So how do you pose a threat to a demigod, a supersoldier, a man in an indestructible metal suit and a hulking green juggernaut? Well, you really can’t. But with a surplus of loud explosions, massive battles, and limitless CG effects you can feign the right amount of adventure to appease fans of such monumental clashes between good and evil. The Avengers keeps the concepts simple enough, but piles on so much mayhem it can become wearisome to those not previously invested in its subjects and willing to readily believe in the delirious events transpiring on screen. If you’re not cheering by the time our gang of superheroes takes down a giant mechanical space worm, you probably knew a long time ago this movie wasn’t for you.
As Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the agents of the secret military agency S.H.I.E.L.D. attempt to harness the power of the extraterrestrial energy source known as the Tesseract, the villainous exiled demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns to Earth to steal it. Along with the cube, Loki brainwashes and kidnaps assassin Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) to aid in his devious plot to conquer all of humanity. To combat this new threat, Fury reinstitutes his scrapped “Avengers” initiative and sets about gathering together the world’s greatest heroes – Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
The posing, evil grimacing to denote villainy, and arsenal of one-liners are at an all-time high in The Avengers, which works to assemble a group of superheroes that constantly compete for screen time, one-upmanship, and the last laugh. The humor is actually overdone, poking fun at all of the characters and situations to the point that audiences will probably question which absurdities they should be taking seriously. And that’s detrimental in a film overflowing with fantastical silliness, both visually and from dialogue. It’s bad enough that despite gods and alien worlds, the extremely advanced technology is still unbelievable – and that jargon like gamma signature, thermonuclear, quantum, fusion, and cognitive recalibration sound so ludicrously forced for the sake of convincing viewers that the Avengers’ instruments are beyond general comprehension.
Although it’s not quite a sequel, it still only feels appropriate to measure it up to films like Transformers 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man 2, Superman Returns and the like. It’s not as mind-numbingly nonsensical as a few of the aforementioned titles, but it doesn’t look or feel original, and the abundance of special effects and overwhelming destruction create nonstop spectacle without substance. Never once is there any real peril; this is made upsettingly apparent with the inclusion of non-superheroes Black Widow and Hawkeye, who are just too drastically inferior to go up against global catastrophes initiated by intergalactic alien wargods. With a complete lack of definition for the various powers exhibited by the antagonists and protagonists alike, their massive demolition of Manhattan and battling one another for the title of “toughest superhero” means very little. They might as well all be invincible. No villain is formidable enough and no force threatening enough for these cartoonish CG-inundated extravagances to be sympathetic.