FILMS: ‘Avengers’: Redeeming the superhero genre

Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans in Marvel’s “The Avengers.” (CNS/DISNEY)

Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics have been the subject of many on-screen interpretations, including the “Spiderman” and “Iron Man” series as well as several others. Some were great, many were mediocre and still others were outright bad.

The characters in “The Avengers” (Disney) avenge the world and the film itself makes up for the bad ones. It’s terrific, fun, and immersion into the comic book world without the confusion of a laborious back-story or caricatured soul-searching.

Marvel fan and aficionado Joss Whedon wrote and directed the clever script. Yet without seeing the films prequels, it requires concentration from the audience. Every superhero in the film has been part of a previous Marvel film — most have had their own (“Ironman,” “Captain America,” “Thor,” “The Hulk,” and “The Incredible Hulk”).

Loki, the jealous and evil brother of Thor — both gods from another planet — has found a way to make himself the leader of an army of aliens, whose intention is to take over the Earth. He attains an energy source that enables him to gain control of humans. A government agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), seeks out a group of superheroes referred to as the Avengers to help fight Loki and his supernatural powers.

The Avengers include Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). All of these superheroes are reluctant to work together, but are eventually drawn together by the need to serve a bigger cause — saving the world — and come together for an epic fight.

“The Avenger” cast’s performance is pitch perfect and impressive, especially considering how well so many of these A-list actors and actresses share screen time. No one dominates the film, but all of them add to the quality — particularly during the shared scenes that have snappy and witty dialogue.

Tension permeates the superhero relationships and the best part of the film is watching the dynamic evolve. This the moral message: When the heroes abandon their egos and their selfish pursuits, they are able to effectively work together for the good of a people. The Avengers might be saving the world, but any group of people can realize that coming together to serve a cause bigger than themselves makes a positive impact.

Whedon and his team of Avengers have successfully reclaimed what has been a sometimes strong and other times weak franchise. There is certainly going to be more avenging in the future. And that’s a good thing.

Media critic Rebecca Bostic is a regular contributor to The Catholic Sun. Comments are welcome. Send e-mail to letters@catholicsun.org.

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The Avengers (Disney)

The CNS classification is A-III —  adults. Motion Picture Association of America rating, PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned.

Catholic Sun rating

Message: Strong

Artistic merit: Mediocre