It’s the morning after, the smoke has cleared, so to speak, and Marvel’s The Avengers is breaking records worldwide. You’ve seen it. You better have anyway, or you need to stop reading now. Because your friendly neighborhood Contrarian Fanboy is here to disassemble The Avengers and get his blasphemous little hands dirty once again. First, I’d like to disclose that my arbitrary rating for this film would be a 4.5/5 stars or what-have-you. Loved it. One of the top 3 comic book-inspired movies ever, in my book. After all, I am truly, genuinely, very grateful that this film even exists for me to pick apart. But like any good healthy obsession, as this monumental movie has been for me for so very long, there come the inevitable criticisms. Yet I think others are having these thoughts too, as indicated by a brief chat with my fellow UTFers across the pond. That’s why I’m here, friends. I’ll take that bullet, fall on that sword, and even worse, be labeled a “hater”, and as always you are welcome to tell me so in the comments at the bottom. Let’s start with praising the (oh, so-very) good and work our way through, pausing to vent the minor grievances, because the only way to really examine a movie made up of such rich and diverse characterization is to do so piece by piece.
Don’t worry, I won’t be taking a massive Chitauri all over your new favorite superhero flick. It’s all in good fun.
How can Iron Man be too well-executed in terms of character, plot, amazing action, and sheer high-caliber actor performance? Well, at times this movie really turned into The Iron Man Show featuring The Avengers for me, from the focus on Tony’s personal life(compared to the lack of for most others) in the first act, to his ballsy confrontation with a demi-god, then his self-sacrificing moment in the climax. These were moments that made the movie terrific, no doubt. But as you will read later on, I think some star-spangled epic moments were sacrificed instead for some moments catering to the bigger star with the more profitable solo film franchise.
Tom Hiddleston had a large burden, coming into this movie as primary antagonist. He really seemed to take a huge bite out of Loki in this, unafraid to be even more vengeful and less petulant than in Thor. Whedon was able to write Loki with a sense of dread, but also allowed him some great dialogue and even some laughs. (His “performance issues” with Stark, his request for a drink after facing off with Hulk). And in the end, we still don’t hate Loki. Loki has truly been set up as the god of mischief, not just some two-dimensional villain. If only his brother had gotten the same attention in the script. More on that later.
Clint Barton was represented well. I heard someone complain that he was brainwashed through the first 2 acts of the movie, but Hawkeye was a villain first in the comics. This paid tribute to that, while giving some backstory and depth to not only Barton, but SHIELD,and provided a great connecting thread to Agent Romanov. Again, I’d like to see his character more well-defined later on, but for now I think we have our Hawkeye.
Nick Fury, Agents Phil Coulson and Maria Hill were done very well. Without this aspect being well-written and performed, the entire movie would have fallen flat. I’ve heard some folks say Hill was under-used and not bitchy enough compared to her comics counterpart. I disagree. She served her purpose, albeit a limited one of dealing directly with the helicarrier crew, like the X.O. of a Battlestar to Fury’s commander. Of course, there’s the death of beloved film-only character Son of Coul. I truly grieved for a few minutes afterward. A poetic and inspired bit of writing by Mr. Whedon, who excels at killing people for plot’s sake. Plus, there have been whispers in the fanboy community for a possible new “vision” for Phil.
Let me begin this final entry by saying I love Captain America. I grew up barely interested in him, even thinking of him as sort of cheesy and outdated. But Ed Brubaker’s run on Cap’s solo book, along with his role in Civil War, really shaped Steve Rogers into the very heart and soul of the Marvel Universe for me. He’s the beacon, the inspiration, the spirit that carries these Avengers when they are weakened. So, I took issue with the way that Cap’s uniform looked in certain shots of this movie. Almost like a child’s footie pajamas. Especially considering the money that went into making sure Tony Stark’s armor looks super-bad-ass every time it appears, you’d think they could have made the costume more cinematic. This one was actually a step-down from his original. But I am not that damn heartless. I still loved every moment Chris Evans was onscreen. He’s done a great job portraying Cap’s isolation and evolution through 2 movies. But Captain America is the revered superhero’s superhero. Other Avengers should have a great respect for him, or at least come to that point of respect through his leadership. I never got that sense in The Avengers. As for his leadership role itself, I think it may have been diminished by some Iron Man moments. Yes, he got to bark some orders in the movie, but he never really got that “Avengers Assemble!” moment, neither in action nor dialogue. I think any fan of the Avengers, even moderate fans, noticed that strange absence from the film. The only thing I can assume is that Joss is saving some of these special elements for a sequel. I can only hope that is the case, because I really feel like over time, once this terrific film comes home on blu-Ray, it will gnaw at the back of my nerdy little brain: The Avengers have assembled, but I’m still waiting on The Sentinel of Liberty to make it official.