The “Dream Team” was thrown around a lot after the 1992 Olympic US Men’s Basketball team gathered Jordan, Magic, Bird and a gaggle of other superior stars to take on the world. These vastly superior athletes were able to put their egos aside for one goal: to conquer the world. It has come and gone throughout the last few decades ranging from the US Women’s World Cup team in 1999 to even the underwhelming 2011 Philadelphia Eagles when Vince Young destroyed his team’s hopes by raising the expectations. It can apply to movies too, like Christopher Nolan and his Batman team. Scorcese and DeNiro. Heck, Scorcese and Leo. It only seems fitting to talk about Marvel’s The Avengers in the dream team concept. However, in this awesomely epic buddy action film, I think the real Dream Team lies behind the scenes: Joss Whedon and Marvel.
This all started with the first Iron Man where RDJ took to the screen and carried the movie with his charisma and stage presence overcoming flaws, but it was an entertaining movie that set the stage for the Incredible Hulk, then the fart noise inducing Iron Man 2. What followed were vastly underrated Thor and a solid Captain America: The First Avenger last year, which set the stage for The Avengers movie. An artifact originating in Thor, called the Tesseract, has been taken by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and he is harnessing its enormous power to set the stage for the conquest of Earth. Giant wormhole portals ensue and that means the big guns must be called in. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) heads up S.H.I.E.L.D., a covert agency charged with taking back what may or may not be rightfully theirs and since puny humans failed to protect the artifact the first time around, it is time to call in the big guns. So Iron Man (RDJ), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must form the dream team and solve some issues. Did I forget to mention they really have a lot issues to be worked out internally too?
Turns out Iron Man is a narcissist non-follower, Cap has no team to follow his gung ho lead, Thor is just amused at these white boy problems, the Dr. Banner just wants some peace and quiet. But we all knew these things because of the previous movies. Director/Co-Writer Whedon does an amazing job in creating winks and nudges for the geeks that did watch the previous movies, yet remains accessible enough to where new people can follow the adventure. The danger here was incorporating several ideals from five different movies with seven different heroes to make them mesh as well as show off their individual spark that got them their own movies to begin with. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight, especially the Big Four (Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor) to establish their own paths and how they, for just this one movie and eventual sequels, have their paths intertwine into a solid team. The audience is treated to the banter and the battles with each other before they all come together with their common goal.
The beginning of the movie does feel like exposition and even felt dangerously close to voiceover narrative territory in trying to set up the plot before the fun begins. The dialogue shines from the Zak Penn and Whedon script which feels like a love letter to Marvel fans as well as accessible to the every man with the humor and levity that spills out of the actors’ mouths. None of it feels forced or unoriginal and really shows off the chemistry between these superheroes that could just turned into a giant awful bomb of apathy. RDJ owns as Iron Man and really should because this is not at all possible without what he has brought to the table with the earlier movies and the personality that exudes confidence and sarcasm. Chris Evans conveys his sense of duty in what would be the corniest role this side of Cyclops but develops his want to belong yet remain strong and self-assured as the leader. Hemsworth continues to impress with his observations and sly humor as the demigod and as the third Hulk actor, Ruffalo just enjoys the moment to stay out of fire long enough to steal scenes as his CGI counterpart. Hiddleston continues his great work from Thor and makes his villain memorable. Plus he just loves to chew scenery and you can tell he is just having a blast going against his heroic counterparts. Nick Fury finally gets his time to shine a bit as the hardass leader that brings them all together. Johansson and Renner do not have the same screen time as their super counterparts and feel a bit shoved in there but that might have more to do with the byproduct of dealing with the Big Four as opposed to whether they belong or not because let us face it, they are equal part of this movie.
The last thirty minutes is a spectacular assault on the senses in visual effects. Nothing seems too terribly out of place and that is a testament to not only Whedon, but Marvel Studios themselves. They have carefully ushered these characters into this movie and making sure that every part meshes together to create a fantastic experience for the audience. Whedon had many critics going into this movie on whether he could handle the scope and vast enormity of the movie but he has proved he can handle this mega franchise. This is the perfect movie to start off the summer movie season with because it’s simply pure fun. No one expects a Dark Knight Rises social commentary, this is strictly a boys being boys type of movie where you want to bash Hulk Hands against the toy Captain America shield you bought at the toy store after leaving the movie theater.
It does not take itself too seriously and nor should it. You will walk out amazed and wonder how the almost two and a half hours went by so fast. Again, credit should go to the dream team of actors that had the right chemistry and ego to make this an enjoyable experience but it was Whedon and Marvel Studios that came in with the cape to save us from boredom.