When it comes to adapting comic book characters for the big screen, there's essentially two groups that make up the audience. There are those that are completely familiar with the characters and will have high hopes for the movie. They can also be the harsher and more vocal critics when the movie doesn't come across exactly the same as the stories in the comics. There are also those that don't have a deep knowledge of the intricacies of the characters that have existed for decades. Filmmakers have to find a balance between the two but are forced to try to gear the movie more towards the larger group, those that may not know every little detail of all the characters.
The Avengers is an extremely ambitious movie. We've seen disastrous results in past comic book movies when too many characters vie for time on the screen. Stories can become too convoluted when the plot of the film has to weave together the histories and motivations of all the characters. Looking at The Avengers, we have six heroes on the team along with three main characters that are essential to S.H.I.E.L.D. Nine characters plus the villain, all vying for time on screen.
The great thing is, Joss Whedon makes it all work.== TEASER ==
As a comic book reader, I've learned to leave my high expectations at the door. I know the movies cannot be exactly the same as the comics. It's understandable that some elements can't be transferred and portrayed in live action. The fact that the average moviegoer isn't fully aware or may not fully care about the decades of history is something else that causes bits of compromise. Yet while watching this movie, I did feel as if it were made for me.
One of the brilliant moves on Marvel Studios part was to have movies such as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and even The Incredible Hulk serve as preludes to The Avengers. The basic set up is already there. We've seen Sam Jackson's Nick Fury or Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson invite the others into the "Avengers Initiative" so the basic idea of the team already exists. That doesn't mean we're going to see the team sitting around the Avengers Mansion waiting for a large catastrophe to hit the world.
The movie explodes with action before the credits even hit the screen. The idea of the Avengers may exist but it was never fully realized. Obviously there will be a need for the team to join together and we do still get to see that process. To have all the heroes suddenly together, hold hands and face the bad guys would be too much. Comic fans will rejoice in seeing the conflict, apprehension and suspicion when the heroes are together. The concept of costumed heroes isn't part of this world. We need to be convinced that these individuals can join and operate together as a team.
With that being said, we get to see a lot of fighting. In a surprising and completely comic book nature, we get to see hero fight hero. This is something we've seen countless times in comics. It may be an old gimmick but when executed properly, it can be enough to make you want to rise out of your seat and cheer. Comic book readers often find themselves part of a conversation over who would win if two characters were pitted against each other. With all these larger than life characters finally coming together on the big screen, it would be a disservice not to fulfill the fanboy fantasy of seeing which character is tougher or more skilled.
There are many layers to this movie. It's not just about the gathering of the team or seeing them fight each other. There are multiple acts to the story. Having the movie set at nearly two and a half hours allows the film to tell everything it needs to. At no point does the movie feel like it's dragging. Each character is given more than enough time on screen to convey who they are and why they are there. The story seamlessly allows for a good exploration into who everyone is. Seeing all the familiar characters from the other movies is refreshing and seeing them here together makes you want to see even more. Once again, Whedon needs to be given the credit to making each character feel important while not making the pacing stumble or slow down.
With such a big cast and a grandiose platform to utilize them, action is crucial. There have been many scenes released in trailers and TV spots. An action film can't rely on a series of big effects taking place one after the other. Thankfully we don't get that here. There is rhyme and reason to how everything plays out. When the big battle scene occurs, it is all coordinated brilliantly. You get a grand scope of how large the arena is for all the action and the movie manages to jump around with ease, perfectly showcasing each character in their part of the battle.
With so many characters and a need for heavy action, it's easy to assume all we'll get is a series of big glossy action scenes. That is not the case. Aside from the opening act, the gathering of the team and the set up for the villains' plan, we do get to find out more about each character. They are all pretty much familiar from the previous movies but we get to see even more of them here. They are each allowed the chance to grow and evolve. You wouldn't think it'd be possible when the movie has so much it needs to deliver.
This movie is a comic book fan's dream come true. With the established nature from the previous films, we have the core of the characters' origins already set in motion. The characters do get a chance to grow and each plays a crucial role in the overall story. Even those with less flashy powers are seen to have an important role. Non-comic book readers should be able to jump in and embrace the story as well. Everyone will know who all the players are and we are still given any additional information needed if any of the previous movies hasn't been seen. It was an ambitious movie with a big set up. The great thing about it is, it delivered.