The Avengers or I Waited 5 Years For This?
[Editor’s Note: “Oh I’m gonna write about Steven Seagal” he said. “Give you an in-depth analysis of ‘Above The Law’ he promised. Horseshit! Obviously our resident idiot forgot he was going to see The Avengers on opening night or else he wouldn’t have posted that last article promising everyone discussion of Steven Seagal’s early work. Fuck, we here at Brave Blog still are trying to figure out why decided to choose that as a topic for 4 more articles. It is like he wants to torture you people! Be warned, the idiot put some minor spoilers in this!]
I really wanted to love The Avengers, I really did. I went into it with a fair amount of excitement and optimism as Marvel’s track record on building The Avengers as a movie franchise has been pretty rock solid up to date. Alas, I just “liked” The Avengers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when all the movies building up to it have been at the least in the “Very Good” to “Excellent” range and your payoff movie is just “Good”, well then there is a problem. Is it a major problem? Well, that all depends what your definition of “Major Problem” is.
The worst part of this movie is the dialogue. Having spent 35 of my 40 years on this planet reading comics and a good chunk of those comics being comics The Avengers star in, never have they ever been so snippy with each other. You want snark in The Avengers that’s why you have Hawkeye in there, the one guy who usually always had the dissenting opinion. But when everyone not named Captain America is more determined to have the last word in an argument it leads to all the other characters delivering zingers for the first 2/3 of the film. That isn’t real dialogue. That isn’t a conversation or meaningful dialogue amongst a group of people. Yes, a chunk of the story for the movie revolves around how The Avengers can’t get along to form a cohesive unit unless there is a major crisis but clashes of personality rarely manifest in a room full of people being perpetually sarcastic toward each other. One or two people sure, but everyone (again, save for Captain America) deciding they have to be as catty as Oscar Wilde is really kind of stupid.
This issue of dialogue shouldn’t be too much of a problem really, but it is like that for 2/3rds of the movie. It really makes everyone seem very petty and vain and that is not what I want out of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”. It doesn’t help at all that one of the main leads decides to mail in his performance. I’ve loved Robert Downey Jr. in both Iron Man and Iron Man 2. I always had issues with how it was written as “Ultimate” Tony Stark and not Marvel Universe Tony Stark, but our man Robert Downey Jr was just so damn charming in both of those movies that I could sit there and say “Not his fault it was written that way”. The problem here is that Downey Jr. seemed so disinterested, that Tony Stark’s arrogance and bravado isn’t nearly as fun this time. I really hope Robert Downey Junior isn’t becoming bored with Tony/Iron Man, because he really has made the character fun in its own franchise but if the upcoming Iron Man 3 has the Tony Stark featured in The Avengers then I’m not going to enjoy that movie nearly as much.
I’m still trying to figure out why they even bothered putting Hawkeye in this movie as he felt utterly superfluous in it. His entire role could have been replaced by using someone like The Taskmaster. Hawkeye gets brainwashed by Loki 5 minutes into the movie, shows up less than 10 minutes worth screen time before getting un-brainwashed and then gets more prominently featured during the last 1/3rd of the movie. The problem here is that Hawkeye is the least developed of all the characters introduced thus far in the build-up to this movie and thus actually NEEDED way more screen time and character development. Instead he effectively gets written out for the majority of the film and comes back for the grand finale. I want to care about Hawkeye but this movie gives me no damn reason to.
There is also some major problems with how Loki is written in this movie. The irony here is, Tom Hiddleston is so awesome as Loki at the same time. Having Loki play crazed world conqueror in so blatant a manor actually goes against both how he is portrayed in comics and how he was portrayed in the movie version of Thor. There are a few glimpses of him being a master manipulator, his little plan to cripple S.H.I.E.L.D. Is actually pretty damn brilliant, but this takes a backseat to him seeking to subjugate humanity through use of the Cosmic Cube. Early in the movie Loki all but preaches The Anti-Life Equation and I had a real problem with that and not just because The Anti-Life Equation is a Kirby New Gods concept. It is because Loki gets too much pleasure from toying with humans through his schemes to ever buy into the concept of Anti-Life. This movie tries to portray Loki as Darkseid but instead he comes across as a petulant child and that is a disservice to both Darkseid and to Loki.
OK that is the bad, so what is the good about The Avengers?
The last 45 minutes are EXACTLY what you want an movie featuring The Avengers to be. It has that classic Marvel feel of Superheroes throwing everything at the bad guys until the good guys win. Hell that has always been the mentality of The Avengers in comics. This isn’t The Justice League of America, there isn’t complex problem solving to beat the bad guys. The Avengers fight and fight and then they fight some more. Just some really great action and fight choreography fills the last 1/3rd of this movie. Every character gets their moments to shine. You get to see why Captain America is the second (or possibly third) best hand to hand combatant in the Marvel Universe, Thor brawls his ass off, Hawkeye shoots arrows (I mean honestly, that is what Hawkeye does) and Black Widow kicks even more ass than she did in Iron Man 2. It is an orgy of comic book violence and has those defining moments where the good guys stand triumphant multiple times. Amidst this you get defining moments for Captain America demonstrating why you absolutely would follow the man into battle. Most importantly, “Hulk Smash!”. In fact Hulk smashes in a major way that should satisfy anyone who grew up reading The Incredible Hulk in 1970s.
I also loved Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. In fact she rally is the best developed character in this movie, as we get more of her background and history. Johansson takes a second tier Avenger and makes her the most fascinating character. We get details about her relationship with Hawkeye and see why she is one of Nick Fury‘s best agents. She shows why Black Widow is a Maser level spy through sheer manipulation. She is no blunt instrument like James Bond, she is a master of manipulating people, as much as Loki is. Yet she is still the most “human” of the major players in this film, especially when she interacts with Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner. Johnasson makes Black Widow as believable as possible in a most unbelievable of movies. Throw Samuel L. Jackson in that boat for “Master Manipulator” as well. Sam Jackson may look like Nick Fury in The Ultimates but they very much play him as classic Fury, using anyone and everyone around him to get the results he needs. Jackson’s Fury has plots within his plots, like any good spymaster would. The more the movie unfolds, the more of Fury’s hand gets revealed . Hell we even get that wonderful old Stan Lee/Jim Sternako era Fury as he has to fight tooth and nail against the S.H.I.E.L.D. High Council to make sure his plans don’t get fucked up. Anyone who is a Nick Fury fan will walk away with a smile on their face with how well they handled the character. Hell it makes me wish they’d just do a straight up Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Movie!
Overall, this is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but like any movie not named Citizen Kane, it has its flaws. It doesn’t come close to being the greatest Superhero movie of all time but is completely NOT the worst. As far as great comic book movies go (i.e. not necessarily Superhero movies) it ranks right there below Ghost World and Road to Perdition, which is pretty good company to be in as it were. As far as great Superhero movies go, well it is better than Watchmen (I still loathe that movie) and any version of the Punisher put to film. It really doesn’t take much to be better than the Burton/Schumacher era Batman movies so even before I watched The Avengers, I knew it would be better than that tripe. It falls somewhere between X-Men and X-Men 2 probably. It is mainly hurt by weak dialogue and what seems to be Robert Downey Jr. sleep-walking his way through the first 2/3of the movie. Yet, the last 1/3rd is so much fun, one could almost forgive the the previous 2/3rd. Interestingly enough, this was longer than Iron Man 2 yet didn’t FEEL as long as Iron Man 2 was and since The Avengers clocks in at just under 2 and a half hours that is saying something. Everything followed a logical course and gave a more than suitable resolution. Simply put, The Avengers is a fine spectacle for the most part. It just could have been a better movie overall.