The Avengers

I’m not too old to go to a midnight premiere — especially if it’s something I really want to see. That’s how I wound up in the Cobb Theatre late Thursday night with three of my closest guy friends, waiting for The Avengers to start. I didn’t get home until after 2:30 a.m., and I got up the next morning around 7.

Was it worth it?

Hell yes.

The Avengers is a great movie. Had I a third thumb, it would be three thumbs up. I’m trying to think about how to write about the movie without 1) spoiling it for people; and 2) using another word besides AMAZING.

In a movie where there are multiple stars — Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, and Samuel L. Jackson — it would be easy to give some of them short shrift. That doesn’t happen here. Everyone gets their moment(s) to shine. And in a film that clocks in at more than two hours long, the film rarely drags.

Gliding right up to the edge of the spoilers: The Hulk steals this movie. The CGI big guy is by turns monstrous, powerful, nasty, and funny. And frankly, Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner better than anyone else who’s taken the role on the big screen. We’ve seen Banner as wooden and angry (Eric Bana) and intense and whiny (Edward Norton). Neither of those guys comes close to what Ruffalo does with Bruce Banner.

Ruffalo infuses Banner with sad, wry humor — he’s a weary soul who knows exactly what kind of damage the Hulk can wreak if he’s let loose. One of the most touching moments in the movie is when Banner finally admits how he has maintained control of the raging beast inside him: “You want to know my secret?” Banner says as he turns to run toward the fray. “I’m always angry.”

Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark/Iron Man with his usual panache and manic wit, and Chris Evans is still a better Captain America than I ever thought he’d be. ScarJo does what she does, Hemsworth is serviceable, and Jeremy Renner is simply badass as Hawkeye. I did want to see Hawkeye in the mask — unfortunately that doesn’t seem like it’ll be happening.

Also, I HAVE to shout out to Clark Gregg, who plays Agent Coulson — he’s so marvelously understated with the earnestness and humor he brings to the character. The Avengers wouldn’t have been the same without him.

The only place where the movie drags, IMO, was when the aliens (Aw, come ON, that’s not a spoiler! You KNEW there were aliens!!!) attack midtown Manhattan. No offense, but I’ve seen a lot of attacks on New York — in film and sadly in real life. It just doesn’t have that much impact anymore. Still, that’s a minor quibble.

Director Joss Whedon (who did two of my favorite TV shows — Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) outdid himself, really showcasing what he can do when given a proper budget and time to hone the characters. I left the theater dazed with happiness. This is The Avengers movie we’ve all been waiting for. I can’t wait to see it again. And again.

 

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