Fanboy Does ‘The Avengers’

Went to the midnight showing of The Avengers last night.

I’ve been saying for a couple of years that someone figured out something, about the time of the first Spider-Man movie. Something about how to do a REALLY GOOD superhero movie.

The whatever-it-was came to perfection by the time the second Spider-Man came out, the one with Doc Ock, making it the screaming best superhero movie ever-evarrrr.

But then the first Iron Man hit the screen. Blew. Me. The. Fuck. Away. Topped Spidey 2.

The Avengers is Iron Man times three. A really good story. The right amount of character development. The right amount of action. The right amount of humor (which is a lot of it). The right amount of eye-popping special effects.

It’s rare that people cheer or clap during movies, but this one had total audience participation. And a number of times we laughed out loud.

Two characters I was pleasantly surprised by:

Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Colson of SHIELD, the guy who appeared in both Iron Man movies and the Thor movie. Usually these supporting roles are just sort of thrown in as what amounts to two-legged scenery. But Colson gets his own time on screen, and the movie is way better for it. He gets one righteous comedic line, and a warm, well-fitting place in the overall story.

Hawkeye. You know how you see something with more than one main character, and it’s sort of like one of those helicopter-jet plane hybrids that is neither a good helicopter nor a good jet plane? So that both characters get shorted, and it ends up pissing you off because it’s so lame? Or maybe how (atheist reference here) people always talk about “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost,” but nobody knows what the fuck the Holy Ghost is? How some characters are just sort of stuck into a movie because they HAVE to be there, but nobody knows quite what to do with them, and the director goes “Oh, yeah … uh, you stand over here and look fierce. And then, like, you know, pump your fist and go ‘Yeah!!’ when she finishes talking. And just sort of scowl a lot.”

I expected Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, was going to be exactly that. But damn, he holds his own in onscreen time and importance to the overall story.

I also worried that the non-supers, Hawkeye and the Black Widow, were going to be shorted in action scenes. I mean, what can you do to carve out your place in the same battle with Thor, Iron Man, or the Hulk? But Natasha and Hawkeye were integral to both the story and the action, and I loved them both.

(Also, there’s a female Right Hand Man to Nick Fury who gets considerable screen time. I don’t remember enough of my Avengers canon to know who she was, but I liked both the character and the actress, and I hope to see her again in this role, and other roles.)

I’m going to gloss over Iron Man, Captain America and Thor – not because they deserve it, but just because I’m in a rush to finish this and get off to work. Suffice it to say they were terrific. Also, Loki – really good villain.

Finally, Hulk. Oh shit, Hulk was good. Three scenes stand out:

A flying-dinosaur mechanical monster flows into a scene, and plain old Bruce Banner strides toward it, says one epic line, and … does things. The audience practically stood up and cheered. I wanted to yell “Yeah, come on, fuck with Earth Men, netherspace douchebags!”

Another scene:  Thor and Hulk wade into battle together, then stand together afterward for a second and … no, you’ll have to see it.

Finally, Loki and Hulk have words. Hulk has the Last Word. Just about split a gut laughing, cheering.

There’s also a sweet little bit of Hulk-related humor from Captain America. The heroes are marshaling for this epic battle and Cap is giving them their fighting orders. “Thor, you do this. Iron Man, you do that. Natasha and Hawkeye, you do the other. And Hulk … (pause, shrug) … smash.”

This is a Big Screen movie. Do see it in theaters; unless you have a hella big screen at home (and inhuman patience), don’t wait for the DVD. (Hey, you know where  SHIELD headquarters is located, right? You have to see this thing.)

You’re gonna like this one.

Postscript 1: Yeah, I know how bad movies can be, despite awesome trailers, but the final Batman looks like it’s going to be really, really good, and the new Spider-Man looks like it’s going to be legendary.

Postscript 2: Don’t waste your time looking for Stan Lee. He’s in there, but you have to wait til the end.

Postscript 3: Oh, yeah, stay for the epilog. A familiar evil face smiles from the darkness, and you see the villain set up for the next one (always assuming there is a next one).

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  • Captain Mike

    I think we can safely assume that there will be another one, given the box office it’s managing to pull in so far. I just wish they’d included Ant-Man and Wasp. Oh well. Can’t have everything.

    • busterggi

      AS an origianl MMMS’er I totally miss Ant-Man & the Wasp.

      My son does animation for ESPN and worked on their Avengers animation – he says he included their names in the background of the video as a favor to me but I haven’t seen it yet.

  • http://ogremk5.wordpress.com OgreMkV

    Have to give props to Josh Whedon for this one.

    I expect that (because of this) he will be doing more big budget movies and the world will be a better place for it. And Michael Bay can go back to be the lead photographer rather than a director and we can get a reboot of Transformers that’s actually good.

    • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

      It really was Joss Whedon’s movie. The man is incredible.

  • cswella

    All that can be said is: “Holy fucking shit that movie rocked!”

  • fastlane

    Probably going next wednesday (my birthday, I always get a good movie for my b-day!).

    I would LOVE to see an Iron Fist movie, if it was done well.

    • jolo5309

      File this under coincidences…

      I was talking at work about an Iron Fist movie today…

      Maybe my wife and I will go to Avengers for her birthday (week today)

  • Ray Moscow

    I agree with Hank on everything. It’s an excellent film.

    And catch it in 3D if you can.

    • leftwingfox

      And catch it in 3D if you can.

      I’m relieved to hear that. I can _only_ see this in 3d. I actually like 3d when it’s done right (Avatar, Hugo and pretty much any 3d-animated film not done by the Polar Express people), and was worried by the cheesy-looking 3d effects shown in the trailer.

    • Fentex

      I saw it in 3D, not because I wanted too but the timing just wokred out that way and while it didn’t suffer much I don’t think it needs it.

      Occassionally there are things that just don’t look right in 3D – the scooters zipping about New York sometimes just look wrong and I think that’s because 3D emphasises their looking like little models (even though they’re CGI) and once or twice fast moving images blur oddly in a way that only occurs at 3D movies.

      Avatar remains the only 3D movie I’ve ever seen that was pitch perfect (appearance, not story) and absolutely benefitted from it, for all the rest I think I’d prefer a brighter unemcumbered experience so far.

      • Nathaniel Frein

        I avoided the 3D version because Avengers was converted in post production. That pretty much means the movie is shot first, then tech crews go and digitally “enhance” the footage for 3d. It’s incredibly cheap compared to what Avatar did, which was to shoot and design all scenes for 3D from the very beginning. Converting after the fact darkens the film and reduces the overall film quality.

        Ultimately, I love the concept of 3D, but IMO it only really works when it’s part of the director’s original toolkit.

        If ya’ll say Avengers 3D’s worth seeing, I’ma have to give it a chance tho. I usually try to go see theater releases a second time, just cuz when I go with my GF she likes to sit in the very front and I have issues focusing on the screen at that distance.

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

    I’m going Sunday, woot! I’ve got a gaggle of comic fangirls to go with me, which makes it even better.

    Was the right-hand woman Maria Hill? She’s the female agent that leaps to mind immediately.

    AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

    • Friendly

      Yep, Fury’s right-hand woman was Maria Hill.

      • http://www.kevland.com Johnny Vector

        I thought Fury’s right hand woman was Noxon. (Warning: This comment is only for serious Joss fans)

  • http://www.kevland.com Johnny Vector

    I did not see it in 3D, but maybe I should when I see it again. I haven’t found it to add anything, but maybe I should trust JW.

    I had been nervous about Joss working with RDJ, given that they’re both, as Joss says, control enthusiasts. But apparently they got along great, and it really shows. There were some lines that were totally Joss, some that had to be RDJ ad-libbing, and not a small number that could have been either.

    Here’s what (to me) makes a great action movie. The scene where Captain America is tearing into Stark, telling him he’s a selfish bastard nobody would trust, and you can see it just starting to get to him. No big blowup, no reply, no words, just a director trusting his actor to be subtly brilliant. And then a bunch more stuff blows up.

    And, possibly the best thing of all: No 45° shutter angle! Yay! The movie was saved! It seems nowadays no big fight scene is shot with any motion blur. No, it’s all flicker-flicker-flicker stop-motion, shot from 6 or maaaaybe 7 inches away, in half-second clips. Saves money I suppose, since then your actors don’t have to learn to fight, but, y’know, I can’t see what’s happening. Joss’ action scenes you can actually follow!

    And of course the occasional overshoot and missed focus on the CGI shots. I still love that.

  • Fentex

    Coming out of The Matrix I told my friend that we were about to see the making of convincing Super Hero movies as the effects on display demonstrated the possibility of bringing them to life.

    But what really made the Super Hero movie good was a new generation of producers who are willing to treat it seriously and play it straight.

    We’ll know it’s all over when some tired or cheap producer falls back on camp jokes

  • sqlrob

    I’m not fully up on my lore. Who was that enemy reveal at the end?

    • Hank Fox

      I’ve been assured by a fellow fanboy that that was Thanos. I thought it was Darkseid at first, but he’s DC.

      • sqlrob

        Thanks. I had to go look that up because I’ve never heard of him (Darkseid, him I’ve heard of, but don’t remember much).

        I’m surprised they didn’t go all out with Galactus.

      • Mbierbaum

        Gosh, I wish there’d been a spoiler alert. Not that I’m surprised by the reveal. Thanos is to the cosmic cube as Sauron is to the one ring. As an old time Marvel fan girl, I can hardly wait to see this. I’m a huge fan of Hawkeye and the Black Widow and seeing them together this way makes me a bit giggly.

  • left0ver1under

    I was disappointed at the movie studio’s unwillingness to have Edward Norton back as the Hulk. He may be a “pain in the ass” (Norton’s own words), but Norton got it right in the second movie in terms of wanting the character and story developed that way. Ruffalo’s good in everything, but who wants to see different actors in one role?

    Regarding Renner as Hawkeye, someone (an FTB blogger?) talked about those arm protectors on him: they’re a sign of someone who doesn’t know how to handle a bow properly. I wonder how many outtakes there are of Renner in pain from the bowstring scraping against his arm.

    And I don’t know why, but I remember Clark Gregg from the first season of “Law & Order”, waaayyyy back in 1990. He played a catholic school teacher whose girlfriend was killed in the bombing of an abortion clinic. At first the story inferred that she was the bomber, but it turned out she was pregnant and unmarried, and going to get an abortion.

  • magistramarla

    I saw the film today, and it was AWESOME!
    I agree with Hank – this was the epitome of comic book/fantasy movies. They will have a hard time outdoing themselves on the next one.
    The next villain is clearly Thanos. Thanatos means death in Greek. According to my hubby and the comic book lore, Thanos was a sort of demi-god who was obsessed with the female embodiment of Death. When he was told “anyone who attacks Earth is courting death”, that is exactly what he wants to do.
    It sounds like the next Avengers film will be delicious fun, too.
    In the meantime, I’m looking forward to more stand-alone films about the super-heroes. I really hope that they do one with the new guy as The Hulk. I liked him. I also liked The Hawk/Black Widow pairing. I’d love to see one focusing on them as well.
    OK, so I guess you can call me a fangirl!

  • http://sidhe3141.blogspot.com sidhe3141

    Finally, Loki and Hulk have words. Hulk has the Last Word. Just about split a gut laughing, cheering.

    The entire theater I was in broke out in laughter and applause when that happened. Frankly, I was expecting Loki Silver-Tongue to know better than to say something like that. A creature full of anger, almost mindless with rage, and the Lie-Smith thinks it’s a good idea to provoke it further?

  • TV200

    Yeah, with all due respect to Uma Thurman, I thought Diana Rigg was better as Mrs. Peel.

  • Compassman

    While the movie was really great, one line stood out for me. Cap responded to a comment from Thor ‘There is only one God and He doesn’t look like that.’ or something similar. (I wasn’t taking notes – I am giving the gist of the dialog.) On the one hand, this would be consistent with the character. On the other hand, there was no real reason for the comment. Perhaps this was to appease any of the faithful who would be offended at referring to Norse mythical entities as ‘gods’.


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