YEP YEP – Not easy to live up to so much hype. But leave it to Joss Whedon to deliver not only an action packed pre-summer super hero blockbuster, but a thoughtful and thought-provoking thematic testament to America.
When Sam Jackson‘s ‘Nick Fury’ consults with a bureaucratic council about the prospect of going to war with a menace from another world, he is lectured that “Wars are not won by sentiments.” To which he responds “No, they’re won by soldiers.”
Enter ‘Captain America.’ And now it’s on.
As much as I liked the action in The Avengers, and there’s plenty of it, what I admired most was the quality of the ideas on display. The philosophical dialogue/debate between ‘Captain America’ (Chris Evans) and ‘Tony Stark‘ (Robert Downey, Jr.) in particular.
Ultimately, whether or not the world will be saved comes down to good old-fashioned American corporate capitalism having to act on its good old-fashioned American virtues and do the right thing.
The cast, predictably, is solid across the board. Downey, Jr. redeems himself big time after the awful Iron Man 2 misfire and his Sherlock Holmes bromance boondoggle. But more importantly, Whedon wisely chose the best villain of the Marvel cadre to date, ‘Loki,’ played with all the right stuff by the versatile Brit Tom Hiddleston.
Hiddleston gave Thor all of the necessary ingredients to work, and in The Avengers he is responsible for the success of two of the picture’s best pay offs. He is an actor with big time charm who can also ratchet up the menace to pull off this sort of otherwise campy melodrama.
I was not a big comic book guy growing up. That was my brother. I did have a stack of “Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos,” so I was a little disappointed back in the first Iron Man with the casting of Jackson as ‘Nick Fury,’ the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. But then it hit me. The resemblance.
‘Nick Fury’ in this film is Kofi Annan and ‘The Avengers’ represent the U.N. A multi-national governing body assigned the task of insuring world peace. “If we can’t protect earth, at least we can avenge it.”
‘Stark’ represents big business, corporate arrogance, and greed. ‘Bruce Banner,’ aka ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (Mark Ruffalo) is science, wielding the biggest hammer of all. There’s a Russian, ‘Black Widow’ (played delightfully and deliciously by Scarlett Johansson), a Nordic demi-God ‘Thor’ (Chris Hemsworth), and dead eye archer, ‘Hawkeye’ (Jeremy Renner). And they all ultimately take their marching orders from ‘Captain America.’ Thank God.
Speaking of God. How refreshing to see a huge studio blockbuster of this magnitude, already a box office record holder, repeatedly embrace the universal significance of the almighty.
‘Iron Man’ and ‘Thor’ clash egos and decide to mix it up, setting up Downey, Jr. for one of the film’s best digs “Doth your mother know you are wearing her drapes?”
But the line that stands out in the scene is when Johansson’s ‘Romanov’ advises ‘Captain America’ to “sit this one out, these guys are like Gods.” Rock jawed and steadfast ‘Captain America’ fires back “There’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
The Avengers kicks serious booty, working on all levels. Amazing how good a film like this can be when the script matters and the details are left to someone as talented as Joss Whedon. God bless him, and God bless the United States of America.