My friends and I went to see The Avengers movie on Sunday. It was all I could have hoped for.
The packed house gave the film the rare dynamic of having the audience laugh and applause along with the action. As you might expect, The Hulk got the most laughs. I’ve decided the Hulk is better on a team. Those Hulk movies were so grim and dour, though it probably didn’t help to have a seemingly suicidal Nick Nolte and his killer poodles in that first Hulk film. The crowd was so large that our group had to sit half a theater apart from each other, because we ate at Pappadeaux’s before and ended up arriving a little too late. The theater was hot from too many people packed in one room, but I enjoyed it anyway.
Adding to the scene was the fact I ended up sitting next to a New Yorker and his teenage son. The son gave his own narration throughout the film. He was a little slow, so I wasn’t annoyed like I normally might have been.
When I say comments, let me give a couple of examples. For instance, on a couple of occasions when Captain America was sneaking up on something or skulking down a corridor, the kid would blurt out, “What are you doing, Captain America?“
Then when Thor and Loki had their first encounter and Thor was listing Loki’s various crimes against Asgard and Earth, at a pause, the kid said quite loudly, “Destroy Him!” The father kept shushing the kid, so it really only added to the moment. I’ll say this, too. When the villain in the credits appeared, that kid knew all about the guy. He knew who/what the villain worshipped and which Marvel Comics group he was associated with. I’d rather hear comments from that person than the one who keeps asking who Hawkeye is.
Things I Liked about the Avengers
- The characterization of Captain America. Cap was exactly as you’d expect. He was old-fashioned without beating people over the head with it.
- The Hulk’s interaction with Loki was classic comics fun.
- The Hulk smashing everything. That was good.
- Mark Ruffalo was good as Bruce Banner. I’ve never been a big Mark Ruffalo fan, but I thought he did an excellent job as Banner. He seemed disheveled and aged prematurely, but he seemed to have matured from his solo movies (where he was played by Eric Bana and Edward Norton, of course).
- The Black Widow’s interaction with Loki. Excellent stuff.
- Loki. Tom Hiddleston had a lot more to work with here, but he was a lot more entertaining than in the Thor movie. You got the idea he was really evil, instead of simply whining about his parentage like he did in Thor. You also got the idea Loki really loves being rotten, despite the bitterness. Hiddleston conveyed the mad glee of Loki a couple of times, without cackling and all that nonsense.
- The introduction of next movie’s villain. If that’s who we get, I’ll like it. It’s not one I would have assumed, but it has my whole-hearted approval. For spoilers purposes, I’ll say no more.
- Robert Downey Jr was good, as always. Iron-Man was a key member without overwhelming the scene.
- The subtlety of Loki’s manipulation on the heli-carrier. As the team argues with one another, we see the gem on Loki’s staff glowing. Most other comic book movies, they would practically have had a flashing pointer saying, “Loki is causing them to fight, folks.” That being said, one in our group didn’t pick up on what was happening and simply thought the Avengers were all being jerks to one another.
- I enjoyed the small touches that continued stories from earlier films, such as the inclusion of Pepper Potts and the mention that Jane Foster had been taken to safety. I wondered aloud whether The Avengers producers had to pay Natalie Portman for her image. Or are those kind of tidbits included in the original contract? I’d appreciate anyone who knows giving me the answer.
Things I Didn’t Like about the Avengers
- Jeremy Renner didn’t don the Hawkeye mask even once. Did the production team just not find a good time to have that happen, or was this the Stallone-in-Judge Dredd thing where the star doesn’t want to lose face time. Surely not.
- Too much CGI. This almost goes without saying. The Chitauri foot soldiers reminded me of the Marro from Heroscape, but I liked their use of flying chariots and those large insectoid looking ships looked cool on screen. Still, it was a little too much confusion. While it’s good to show the confusion of battle, it doesn’t make for the best watching experience.
- Some of the action was over-edited. For instance, Thor vs Loki looks like black/red versus green/gold at times. You couldn’t see what was happening, which is an annoying trend in action scenes. That doesn’t give a sense of action, but simple confusion. Pull away and show us what’s happening, directors. (My friends tell me it’s the editors’ faults, not the directors, but you know what I mean.)
All in all, The Avengers was a good movie watching experience and I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s amazing what happens when the script is written by someone who enjoys the original source material and understands why people love this stuff. It’s been my observation that superhero movies which capture the essence of a comic book have been successful, while those that have tried to deviate from the formula have failed miserably. For instance, when the Spider-Man movies did well, I’m convinced Fantastic Four executives told themselves, “That was a hit because it had a romance. We have to have romantic tension in our movies.” So Dr. Doom becomes a romantic rival of Reed Richards, which is completely freaking awful. It completely ruins the character. Instead, they should have realized the first two Spider-Man movies essentially retold the early stories of Spider-Man, which hooked readers nearly 50 years ago and has kept people coming back ever since.
The Avengers movie was, in essence, a distillation of what always made the Avengers great. It was the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe combined with the finest, most skilled members in the Marvel Universe. These were ill-fitting parts, but they combined to make an unstoppable team.