Jesus fucking Christ, it’s insanely good.
I could actually leave it at that. Coming out of the cinema this afternoon with my jaw on the floor and my pants thoroughly wet, I was tingling more than a little bit from the sheer excitement of what I’d just seen.
We all know these characters now. We know where they’ve come from and we know why they’re here. And that’s fantastic, because it means that we can get right to it. The Avengers is a strange one, because it is simultaneously the first episode in a series of films and also the sequel/culmination to five others. Which, again, is great. Because the characters can share at least some of the audience’s knowledge; they’ve heard about each other, they’ve watched each other on the news, and now they’re getting to see each other all in the same room. Just like we are.
One of the rules of thumb of comic book heroes is that, when they first meet, they have to fight. And whilst we want to see them teaming up and kicking the shit out of some bad guys, we’re just as eager to see them kicking the shit out of each other. I mean, who wouldn’t love to see Batman and Superman go head-to-head on the big screen? It’s just good fun. And we get good fun in droves. Thor fights Iron Man, then Captain America gets involved, then Hulk attacks Black Widow, then Black Widow cripples Hawkeye, then Hulk twats Thor. Excellent!
So! We’ve got the egotistical, narcissistic Tony Stark, the brave and noble Captain America, the straight-talking Thor and the humble, kind of sweet Bruce Banner. And, really, we should chalk The Avengers up as a win just for not falling apart at the seams. Here we have four characters that, between them, have carried five solo films. And, inevitably, some of them get a little more screen time than others. But on the whole, Joss Whedon does a thoroughly admirable job of keeping it all together when it could quite easily collapse under its own superweight. The script is paced beautifully and there is never a slow moment. There is always something going on to keep you in. Honestly, I did not take my eyes of that screen. I didn’t even do my usual thing of lowering my 3D glasses to see the difference (four years of 3D cinema and I still do it). Although we get a lot of laughs from Tony Stark constantly ripping into Captain America (even when they’re helping each other out), for me it was the relationship between Stark and Bruce Banner that I found the most intriguing. They bond over their shared passion for, and understanding of, advanced science, which the other heroes struggle to follow. They quickly establish a mutual respect, and Banner doesn’t even mind when Tony occasionally prods him with a sharp stick to try and get him angry. But a genuinely beautiful moment occurs when Iron Man, battered and paralysed, comes plummeting down through the atmosphere. For a moment we all forget that a third Iron Man has been commissioned, and we are on the edge of our seats praying for a miracle. And suddenly the Hulk springs into shot, grabs Iron Man in the air and cradles him in the crook of his arm as the green giant crashes into buildings and smashes into the ground. And trust me, even the Hulk must have felt that landing.
As for the 3D, well, if you’re seeing it in 2D then you’re not really missing much. But it did look quite nice. The only real complaint I have is more a question. And this is it: when will directors learn that a shaky camera and 3D do not mix? There were certainly fewer sicky scenes than in previous movies (I’m talking about you, Clash Of The Titans) but there were still those moments where everything went handheld and the world blurred like a nightclub after your fourteenth jagerbomb. I know that it was shot in 2D and rendered in post-production, but I just think that, with live action at least, we’re not quite there yet.
My adrenaline was pumping throughout this movie. I’m not a Marvel fan. In fact, I’m not a comic book fan in general. The only ones I’ve read have been The Dark Knight Returns and the Knightfall series, both of which are termed ‘graphic novels’ (to make them sound less childish). But I was grinning from start to finish. The dialogue was sharp, the action was on fire and not a second of screen time was wasted. Despite (or maybe because of) the hype that’s surrounded this release, I went into the cinema expecting to be (even a little) disappointed. But I wasn’t. I just wasn’t. Forty-nine years after they first appeared in comic books, The Avengers have made it to the silver screen. And what an entrance! What an entrance.
The Dark Knight Rises had better be something pretty special.