Over the past day or so I have had the privilege of viewing Marvel’s The Avengers not once, but twice. Initially I was wary of Joss Whedon’s vision for The Avengers, but I have to say that he did indeed knock this out of the park. The film is fantastic! Wall to wall action, deftly balanced with solid dialogue (no X-Men worst line of dialogue in a superhero movie crap here) and a lot of great humor that elicited tons of laughter from me.
The basic storyline follows SHIELD forming a team of extraordinary people to fight the battles that normal humanity cannot. Whedon manages to balance the team out perfectly, with each hero having their own story that gives them depth and growth throughout the course of the movie. I did not leave the theater feeling as if any of the main characters were cheated or under-utilized. Each hero is in their position for a different reason (soldier serving his country, showing off and seeking thrills, uncontrollable rage, earning penance for past sins, etc), and each finds some measure of completion and fulfillment by serving together. Whedon portrays their inability to get along (obvious ego clashes) and the need for a real push to play well with each other. But each hero possesses the ability to put their own ego aside in order to save the world when they are needed. Marvel made its reputation over the past handful of decades by creating flawed heroes, and this movie is one more extension of Marvel’s mission, and it is a very engaging entry into their catalog.
From a Christian perspective, there is a lot to enjoy in the film beyond Captain America’s hint toward a Christian worldview in the first half of the movie (“There’s only one god and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that”). There is solid growth for each member of the Avengers, and they are all able to cast their egos aside for the better good. Each is willing to sacrifice themselves if need be to save innocent lives. Thor nobly desires to save his brother rather than see him destroyed, and ultimately wants to see justice served rather than rain vengeance down upon Loki’s head. Bruce Banner is on guard throughout the film, desiring only to remain away from tense situations to prevent the Hulk from harming others. The Black Widow realizes her sins and yearns to wipe out the red from her ledger. Even Nick Fury is willing to stand up against a direct order from his superiors because it is an order that should not be given.
And in one of the more subtle themes in the film, where Loki wants to rule over humanity and subjugate them to his will, Thor points out that in Loki’s detachment from humanity he loses touch with what he would need in order to truly lead them. Overall the theme of human life and its sacred status is a great one for Whedon to hang his hat upon, and it allowed me to leave the theater energized and loving this film.
Are the problems with the movie? Yes. (language, attitudes toward premarital sex, lying and deceiving in order to get people to respond in a particular way). But honestly, aside from the deception being an acceptable motivational ploy to half of the characters, they are few and are not enough to keep me from recommending this film. It is a great comic-book adaptation, with just enough of the fantastic grounded in reality to keep you engaged. (I particularly love some of the character dialogue about the fantastic happening in front of them, saying what many in the audience must be thinking). Take some time this week to go out and see The Avengers if you have not already.
See it twice!