It’s going to be a superhero-crowded summer at the movies, with the upcoming “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and now “The Avengers,” which opens Friday.
The latter film is directed by Joss Whedon, which piques my interest. I’ve come to appreciate Whedon’s spirit and creativity. He also wrote “The Avengers,” and his scripts usually crackle with sharp wit.
He’s developed quite a loyal fan base, too, through his “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly” TV series. (I absolutely loved “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” a short-film project he made with Neil Patrick Harris.)
But he’s not exactly a household name. “The Avengers” could change all that — it’s by far his highest-profile project to date.
It’s also the culmination of several superhero films (all based on the comic books) leading up to “The Avengers.” Here’s a review guide:
It seems there was a plan for the films to converge into “The Avengers” early on, no doubt reinforced by the gargantuan success of “Iron Man.” So some superhero bits turned up in other movies (for instance, Captain America’s shield appeared in the background of a scene in “Iron Man” and Thor’s hammer appeared in a post-credits sequence at the end of “Iron Man 2”).
But linking it all together was Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who appeared in all the superhero installments so far (minus Lee’s “Hulk”).
In “The Avengers,” Fury forms the top-secret international peace-keeping operation S.H.I.E.L.D. and recruits the superheroes to stop an evil plan that threatens global safety.
All the aforementioned heroes join S.H.I.E.L.D. (and all the actors reprise their roles save for Norton; Mark Ruffalo will play Hulk in “The Avengers”), but the group also includes Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — who didn’t get an origin film but did appear in “Iron Man 2” — and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who didn’t get an origin film, either, but appeared briefly in “Thor.”
Whew! Got all that? The whole thing certainly has come a long way since 1963, when “The Avengers” comic book was first published, written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
And it seems to just be getting started.