Assembly Line Avengers?
With the arrival of The Avengers a few weekends ago, many people probably wonder how the film can take 6 different comic book characters, 4 of whom have their own movie (or two, in the case of Iron Man), and actually blend them together. With the Iron Man series, Thor, Captain America, and The Incredible Hulk building the backdrop for The Avengers, there's definitely no shortage of material. There is, however, a danger that The Avengers could feel more like an assembly line of characters with predictable reactions and dialogue.
Each of the previously released films has a completely different style, from storytelling to cinematography to music. For example, Iron Man has a lot of driving rock music and cinematography that complements that. Captain America's film style fits with the 1940s, the setting of the film, by using more sepia tones and orchestration in the soundtrack. Thor is the most outside-the-box since parts of the film are based on another planet, and the costuming is much more fanciful, and The Incredible Hulk plays up the green tones (for obvious reasons). Despite all these style differences, The Avengers forges ahead and makes its own style, keeping some of the overall elements of each film in a way that doesn't overpower or seem random. For example, the colors are vibrant but understated. Each character, obviously, keeps their original costume, but some have received some modifications to modernize them, which, in turn, makes them a little more cohesive as a group.
Each of the main characters is used to fighting their own battles. When you try to force a team dynamic, things can get a little volatile. In a way you'd expect given their personalities, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man all clash spectacularly before forging a type of friendship built on some mutual disdain, before eventually arriving at something like an actual team. The one seeming idiosyncrasy in the cast is Hawkeye's character. Despite his very brief appearance in Thor, little is known about him, and I don't really feel like he gets used to his full potential in a way that makes logical sense (instead of just comic-book sense).
Even with some near misses, The Avengers avoids becoming an assembly line comic book film, which is amazing considering the enormous job of getting such an excellent cast (both actors and characters) to feel natural and not forced. Each superhero holds his or her own beautifully, even Hawkeye. With their powers combined, they've become the Avengers, a group that was in danger of predictability and disappointment, but instead, triumphs to the joy of fans everywhere.