Anyone who knows me knows I waited months, in great excitement, for the release of The Avengers. So much so, that conversations in mid- to late April went like this:
“What’s B. getting you for your birthday?”
“He’s taking me to see The Avengers.”
(In actual fact, he took me out for the afternoon–including a nice meal at The Melting Pot–but that’s neither here nor there.)
So, lots of blank looks and “mm-hmmms” all around, but on May 4th, I was there to see it in all its IMAX 3D glory. I will say this: WORTH. EVERY. RED. CENT. I mean, when Loki is getting all super-villain pissy at the Widow, he spits on the glass. (Well, the actor did. Vehement delivery, I say.) Little droplets of spittle, practically LEAPING out of the screen at me. B. and I were looking at each other, stupidly excited about the details.
We are so utterly hopeless. 😀
Anyway, I did lots of gawping at the glorious (and I mean GLORIOUS) man-flesh onscreen…and I left totally satisfied at the outcome of what is, without question, the most anticipated comic-book movie EVER. Whedon’s direction paid off like I couldn’t believe. The man is a master at handling a large cast, and made certain everyone got what should come to them. There wasn’t a single moment when I thought, “I wish we’d spent more time on So-and-So.” Instead, I was left with the desire for more-more-more-of-everything.
Although I can’t forgive him killing Agent Coulson. *weeps* I can’t remember loving a so-called minor, recurring character so much, before. There’s a reason those Coulson-centric shorts were made. Dude was amazing.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow: Gorgeous. Deadpan humor (“That doesn’t look like a party”). Scarlett Johansson is nigh-stoic through the entire film; her face reveals almost nothing. But this isn’t the emotionless range of K-Stew, this is deliberate and subtle. Natasha meets Bruce Banner, is clearly terrified of his alter ego: her eyes, the wildness of them when she’s looking down the barrel of a gun aimed at his head? Perfect. Such a controlled human being, desperately trying to retain control in front of someone who, quite literally, embodies lack of it. And let’s not forget her quiet concern for Clint Barton, when she gets word he’s been compromised.
Steve Rogers/Captain America: You just want to take him home to your momma. Dear Lord, but that man is delicious. *ahem* Chris Evans played the role well, portraying that All-American buy-your-war-bonds and respect-your-elders mentality that is so associated with the Cap’s generation. He’s quiet, shy, and just a little earnest. (Flying monkeys mentioned; when Thor doesn’t understand: “I do!…I got that reference.”) He very much takes issue with Tony Stark–providing an interesting counterpoint to Iron Man, whom everyone considers heroic. Understandably, standing him up beside Rogers and comparing the two leaves Tony a little in the dust. That, and Steve is just so darn likeable–(see my first sentence here. It stands re-reading)–while Tony…is Tony. (Bringing us to…)
Tony Stark/Iron Man: Jackass. Hilarious and still easy on the eyes. Walks in and blathers on about nuclear thermodynamic something-or-other, and when asked when he became such an expert: “Last night. Am I the only one who did the reading?” (Something like that.) But Tony mans up, as the Cap suggested, when it gets down to the last. He readily committed himself to never coming home, to dying in some far-flung bit of space, but makes it through the portal just. in. time. (No shock from this quarter.) He and Pepper are adorkable, you should know. She yanks his chain in all the best ways. It’s been said, but I’ll say it again: Robert Downey Jr was born for this role (his addiction and its correlation to Tony Stark aside).
Clint Barton/Hawkeye: I take it back. Here’s one I wouldn’t have minded having more screen time, if only because a lot of his early appearances were while under Loki’s mind control. He doesn’t get much time to show himself, just his skills, and I think the grin he’s flashing at the end points to a lot more humor in him than we got to see. His skills, though? Pretty sweet. L. has marked him as his favorite Avenger. (L.’s a fan of the exploding arrow-tips. My boy is practical, no?)
Bruce Banner/The Hulk: Best film Hulk. Don’t argue with me, just accept it. Mark Ruffalo says he watched the old Hulk TV series with his son, seeking inspiration. His son, aged ten, looked at him and commented on how “no one understands” the Hulk. Ruffalo compared that to his son, starting to have hormones course through his body and make him be and act like someone totally different, and ran with the idea. It worked. Bruce is almost gleeful, though, when he finally gets to show off his “trick”–and I think everyone who’s seen it loves the Hulk’s reaction to Loki’s “I’m better than ALL OF YOU” rant.
Thor: Right off, I’m not happy with the easy-peasy method of Thor’s return. We saw him return to Asgard in Thor, battle Loki, and destroy the bridge to Midgard. Last we see him, he’s looking out into the abyss, waiting for the bridge to be rebuilt so he can return to Earth (and his would-be woman, Jane Foster). I fully expected some kind of complicated method of getting him back, something to do justice to Foster’s research and efforts. Nope–we get an off-hand remark from Loki about dear old dad Odin whipping up some dark energy to open a door. Yes, it sounds hard; does it sound hard enough? No. If I were Jane, I’d be happy he’d come back and then royally pissed at him leaving again. Even so…Thor, getting punched by the Hulk. Thor, cranking up the lightning and zapping some aliens from atop the Chrysler Building. Thor, walking around with his arms bare.
(Hey, I said there was glorious man-flesh. Don’t act all surprised.)
We’ve arrived at my point. Eureka!
The Avengers marked a standard by which ensemble-cast action movies will be measured. Battleship, which I consider a piss-poor attempt at garnering a few bucks off a game (really? someone thought this was a GOOD IDEA?)…well, it tanked. I can’t decide what rang the death-knell–
The premise? (Again. It was a GAME. Two navies, sinking one another’s ships. NO ALIENS IN SIGHT.)
The characters that could only have more dimensions if you watched it in 3D? (I can’t even remember their names. Not one.)
The lackluster attempt at chemistry between the male/female leads? (That was a painfully uninteresting romance.)
Trying to pull my heartstrings with wounded vets/elderly vets doing battle? (It was…they tried too hard? I don’t know. It fell flat, at least for me.)
Liam Neeson looked like he just wanted to go home. So did I. And I love Liam Neeson!
So, we have two films, each about an apocalyptic invasion of our planet, and our survival is ensured by a ragtag group using whatever skills and tools are available. They all play to their strengths. However…in one, we have people–characters–that are flawed and determined, self-effacing and hurt, and they come together and do something. And it’s spectacular. In the other, cardboard cutouts shout and preen and act tough (Rihanna, I’m looking at you, too), and when it’s all over, you’re just glad to say goodbye. I have watched movies where the heartstrings are used as a mechanism to victory, or inspiration, and it has worked. This was not one of those films.