A typical superhero action movie, but one that still delivers the thrills you expect...
In just the past five years, several Marvel superhero movie adaptations have been released, namely Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and two Iron Man movies. Each time they hit theaters, I couldn't help but think that they follow a standard superhero movie formula. You would think that people will eventually get tired of this kind of movie. But then, in the spring of 2012, we get The Avengers, a superhero movie that still feels like other superhero movies but at least does one thing different: uniting characters from other films into one.
This is a good time for me to address the question that you are likely to ask. Is it necessary to watch Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Iron Man 2 before The Avengers? In short, the answer is no. Any crossover movie, where characters from different fictional universes (or different parts of the same universe but never seen together previously), is best enjoyed when one is familiar with the backstories and plotlines of the characters. Whether anyone else can enjoy it depends on how the movie is written. Thankfully, The Avengers provides enough of a gist of who each character is. I never found myself lost while watching it.
With that, here is the cast of characters. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, the director of a peacekeeping agency called S.H.I.E.L.D. The heroes that he enlists to deal with a potentially catastrophic threat include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk (replacing Edward Norton who last played the character). As for the villain, it's Tom Hiddleston as Loki, who was previously seen in the movie Thor.
The plot centers on a tessaract, a blue cube of intense energy that has the power to open portals to other dimensions. In the beginning, a laboratory accident involving the tessaract opens a portal, allowing Loki to enter our world and escape with the tessaract. Much of the first half of the movie involves Nick Fury enlisting all of the other heroes to form a team called The Avengers. As a result, there's not much action other than in the beginning. The wait is still worth it, as the movie gets to an action scene where Loki leads an attack on an airborne aircraft carrier serving as a headquarters for Nick Fury and the Avengers.
That's not to say the non-action scenes aren't engaging. On the contrary, because The Avengers is essentially a crossover movie, there are interesting moments where the heroes verbally and physically play off each other. For example, Iron Man and Thor, during their first encounter, square off in a duel of technology versus magic. Later, Iron Man is taunting Captain America by reminding him that his super powers came from a laboratory experiment, essentially coming out of a bottle. These seemingly different characters do fit nicely together in the same movie.
The only other notable action scene besides the aircraft carrier scene is the climactic fight between The Avengers and Loki's forces in New York City. There is intense destruction of buildings (thanks to today's modern special effects) plus lots of gunfire and close combat, all spanning a period of what seems like 20 minutes. It's very much like watching the climax of a Transformers movie (if you've seen any of those three live-action flicks). I mean this in a good way, of course. Basically, if eye candy is your thing, you're going to love this part of the movie.
Even if The Avengers attempts to be a bit different from the last couple of superhero movies, it doesn't deviate from the formula all that much. Therefore, I can't say this movie is extraordinary. That's not to say it isn't entertaining, exciting, and cool, because it is. It's simply a standard superhero movie. Maybe Hollywood is really trying to make as much money off superhero movie francises as possible. Even if that were the case, I'm not complaining. The important thing is that The Avengers is a fun movie to watch.
For more information about The Avengers, visit the Internet Movie Database.