Director: Joss Whedon
Nominated: Visual Effects
There is a very great danger that this could become one big love fest because you see I am a massive fan of a number of elements associated with Avengers. My newest love is the impeccable Tom Hiddleston who made a huge impression on me during the last Oscars, as you remember, despite not being nominated or in anything for any length of time. Then of course I’m a bit of a comic book geek especially Marvel and greedily consumed all of the films leading up to Avengers. And the biggest fan element is Joss Whedon! He has been an idol of mine ever since I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (even doing a number of essays on his work while studying at university) I have devoured every single thing he has ever created (no matter how undeservedly short-lived it may have been) including his comic series Astonishing X-Men. So yeah you could say I’m a fan of great proportions and to say that I was excited by the release of Avengers Assemble would be a massive understatement! Only 3 films really mattered to me before their release last year – The Hunger Games (Gary Ross), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson) and Avengers Assemble – all the rest were just happy bonuses.
Joss Whedon was really the best person to direct Avengers Assemble due to his previous experience of juggling ensemble casts – every project of his had at least 4 core characters that each got their own moment. This ability to tell a story cohesively with a number of characters is exactly what the Avengers needed and what it ultimately got in the very capable hands of Joss. And of course the fact that he is essentially a massive comic book fan-boy himself ensured that we would get an exciting and dynamic film without sacrificing any of the elements that have maintained the popularity throughout the decades since its creation.
It’s only been nominated in the Visual Effects category at the Oscars (well unless it gets any in the technical awards) which isn’t all that all that surprising really. To be honest I’m just glad it garnered at least one nomination. The set pieces are explosive (quite literally) and hit you from the opening minutes with the incredible sequence of S.H.I.E.L.D imploding. But then let’s face it Whedon isn’t a stranger to a sequence like that – the Hellmouth imploding in Chosen (final ever episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 2003) anyone?
The visual effects are excellent – fitting into the world seamlessly which is exactly what you want visual effects to do. All the effects surrounding Iron Man’s suit just keep raising the bar. I mean first you had the static application of the suit in Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008), the pop-up suitcase suit in Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010) and now he has the suit form around him while falling from Stark Towers thanks to some very nifty bracelets. The creation of the Hulk is an achievement in itself and is by far the best incarnation of the character in a long time. For one it actually bears some resemblance to Mark Ruffalo who is playing the human element, Bruce Banner. Speaking of his Banner – easily one of the best. He played him in a really interesting way and made me want another stand alone Hulk film which is saying something after the lukewarm attempts that came about in 2003 (Ang Lee) and 2008 (Louis Leterrier) There’s a new depth to him and I love his relationship with Tony.
The entire creative team manages to bring something that was created in the 1950s and bring it up to date without it seeming dated. Indeed they make a joke out of it with Captain America being a man displaced in time and only getting one of the many cultural references. And they get around the lack of female characters by having Black Widow take a more prominent role (not surprising really considering Whedon’s tendency to have strong female characters at the centre of his stories!)
Avengers Assemble has a huge and unexpected appeal. I say unexpected because although you have the die-hard comic nuts who flocked to see it, if only to disparage it for not being exactly the same, you also got a much wider audience. I went and saw it with my mum, and didn’t even have to attempt to persuade her she jumped at the chance, who wasn’t ever really that into comics but she has seen pretty much every Marvel film.
Everyone retains their own characteristics, established in all the preceding films, while gaining a new dynamic when thrown together to form this initially unwilling team. Comedy is a huge part of the film, and thankfully mainly wit rather than slapstick. One of my favorite lines is “He is my brother,” “He killed 80 people in 2 days” “He’s adopted”. It’s just classic and an excellent example of Whedon’s pithy writing. Although having said that some of the most memorable moments come from the Hulk smashing the gods Loki and Thor.
So far I have avoided talking about Tom Hiddleston as the villain in the form of Loki because I didn’t want it to turn into this fangirl love letter to him. But he is amazing … and the big bad so I have to talk about Loki. He’s grown up since Thor (Kenneth Branagh, 2011) albeit only slightly. He is less of a petulant child although clearly still hellbent on power and ruling. I know he’s a baddie and all but whenever anyone asks me who my favorite Avenger is I reply with Loki (and that’s a hard question to answer).
In case you can’t already tell I loved Avengers Assemble. It was everything I hoped for and more and I cannot wait until the follow-up film … and all the other related projects like Iron Man 3 (Shane Black), Thor: The Dark World (Alan Taylor), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Russo brothers)and S.H.I.E.L.D (Joss Whedon)