Marvel NOW!: Who Stands with Doctor Strange and the Avengers' "Quitters"?
Where do I start? There are so many things in the Avengers movie that it’s super difficult to find just one idea and use it to explain that this was … this was a dream come true. In my lifetime, there is a big-budget Avengers movie written by and starring incredibly talented people, and everyone I know is going to see this. Not just a few friends with a bootleg tape we can groan over, but a real-life movie full of real live people who have no idea that Hawkeye is deaf in one ear or that the Avengers have a charter by which they elect chairmen to lead them. But there they are, selling out seats in midnight showings, crowding theaters overseas, all there for the excitement of seeing these characters do heroic deeds on the silver screen.
I once asked Geoff Johns at a signing if he liked the (at the time) new Teen Titans Go cartoon show. Johns was writing a very in-depth and classic Teen Titans run in the comics, and I would have thought that the incredibly anime attempt at storytelling might have irked him. Instead, he told me that he loved the show and that it was amazing that thousands of kids who watched it now knew who Cyborg was. As I left the theater and two teens passed me by in delirious midnight showing glee and shouting to one another about “Oh my god, Arrow Guy! I thought Captain America, but- ARROW GUY!!” I think I get what Johns was talking about.
So where do I start? At the amazing fact that this movie even exists and will make tons of money? At the continuity kept between this movie and the rest of Marvel Studios productions? With all the massive character development or all the massive action that took place around (and during) the character development? In fact, this movie has so much going for it, it’s nearly overwhelming to watch. If anything, its great success as comic book storytelling brought to film could be its greatest detriment.
WARNING: I’m going to try and not reveal too much as far as spoilers, but it’s safe to say that’s going to be difficult in a movie this awesome. I’m just going to want to grab you and shout, “Oh my God, Arrow Guy!” So if you’ve seen the movie or just want to read about someone who has, join us in the link below!
The short short recap: Avengers is a story about SHIELD fighting a power-mad Loki who steals a portal to deep space. In deep space, there is an army of aliens who want to conquer the universe and have made a deal with Loki to do this very thing, starting with Earth. Heroes from four different movies come together and have what is commonly known as a “misunderstanding fight.” They resolve their differences in the face of imminent peril, then everybody fights. EVERYONE. Guess who wins? By the end of the film, everyone is placed in position for the next great gathering of heroes and the Avengers have been sold to the public as a legitimate superhero team.
Absolutely nothing feels out of place throughout the film. I’m incredibly impressed with the level of detail and attention Joss Whedon managed to find with, what, six major superheroes at once? This doesn’t count the three SHIELD agents who all get their moment in the sun, plus the main villain and Dr. Selvig, who has enough lines and importance to be a key character in the plot. That, my friends, is a lot of characters, but no one takes a backseat to the fab four movie-starring heroes and everyone has motivation and an arc to complete. Okay, maybe not so much for Maria Hill, but you can’t say she was a throwaway character. One of Joss Whedon’s strengths is ensemble pieces and he shines as the director as much as our heroes. Even the Whedonisms I personally don’t care for (all the snappy patter dialogue, “killing a beloved character,” the petite young girl who kicks everyone’s butt) seemed to be self-aware. Captain America knows he’s not going to be great at the pop culture references, Black Widow wasn’t exactly petite nor a young girl but an accomplished assassin and … well. That “killing a beloved character” as motivation for everyone else was right in step with Nick Fury’s ultimate plan.
All the characters have their places and hit their marks with expert care. From Iron Man’s casual devil-may-care attitude to Captain America’s forthrightness to even Loki’s need to dominate mankind as the God he is, I don’t think there was a moment where I had to step around any leaps of logic or just assume this would be explained later in the novelization. The “misunderstanding fight” that’s as much a part of comic book storytelling as a cape and tights was an honest series of misunderstandings or the machinations of a larger, malevolent force. The build up between meeting Bruce Banner and seeing the Hulk for the first time is a slow simmer; when the Hulk is unleashed on a hapless SHIELD hellicarrier (how sad is it that Battleship shows as a trailer before this movie? The hellicarrier was way more awesome than those boats), there is a sense of tension and a near-horror movie delivery as the Black Widow is chased by a rampaging green monster. While I might prefer Edward Norton’s delivery as Bruce Banner, I think this is the finest adaptation of the Hulk to the movie screen as we’ve gotten yet.
The Avengers movie is so good that it’s difficult to imagine someone not liking it. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s heroic and well performed. In fact, this and the Captain America movie now stand side by side as fantastic example of the comic book storytelling style. The Avengers movie is very simply put, comics come to life, with all the four color fantasy that entails. But there are movie fans who don’t like comics. There are comic fans who specifically don’t care for the cape and tights set. The Dark Knight is an amazing balance of both dramatic comic style heroics and deep cinematic storytelling, so it hits a broader audience appeal. The Avengers, in comparison, is so cranked to 11 on all of the tropes and styles that have been prevalent through all the Marvel movies I would say, that its extremity won’t be for everyone.
There’s a lot of technobabble in the beginning. Everyone is crazy quick with a comeback for every line. Some locations seem staged as we move along. And yes, seeing Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor and Captain America will give you the whole story. I’m not saying it’s a perfect movie because I’m not a movie reviewer. I’m a comic fan and I’m saying that in style and in function, the Avengers is a dream come true. Maybe it’s because the director has written for comics, maybe it’s because every smart-mouthed line coming from Robert Downey Jr. seems so off-the-cuff and natural. Maybe it’s because we’ve reached a point in our special effects team and computer design that the Hulk and aliens and our own backyard can be so well-suited together on the silver screen. Perhaps it’s the fact we can finally finally finally stop seeing origin films and get to the heart of the matter in these kinds of movies. I don’t know what it is that conspired to make the Avengers movie what we have today, but this is the movie I’ve been waiting for.
But maybe that’s an old fashioned idea…