The Avengers (2012) Movie Review


Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

The dreams of comic book and superhero fanboys around the world finally come true with the arrival of Marvel team up “The Avengers”, or “Avengers Assemble” as it’s been released in some countries. Having gone through several years of development hell, anticipation peaked when it was announced that geek favourite Joss Whedon would be directing, pulling together the heavy hitting all star returning cast of Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, with Mark Ruffalo stepping in as the latest screen incarnation of the Hulk.

The plot sees Tom Hiddleston again as the villainous Asgardian Loki, who during his exile after being beaten by Thor has joined with the would-be galaxy devouring alien race the Chitauri, being promised an army to conquer the earth in return for recovering all-powerful energy source the Tesseract. Loki appears in the SHIELD facility where the cube is being held, snatches it and enslaves scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Hawkeye with his sinister glow-stick staff before vanishing. Knowing that war is surely coming, Nick Fury assembles The Avengers, a disparate band of superheroes, hoping that they will be able to overcome their various differences and personality defects and combine their talents to save the world.

Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

First and foremost, “The Avengers” is fun – a great deal of fun. Far removed from the kind of tiresome dark, gritty attempts at realism that some genre outings have aimed for, the film for the most part has a colourful and playful feel, with a focus on banter and camaraderie. Whedon genuinely seems to be having a great time with his characters, and whatever mutations the script has gone through on its long route to the screen, the results are sharp and filled with humour and daft humanity. The film works very well as an ensemble piece, Whedon doing a great job of balancing the various (super) egos and allowing all of them enough time and importance, and as a result each does come across quite distinctly while remaining true to their own origins and franchises.

The film is definitely at its best when exploring the many different dynamics between the Avengers, with some great and frequently hilarious scenes of bickering, fist fights and petty squabbling. Whedon spends a great deal of the long (though not overlong) running time on character, and though there are no real surprises, everything comes together neatly, and when the final battle lands there’s a real sense of fellowship. It helps that the megastar cast all seem to be having a great time, and the film is immensely likeable, even for viewers who are unfamiliar with the original comics. This really makes it obvious that unlike other, director for hire helmed superhero films, “The Avengers” was made by someone who cared, showing a level of craftsmanship and effort which is very pleasing indeed.

Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Evans in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

The film also scores highly in terms of spectacle, with the last half an hour or so basically being taken up with one huge scale battle scene as the long promised alien army finally arrives, complete with pointless but fun giant flying snake machines. Although, predictably perhaps, the 3D counts for very little aside from adding depth to some shots, the film earns points for not inserting any needless effects, and the conversion certainly doesn’t offend or undermine the excellent CGI mass destruction. The action is well handled and boisterous, with all of the characters getting the chance to show off their individual talents, and again here Whedon manages to get the best from his cast, from the earlier scenes of them fighting each other through to their believably fluid last act teamwork.

All of this is just as well, as with his eye clearly on characters, comedy and action, Whedon in the process neglects plot, with there being very little happening aside from in-group quarrelling for long stretches of the film. The Chitauri are introduced briefly at the beginning of the film, only to pretty much disappear until the end in favour of an incredible amount of time spent on the SHIELD aircraft, and while the final conflict is impressive, it doesn’t arrive a moment too soon. As an alien menace, they are sorely lacking, being of the vaguely monstrous humanoid variety seen in many other films and possessed of few determinable skills, easily taken down with an arrow or bullet and their only strength seeming to be in numbers. Loki is similarly unconvincing, and aside from the fact that he had already been (quite easily) defeated by Thor, he is from the start incompetent and is caught slipping on many occasions, at times being played entirely for laughs – admittedly making for some very funny scenes. Certainly, there’s no real sense of threat or tension, with the only real enemy being the heroes’ own egos, their ill-defined opponents coming a distant, distant second.

Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Iron Man and The Hulk in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

This is though a relatively minor criticism, as “The Avengers” is clearly a film chiefly about, unsurprisingly, The Avengers themselves, and Whedon more than delivers on the premise, successfully combining the cast and characters to very entertaining effect. Easily the best Hollywood superhero film for some time, it’s arguably also better than any of the individual franchise films, and should be enjoyed by a wider audience than just the fanboy crowd.

Joss Whedon (director) / Joss Whedon, Zak Penn (screenplay), Jack Kirby, Stan Lee (comic book)
CAST: Robert Downey Jr. … Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans … Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo … Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth … Thor
Scarlett Johansson … Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner … Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston … Loki
Clark Gregg … Agent Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders … Agent Maria Hill
Stellan Skarsgård … Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson … Nick Fury

Buy The Avengers on DVD

Author: James Mudge

James is a Scottish writer based in London. He is one of’s oldest tenured movie reviewer, specializing in all forms of cinema from the Asian continent, as well as the angst-strewn world of independent cinema and the plasma-filled caverns of the horror genre. James can be reached at jamesmudge (at), preferably with offers of free drinks.
  • X_p

    a comics book movie is only as good as its villain. everyone knows that. admitting that loki sucked and wasnt threatening is a huge mistake for the movie. you may all be high from watching your favorite men wearing tights but putting everyone on the same piece of film does not mean its automatically good. who wants to see a bunch of heroes bickering? i dont. i will say i havent seen the movie yet and after reading this im not terribly excited to do so.

    • Dedpool

      Really guy? I mean do you ever have anything positive to say? You are such a downer sometimes. This movie with its “non threatening villain” and other small faults is both critically and fan praised and yet all you can concetrate on is “Loki isn’t threatening?” And yes people do want to see the heroes argue and fight each other. Have you never read a crossover comic? This is the movie version of that, There needs to be tension on the team. If everything were happy go lucky with the team then it’d be a boring movie even WITH a threatening villain. This movie for all it’s bells and whistles is basically set up for the next film and a bigger threat. Loki may not seem threatening when compared to the the Avengers themselves, but he’s a big enough threat to have the brought together in the first place.

      • X_p

        check my posts theyre not all negative, Im just real and dont drop my pants for everything that comes with a marvel or dc label on it thats all. though if it has to do with ninjas im all over it cus thats a real unappreciated genre… Loki was a weak villain in thor and the review even talks about how easily he was defeated. so why does a whole team need to be assembled when thor already handled lokis business??
        cus hes bringing weak aliens, im sorry im not buying it. it doesnt sound epic enough to bring everyone together. seeing everyone on-screen together. small arguments have always been fun in comics but the reason why those comics worked was because they were together for a reason, and by the end of this review i get the feeling im gonna pay too much to see something like big brother or the real world cept everyone is wearing hero outfits…no thanks. im not gonna call that the best movie that coulda been made with these characters.

        • Lexavi80

          Have you actually see the movie? No? Than you really don’t know what your talking about.

          The review remarks the coolness of the movie in a 99%, but you focus on the 1% that wasn’t as positive, and because of that you think the movie is a waste?

          Weird stuff.

          • X_p

            remember when iron man came out? everyone was all happy assed about it? a few months later everyone realized nothing happened in it. no real villain, no real conflict it was just the suit and special effects. it sounds like this is the same way. cool to see everyone together but the most they can muster is a set up for part 2? im sorry but i call bulltish on that kind of movie making.

          • Lexavi80

            Call it what you want, but until you actually watch the movie, your are just empty words.

          • Dedpool

            I wouldn’t say all that. Yeah they realised that the film didn’t live up to it’s full potential but it was still good. Marvel’s films seem to do well with their story telling but don’t seem to want to overload on the action for actions sake. That said they’ve been too tame. Both Thor blew its wad with teh Forst Giants scene, and then didn’t have an epic enough final fight, and IM2 had its best fight with the chase and fight with the Hammeroids. Cap was able to balance it better, but the montage in the middel should’ve been longer. And now we have Avnegers which still has story, but tons of action. Again like everyone else, you’re going on a few reveiws (or one I can’t really tell) and I never just go on those. I use those to kinda see if I see what they saw when I watch it but make my own decisions on whetehr I think the film is good. Personally I think that all three major CBMs this year will be great!

        • TotesMagotes

          And just because the villain isn’t more powerful than the good guys doesn’t mean he isn’t a good villain. The threatening part is that he just loves to cause mayhem and you don’t really know what he’s gonna bring or what he’s capable of.

        • Joedizzle563

          Well X_p, u are still clearly a gullible idiot. So based on the review of one flawed human being, u arent going to go see the movie? Wow, what ignorance, u let other people think for u and decide what to like, welcome to the gullible american machine. I bet u love Jersey Shore just because E! Says its popular. What a waste of human flesh. Go watch the movie and make up ur own opinion of the film, like a real human being would do instead of letting someone else dictact how u think.

      • Tiyoymokring

        You’re a confirmed Chitauri

    • justjoe

      Well, I guess you will miss out on what an “Avenger”-movie should be (and in this case is) all about. Your choice.

    • Nanette Snider

      Loki got exact;u what he wanted – he caused enough of a stir to get Thor to come get him, and for his trouble he won a free ride back to Asgard with the Tassarek. He had no interest in conquering earth – it’s Asgard e wants to rule, and now he is in position.

  • Asdf

    in replhy to X_p…
    your a LOSER…that is all

    • X_p

      lets not stoop to name calling. i dont like your nerd movie about men in tights i am really not the one you should be angry at haha

      • Juggernaut

        You seem to be proding for insults so I’ll satisfy that desire. You suck at life and should be neutered so that a mistake of your magnitude never, ever happens again! The best part of you ran down your momma’s leg.

        • Dedpool

          Well damn! That was…well damn! It’s just a movie…everyone is entitled to their opinion. Scratch that everyone is entitled to their informed opinion, so I say he should inform himself and then give his opinion.

          • Juggernaut

            I actually agree with your outlook. One should not defend nor degreade anything without having the knowledge of said with which to base an opinion. However, our ignoramus friend X_p here, fuck head that he is, wants to be engaged. Well, I’m his Huckleberry!

          • X_p

            still loling a jnut but took a break to respond to my dingleberry hahaha look bro i dont care if you loved it so much you came when the credits rolled, reviews are written to give people ideas of what the movie is about, with these reviews people figure out if they wanna see it or not. this review combined with commercials formed a picture in my head and I wrote it down. its really beyond me why you cant just let me say i dont like it and continue to enjoy it on your own terms. I dont care that everyone else is foaming at the mouth to congratulate the avengers good for you. i see holes and i called them out, if you dont like what i have to say then respond with some form of objectiveness or at least use some humor instead of just lashing out into mindless name calling.

          • Dedpool

            100% Agree! That said you didn’t see the holes, lol, James saw a few misteps. But by all means take the time and let it die down I know how you feel. STILL haven’t watche The Hangover

          • X_p

            got me…touche mr ded…touche hahaha
            sidenote: i think its safe to watch the hangover now, perhaps even part 2 which i enjoyed despite everyone saying its exactly like part one but i feel they pushed for more “gag wise” and it worked well imo.

          • Dedpool

            Still gonna wait. Since there is a part 3 I kinda want the whole thing to be out of the public eye when I finally go back and watch it. I had to do the same for Fight Club, and do you know how hard it was to avoid spoilers for years!?

          • X_p

            Kinda, i still havent seen inception and its tough for that movie cus everyone seems to want to explain it as a joke, and its always an ambush. its really irritating. ill prob watch it soon tho. maybe before the greatest comic book ever the dark knight rises.

          • M@rvel

            Look, retard, you haven’t seen the movie yet so you clearly don’t know dick about it. And if you don’t like comic book movies then get the fuck outa here! Simple as that. Excuse my language, but this dude is grinding my gears.

        • X_p

          lol at juggernaut

  • Jonnydownes

    I Would Like to act as a voice of reason, Loki is the Trickster Norse God he isn’t meant to be big and threatening he is meant to be sinister. Think Goldfinger and James Bond, punch for punch you know who would win but it doesn’t mean he isn’t a good villain or that it is not fun watching Bond beat the snot out of a tonne of nameless henchmen.

    X_p I hope you enjoy your opinions because you are missing out on a seriously fun and thrilling summer blockbuster, and when you go in to school all the other kids will bully you because you are lame, and you missed The Avengers!

    it has already made $165 million in intelligent countries, I think James Cameron and that wizard kid need to keep an eye on their records!! I’m just saying America is a big country and that’s the movies home turf!

    • X_p

      right on Jon, i dont now wanna be one of the cool kids so eventually i will watch it, but ill prob wait for when the hubbub dies down a lil bit and who knows maybe ill change my mind about it but at this moment though im sure i will like the action everything else is up in the air. but i would like to say that the amount of money a movie makes isnt always a sign of how good a movie is. just look at the twilight saga.

      • Dedpool

        Meh it’s a taste thing rally. People will see movies that appeal to them. The Twilight Saga makes money cause the books made massive money and had a gauranteed fanbase. Much like many CBMs. Videogame movies seem to be the exception it seems, as no matter how many people love the games, when the movie comes out people call foul cause they aren’t watching the game they played come to life exactly on film, which in my opinion would be a mistake. We’ve seen that story. And I stress that SEEN it and lived it! SO throw me some homages to moments form the game, put the main character in a new situation and give me something differemt. Which is the same formula for CBMs. Book adpatations have more wiggle room becaue they are NOT a visual medium. So people want to see the scenes from the books play out, and possibly different or even better than they pictured in their head.

  • Asdf