Beneath all the action-packed body-twisting combat scenes and explosive three-dimensional graphics, Marvel's The Avengers is truly a story of what happens when the forces of good unite to overpower evil. Joss Whedon's take on the classic comic series, originally published in 1963, embodies an engaging action film that manages to portray the overarching themes that define the original comic collection.
In the film, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) summons the superhero alliance when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army of power-hungry aliens attempt to destroy Earth. The heroes must join forces, each harnessing their individual skills and powers, to retrieve a cosmic cube from Loki that holds enough energy to destroy the planet. Iron Man (Robert Downy Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) join Nick Fury in a mission to track down the cube and ensure that it doesn't fall into the hands of evil.
Visually, the graphics and 3-D technology are stunning. This is a movie that truly exemplifies what 3-D films should look like, with chunks of shattered buildings flying towards the viewer during fight scenes. The audience enjoys a new element of depth in even the simplest of shots, from a camera angle down an elevator shaft to following Iron Man's flights in his jet-pack- powered suit. This makes the film more interactive, allowing fans to truly feel immersed in the experience.
In addition to the alluring aesthetics, one of the most charming aspects of the film was the eclectic bits of personality each Avenger brings to the plot. There's a tinge of Tony Stark's self-absorbed cocky nature pitted against the humble yet heroic Captain America. The reclusive Hulk and stealthy Black Widow also make for a compelling mix of characters. Thor and Loki, separated brothers and each gods representing the struggle between good and evil, added to the mounting conflict throughout the story as well. For viewers that haven't seen each character's individual feature film, there are enough personality traits and back-story bits to keep fans in the loop.
With a star-studded cast representing Marvel's Avengers, there was little room for failure in terms of performances. The audience is familiar with most of these actors from previous screen adaptations, but this is the first time Mark Ruffalo has played The Hulk, following actors such as Edward Norton and Eric Bana in past portrayals.
The 44-year-old actor certainly has a variety of movie genres under his belt, starring in titles such as the quirky romantic Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind to psychological thrillers Shutter Island and Zodiac. But Ruffalo fit into the time-bomb tempered Hulk role well, acting as a scientist constantly struggling to keep his anger under control.
Underneath all of the impressive visual effects and attention-grabbing combat, the movie upholds the comic book's feel-good ideals. The Avengers, alongside Nick Fury the admirable agent Phil Coulson, and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D's staff, board a massive aircraft to track down the coveted cube. With each supernaturally strong personality bottled up in one location for an extended period of time, tensions were bound to rise. This is exactly what Loki and his minions had hoped for, with the hero's negative energy fueling the powerful cube.
But, in true comic-style fashion, when the heroes realized that they needed to put their differences aside and work together, success ensued. Beneath all the dazzling effects and action-filled sequences, The Avengers achieved just what the graphic novel intended-to tell a great story. One of the hallmark features of comics is the ability to portray moral-reflecting themes through images and dialogue, and that's exactly what Whedon did with The Avengers motion picture.
The movie delivers just what fans love about graphic novels, leaving the audience feeling somewhat heroic, empowered, and fulfilled. In one of the most compelling and rewarding scenes in the film, Iron Man states something along the lines of: If I can't save the world, you can be damn sure I'll avenge it, encapsulating the energy and determination apparent throughout the adventure.
The Avengers hit theaters on Friday, May 4th in 3D and IMAX theaters. Check out the trailer below, which premiered during this year's Super Bowl.