Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

Seen: In 3D at the AMC/Loews Boston Common, and again in 2D at the AMC/Loews in Ridgefield Park, NJ.

Ok I know it's like weeks late and totally irrelevant by now but dagnabbit I want to talk about The Avengers! Like, all the time I want to talk about it. Story? Do I need to lay down the plot here? A bunch of kickass people (mostly white dudes), some with superpowers, team up to save the world from a megalomaniacal alien-god and his army of fleshy extraterrestrials. There are numerous explosions and lots of international travel, plus a big airship and pseudoscience and brainwashing and backflips and magic. And jokes! Oh, the jokes!

After years of Marvel superhero movies building up to this great big thing, I didn't really think it would all work out. I'll be honest, I don't especially care about the Avengers as a team, since I pretty much have devoted all of my Marvel comic love to X-Men. (And yes I know some mutants are in the Avengers but I don't give a fuck about Beast and anyway none of them are in the movie versions so shush.) BUT BUT BUT. Joss Whedon, that man whose work I like but whose somewhat scary rabid fanbase freaks me out a little (as all rabid fanbases do, really), just knew what to do. He knew that with this many characters you had to balance their roles carefully and not get too wrapped up in plotting, and that snappy dialogue and big-budget action can be given equal screen time. And he knew that everything could fit together so well that the end result would be a straight-up entertaining movie. Even in 3D. So good job, Joss Whedon.

One of the main things that holds this movie together is all the goddamn charisma on screen. I was convinced no one would be able to keep up with Robert Downey, Jr but dang then Mark Ruffalo steps in and he's just the best somehow, he just gets Bruce Banner and it's perfect, and I find myself wanting another Hulk movie against all better judgment. And then there's the adorable quipping back and forth between Tony Stark and Captain America, and Black Widow and Hawkeye being badass all the time (more on that later), and Sam Jackson being his dominating self, and of course Tom Hiddleston swaggering all over the place in his villainy. And Clark Gregg! Too cute! So basically I like everyone even though the size of Chris Hemsworth's arms freaks me out (his hair is mesmerizing, though- I wanted to stroke it).

Sure, it's long and the actual plot is pretty predictable but the writing is strong and I would have settled for a three-hour-long movie if it meant I could just spend more time with these characters. The action is solid, sporting CG monsters and fancy high-tech gadgets and lots of "who would win in this Superhero vs Superhero fight?"-type set-ups. The whole Cosmic Cube thing gets sort of convoluted, mostly because the first time I watched it I totally wasn't paying attention to the smaller details concerning it, but the second time it came together better. And even though they aren't given much explanation the Chitauri are sort of formidable I guess, mostly because of their flying armored beast things. I never got very far into the Ultimate Universe so I didn't have much background on them, but the ethics are pretty straightforward: Chitauri bad, Avengers good, humans are dicks but let's give them another chance anyway.

Ok I really really need to talk about Black Widow for awhile. This is so important. You know how there aren't really any good female-fronted superhero movies (aside from Tank Girl)? And how even in the dude-centric ones (aka all of them), female characters are typically there just as girlfriends or sexy villains or something? WELL Black Widow is totally amazing in this movie. And despite not being a typical action star Scarlet Johansson is great! She is usually the only lady onscreen (though of course Cobie Smulders has some great moments in a bit part), and is pretty much placed on equal footing with the rest of the team. She may not have superpowers but she is a highly trained spy with both fighting and interrogation prowess, plus a dismissive attitude that I find charming. She and the also-awesome Hawkeye get some of the coolest moments in the climactic battle, and I would argue that it is Black Widow who would save the day in the end since she (SPOILER) is the one who closes the portal. I know, I know Iron Man averts the bomb and blows up the Chitauri, whatever, but she's the one who could have stopped the alien threat if the bomb wasn't on the table. Most importantly, she's never singled out for being a woman, she's treated equally as a member of the team. There are no sarcastic digs at her gender or snarky come-ons, she's just there as another kickass fighter. There's no half-assed romantic angle, although I'll admit that while I loved her and Hawkeye as best buddies I wouldn't have minded if they were also romantically involved. Which they probably are/were anyway if the comics are anything to go by. Anyway for more on why Black Widow is great (and to be depressed by how ignorant some male reviewers are), read this.

Ok ok enough about Black Widow and my insane crush on her. But expect some artwork for her later. Basically The Avengers is flipping awesome and any flaws it has are easy to overlook because I was having too much fun to really notice. I've seen it twice and I'd see it again in a heartbeat. Thanks, Joss!


Pair This Movie With: I just wanted to watch it again right afterward. Or I wanted to watch all the imaginary movies that should be made after this, like a Black Widow/Hawkeye prequel, or a Tony Stark/Bruce Banner buddy road trip comedy.

PS For all your Avengers needs you should just look at gingerhaze on tumblr. She has the most amazing Avengers comics. And other awesome stuff too.

My digital artwork for Black Widow is for sale as a print.


  1. I totally laughed at you "not giving a fuck about Beast." That's funny, as much as I love X-Men, neither do I.

  2. Brittani: Beast is the worst! I love X-Men in general but I also love to hate on several characters. Beast, Cyclops, Professor X, Jean Gray... they suck but they keep things entertaining haha.

  3. I took a friend to see this so ended up seeing it a second time and liked it a little better the second time round. I still think Mark Ruffalo is the best thing in it... plus his Hulk version. I think Hulk worked so well because he was treated as comic relief whereas in his Banner incarnation he was just cool. Still not confident the character could carry another movie on his own though.

    Nice review!

  4. "I would have settled for a three-hour-long movie if it meant I could just spend more time with these characters."

    My thought exactly. I almost rushed home and began watching the terrible new Avengers animated series. Instead, I settled for the "Ultimate Avengers" feature, which ended up being total trash also.

    In the end, I resolved to begin reading "The Ultimates" again - and skip the third act this time...

  5. loved this film! great review, totally agree with most of what you said! and i though Black Widow was sooo awesome!

    following, and looking forward to more reviews!