‘The Avengers’ avoids disaster

Rating: ★★★★★ 

“The Avengers” had brimming potential to be an unmitigated disaster. Throwing together so many pre-established characters is a recipe for failure, like in superhero movies with a large cast, such as “X-Men 3” or “Spiderman 3.” Both of these became too caught up with so many characters and floundered under their own scope. Considering the wildly diverse origins of a character like Thor, as opposed to a character like Iron Man, it’s amazing this movie even works at all.

Even more amazing, “The Avengers” not only works, it works incredibly well.

It tells the story of a group of superheroes who must join forces to stop an alien invasion. While the premise sounds ridiculous, somehow, “The Avengers” pulls it off.

Every character gets an appropriate amount of screen time and shines in their own way, with strong and fitting characterization. “The Avengers” takes into account that when a group of people with superpowers are thrown together, they’re bound to butt heads. That many egos all in one room leads to quality character interaction, enhanced by the great ensemble performances.

The actors all play off each other beautifully, and it’s a real pleasure to watch them work. There’s never a dull moment, from Robert Downey Jr.’s snarky wit to Chris Hemsworth’s charm.

The film’s writer and director Joss Whedon also deserves credit. Whedon is well known for his work as a writer for movies like “Toy Story” or “Alien Resurrection” and as a showrunner for the cult classic television series “Firefly” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” But, this is Whedon’s first true foray into writing and directing a big-budget blockbuster film.

While Whedon’s plots aren’t particularly unique, his characterization skill, especially ensemble casts of characters who have no business being together, is well known. Coupled with his self-admitted passion for the superhero genre, Whedon was the natural choice for such a project. He even manages to avoid making the characters too witty, a common complaint with Whedon projects. He uses each one appropriately, giving Iron Man plenty of snarky dialogue, but not overdoing it. Captain America doesn’t crack any puns, as it wouldn’t fit with his character.

“The Avengers” avoids many common tropes of big budget action movies. Its action is clean and easily understandable, unlike films like “Transformers,” where there is so much visual clutter it’s rarely clear what is even happening.

It avoids the standard practice of a love story subplot, figuring that if the world is on the brink of annihilation, most people will be too preoccupied with saving it, rather than a romantic fling.

It also sidesteps the rousing speech that has become part and parcel with seemingly every blockbuster out there. Typically the protagonist of a blockbuster will give a rousing speech to unite those around him right before the final battle.

“The Avengers” does away with all these practices and ends up being a really solid movie.

It doesn’t break any new cinematic ground. The plot is pretty standard superhero fodder. There’s nothing too unexpected or unique about it. That being said, its execution is still some of the best in recent memory. It combines strong characters with equal parts wit and action, and never once panders to the audience.

“The Avengers” is a perfectly-executed summer blockbuster and is sure to please both superhero fans and anyone else who can appreciate a caringly crafted film.