(Published in The Sunday Guardian on 29 April 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/superhero-reunion)
Cast: Samuel L Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston
Director: Joss Whedon
Rating: 4 stars
The audience at my screening comprises the groups I expect it to – comic convention regulars who can recall every panel of everyMarvel superhero book, teenagers who’re prepping to become cool geeks, couples who believe a superhero movie is healthy for infants and film critics who’re looking warily at the rest.
A superhero film that brings together six powerhouses, of whom four have had their own films, is bound to be an orgy of catsuits, fake muscles, noise, CGI, and some kind of radiation. The crowning achievement of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is giving everyone some preen time in the film’s two-and-a-half hours, even while bolstering the watery plot with witty dialogue, philosophical contemplation, and a guest appearance by Stan Lee, whose line will make the comic-literate chortle.
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man pretty much owns the film, courtesy his repartee with Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Chances are you’ll enjoy the ego clashes more than the storyline, with its good-wins-out theme. I mean, the plot revolves around the borderline gay adoptive brother of the noble superhero wanting to take over the world after obliterating most of it. The good thing is, the writer-director seems to be laughing at the kitsch of it all.
Only in a comic could a body like the S.H.I.E.L.D be entrusted with the protection of a power-heady cube that’s surging with inexhaustible energy, and is coveted by the power-hungry supervillain. I mean, even Tolkien only needed hairy-legged little people traversing mountains. Of course, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) get a super-cool flying battleship. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gets some nice lines and temporary possession of Tesseract.
You know the rest, don’t you? One or both of the superheroes who haven’t had their own film thus far has to be kissed by someone. Scarlett Johansson has to be part of an S-and-M style interrogation. Iconic buildings will go down. There will be Germans...whaa? Nevermind.
So Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Lord of the S.H.I.E.L.D, assembles his best men and hottest woman to save Manhattan (and therefore the rest of the world). What follows is an adrenaline fest of which the most emotional part is a fan-crush, and whose most cheerful character is a villain who declares, “I am burdened with a glorious purpose.” Yes, the superhero propensity for depression could make Nietzsche and Sartre look upon the lot with pitying eyes as they burst bubble wrap and munch cotton candy together.
The Verdict: What’s not to like about a superhero slamathon?