(out of 5)
As with many superhero narratives of late, the Avengers are facing P.R. difficulties with the world of normal people. This is no longer the post-war society that celebrated extraordinary abilities with hungry gratitude, this is now a time when obsession with personal manifest destiny combined with obsessive online commenting mean that an enhanced person who makes you feel bad about the fact that you can’t fly or turn into a wild hairy beast is not welcome. Stepping into this morass of insecurity and criticism, our friends immediately cause an international incident when their interference in a dangerous situation in Nigeria ends up causing more harm than good (and thank God someone finally pointed out that the destruction of countless skyscrapers in these films actually causes both a death toll and an amazing dollar sum in damages). In an effort to quell the dissatisfaction with what could possibly be a rising fear of heroes, William Hurt‘s sober politician suggests that they sign an accord agreement that subjugates the Avengers to the power of the United Nations and holds them to certain behavioral policies that will prevent this nightmare ever happening again. Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man is on board but Chris Evans‘ Captain America is not, a situation that goes from tense to explosive when the Winter Soldier of the last adventure (Sebastian Stan) is the prime suspect in a terrorist bombing and the hunt for him sets a group of these gifted individuals against each other. Despite so high minded a plot (one whose villain gets quite philosophical by the end) and so very weighty a running time (no one believes that an audience will pay to watch anything less than 150 minutes long any more), the film manages to actually be a lot of fun, its conflicts sharp and intense without being pompous, and its tone adventurous and imaginative without getting unnecessarily dark and gloomy. Its having practically the same plot as Batman V Superman makes for easy comparison as to why that film didn’t quite click with audiences, since this one seems to be well aware that its viewers are here to be entertained and don’t need the character depth and political allegory laid on quite so thick. Scarlett Johansson shines as the reliable Black Widow, whle Elizabeth Olsen punctuates all her scenes as the deliciously named Wanda Maximoff with a lot of charisma and charm.
Cinematography by Trent Opaloch
Produced by Kevin Feige
Music by Henry Jackman
Production Design by Owen Paterson
Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky