this was going to happen, I just went with it – talking about The Avengers

04 May

Around 3:30pm yesterday, I started putting together some disparate facts. I didn’t have to work on Friday. After a bit of checking around, I found that there were plenty of seats available for the midnight screenings of The Avengers in town. I wrestled with the implications of these facts on my afternoon bike ride (fifteen miles through the woods, 50 miles for the week. I kind of rock). The plan seemed just crazy enough to work, and the spouse agreed with it.

So, it came that we found ourselves sitting in a rowdy movie theater last night at midnight, watching the movie I’d been looking forward to since before I knew it was even a possibility (for those of you keeping score on this here blog, and have seen me talk about stuff as “not my thing” – as a Marvel Zombie for more than three decades, this was my Twilight), at the earliest possible moment it was kosher to project it in the United States(as I was in the wrong city for the preview screenings this week).

So…about The Avengers: It was totally worth staying up 22 hours straight and going to bed at 3am. Oh yeah.

I can safely say that most of the reviews out there (save, perhaps, the NYT, though they’ve got issues with geek/genre stuff in general – Preach it, Brother Tee!) are pretty much on target: It’s not a perfect film – there are a couple of plot holes and a few slow spots toward the beginning, but you’ll likely forgive them because you’ll have a huge smile on your face from all the great character beats, action spectacle, and pure fun. It’s a summer blockbuster, but if you’re going to point to one of the best examples of that particular category, this is pretty much it. There is a reason that phrases like “game changer” and “new paradigm” and “template going forward” are being tossed around. That reason is that they really do apply here.

I’ll describe what I liked about it in broad strokes, so as not to spoil the experience (not that there are any huge, unexpected twists – the plot is about what you’d expect it to be). There’s a lot to like – the performances are uniformly good, and all the heroes get their chance to shine, which didn’t surprise, given director Joss Whedon’s experience working with ensemble casts.

It was funny. Really funny. It had lots of well-crafted action. I liked seeing the thought that went into having these strange, disparate characters work together in clever ways. Iron Man arcing a repulsor blast off of Cap’s shield to hit an enemy he couldn’t reach otherwise; The Hulk stabbing a huge beast with a bit of scavenged shrapnel, and Thor hammering it home with his, well…hammer. They were nice touches that I appreciated, that didn’t need to be there for the film to work, but showed that the people making this thing really thought about how to make use of all the tools in their toolbox; it’s either a devotion to craft or a love of the material, or both – it doesn’t really matter what it is; what matters is that it adds that extra little something to push this film a bit higher over the bar than the rest of it’s action bretheren.

I really liked the fact that this film totally embraced the comic book universe reality it created for itself – it doesn’t run away from the fact that it’s populated with Gods, Aliens, Monsters, philanthropists in macguffin-powered armor and guys who survived being frozen in the Arctic for almost a century – it revels in it, with all it’s larger than life four-color glory. It’s a comic book movie that truly celebrates that it’s a comic book movie, and it’s all the better for it.

Also, between Joss Whedon’s script and direction and Mark Ruffalo’s performance, they finally got the Hulk right; I want to see more of this version of him. I’m not sure that The Hulk is a marquee lead character for another film – he works best with a foil, and the comics have known this for years – Rick Jones, Amadeus Cho, Doctor Strange – the brutish Hulk needs an intelligent cohort to play off of. Ruffalo’s got a six picture deal with Marvel now – have him show up in Avengers 2, Iron Man 3, etc…but what I really want is a series of Marvel Team-Up: Featuring the Hulk and… films introducing other minor-leaguers who would fit into the universe, but might not carry their own film. That’s the way to give the Hulk a character to play off of, and a really effective gateway to get c-listers like Cloak and Dagger, Starfox, Heroes for Hire, or Moon Knight up on screen, making them available to stick into future Avengers films without having to start from scratch.

Marvel – call me.

In any case, when you see it, be prepared to smile at the little character moments, the snappy dialogue, the heroic action, and be sure to stay to the end, because there are two tacked on sequences, one which sets up a big sequel in a couple of years, and one that simply pays off big time on a little throwaway line earlier in the film. Both are worth sticking around for.

So yeah, go see it. Early and often. You’ll enjoy it. It’s a great example of the summer blockbuster species, and it honestly deserves to earn the billion or so dollars it’s going to make in it’s run.

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One Response to “this was going to happen, I just went with it – talking about The Avengers

  1. 1
    Tee Morris Says:

    Thanks for the pingback! Glad to hear people are groking my blog. ;^)

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