The Avengers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though usually quite good, the image wasn’t as consistently impressive as I expected.
Actually, only one notable concern popped up here: black levels. Most of the time, these looked pretty deep and tight, but a few exceptions caused distractions. Nighttime shots tended to show somewhat mushy blacks and murky shadows. These weren’t a huge factor in the movie, but they created sags in an otherwise strong presentation.
Sharpness always looked great. Throughout the movie, I saw crisp, detailed elements without hints of softness. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to cause concerns, and the movie lacked edge haloes. Print flaws also remained absent.
In terms of colors, Avengers went with a mix of stylized elements. Some scenes went with an aqua blue, while others tended toward amber or alternate tints. The blues were the only really prominent tones, as the others veered closer to a natural feel. Whatever the choices, the hues looked fine and fit the movie well. Without the issues connected to the blacks/shadows, this would’ve been an “A”-level transfer, but as it stood, I thought it merited a “B”.
As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Avengers, it worked well, as the movie presented an engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to the mix of action scenes. These helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely.
Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect, and lots of unique action material popped up there as well.
No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively. Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. All of this created a strong sonic impression that made the movie more involving.
When we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Joss Whedon. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at how he came onto the project, story/character/script topics, working with 3D, cast and performances, sets and locations, effects, stunts and action, music and editing, inspirations, and a few other areas.
I’ve loved the handful of Whedon commentaries I’ve heard prior to this one, and his Avengers chat lives up to expectations. Whedon handles the format like a champ, as he delivers a lot of information in a brisk, concise manner. Throw in plenty of humor and this becomes another terrific piece.
A new short film called Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 lasts 11 minutes, 20 seconds. It shows a couple named Bennie (Jesse Bradford) and Claire (Lizzy Caplan) who find a piece of alien technology after the events depicted in the movie. They go on a bank robbery spree and attract the attention of SHIELD. It’s a fun little romp that might also connect to the next Avengers.
Eight Deleted/Extended Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 58 seconds. Possibly the most interesting pieces come from the alternate opening/closing that feature Agent Maria Hill; these put her in front of the Council to discuss various events. They’re not bad, though the opening feels more like a teaser than an actual movie scene. The film flows better without them, as they come across as somewhat clunky.
A fairly long look at Captain America’s adjustment to modern society works fairly well, and it also sets up Cap’s connection to a woman who defends the Avengers post-battle. This probably acts as the most interesting of the scenes, but it likely would’ve slowed down the final film; it’s good but not exactly fast-paced.
As for the rest, they tend toward added exposition. We see a discussion of the potential presence of the Avengers between Loki and Hawkeye, and we watch Fury in another discussion with the Council. Another shot shows tension between Hill and Fury, and we view a little more between Banner and a security guard. A longer fight scene offers extra action but looks silly here due to its raw nature; it features rough effects or none at all. I find these clips enjoyable, but none of them seem especially important.
Next comes a four-minute, five-second Gag Reel. Most of this offers the usual goofs and fooling around, but we get a couple of more interesting bits such as Tom Hiddleston’s Dr. No impression.
Two featurettes follow. A Visual Journey run six minutes, 28 seconds and includes notes from Whedon, executive producers Jeremy Latcham, Victoria Alonso and Louis D’Esposito, NASA representative Jerry Carek, producer Kevin Feige, director of photography Seamus McGarvey, and actors Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson. The program looks at sets and locations, vehicles and technology, effects, and what Whedon brings to the project. “Journey” lacks a ton of substance but it throws out some decent details.
Assembling the Ultimate Team goes for eight minutes, eight seconds and features Whedon, Feige, Johansson, Jackson, and actors Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Clark Gregg, and Cobie Smulders. We learn about cast and performances here – in a superficial manner, at least, as “Team” tends to be long on praise and short on depth.
Lastly, we locate a Music Video for Soundgarden’s “Live to Rise”. It offers a standard mix of movie clips and lip-synch performance shots. It’s more attractive than many of its ilk, but it remains uninspired.
The disc opens with ads for Frankenweenie, various Marvel movies, the Avengers Alliance game, and Marvel Universe. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for various ABC TV series. No trailer for Avengers shows up here.
A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Avengers. This gives us a retail version with Whedon’s commentary and the “Ultimate Team” featurette.
As a old-time comic book fan who has owned a copy of Avengers #1 for 30 years, I want to love the series’ big-screen debut. Unfortunately, I don’t; while I think it’s a reasonably fun film, it’s never better than “pretty good”. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture, excellent audio and a decent set of supplements highlighted by a delightful audio commentary. I like Avengers enough to recommend it to superhero fans but don’t think it’s a great entry in the genre.