Tuesday, September 17, 2013

'Marvel's The Avengers' Review -- Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1

(Photo Source: Marvel)
This is it! We're one week away from the series premiere of ABC's new drama Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As part of my countdown, it's time for the final review in my blog series where I review every Phase 1 film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Marvel's The Avengers
(Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 1--Avengers Assembled)

This is the movie I was looking forward to the most out of all of them. As I made my way through this franchise--through Phase 1--seeing each individual Avenger as they got their start as superheroes and their first tasks and missions and how they each dealt with immense responsibilities and consequences, I couldn't wait to see them all come together. I've obviously heard many great things about The Avengers, so I wasn't expecting to be let down.

And let down I wasn't. One word pretty much sums up this film: EPIC. That's what it is. And it starts off immediately with action right from the start that continues to keep my attention throughout. They doesn't waste any time introducing everyone, yet at the same time it doesn't result in a rushed story. To use the word again, each action sequence is epic; the filmmakers certainly aren't holding anything back. And there's humor throughout, even in the most serious of scenes--I think that's the mark of a strong writer if they can manage to pull that off.

I already knew Loki would be the villain, so I was curious to see how he would make his reappearance  after his supposed downfall or whatever you want to call it in Thor. I'm still not quite sure if I understand what actually happened to him between films. How is he still alive? When he was "defeated," was he just wandering around through different worlds?

The Iron Man suit has always been impressive, and each film he's in keeps making it even more cool. For example, in Iron Man 2, there's what I call "Iron Man in a Suitcase"--it's a fantastic way to unveil his alter-ego. Here in The Avengers, what impresses me is just the opposite--how Stark gets out of his suit: as he's walking through his pad, all the technology around him is taking the suit apart piece by piece. Very ingenious, really, and shows the advancement of visual effects and how far it's come over the years from the first film in 2008 to even four years later. (On that same note, the special effects in The Avengers are far and above any of the previous films in this franchise combined. One such VFX that has left me in awe is that war ship that can fly--I mean, seriously!)

Speaking of Stark, are he and Pepper now officially a couple? I know in the past, there have been hints of a budding relationship. Whether that meant they were actually together or not, I didn't know. So to see them kiss takes me by surprise a bit. Unless I just have a bad memory and don't remember what happened in IM2.

In the Hulk movies, a different act has played Bruce Banner each time, and of course it's no different this time around, with Mark Ruffalo now taking a stab at it. In my Incredible Hulk review, I said I wasn't too keen on Edward Norton, or Eric Bana in 2003's Hulk. As far as Ruffalo goes, I don't really have much of an opinion on him. He hasn't been established like the other Avengers have been, so it's kinda hard to tell. He's no Robert Downey, Jr., someone who is iconic as Iron Man/Stark. So maybe I can say again that you can put anyone in the Hulk role and it wouldn't matter, because Hulk/Banner isn't that kind of character that you can relate to or find intriguing or whatnot.

On the topic of new faces to the franchise, there's the addition of a new Avenger we haven't met before (or rather, haven't been properly introduced to, as I'll mention in a moment)--Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner; even after this movie, we don't really know him yet, and that's mainly because he didn't have his own movie like the others did, meaning he hasn't been established, but I still do really like him. I've realized that this character seems to be a mix between Legolas from The Lord of the Rings and Renner's character in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. All three are bow and arrow toting bad-asses, so to speak.

(Side note: I didn't find this out until doing research for this review, but apparently Hawkeye has a cameo in Thor--and I never knew it! So I looked into this further, and he's there working under Coulson's orders during the scene near the end when Thor is trying to get his hammer back but can't pull it out. You would think I'd notice someone with a fancy bow and arrow--I guess I was just paying more attention to Thor and Coulson. Though when I looked up the clip on YouTube, it came back to me and I remember the lines he says there, like "I'm starting to root for this guy." Now I wonder if there are any other cameos such as this one that I've overlooked?)

There's also the Black Widow, who we've seen before. In The Avengers, we start to get a hint of a backstory. She has a past and a connection with Hawkeye--someone mentions Budapest at one point; what happened there? I'm really curious. I have to say, I love Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of the Black Widow; granted, I have nothing from before to compare her to, in terms of someone else playing the character.

I loved her during the Iron Man 2 climax sequence and wanted to see more. And here during the action sequences when she's out of the shadow of the others, she proves she can hold her own (unlike the Hulk/Bruce Banner), and I want to know her full story.

I hope she gets her own movie eventually. Joss Whedon has said in interviews that there will be a Marvel movie with a female lead at some point--I really hope it's her; at the moment, I can't see anyone else breaking that glass ceiling in the Marvel universe, especially since she's at least a little bit established at this point. And when I say I want a Black Widow film, I say that with the condition that Johansson will reprise her role.

Captain America: The First Avenger Review -- Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 >>>

We see tension between some of the Avengers when they first interact with each other, getting off on the wrong foot by fighting in some instances. The impact of the shield and hammer against each other shows how powerful each is. Iron Man's personality rubs Captain America the wrong way. (Speaking of which, Stark's personality is just as fantastic as ever, and Robert Downey, Jr. has yet to let us down.) It's good to see that tension and friction between these good guys, because in the past they have been essentially in charge of saving the world individually, and now they have to work with five others.

The film does a good job of letting the heroes stand on their own separate from the previous films. I like the jokes about Captain America being gone all these years--that's one of those things where you should watch all the movies in the MCU series to understand the backstory and inside jokes, but of course this one can still stand on its own if you don't want to take the time to see them all.

As far as characters outside of the superheroes, there's Agent Coulson and Nick Fury. They and S.H.I.E.L.D. are more actively involved in this one than they've ever been before, which  makes sense. And it really is nice to see more of them, because whenever they've made appearances in the past, it's been very quick and there never was much of them.

Before I even started watching any of these films, I already knew that Coulson would die in The Avengers because of the fact that he's in the upcoming ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the early promos and trailers made a big deal of the fact that he died and has resurfaced. But the funny thing is is that even though I knew all that, I'm still taken aback and shocked when it actually happens, when he gets stabbed; I guess I didn't expect it to happen so soon. For all intents and purposes, he dies, so I wonder how the TV show is going to explain that he's still alive. (I want to say I've heard it'll be a mystery for a while, though don't quote me on it.)

As The Avengers ventures toward the end, I kept thinking, can they top the first big battle in the middle? And they certainly do. It's never ending epic-ness, espcially to see all the Avengers together on the street. (I know I keep bringing up that word, but it's the best word I can possibly use.) And the reptilian-like robotic devices--fantastic.

Now, Loki is still not dead. He's in Thor and manages to stay alive, I guess. He's in The Avengers and has not been properly defeated. And I know he'll be in Thor: The Dark World. So will he ever die? I mean, isn't that what happens to villains in big action-adventure flicks? To me, it doesn't seem very believable that it wouldn't happen. But he is a huge fan favorite, so I'm sure there would be an uproar if they killed him off.

As I've done before, I have to bring up the bonus clips (not to mention that Stan Lee has his regular cameo, this time during the news clips). There's the mid-credits scene where the commander of the Chitauri is reporting to Thanos. I assume this is setting up something for The Avengers: The Age of Ultron (or is it for Thor 2 or Captain America 2?). And the post-credits scene has the superheroes eating at a cafe following the battle--a final bit of humor courtesy of the director. In a way, it feels out of place considering how epic the battle is, but this is Joss Whedon after all.

I can't say enough great things about this film. The other movies really were just opening acts. I couldn't take my eyes away for one second. I really wish I had seen this in theaters, and I want to watch it again. Hopefully, the sequel can live up to the first. I give The Avengers an A+, and if I could give it a higher rating, I would.

Well, that's it, folks! I've had A Very Marvel Summer these past several weeks  and months watching Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel's The Avengers--otherwise known as phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I've had a blast and overall give rave reviews to these movies.

Now I'm all set for the premiere next week of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and look forward to seeing this world extended to the small screen on a weekly basis.

Phase 2 began this past May with Iron Man 3. I haven't seen it yet, but it's coming out on DVD the same day the TV show debuts, so I plan on watching it as soon as possible, and I hope to have a review up for that as well.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 Reviews:


  1. I really do recommend watching IM3 as soon as you can. There's a plot point from the movie that gets picked up in the first episode of Agents of SHIELD, so, while not required, it's helpful background viewing.

  2. I was under the impression that SHIELD take place after the events of The Avengers, not after IM3, so thanks for the heads-up on that; I'm hoping to watch it as soon as I can after it comes out. BTW--when did you get the chance to see the first episode? Was it at Comic-Con or something?

    1. It takes place after Avengers, yes, but also after IM3 (which also takes place after Avengers, obviously.) It's basically set in the MCU 'present'.

      I haven't gotten to see it yet myself, but one of my best friends got to go to Comic-Con and gave me a pretty comprehensive rundown.

    2. I've got an update on our conversation: I'll be watching Iron Man 3 this weekend (and holding off on watching the SHIELD premiere until I do so).