The Avengers

 Anime, Astro Fighter Sunred, Azumanga Daioh  Comments Off on The Avengers
May 052012

So I saw that Avengers movie the other day.

The short of it, if you’re the type adverse to spoilers and shit? Avengers was pretty decent.

The long of it, if you love having movies ruined of have already seen it and are looking for your opinion to be repeated back to you? Keep on readin’ and stuff.


The Characters

They made Captain America’s gosh-howdy earnestness work. The “he’s so old he doesn’t get the modern world” jokes got stale quick, but they made his gung-ho patriotism and goody-goody nature not only palatable but cool. And they emphasized his role as the heart of the team and made his leadership shine. He wasn’t just standing there with a flag waving behind him, all posturing and no substance, he was taking command when no one else could and making sure everyone used their skills to the fullest.

Iron Man was Robert Downey Jr, and that’s about all I need to say. He puts on the same act that he did in the Iron Man movies and that smarmy asshole routine finally butts heads with people who can headbutt back. He isn’t put in his place so much as he finally meets people who are his equal, and that’s pretty cool. And that bit where he faces down Loki is pretty great.

Hulk smashes awesomely. I really dig how they portrayed Bruce Banner. He’s self-depreciating, but he does it in a gallows humor sort of way. He’s laughing at his plight and not wallowing in it. He’s a messed up dude that’s all too aware of it and kinda relishes it to a certain extent– at peace with never being at peace and all that. And Hulk smashes awesomely. Awesome smashingness. Smasherific awesometality. He hits really good.

Thor… had a good line or two? “He’s adopted.” That’s about it. Had Loki not been in this movie, thus making Thor relevant, he’d be dead weight. I did dig the Thor/Iron Man scene, but it wasn’t necessary.

Black Widow was every Joss Whedon female character ever. She felt like she was there to have a token female character rather than because she was integral to the team. She had some cool moments, especially the bit where she gets info out of Loki that no one else could, but the whole spry lithe female martial artist badass is SO Joss Whedonish. If it hadn’t been his movie it might not feel that way, so maybe I’m just being a jerk by picking on the character. But I’d rather have, say, Wasp or Scarlet Witch or someone a little more obscure like Captain Marvel.

Hawkeye may as well have not been in the movie. He’s brainwashed for most of the movie, and after that he’s just the dude with a bow. He’s only relevant because of his relationship with Black Widow, and I wasn’t too keen on her presence either. I did like his quiver that could make arrow tips that fit the situation. That was a cool touch that I don’t remember from the comics. But “cool backpack” isn’t much to say about a character.

Nick Fury was underwhelming, especially since it felt like Sam Jackson was phoning in the part. He had to be there since he’s the guy that brought all of this together, but all he did was shoot a gun and look mildly irritated. Eh.

But Agent Coulson, who has also been there the whole time, was far more interesting. His geeking out over Captain America was cute and all, but by having him in all of these lead-up movies made his death (spoiler) all the more awesome. You got to know the dude much like how all of these other characters got to know him, and his death actually meant something. And he got to go out with style. It wasn’t the Whedon-Death everyone was fearing. It mattered. I really hope those “Coulson becomes Vision” rumors are complete bullshit. Turning him into a ghost-cyborg would ruin the impact of his sacrifice.

Loki’s scheme was nonsensical, but this is Loki we’re talking about. This dude isn’t your megalomaniacal Dr. Doom type. He isn’t out for control (despite his claims). He isn’t out for money. He isn’t even out for revenge. If he wanted any of that he’d already have it. The dude just wants attention. He’s the younger brother acting out to get attention from his emotionally distant parents and to one-up his big brother. And his alien, god-like logic leads him to join up with a worshiper of Death (end credits spoiler) in order to basically jump up and down and say “LOOK AT ME BIG BROTHER! GIVE ME A HUG BIG BROTHER!” Loki is so moe.

The Rest

The dialogue was pretty decent and avoided the Whedonisms I was fearing (for the most part). It was easily the best-written of all of these Avengers-related movies. It wasn’t just a matter of actors having chemistry, like in the Iron Man movies. They also had interesting stuff to say to one another.

The “gathering the team” beginning part was a bit slow-going. The individual scenes worked, but it didn’t quite work as a narrative whole. It was like reading a couple of issues of a comic book back to back rather than watching a cohesive movie. At least things picked up once Loki started dicking around in Germany. After that, the movie flows pretty well.

When the action was all shooty-shooty, it was pretty clear. The way they zipped around the battleground and showed things was shot well. The hand to hand fighting could have benefited from the camera being pulled back a bit so we could see what’s happening. But Baysplosions it was not. The action made sense and was comprehensible.

All in all it was a fairly well-made movie. It lacked a bit in terms of individual style (anyone could have directed most of the movie), but it worked.

The Ultra-Spoiler

Thanos. Alien demi-god who has an Eternal boner for Mistress Death. He totally wants to fuck with Earth, since doing so will be like “courting death.” Since, yeah, the dude wants to court Death. He totally wants her to be his girlfriend. The dude’s fucked up like that. So fucked up that he’s tried to wipe out the entire universe just to get Death’s attention.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go with this. Are they gonna go full-on Infinity Gauntlet with this? Are they gonna sow seeds in the upcoming stand-alone movies? That’s kinda cool, since Avengers is a big-time summer movie and shit like The Infinity Gauntlet is the comic equivalent of the big-time summer movie.

The Bitching

We need SUPERVILLAINS. All of these movies have one name-brand villain and waves of fodder. Cap had Red Skull and Hydra goons. Thor had Loki and frost giant goons (And Destroyer, but eh). The Iron Man movies were all about generic cannon fodder enemies. Hulk sucked and doesn’t get a vote. Avengers had a rehash of Loki with some alien robot skeleton things from that Ultimates universe that no one really gives a damn about.

The fight needs to be on a more personal level. The X-Men movies did a good job of that, since those movies boil down to These Mutants vs Those Mutants, and we get to know characters on both sides. It was a clash of personalities rather than a clash of bodies.

When Loki is going at it with one of the heroes, whether it’s verbally or physically, it carried a lot more weight than the endless hordes of video game enemies. That final battle with the aliens was very well-made, but I don’t give a fuck about defeating an army. Leave that shit to the Call of Duty generation. I want to defeat SUPERVILLAINS in a SUPERHERO movie.

Also, it’s a shame that it’s taken us SIX movies just to get to the point that we have a team that can DO STUFF.

Really. Other than the Captain America movie, I haven’t really enjoyed any of these Pre-Avengers movies as stand-alone movies. They’ve felt like extended trailers teasing of what’s to come. They’ve had individual elements that worked well (mostly character interaction stuff), but as actual movies they’ve haven’t worked. It’s like I paid money to see two-hour commercials for the movie I finally saw yesterday, and half of that movie was build-up to what really mattered.

Now we’re finally at the point where the characters can breathe and do their thing and we have to wait until, what, 2015 to see a movie that can have its own stand-alone narrative? That’s fine when you’re churning out movies in the series with greater regularity, but this isn’t the 60s where a new Bond movie came out every year. They take 2-4 years between installments because of the time it takes to do special effects and the like. That just doesn’t fly.

Basically, in the number of movies it took, say, Harry Potter to tell the majority of it’s story, the Avengers’ story is just beginning. That’s great marketing but lousy storytelling. That sort of “development” can work in comics since you wait maybe a month or so between issues, on in a TV series where you get a new episode ever week or so, but it doesn’t work in movies.

The Statement Added to the End to Give This a Positive Finish

But yeah, despite my whining I liked the movie. I still prefer X-2 and First Class as far as Marvel movies go, but that’s my inner X-Fanboy talking. This was good stuff. I just wish we could have gotten to this goodness sooner.