always loved The Hulk, so to see him be treated the right way was a step in the right direction. I look forward to the solo stuff with that character. I think Hawkeye had some great moments, but he could have used more screen time. But I'm sure when he's in a film with Black Widow, we'll really see him kick some ass. Evans is just as Cap. That moment with The Wizard of Oz had everyone in the theater laughing. And I loved the reactions of the characters around him when that happened. Really great stuff. Appreciate the support, Jenny. I think I'm all superhero'd out at this point. Ha ha! No regrets though. :)

  2. I really hope he's not in a film with Black Widow. I don't want to see them making out. ;)

  3. Nail hit firmly on head, Fred! Such an awesome film and equally awesome review of it.

    1. Thank you, sir. And yes - I want to see it again. First day purchase on DVD/Blu Ray for sure.

  4. Great review! Thought this was a blast to watch. Lots of fun in-jokes (the bit when Iron Man flies in to help Captain America and Shoot To Thrill plays) and great action sequences especially with Hawkeye.

    1. Agree about everything. I laughed when Shoot To Thrill played [the entire theater did too]. It's so Tony Stark and I loved Cap's reaction to it. Hawkeye did have some great scenes. Wish he was in the film a bit more, but you got enough where you understood who he was and why he was part of this group. Thanks!

  5. Jenny's right - perfect review of a great movie, Fred! Your love for these characters and movies comes through - and you made me want to get up and go watch it again RIGHT NOW!

    Since we've been building up a Marvel Movie Review Tapestry - here's the link to my view:


    Cheers and double cheers!

    1. I appreciate that, Craig. I'm a pretty big comic book geek, so this kind of film was right up my alley. I'm still thinking about it, which is extremely rare. I'd like to see what Marvel does after this and if this will make DC step up their game now - which would benefit all of us.

      I'll definitely check out your link. Cheers!

  6. I've just stumbled onto your site but thank goodness I did. This is an amazingly written review. I agree that this is the best team superhero transference onto a big screen. And the characters are just so much better and it is truly amazing how they all manage to get their own moments. The Hulk is the best surprise for me. Though I did not follow the comics closely, I used to diligently watch the series back in the 70s and Mark Ruffalo's Hulk and especially Dr Bruce Banner are the closest to the Hulk series I remember. The other two were a little too 'out there' and didn't resonate with me. I am even more impressed now that I know Mark did all the Hulk acting himself. And I so agree that Tony Stark in this movie is more like the one we met in the first Iron Man movie. He frustrated me a bit in the 2nd movie but I excused him coz I adore Tony Stark, lol. So it's nice to see him back to form. Pepper just balances him. Thanks again for such a wonderful review. It's great hearing such glowing words from like-minded fans. I had so many geeky moments in the show and truly adore its great presentation. Kudos Joss Whedon! I've been a fan since Buffy. Please come back for the next one!

    1. I love new readers and commenters! Thank you so much for stumbling onto my site. And I agree with you. The characters are great on their own, but they gain more layers trying to unite into a supergroup against their wishes really. The Hulk was definitely the highlight of the film. I think it's the best portrayal of the character since the TV show years ago. I had doubts about Ruffalo, but he proved me dead wrong. He played both a weary Banner and The Hulk to perfection. Look forward to his solo films since he signed a huge contract. And Joss Whedon is the Man. Ever since Buffy, he has done no wrong with me. He's had my top 2 films of the year so far with THE AVENGERS and THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Nice to finally see him get the recognition he's deserved for so long now. As for AVENGERS 2, I do believe he's pretty much signed without signing a contract. He's already brainstorming the sequel, saying it'll be a darker and more personal film rather than a ton of action - sort of like THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Sounds good to me! Appreciate the comment!


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