Graphic Language: None
Strong Sexual Content: None
This is the stuff summer blockbusters are made of: a team of superheroes must learn to put aside egos and work together against an other-worldly threat of massive, CGI proportions while the future of the planet hangs in the delicate balance, culminating with a massive battle that levels a major U.S. city. At the helm, a writer/director known for witty dialogue, incredible characters, and a penchant for giving audiences what they want. In short, The Avengers is every fanboy’s dream, and wow, is it a bunch of fun to watch.
The Avengers is the uber-sequel, weaving together storylines from Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. Not that it’s a prerequisite to see those movies prior to enjoying The Avengers, but if you do, it’ll save whispering to your 12-year old to explain to you what’s going on.
Loki is back. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is Thor’s jealous, adopted, evil brother who wants nothing but revenge. He’s looking for an ancient item of immeasurable power—the Tesseract (previously seen in Captain America). The tesseract is a small, unassuming cube, but contains enough power to rip a portal open to other worlds in the galaxy. Loki’s goal: to let in an army of aliens known as the Chitauri and invade Earth.
The director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury (a cycloptic Samuel L. Jackson), has decided that the only hope for Earth is to enact his long-awaited “Avengers Initiative.” The Avengers Initiative, simply, is a plan “to bring together a team of remarkable people, so when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could.” But first he and his team, including Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) also known as Black Widow, must convince Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and later S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to join the team. Once all the heroes are together, it’s clear that egos are going to take precedence. Sharp-witted Tony Stark bickers with fish-out-of-water Steve Rogers, Dr. Bruce Banner battles with himself, Hawkeye is mindlessly in the clutches of Loki, and Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t telling the whole truth about earth’s plans for the tesseract—it’s just so incredibly well-written.
Director and co-writer Joss Whedon (Serenity, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer) even-handedly doles out screen time, while managing to surprise the audience a number of times in the movie by making us think that something is about to happen and then doing the complete opposite. Another testament to Whedon’s mastery is just how funny the movie is. A movie of this magnitude could’ve been devoid of all life, have a paper-thin plot, and just be two hours of CGI aliens and buildings getting blown up—but Whedon manages to give The Avengers something a movie like The Transformers never had: heart. Whole lines are missed because of the audience’s raucous laughter (a scene with Hulk and Thor, it’s worth the price of admission).
From Hulk himself, to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s floating fortress, the alien’s beasties to the city falling apart, the special effects are absolutely stunning. The Avengers seamlessly connects the real world to the computer-generated. And, if there were a way to physically gush about the cast in an online magazine’s movie review, let it be so. Again, Avengers could’ve been just about eye candy (Downey Jr., Evans, Hemsworth, Johansson, all seemingly bred from a higher, more chiseled thread of stock than normal humans) but the characters were all unique, well thought out, deftly written, and perfectly portrayed.
The Avengers is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, but steers clear (smartly so) from any gratuitous bloodshed. Some of the fights take place between the heroes themselves, while Avengers saves the more violent fights with Loki and the invading army.
Overall, The Avengers is by far Marvel’s best movie yet. It’s a must see in theater, in 2D or 3D, and stick around after the initial credits for a teaser (of course) for The Avengers 2.
Thor and Loki are both referred to as “gods” in the movie, and Loki enjoys rubbing it in the heroes’ faces. However, Captain America responds very well when he tells Black Widow, “Ma’am, there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” In one scene, Professor Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) (while under Loki’s control), treats the tesseract almost like an idol, as something divine, and says, “It’s more then knowledge, it’s truth.” In one scene, Dr. Bruce Banner talks about a failed suicide attempt in a bout of depression several years before. In another scene, he is seen without clothes in a far away shot and then viewed from the waist up after he turns human again after being the Hulk. There are a few mild expletives, which is a nice change for a PG-13 movie coming out of Hollywood. Lastly, Black Widow and some of the other women wear low-cut shirts.
In The Avengers, a group of six superheroes fight among themselves instead of focusing on their mission and the real enemy at hand. A parallel can be drawn to our own Christian walk. At times we’re so busy focusing on our own internal conflicts that we forget to focus on what we were called to do in the first place. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” It reads great in red letters on paper, but too often we get side-tracked from the main course with a side dish—the juicy gossip about a neighbor, the style of music in the service, the “questionable” use of funds for the outreach. We might find ourselves disagreeing, even fighting, with people when the whole time we should be focusing on what God wants us to do. It’s a neat trick of the enemy, divide from within and conquer. What better way to keep Christians tied up in silly and eternally pointless conflicts? The church’s carpet is the wrong color, the vision is too big, the pastor’s unqualified. (A side note, if God only used completely qualified people, the Bible would be a much shorter book). Just as S.H.I.E.L.D. needed the six individual superheroes to become one team to save Earth, Christ wants every one of us to step up and do the mission that he left us with so that others might have a chance to know Him and be saved. Some questions to think about: • What things sometimes distract you from doing God’s work? • When those obstacles come, what are some things you can do to stay focused? • Think of someone who needs Christ. What can you do this week to bring him or her closer to God?