NORMAN — How was this going to work?
All those Marvel superheroes, many of them with their own action franchises, packed into one epic, save-humanity-adventure.
How will the retro patriotism of Captain America mesh with the flippant cynicism of Iron Man? Could the brooding Hulk bond with the regal brawn of Thor?
How could anybody balance the inter-connection of back stories, the clash of personalities, the need for shared screen time, the utter necessity of building up a villain capable of putting fear in this fearsome foursome and then some?
But it works, because Joss Whedon (”Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) brought his A-game to “The Avengers.” It works because he never loses sight of the fragile humanity of the characters, even in their special effects brawls. It works because somebody finally got The Hulk’s blend of rage, guilt and bull-in-a-chandelier-shop fun right.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has created S.H.I.E.L.D., his super-secret superhero agency, mainly on paper. But when his minions recover the magical cube, the Tesseract, from where Captain America buried it last summer, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and The Other (Alexis Denisof) plot Loki’s vengeful conquest of the Earth. Fury has to get the band together, get them to work as a team.
“We have our orders,” Captain America (Chris Evans) intones. “We should follow them.”
“Following’s not really my style,” Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) quips.
“You’re all about style, aren’t you?” the red-white-and-blue goody-two-shoes Captain fires back.
In an ensemble piece, Downey’s brilliant touch with the throwaway putdown is showcased to its best effect. He calls Thor “Shakespeare in the Park,” and asks “Doth your mother know you weareth her drapes?”
The earnest Evans gives just enough gravitas to the Captain, who understands how their special gifts are “a terrible privilege.”