Arts movie review

Return of the superheroes

The Avengers pleases audiences with slick action and pithy one-liners ★★★★✩

The Avengers

Directed by Joss Whedon

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson

Rated PG-13

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When I found out that Marvel was making a movie called The Avengers where they dumped all their famous superheroes together, I figured it was just another franchise film. Marvel films are known for their explosions, ruggedly handsome actors, and romantic subplots. After watching so many of such films, I anticipated the typical formula. While The Avengers did follow that formula to some extent, it also showed Hollywood how real entertainment should be done.

Trying to explain the plot line to a friend afterwards, I realized that it sounded like a bad B-movie. You pool half a dozen big-name Marvel Comics characters into a team — crowdpleaser Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), boyishly handsome Captain America (Chris Evans), Nordic muscleman Thor (Christopher Hemsworth), the bookish Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) — oh, don’t forget the obligatory femme fatale in a catsuit, Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson). Throw in a dash of villainous alien creatures. Put all of earth in danger of obliteration by said alien creatures and you have your movie in a nutshell.

For those anticipating significant depth in this Marvel movie, I’d recommend you instead head to Kendall Theater for some British indie films. Nevertheless, Avengers turned out to be a hit amongst many moviegoers. Many of my friends still praise it enthusiastically, gushing that it may be “their favorite movie of the year.” Was it necessarily thought-provoking and profound like Inception? Not really. Was there some moving pathos that racked the viewers with tears? Not exactly, except perhaps pity at the alien things squelched by the Hulk.

The driving factor of Avengers’ success has to lie in the quips and pithy one-liners. Aside from the slapstick comedy that ensues during some of the battle scenes, the dialogue between characters is full to the brim with whiplash humor. A quick snippet from a particularly humorous exchange:

Bruce Banner: “I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.”

Thor: “Have a care how you speak! Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.”

Natasha Romanoff: “He killed eighty people in two days.”

Thor: “He’s adopted.”

In retrospect, the humor shouldn’t come as a surprise to the audience considering that the screenplay writer is Joss Whedon, renowned for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and other sensational, well-scripted shows such as Firefly.

The best part of The Avengers is probably having a hero everyone can relate or aspire to on some level. Watching the film with a theater full of MIT students resulted in catcalls and applause every time Tony Stark came onstage. Furthermore, for those who have watched Marvel films before, it’s a treat to see how their favorite characters would interact. I imagine it’s a bit like Fantasy Football except with Marvel Comic superheroes.

Although I anticipated that most of the attendees would be fan boys, I found myself fairly pleased with the selection of eye candy in the male cast. For the ladies whom action is not usually a favorite genre, fear not! Evans and Hemsworth will keep your eyes glued to the screen and you will find yourself cackling at Downey Jr.’s charisma and smart-alecky remarks.

The Avengers proves to be a slick Blockbuster and truly deserving of the entertainment film label. With high energy and comedic moments, it delivers a thrilling two hours’ worth of fun. It’s definitely worth a $10 ticket to the theater on a Friday night.