You know those movies that show all of the best scenes and funniest lines in the trailer? The Avengers is nothing like that.
The Avengers is a funny, action-packed, cohesive love letter to the super hero genre. It also manages to convey a serious sense of danger and urgency, without becoming overwhelmingly dark.
Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Thor must overcome their vast differences and team up to stop Loki and his invading army from conquering the world.
With five years of teasing from Marvel Studios; a huge cast of A-list talent; a collection of characters who shouldn’t be in the same room; and a story too big to tell in a movie, the opportunities for this film to suck were numerous. Fortunately, Joss Whedon & co were up to the challenge.
Badass Moments All Around!
Every single character has many moments to shine. With a cast this big, it would be easy to push many characters into the scenery. That didn’t happen. I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite moment because there were so many great moments.
Bringing the Funny
In typical Whedon fashion, this movie is just as humorous as it is intense. In that way it reminds me of my True Lies (one of my all-time favorite action flicks).
Fun with Clichés
One of Whedon’s talents that runs throughout everything he’s ever done is his manipulation of clichés. He is a master of taking what the viewer expects, and then suddenly turning it on its side. Where lesser writers will fallback on “classic” story elements, Whedon works like a magician and always keeps you guessing. That’s one of the things that made Cabin in the Woods (2012) so exceptional.
Nothing is Wasted & Everything is Earned
This story is tight! There’s no fat on it. Every line either establishes a character, or pushes the story forward. Even the post-credit scene is a call-back joke to an earlier line that seemed like an irrelevant throwaway line.
I strongly dislike 3D, but I didn’t mind the 3D in The Avengers. For the most part it added depth like a diorama, instead of flying at the audience like a pop-up book. With the exception of one brief moment, I was cool with the 3D.
Mr. Jackson is not known for subtlety. In The Avengers his performance in remarkably understated, and I thought it was exceptional. I’m not sure who made that decision, but whomever made that call deserves a cookie. If I’m remembering correctly, his most badass moment is devoid of dialog (or pretty close to it).
Suspension of Disbelief
The best praise I can give any super hero story (comic, or movie), is that my suspension of disbelief went unbroken throughout. Will that be the case after multiple viewing? I’m not sure. But while I was watching The Avengers, I was completely invested in the story, and it never made me question the narrative.
As much as I loved The Avengers, I do have some minor gripes.
One Big Cliché
I don’t want to give anything away, but there is one big alien movie cliché that Whedon used to wrap up the film, and I found it slightly disappointing… But I also understood why it needed to be that way. I still wish it wasn’t.
3D Serpent Thingie
There was one moment in the third act where the 3D disrupted my viewing experience. That giant metal flying serpent thingie from the trailer flies into the screen (kind of over the camera), and my eyes/ brain were not ok with that at all.
Further Exploring the Idea of Freedom
Early in the film, Loki talks a bit about humans and freedom. It’s a concept that Whedon plays with a lot. In The Avengers, he starts to dig into this idea, but never really does anything with it, other than expand on Loki’s motivation. I think it was a missed opportunity to add extra meaning to the overall story.
Nothing serious to report here…
I Want More!
The DVD is going to have something like 30 minutes of extra footage, and I can’t wait for it.
If you haven’t seen it yet, just go. This is what mainstream comic heroics look like at their very best.
There are two credits scenes.
The mid-credits scene sets up the next film (if you’re interested in who that character is, click here). You have to stay to see this as it explains something that happens in the beginning of the movie.
The post-credits scene isn’t necessary to see, but it is both very funny, and delightfully Whedonesque.
Lastly, if you liked the humor and storytelling in The Avengers, you really ought to watch some of Whedon’s early work. Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible & Dollhouse are exceptional shows that are smart, moving, funny, and very entertaining.
Some folks from DC & Warner Brothers rejected Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman movie script a few years ago.
I’m betting those people are having a rough week right about now.
The Avengers was eff-ing awesome. A detailed review is coming later.
It’s Avengers release day! I’m just sitting in the theater waiting for shindig to start so I can enjoy all of its Whedony goodness.
I’m so excited for this… It better not disappoint. No. It won’t disappoint. In Joss we trust.
The lights are going down.
I’ll be back with colorful commentary later-ish.
Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 5 – The day after The Avengers hits theaters (probably not a coincidence).
Go on down to your local comic shop. They’ll have tons of free stuff, and great sales.
Personally, I’m going to pick up my copies of the Star Wars/ Serenity and Buffy/ The Guild (Don’t judge if you’ve never seen Buffy. That show is magnificent).
Call it a hunch, but I suspect many non-comic geeks are going to be asking this question over the next few weeks:
Who is Thanos, AKA, the man with the purple grin?
Thanos was created by comic writer/ artists Jim Starlin in Iron Man 55.
Those who studied psychology might recognize his name’s connection to the thanatos complex, or death drive. While students of mythology will know that Thanatos (Thanatus in Latin) is the embodiment of death. At this point you might be noticing a pattern.
Thanos is a character obsessed with death. Literally. He spent his villainous career courting Death (a purple cloaked skeletal god of death in the Marvel Universe). His obsession has led him to kill a lot of people in hopes of winning her affection.
In terms of strength, durability, and energy projection he’s on the of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. However his intellect is his most potent weapon. Thanos stories always involve grandiose schemes that play-out over many issues (a trait common of many Starlin characters and comics). What sets Thanos apart from most other villains is that his plans generally work perfectly. When he is defeated it’s usually because he doesn’t feel he is worthy of Death’s love, and allows his opponents to win in some way (my over-simplification makes it sound less interesting that it is).
Thanos is a total badass of a character, and has been one of my favorite characters for many years.
His stories are deeply psychological, and very twisted. He’s the kind of character that Joss Whedon could have a lot of fun with if he were to perhaps stick around for an Avengers sequel.
If Thanos interests you, you should checkout Infinity Gauntlet. This is the definitive Thanos story, and one of the most fun superhero tales ever told.
Geeks and non-geeks should enjoy this video retelling of the horrible Death & Return of Superman story-lines from the early 1990′s. Starring Elijah Wood and Mandy Moore and many other, this video perfectly captures how hilariously horrible that story was, and the damage it did to mainstream comic storytelling in general.
For more on death in comics: Dead Comic Book Characters Always Get Better
For more on Superman being a terribly boring character: Superman is Problematic