Monday, May 7, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: The Avengers (2012)

You know what?  Spoilers Ahoy.  Don't read this discussion unless you've seen The Avengers.

here, let me help you:

You can donate to The HERO Initiative here and the Jack Kirby Museum here.


So, this is also my opinion, and just that.  The movie made approximately 380 billion dollars this weekend, so there's something to that.  Let's have a discussion, and maybe chat on this!

Ah, The Avengers.  This, the 6th movie of the series, a much anticipated start to the summer, but also a capper on excitement that's been building for years now when Nick Fury first started shaking down Iron Man in a post-credits sequence.

The film pulls together plot threads from the four properties to receive their own films (Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America), gives life to background characters from some of those films, and features some of the most well worn comic book tricks this side of the Pecos for an audience that's never experienced them before.  

We get the obligatory mind-control plot device, the meet-n-fight between heroes, the goofy mixing of cosmic stuff, magic and mad-science and swarms of aliens for whom the concept of aiming a weapon is the most alien concept of all.

In the end, the movie was exactly what I was expecting from the trailers.  Lifting heavily from the early 2000's work on Ultimates from Mark Millar and Brian Hitch (I really hope Millar got some money for story credit), what it offers is something fairly visceral as an experience, with a terrific pace and action coming out its ears.  

It does bear the signature stamp of both Joss Whedon as warm-hearted director and as comic book geek asking the hilarious question of "and how would Hulk deal with Loki"?*  I'm not a Whedonite, but I am not against his style, and I think it works here well enough.  

But I also walked out of the theater feeling vaguely as if I'd maybe just eaten a box full of Twinkies.  Yeah, I was full, but I wasn't sure I'd gotten much out of what I'd just seen.  

Don't get me wrong, the action is terrific, and you can tell that the writers and Whedon went to great lengths to find balance to the characters as they interact, but to such a degree that no character receives much of an arc, and you could almost feel the calculus of "point Iron Man's column, now a point in Thor's column".

In some ways, part of my attraction to the Justice League (DC Comics' team book) since I was in college has been the difference in vibe which resonated more strongly with how I'm wired.  FF is a small, nuclear family.  X-Men and Teen Titans felt like high school cliques sorting out their issues.  Justice League had the feel of grown adults who (in the late 90's and 00's) called one another by their first names around the table and didn't really need to talk about the fact that you put aside differences when you've got a mess on your hands.  That level of respect and brass-tacks/ let's-get-down-to-business didn't mean the characters didn't have distinct personalities or some friction between members, but it was a far more serious issue if League members were arguing versus the 80's Marvel U in which I was introduced to The Avengers and where they were constantly (even in the middle of firefights) squabbling.  It just never sat quite right with me.

I could have dealt with some of the squabbling in the movie (and there is some), but the sequence in which Thor and Iron Man duke it out in the woods has the same manufactured feel that most superhero "misunderstandings" have in the comics, where it doesn't quite make sense that both of these guys are ready to pull the trigger the first time they lay eyes on each other, but the audience is morbidly curious to see what that fight would look like, so a pointless brawl (which is stopped before we can even answer the question, as is routine for comics) is served up on a platter.  

It was true of much of what I saw in the movie, but the superhero fight is such a familiar trope, especially at Marvel, that it felt... perfunctory.  So is it something I'm supposed to cheer for happening?  Or do I shrug with resignation the way I do when this happens in my movie, too?

Further, I didn't know how to feel about the one scene the Avengers shared where the "lance" was affecting them, and making them argue.  Somehow it came off like one of the scenes on the Brady Bunch where Mike Brady needs to step in and settle things down more than any sort of actual threat.

I don't know.  Its not that two scenes ruined a 2.5 hour movie for me.  They didn't.  I had a fun time.  But they also were things that just didn't quite work for me, indicative of a lot of rough patches along the way.

The movie did remind me of other Joss Whedon projects in that it had a pretty great set-up, some great ideas, spurts of interesting interplay, and remembered that the audience is there to have fun (something I'm curious if Dark Knight Rises will have time for).  But also in that the final act is something you do so the story can end, but not something that has particular resonance (I could not tell you what the hell Serenity was about other than that there were mindless space pirates capable of pirating space craft).  

That's not to say the last 40 minutes isn't a dazzling, well-choreographed morass of chaos.  There are some amazing shots of our heroes, some excellent fight sequences, some laughably absurd scenes of The Black Widow and her twin pea shooters standing up from behind cover and popping off at flying space marauders.

One bit I did find remarkable was the undercurrents of Loki's storyline, something I believed carried over well from the story of familial heartbreak and betrayal that started in Thor.

I kept wondering why on Earth Loki would have gone to New York, to the one place The Avengers would absolutely notice him and have time to stop him, and why, if he really wanted to succeed, he would have been so... loud about everything.  I mean, really, The Avengers is one of those movies where the plot seems to sort of fall apart if you stop to think about not just that things are happening, but consider motivations for any of the characters other than that "oh, he's a bad guy and a diva".  Maybe.

In the end, I think Loki was just trying to go home, and didn't know how to ask.  It's absolutely tragic.

My read is that Loki knew he would fail, and if he didn't, he'd have a wreck of a planet where he could lord over the broken masses, more pathetic than himself.  In a lot of ways, in my head, its now Loki's movie.

If that isn't the case, then in a lot of ways, Loki is the least effective planner of all space gods, and deserved to lose, because, seriously...  Why not just launch your plan in Tokyo or Dubai or somewhere that SHIELD and the Avengers are absolutely not?

There's no doubt in my mind that Mark Ruffalo and Whedon also managed to finally find the sweet spot for The Hulk after two prior tries on film.  I'm not sure that Edward Norton couldn't have matched Ruffalo's performance, but I like what Ruffalo did (and the CGI Hulk stand in was the best of the three).

Unfortunately, some of my concerns about Cap getting short shrift in the movie were confirmed.  He's on screen a great deal, but he's never really thrust into the role I wanted to see.  Even his one scene of earning his place as a master of strategy boils down to "go run around and do stuff!" and he never quite gets a moment that tells the audience "this is why this character has survived for 70 years".  And I'm not sure the film quite communicates the differences between what Cap is willing to do while being flesh and blood versus  Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the others.  I mean, its there...  but it would have been nice to have someone hold the audience's hand and acknowledge all that in the movie.

And for so much Loki, they really don't give Thor anything to do, do they?  We get something that looks like the contour of a story arc for ScarJo's Black Widow (only not really, because its a point that we're not supposed to know when she's telling the truth and so we sort of guess there's a woman with a past, only...  nothing really happens with it).  But Thor?  He gets to stand around like a dopey athlete who doesn't know his growth spurt over the summer made him a power player.

Did I like the movie?  Sure, well enough.  I don't think it sent me out of the theater whooping, and it was a fine summer matinee film.  Unfortunately, I felt the movie was also guilty of the popular theory in summer films that if you just keep moving, the audience won't notice the whole thing is held together with gum and baling wire.

I've had 30 years to get into The Avengers, and the idea never really grabbed me as a comics property.  I can acknowledge that stuff like Dark Knight or Captain America fit a bit more in my wheelhouse and  that there's something at stake, the ending isn't utterly predictable, and, oddly, the only character with anything at stake in the movie is the villain.

Its also just one of a number of comics-themed properties I can think of where the impetus for the group's formation comes along thanks to generic bad-guy aliens invading (poorly).  Be it the recent relaunch of Justice League in DC's new 52 (a plotless, brainless, characterless version of the same story), the launch of the Justice League cartoon more than a decade ago, Millar's Ultimates, and probably a dozen others I haven't bothered to think about much.

I do think DC is screwed.  Especially if you stuck around for the post-credits sequence (MAJOR SPOILER) in which Darkseid knock-off, Thanos, makes his appearance.  Darkseid was DC's best chance at providing a compelling reason for the Justice League to assemble, and there can be no doubt that Marvel will beat DC to the big screen with Starlin's Darkseid-lite (and, man, if the opening didn't look exactly like a Starlin-designed background, I don't know what does).  Its a major bummer, but that's been the story of DCE's half-assed efforts in film the past 10 years.  (End spoilers).

There are absolutely worse ways to spend your $10.  I just don't know if this film, of all the films in the series, is in the top 3 or will hold up well on a second viewing.

By the way, I failed to notice if Kirby received his credit or not.  I did see Starlin's name, but just for a second.

*not well


picky girl said...

Honestly, based on what I've read and heard and seen, I expected exactly this from this movie. I have really enjoyed some of the more psychological examinations of the comic book characters, but this didn't seem like it would be that. At all.

So I read on, not too worried. I wish the execs would realize that they can have both - action and depth. Weird.

I'll still see it and am still excited about it, but like you said, I won't think about it too much.

The League said...

I'm not a Whedon scholar, but its the same cursory sort of characterization I was expecting from any director, but given Whedon's reputation, perhaps I was expecting more.

While we have seen the origins of the various superheroes, generally considered by folks into cliches as being the only interesting part, I am unsure if the "origin" of the Avengers bore the resonance of the individual stories, and it seems like maybe it should have.

JBM said...

I dug your review, though I think enjoyed the movie more than you. That might stem from the fact that it seems I was also more of an Avengers comics fan than you. But I'm thinking in relation to Loki's motivation for attacking NYC as opposed to a more strategically viable're forgetting that the reason he chose New York was that he needed the power of Stark's arc reactor, tied to his headquarters in New York to power the Tessarac. :) So, in the end, it was motivated. Which is clearly a plot contrivance to show New York City landmarks being used as set pieces.

The League said...

Wait, so he needed the arc reactor to power the Tesseract, the doo-hickey whose 1 defining characteristic is that its an item of limitless energy? Yeah, I think I forgot that point.

I also didn't know why they didn't have Thor, say, remove the part of the building with the device attached and chuck it back through the portal, forcefield or not as the forcefield seemed to be about 8 feet at most around the device.

But, whatever, it was fine superhero comic book logic and made more sense than most of the stuff in your average DC book.

Speaking of NY as set pieces, there were most definitely times I felt it was less NY and more or a Metropolis of Product Placement Opportunities. Holy Acuras, Batman.

Jake Shore said...

Respectfully, your review sounds to me like sour grapes over the fact that Marvel has pretty much nailed this whole series of films and its climax in The Avengers, while DC looks no where near able to produce similar success outside of Chris Nolan's films (although I am hopeful for Man of Steel!).

I don't blame you for being miffed, I would love to see a Justice League movie, and if DC and Warner Bros. are smart, they'll offer Joss Whedon his own space station to write and direct it.

You can nitpick all you want, but it's hard to imagine an Avengers film as well done as this one. Your condescending tone toward the popular audience eating up some standard superhero tropes because they haven't seen them before is just...unbecoming. I am sick and tired of Hollywood's endless stream of sequels, remakes and adaptations as anyone, but even I, who knows every geek cliche in the book, can't help but smile when something I've seen before is done well.

It's not a perfect film, but there's more than "gum and bailing wire" holding together. To me, what makes this film work is what makes all Joss Whedon's stuff work - characters. Whedon has a unique talent to grasp the core of a character and project that on screen (or on paper as his excellent run on Astonishing X-Men demonstrates). Another unique talent is to successfully balance and abundance of said characters and create from those interactions, as well as giving each one room to shine.

I agree Captain America isn't what he could be, but he's a heck of a lot closer to that here than his movie. Ruffalo's Banner is the best yet because they finally made his anger a part of the character and the story. And his Hulk stole the movie for me and everyone in the theater. And for the life of me, I can't make sense of your criticism of Thor. He slaughters bad guys on an a scale matched only by the Hulk, and he has some good character scenes with Loki.

I just don't know what you were expecting. The Avengers weren't my favorite comic either (although I loved the Millar and Hitch's Ultimates), but this movie was a blast. To me, it's a miracle a movie of this scale, with this many characters and expectations wasn't a total disaster or disappointment. Given the logistics of a film like this, how many people in Hollywood do you think could pull this off? Or do better? I mean, were you expecting Glengarry Glen Ross? Thematically it's not as deep or resonate as Superman Returns (which I like), but it's a better film. I mean, when you have 93% of elitist, look down their nose at all things comics, fantasy and sci-fi film critics liking the film, it's a little more than bubble gum.

If you only judge it based on the curve established by other all other superhero movies, Avengers rates right near the top. Could you really name five superhero movies as well done as this one?

Now if it's just not your brand of vodka, fine, I get it. I know I'm in the minority of people who didn't like Captain America. But your critiques sound like those kids who refuse wear a brand of shoes because "everyone" wears them now and "it's gone all commercial."

That's probably a little harsh, but I think you get my point.

The League said...

Yeah, I completely reject the idea that I disliked the movie because I anticipated it would be popular or that because I am having a DC-centric "wish it were the Justice League" moment. I hope I've demonstrated a point of view at this site that embraces both popular and less-than-popular media, and I've done no small amount of cheerleading for the Marvel films leading up to this movie.

I may enjoy Justice League comics, but you'd have to be insane to think DCE is anywhere close to mustering the ability to pull off what Marvel has done in the past 10 years. Do I wish there were a Justice League movie? Absolutely. But I don't really engage in DC v. Marvel partisanship.

I stated repeatedly that I liked the movie well enough, I just found it had thematic and logical problems. It wasn't Ghost Rider or Fantastic Four or the first Punisher (I never saw Punisher: War Zone), all movies I couldn't get behind.

But exploring complications with movies is sort of what I do here, and have done for quite a while. I'm sorry it was a movie that you (and a whole lot of other people) liked and I'm not reaching the same level of enthusiasm, but responding that way would be disingenuous if its not how I actually responded to the film.

When I walk out of a movie I consider how I'm feeling about it and then I try to figure out why. I wanted nothing more than to walk out and say "oh my GOD, yes! That exceeded my every expectation!" But I didn't feel that way. I felt better than when I winced my way through M:I4 - Ghost Protocol this year, and as low as my expectations were for both Captain America (because Joe Johnston) and Thor (because I've never cared about the character), I wound up enjoying those films more than I expected, and treated them both as such in my discussions on those.

I'll put it this way: I walked into Dark Knight expecting a fairly boring sophomore effort, and I walked out knowing I had just seen a game changer not just for superhero movies, but for action movies in general. That wasn't how I felt about The Avengers, except, possibly, as a game changer in how film franchises can be managed and marketed.

From a technical and FX standpoint, Avengers most certainly is pretty and highly competent, but that's all in service to a script that didn't blow me away either thematically or from a character development standpoint. But you'd be a fool to deny some of the thrills of the cinematography (virtual though it might have been), or the small rush of seeing Cap throw his shield.

I did try to acknowledge that I may have seen this same story one too many times, and that certainly affected my reading of the film. Overall, that may have had a huge impact on my perception.

But this is a discussion, not the final word on anything. It's my take-away. If my expectations were too high, I'm the one who paid for that (and $12 per ticket).

I do think The Avengers movies, especially Iron Man and to a lesser-extent, Captain America, raised the bar for integrating strong motivation into the characters, none of which I felt was as resonant here as it could have been. But that's always the problem with trying to cram about 10 characters into a 2.5 hour movie.

What I guess I'm trying to say is: you nailed me. I totally think this should have been a David Mamet vehicle.

The League said...

On the topic of writing about these movies at all:

It is unsettling and disheartening to see opinions cast regarding my posts, blasting me for taking some egg-head view of a fun, summer action movie. The knee-jerk reaction is to apologize when you're accused of "unbecoming" behavior, or acting in a condescending manner toward the folks who did like the movie.

It's also hollow to state that this was NOT my intention (which it wasn't, but I suspect that's neither here nor there), but rather, as a comics fan, maybe I've been down this path too many times to find it fun any more (how many times can I ride the same roller coaster before I want to get off)?

You may have noted my gradual separation from superhero comics over the past few years?

But if I (and the millions of others out there with blogs or paid columns) don't state what we think, what's the point? And what's the point of talking about something experienced at all if there's no room for discussion? Especially if now we second guess ourselves at every turn that we're offending someone?

The bottom line is: It's not that I believe I'm of a superior intellect, it's that I don't care about dismissing the opinions of those viewers because it has so very little to do with the perspective from which I'm writing (and experiencing the movie). Just as I can watch a movie based on Emily Bronte and know that someone who is a scholar in Gothic literature or Bronte adaptations probably has a different perspective on the film than myself.

But I AM interested in what like-minded folks have to say, and, indeed, how I can be swayed by a compelling argument (I recently heard compelling arguments for the two Jason Statham "Crank" movies which I'd dismissed, but now which I really want to see).

But calling me out for being a snob? All I can do, and all anyone should ever do, is shrug their shoulders at that one. If I weren't a snob, I sincerely doubt there'd be a blog here at all which we could call out for snobbishness.

There is a difference between being the 18 year old who reacts and rejects anything that stinks of popular culture (something I think is perfectly rational and healthy, by the way, so long as you see it for what it is by 25), and having a point of view that may or may not fall in line with what "everybody else" thinks.

While I falter more than occasionally, I have and will continue to strive to provide informed, rational arguments for my cases. And I think that's all I can do.

Dug said...

I will defend Joss Whedon's writing a bit. I think he does a decent job of writing themes into his movies.

I'd say that Serenity was "about" faith , showcased by Mal, who has lost faith in everything, and the Operative, a government zealot who is nearly destroyed when he loses his faith. Also about a 90-pound dancer slaughtering monsters.

Avengers seemed to be about redemption. Loki, Widow, Banner, and Stark all sought it on some level. It was more about being entertaining and selling some Acuras along the way, but I do give him a little credit here.

Overall I agree with most of your review. I had a lot of fun and would recommend it, but it didn't surprise me much. I will add that I always thought Chris Evans was a poor choice for the Cap'n. He just doesn't have the huge stage presence I think the role requires. I agree that he could have been given more to work with.

Jake Shore said...

To quote the great Colonel Jessop, "Don't I feel like the f'ing asshole."

Let me see if I can walk my remarks back a little, without shrugging responsibility for them.

First of all let me say I'm sorry for coming across so contentiously. That was unnecessary and not entirely my intention.

Second, in spite of my comments, I'm not offended by your remarks, and I don't think you're a snob.

Often times I come to discussions like this the same way I approach water cooler conversations. So when I disagree, there's an element of "Come on!" I like to argue and debate, and it's precisely because your blog provides a forum for such discussion that I feel like I can push a little harder. Obviously I failed to communicate anything good-natured.

To put it another way, I slashed when I meant to poke.

Having said that, let me restate my critiques in a more reasonable way. We have differed in opinion over movies, comics and other topics abundant to your website on a number of occasions. But your Avengers post seemed different than any of your previous reviews, in two ways.

1. Your critiques and the arguments in support of them just weren't as strong or compelling or as they usually are (and they usually are).

2. Tone. Your review had a tone of...I don't know; condescension is probably too strong a word in retrospect, and after rereading it, maybe it's just a sense of weariness with all things comics that's coming through, which you all but acknowledge. So I probably misread that.

One of the occupational hazards of fanboys like us critiquing comics and such is that we can come off a little like Sheldon. Unfortunately, I came across as something far more obnoxious.

suits said...

I was excited to hear/read a review of someone who didn't like The Avengers. And you make some interesting and compelling points. In the interest of discussion, here are some counter-points.

To me Loki's motivation was briefly explained when he and Thor squabbled. Because Odin is not his father, Odin loves Thor "more", and Thor gets to be king, Loki feels betrayed, insignificant. And like a little kid, all he wants to do is take away and break the things Thor the Earth, and that girl, Natalie Portman. If his motivation is to take over a world and rule it, then you are right, he is the worst military strategist. However if his motivation is to emotional hurt Thor, then he HAS to rub it in his face. If this is the case then Loki is not using rational analysis for the invasion, but emotion, jealousy, which is typically irrational.

I agree that Cap didn't get to shine as the hero veteran soldiers followed in WW II. Although for me, it was two scenes with Iron Man that didn't quite work. First Cap and Iron Man are arguing because neither has respect for the other person. And then without Captain America doing anything significantly impressive, in front of Iron Man, Stark completely defends Cap in the next scene. I was unclear why Tony Stark changed his mind so radically.
Frankly the moment when Captain America gives the other members tasks was the only time he did shine as Captain America. Before I was thinking, Ok I know what Hulk, Thor and Iron Man are going to do against this invasion...but how can Hawkeye and Black Widow be of any use? You critize it as "go run around and do stuff"...I'm not really sure what other option there is? "Stand here and don't do stuff"? Captain America did give each person a specific task that used their particular skills. Hawkeye is given the task of relaying enemy movements and positions, which he is quite suited to with his eagle-eyes. Iron Man is given some aerial task (I can't remember now) which he is suited to because of his manueverability in the sky. While I have forgotten the details, I do remember thinking at the time that each person was given a specific and different task (except Black Widow, who had the same task as Captain America). Perhaps I'm wrong...

I believe they only SUSPECTED the tesseract could be used for limitless power. It's other function, which is specifically known by the aliens and Loki is that it is the key to a doorway across space. If I'm not mistaken, Loki needed an intense power source to jump-start it, although why that was necessary must be some cosmic BS. And since there doesn't seem to be a cube on the other side of space (which seems rather illogical), I suspect that throwing the shielded cube through the portal wouldn't actually have closed the portal. Plus, you know, you are handing one of the most powerful weapons in the universe over to some random aliens who had no problem invading Earth...that doesn't seem like a good idea. But hey, I'm no cosmic-science genius.

The biggest problem I see with the film is that it is an origin filmn, granted a team-origin, but still an origin. With few exceptions (Iron Man 2, Spider-Man 3), it's the films that are not origin stories that tend to be better. When you are not doing an origin story, you can do any story you want, which gives you more room to explore a variety of themes and ideas. So maybe the next one will impress you?

These are my intial thoughts/reactions to reading your post, and the comments.

The League said...

@dug - yeah... I meant I literally had no recollection of what "Serenity" was about. Like, at all. To me, that's a bit of a story problem. What was not a problem? Gina Torres.

I think I could dispute the "redemption" angle for some of the players named, but I'll not start all that up now. Its a fair and credible assessment. Except for Loki. You'd have to do some selling for me on that one.

The League said...

@Jake - thanks for not responding with a "well, and screw you, then". I certainly am not striving for condescension (but who ever is?). What I do hope to offer is a launching pad for conversation by starting with the angle of "I read a lot of superhero comics. This is a movie based on those things."

I appreciate you reading my comments and responding. Let us proceed onward!

The League said...

@suits - I can't really disagree enough on the "the second installments are usually better" statement. But I'm also a child of the 1980's, and movies like X2, Spidey 2 and Dark Knight Rises may have changed the playing field a bit. Time was when only Empire Strikes Back was considered the better movie (it was certainly NOT Temple of Doom).

Secondly, I didn't dislike the movie. I believed it had a few problems for me as a viewer, but that's sort of par for the course unless you're putting something like "The Hustler" on the DVD player.

I saw Thor (actually 3 times now). I'm pretty up on the movie's set up. Its my opinion that writers need to be a bit more clever than "he's irrational". Especially if an invading army is willfully joining him, who we can assume had some free agency.

As per Cap's orders: they just didn't necessarily provide any actual "strategy". It wasn't the lynchpin that saw past the machinations of the invasion. It just felt like he was telling them "go do what you'd expect you'd probably do, what with your powers or skill set". In other words - it didn't necessarily need to be said, and thus didn't provide much of a reason for folks to get behind Cap.

Yeah, I dunno about the Tesseract MacGuffin/ Weird Science device. We get these in almost every superhero movie. I would have liked to have seen a more compelling use of the device than what we got, and something that didn't seem like a satellite dish you could knock off a roof.

J.S. said...

I liked the movie. It was fun. The Hulk was awesome. I love the fact that you can strip away the ideology and ponitfication of the other hearoes and be left with something really cool in a big green monster who wants to smash bad guys. Apparently I am alone, though, in thinking that they could have come up with a better/more compelling villain than Loki. Part of this came from the simple fact that Loki had already appeared in the Thor movie, and I was just disappointed that they didn't take the opportunity to find a different villain to introduce from the rather extensive stable of colorful Marvel villains. Also, though, I just don't find Loki all that cool. He's not really scary or clever or even particularly evil. To me, he's sort of a whiney brat with cool toys and horns (he never even feels particularly competent). For the brief moments that Hawkeye was a villain I found him more interesting than Loki. Anyway, fun flick. Oh yeah- it was also cool to see the SHIELD helicarrier take on a key role!

The League said...

Well, having had read Ultimates 1 and 2, I was pretty set from the end of Thor to expect Loki as a player in Avengers. And I kind of agree that he didn't seem competent, unless my theory about this whole thing being his very awkward way of returning to Asgard without having to ask is true.

Leslie Loftis (AHLondon) said...

I am not an Avengers scholar, though I'm a bit of a Whedon scholar and I think my analysis--Whedon did a great job of pulling together the plot lines and Hollywood needs to realize that character and story fluency in any adaption to film requires a fan with director and writing skill--holds up pretty well after reading this. From your review I gather that some of the weaknesses of the movie are weaknesses inherent in the Avengers story itself. I'd thought this a problem of Whedon's; he designs intricate character and story arcs in TV series where he has loads more time. It is difficult to do that in a 2+ hour movie, hence the difficulty of determining what Serenity is about unless you had watched Firefly. Like you, I had fun and enjoyed The Avengers, but beyond the Loki arc discussed here, there wasn't much overriding theme, the kind of thing that makes the Batman movies stand out. That's why I like the Batman movies more. But still, given the recent history of silver screen adaptions, The Avengers is a gem.
@Jake Shore, I feel your water cooler pain. Slash, poke--it is much easier to present the difference face to face, don't you think? As for Loki, where did I see the reference to Loki being a cop out villian because he looks slimy and that's just too easy? If I find the link, I'll send it on.

The League said...

As you say - in comparison, it's a gem! I am totally telling people to see this, and to see it in the theater.

In comparison to, especially:
Ghost Rider, Fantastic Fours 1 and 2, Daredevil, Elektra, Catwoman, X-Men 3, and innumerable 80's and 90's era comics adaptations. And, of course, non-comics stuff too universal to mention (like Universal's "Wolfman").

Simon MacDonald said...

Whoa, I'm really late to the party on this one but I did enjoy the movie a lot. It certainly is a "Marvel" movie as it hit all of the tropes that are essential to Marvel oeuvre.

1) Hero turns villian
2) Heroes meet and mistakenly fight each other
3) The team is at each others throats
4) At the end they all work together to beat the bad guy

Yup, that is Marvel in a nutshell.