There are action thrillers. And then there are comic book action thrillers. The core difference lies in the fact that when it comes to the latter, just about everything is permissible, whether in an animation or live format. Not to forget that when as many as six superheroes come together, it is this very element of non-belief that turns out to be its very selling point. This is exactly the driving force between 'The Avengers' as well which surprisingly sees a release a little too early in the day when it could have been one of those perfect epic Summer releases.
As demanded by the genre of such films, this time around too the stakes are unimaginable to say the least. The whole earth is at stake and the evil force (Tom Hiddleston returning as Loki from 'Thor') has tied up with none less than aliens to destroy earth. For Samuel Jackson (representing a peacekeeping agency), it is time to bring together his shoulders to battle it out. While one has seen many such scenarios in the past as well, one of the most notable being 'GI Joe', it is the mega situation in hand that brings as many as six superheroes on the same platform.
This means it is time to announce the arrival of Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). Each of them comes with his/her individual characteristics, most of which have been loved, adored and followed by a good section of the audience for over the years. However director Joss Whedon ensures that instead of this characterisation coming across as a spoof (despite an inherent humour quotient involved), he gives his actors a platform to further rise, shine and in turn much more famous than they already are.
As a result there are ample scenes added to the narrative that ensures that none of the six superheroes are being sidelined in favour of the other. Of course the kind of popularity that Robert Downey has enjoyed over the years, especially due to his now-a-fast-growing-franchise 'Sherlock Holmes', makes him the most loved of them all. He gets the right lines as well to keep the audience amused and engaged, though not necessarily always at the cost of his other co-stars.
In that aspect Mark Ruffalo wins it hands down since as the newest face of 'The Hulk', he comes up with a remarkably polished, balanced and subtle act despite the true reflection of his character being hardly subtle. What also catches attention is the fact that he is the same actor who made such a good impression in a family drama like 'The Kids Are All Right' but gets into an altogether different garb this time around. Ditto for Jeremy Renner who was recently seen in 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' and underplayed his part there. As a superhero, he makes his presence felt as well.
The ones who seem effortless (and charming as ever) though are Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth who never once seem conscious of the fact that there are other superheroes around them as well who are vouching for attention. Playing their part to perfection and doing quite well in the screen time that they enjoy, both Chris excel in their action packed 'avtar' as the common endeavour to save the world takes the front seat. With a stunning beauty like Scarlett Johansson joining the cause, it only adds on to the glamour quotient.
With such superheroes at disposal where character establishment isn't really an issue, courtesy the familiarity factor, Whedon (in just his second big screen outing) sustains the momentum well and drives the narrative to it's crescendo towards it's latter reels. A film set in current times with action as its driving force and several mythological as well as modern day confrontations amalgamating, 'The Avengers' moves ahead at a feverish place with the special effects further setting new benchmarks for movies to follow.
In that aspect, 'The Avengers' turns out to be a mighty satisfying venture as for the action lovers, it lends far more entertainment that one would have bargained for. Of course, not all patrons can be expected to be familiar with each and every superhero and its characteristic traits. However, even when seen as a standalone venture, it has enough ingredients in it to make for a second viewing.
Don't miss it.