The Avengers (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed and Written by Joss Whedon (Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Colbie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson
At the end of every Marvel film seeing Samuel L. Jackson show up as Nick Fury to recruit for "Avengers Initiative" made me an incredibly giddy fanboy. I have read comic books since as long I can remember. I primarily used to read the X-Men titles, but ever since Avengers Disassembled (2004), I have been hooked on this super team. As a little kid I used to play with the action figures, and played the video games, so for me there was a lot of pressure for this film to live up to my childhood hopes. It did.
Without giving too much of the film away, the film starts with the evacuation of a SHIELD base. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is racing to the base with his second in command Agent Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders) tells him the Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential, has activated and opened a portal through space. Loki steps out of the portal takes the Tesseract and escapes. Fury has a bunch of hologram screens with government officials telling him he should not go forward with the Avengers Initiative it was disbanded, but of course they need "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" to save the planet, and the story takes off.
Director/Writer Joss Whedon who is best known for his TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel was the perfect choice to direct this film. Whedon is the eternal fanboy in the director's chair, and perfect person to pen this screenplay. Whedon knows the comic book world well; he has continued to write the Buff, and Angel comics, he has also created a series entitled "Fray"which takes place in the future of the Buffy world. Whedon has done writing for Marvel comics as well. In 2006 Whedon helped relaunch the title series "The Astonishing X-Men" and under his writing it received numerous honors and was one of the best written 24 issue arc of the decade. I had walked away from comics for a few years, but I credit Whedon's writing on this X-Men series to be the reason I returned to comic books.
Fans have been clamoring for Whedon to step behind the camera for years, with a variety of different comic book films, but he waited for the perfect moment. Whedon's only other film credit is Serenity, but boy does he know what he is doing. Whedon makes you feel as though he is one of the fans; he knows the comic book crowd and how to make them happy with both his direction and writing. As a comic book fan he made the film speak to me, and put into full realization everything I had always imagined this experience to be, and he is especially good at bringing the different cast members together.
From Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr's) one-liners, to the Hulk smash the cast meshed well together. The core four Avengers (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk) were the best part. I read Whedon wants to shrink his cast down in the next film and I have a feeling it will involve these four and maybe one more new cast member. I enjoyed Hawkeye; he was cool, but without his own film you lose the characterization. The Black Widow kicks ass and Johansson was better in this than in Iron Man 2, but I still did not care about her character's development because of the lack of depth behind her. Other than that I may have given a few fan boy shrieks, but this movie was just great.