The title should tell you everything you need to know, but I will elaborate in detail.
In May of 2012, I sat in the theater with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas Day. It was shortly before midnight on May 3rd. I had just binge-watched every Marvel movie hours before the midnight showing. I'm talking about all of them. Not just the phase one movies. The Ang Lee Hulk (my eyes, my eyes burn with fury). The Ed Norton Hulk, which was pretty good. I watched because I wanted to see how all of them fit together. After all, Marvel was on its third Hulk in less than ten years. The collective groan we let out when we were informed that Mark Ruffalo was the new Hulk, burned another layer of the ozone. Still, I was eager to see the Avengers. Joss Whedon was onboard to direct, and if you were familiar with his other work (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) then you know it was going to be amazing.
Still I was Anxious. Nervous. Eager. Geeked out. Dorked out. Nerded Out. All rolled into one.
When the opening sequence started, I was like, "Oh Lord, I didn't know I needed this movie until right now." From there, it just got better. It is everything I've ever wanted in a superhero movie.
You see the beauty of the Avengers is this:
It had a purpose. Look at Iron Man 1 and Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor. The events in those movies built up the Avengers to make it great. Minor details that we thought would just be forgotten, were made relevant in The Avengers. Even minor characters that we shouldn't care about, became important.
In the grand scheme of things, if you read the comics, Loki is not a great villain. He's more of a prankster, a laughable afterthought. Watching Thor, I thought he was a sniveling jackass who I was glad to see dropped into the Abyss. Given the chance to be the main antagonist, he shined and became one of the more memorable villains in movie history. His monologue when he was locked up, brilliance. Executed brilliantly. The writing was great, but to be honest, the execution was flawless.
Then the story as a whole. A bunch of Superheroes brought together to form a team, and none of them had worked as a team. It's like working in an office. You have a bunch of people you work with, but you may not necessarily like them. So the first half of the movie is about them learning to get along with each other.
Nearly everyone had a problem with the other one. Stark's narcissism. Captain America's goody twoshoeness. Thor's (excuse the term) God complex. Hulk trying to get up on Black Widow with his fists of Fury. Hawkeye loved on by the Glow Stick of Destiny. Everyone had problems. Every. One. Of. Them. This was Loki's genius plan, and he pulled if off without a hitch.
The thing that we all wondered throughout the whole movie is, would they be able to overcome their individual differences and come together as a team? I mean Loki had slapped them every which way from Sunday, besting them at every turn and they were just a small pawn in his master game of chess.
He didn't anticipate a single action bringing them together, Agent Coulson's "death."
I say "death" because if you watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. you know that Coulson comes back and is an integral part of the TV show.
From there, the movie really comes together. I mean the last 63 minutes of The Avengers you see Whedon at his finest. Weaving all of the storylines together to tie the ending into one gigantic explosion and my poor heart just couldn't take it anymore. Don't get me wrong, the first half of the movie was great but the second half, breathtakingly beautiful.
When Stark figures it out, this is when I called 911. I needed a defibrillator.
911 Dispatcher: Hello what is your emergency?
Me: yeah, I am in the movie theater watching the Avengers, can you send a non chatty EMT to jumpstart my heart? I think it just stopped from all the awesomeness.
911 Dispatcher: is this a joke?
Me: I really wish it were. But hey, ask the EMT to stop by and get a brotha some chewy Sweet Tarts, I'm all out.
It was in that moment that my mancrush, Captain America, took control. He became the leader, just like the comics. He was in charge of assembling the team. His military experience came in handy. Surprisingly, none of the Avengers objected to it. Not even Stark, the notorious bad boy of the group. The Chitauri attacks, and everyone is scrambling and hoping, just hoping that Banner shows up.
The Avengers know that they can't beat the Chitauri without him. Whedon set this up. Most of the movie he had Banner seem like a loner, like he didn't want to be there at all. He just wanted to find the cube, and like Q-Bert, bounce on out of there. Then he Hulked out, and disappeared for a while. Stark held out hope, he just had a nagging feeling he would be there.
At the moment they needed him the most, he delivered. Banner showed up and gave us one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable, part of the movie.
Banner: That's my secret Cap...I'm always angry.
My theater erupted. Not like a normal cheer, I'm talking full on clapping and hollering like their team had just won the Super Bowl. Ruffalo had just become the greatest Hulk in the history of Hulks. Whedon had done something that Ang Lee and Louis Letterier failed to do, gave us a Hulk that we could all love and equally be in awe of. He was both brilliant and terrifying at the same time. You loved the Hulk, you felt bad for him when the Chitauri shot at him on the roof and he screamed in agony.
The team was now complete.
It was only a matter of time before the Chitauri were defeated. Not without a few bumps and bruises and laughter along the way. Whedon has and will always know when to tap your emotional scale. He feels the pulse of the scene and is able to say "we can use some humor, or a tear jerker," and bam, you have it. Case in point:
A bunch of action and then the Hulk not forgetting the earlier encounter with Thor. This is the perfect bit of humor that is both subtle and unexpected. I know my theater laughed pretty hard at this.
From there, the story wrapped up. The Avengers defeated the Chitauri, Loki was locked up, and the Avengers went on their separate way to battle the individual battles in their lives.
So why is The Avengers the superhero movie of all time? Well, because it didn't try to force a story down our throat. It was a perfect blend of individual talent to form a team. The story was great, and humorous, and touching. It made you think. It was Whedon who pulled some of the biggest stars together and brought the highest single weekend box office to date (at the time, now it's second all-time).
The movie even made casual fans love it. People who were like "Ugh, Superheroes, I hate them." Until they saw it and loved it. I remember walking out of the theater and wanting to see it again immediately. Between the movie theater and the police keeping me at bay, that wasn't happening.
Instead, I saw it four times on May 4th, and eight times overall that weekend. You probably won't believe it, but since that initial showing, I've seen it 361 times. That is not an exaggeration, or a guesstimate, it's accurate.
To me, it is the best story of a team that came together even though they were seemingly going to fail, and saved the world. They put their egos aside and put the initial Avengers team together against an enemy that could have taken over the planet.
Most importantly, they spawned a second phase of movies that gave us The Guardians of the Galaxy, and in my opinion, the best standalone movie of the bunch....Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Marvel got it right on this one, just don't ask my super duper honest opinion about Avengers Age of Ultron. I loved it, I just didn't like it 8 times in one weekend like it.
I'm sure I will get there though, just as soon as the Blu-Ray is released. Until then, I think I'll watch the greatest superhero movie to date again.