The Avengers: almost better than watching the Vatican crumble

Never have I left a movie honestly tempted to immediately purchase a ticket for the very next showing of that movie before leaving the lobby.  Never…until The Avengers.  Holy shit that was a good flick.  I never thought a superhero movie would top watching DVDs of X-Men 3 and Daredevil get fed to a woodchipper, but watching The Avengers leaped over that bar with ease.

If you’ve not seen this movie, then whatever you’re doing right now, whether it’s getting married, having a baby, or playing the final match in the world chess championship, stop doing it and go fix your life.

This is yet another reason to love Joss Whedon.  Every page of dialogue had several of his trademark ornaments, and he wrote lines that were very believable coming not only from the characters but also the actors who played them.  There were no “mother fuckers” from Samuel L. Jackson, but there was one line that was clearly written for him.  The script was fantastic.  It always stayed perfectly balanced on the precipice of “too epic to be believed” without ever going over it.

Now let me level with you.  The light of the sun is pretty intense.  Being in the same vicinity as a tornado is also intense.  The action sequences in The Avengers are EXTREMELY FUCKING INTENSE!  And it’s not just fighting.  It’s just….gaaaah, everything!  Even Tony Stark fixing a plane had me on the edge of my seat.  So gewd!

What’s more, I’m really glad I went on this date with Michaelyn.  You see, I have a thing for intelligence.  I’m a huge sucker for brainy women, and Michaelyn is a burgeoning physicist.  On the way home this conversation took place.

Michaelyn:  I don’t know why they were so hung up on gamma rays the whole time.  For one, you can’t track anything by its gamma emissions.

Me:  Maybe it was giving out a lot of them?

Michaelyn:  Then all the people touching it throughout the movie would be fucked up.  “Gamma radiation” just means it’s throwing off high-energy electrons.  You can’t isolate the thing’s gamma radiation at that level because everything gives off that type of radiation.  The potassium in bananas gives off radiation.  It’d just get lost in all of it.  Either there wasn’t enough to hurt people, in which case they couldn’t track it that way, or none of those people should’ve been in the room in the beginning.

Me:  …it’s a red light.  Can we make out?

Michaelyn:  You’re twelve.

Me:  A twelve year old wouldn’t be this smooth.

Michaelyn:  Is that what you are?

Me:  No.

And then I pouted all the way home.

Great date.  Great movie.  Go see it.

Update and pics from #AACon15. MST3K cast members were at my talk.
PERSONAL: The corrupting power of fame and my love for my commenters.
PERSONAL: Happy birthday, Hitch.
PERSONAL: Mid day lab pics from the wife.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • EcksLibris

    Agreed! Joss Whedon wins all the super-ness!

  • Sercee

    Another home run for Whedon!

    I went twice in the opening weekend just so I could see the second post-credits easter egg. I didn’t realize there were two so I missed it the first time. lol

  • Anonymous

    Gamma rays are photons, not electrons.

    • Icarus

      Thank you, you beat me to it.

  • RIchard

    Best line: “Puny god.”
    Worst line: “Ma’am, there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
    9/10 overall from me. I would’ve liked the hulk to get more… dialogue? Character development? Then again that’s like wanting a tornado to get me a pack a twinkies.

    • Robert B.

      Cap is supposed to talk like his values are stuck in the forties. I took his implied Christianity as a character flaw – it explained his part in the clusterfark of the next scene, and was a part of the general attitude that made Stark’s attitude toward him understandable. (It’s not like Tony Stark usually has a hard time getting along with soldiers, after all.)

  • Cunning Pam

    Michaelyn: I don’t know why they were so hung up on gamma rays the whole time. For one, you can’t track anything by its gamma emissions.

    This cracked me up, mostly because it reminded me of a similar conversation I had with my husband during (we were watching it at home) 2012. While I’m usually the person who dismisses nitpicking science in movies with a hearty “Suspension of disbelief, people! Try it!” I just about lost. My. Mind. When they started talking about neutrinos spontaneously “mutating”…Good job, Michaelyn!

  • Krisko

    Red lights are made solely for making out with your girlfriend in the passenger seat. I think that’s why they invented red lights.

  • RealityEnforcer, Roaming Bear, terror of the Boy Scouts

    I had the same reaction when I got out of the theater the first time I saw it. Then I realized that I went to the 10:20PM show, there weren’t anymore that night, and that I had to get up in the morning.

  • graingert

    It’s photons for Gamma radiation

  • Marie the Bookwyrm

    Yes, but this is Marvel gamma radiation, which is not the same as real-world gamma radiation. After all, it created the Hulk, right?

    Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

  • Wes
    • fastlane

      That’s a great article, too. I just added another blog to the blogroll!

  • ryanritson

    I agree, fantastic movie. And who would have guessed the Hulk would have earned some of the best laughs in the movie? One well-timed suckerpunch about had me rolling on the sticky theater floor.

  • Drakk

    “Gamma radiation” just means it’s throwing off high-energy electrons.

    What? No…it’s photons, surely. Although high energy gamma rays would likely cause Compton scattering too…

  • Chris Hallquist

    Probably Michaelyn was thinking about beta radiation, but the basic point holds. Though I think it’s sort-of possible to rationalize. I mean, you can’t track something merely based on knowing it’s giving off this stuff called “visible light,” but human eyeballs and spy satelites use visible light to find stuff. There was a bit in the dialog about drawing data from many different gamma detectors, so maybe they were trying to wire the many gamma detectors into a sort of gamma-ray cammera?

  • mxh

    Best line: “Puny god.”
    Worst line: “Ma’am, there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

    Agreed on both counts. There plenty of “joke” lines that fell pretty flat though.

  • HP

    I remember when I was young and in love, and pretty much every movie we saw together was the greatest movie ever made. Still, not many people watching Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (I bought the coat!) or Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein these days.

  • Janee

    This movie made me sit, literally, on the edge of my seat for about half of it. The friend I saw it with is super uninterested in the Avengers and Joss Whedon and knows nothing about it so I was dying dealing with it on my own haha.
    Joss is already working on the second, and I want to see this again.

  • Robert B.

    Actually, the gamma radiation thing made sense to me. Yes, gamma rays are just high-energy photons, and there can’t have been very many of them if the McGuffin wasn’t dangerous to be around. But it’s very reasonable to expect that they might have had a distinctive frequency or spectrum. Of course, you’d need a good experimental particle physicist with very particular sensors and a supercomputer to pick such a weak signal out of the noise – but that’s exactly what they used. The scientists who work with particle accelerators do just that kind of needle-in-a-haystack work all the time, looking for the particular reactions they want to study out of the chaos of millions of collision events – I spent a few annoying months helping with the data analysis myself as an undergrad. The tricky part is actually the sensors, since gamma rays will penetrate the atmosphere but not the planet – they’d have had to use satellites or something.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    I absolutely loved the movie, and the fight scenes between the heroes were great. Always fun to see the “Who would win?” brought to live action.

    The line that stood out for me was towards the end, as Cap is giving instructions to the others (he is, after all, the only one with actual combat tactical experience, and everyone else — even Stark! — clearly respected his ability) to give his final instructions to the transformed Dr. Banner.

    “Hulk? Smash.”

    I find it amusing that people object to tracking safe levels of gamma radiation from a source hundreds, even thousands, of miles away, and not blinking an eye at 1) an “ultimate energy source” that can 2) open a large portal inside a planet’s atmosphere into outer space on the other side of the universe and 3) NOT have any outgassing.

    But this is the Marvel Universe, where six impossible things always happen before lunch.

  • NateHevens

    The Dark Knight Rises will take Avengers and beat it to a pulp.


    (Yes, I’m being facetious. I LOVED Avengers. I absolutely loved the movie and thought it was brilliant. In fact, I think it may be the biggest movie of 2012. However, as a Batnerd, I have a duty to wait and see TDKR [which I'm EXTREMELY excited about] before making that personal opinion call.)

  • Rory

    It had a distinctly Whedonesque distrust for authority that I loved. Even though you’re on Nick Fury’s side and you acknowledge the necessity of what he does, you still kind of have to feel like he’s a prick for the way he manipulates the team into pulling together. All of the characters, really, had a chance to show both their positive sides and their flaws–an impressive degree of characterization given how much stuff they had to squeeze in.

    And I loved Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner. I don’t know the character that well, but he was just such a mellow, pleasant guy that the idea of him turning into a giant green rage monster was a delight. Definitely a flick I’ll have to see again while it’s still at the theater.

    Anyone for shwarma?

    • Robert B.

      And I loved Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.

      THIS. Ruffalo’s performance would have been the best thing in any movie that didn’t involve Joss Whedon writing dialogue for Tony Stark.

    • NateHevens

      Ruffalo’s Banner and Downey’s Stark were the highlights of this film. Definitely my two favorite characters.

      Thor was so much more well-rounded. I hate to say it, but I hated the movie Thor. It was so flat and rushed. It had so much potential that essentially went ignored. It made me cry. But in Avengers, it seems like they explored that potential fully. Maybe if Whedon had directed all the Avengers universe movies, instead of just Avengers, they all would have been better. As it stands, Iron Man 1 was amazing, and Captain America was… erm… okay. The rest from the Avengers Universe sucked.

  • fastlane

    Oddly, the only movies I’ve seen in a theater more than once were the LotR movies (all of them, 7,4,3 times, respectively). I suspect I might go see the Avengers one more time in the theater before I get the DVD.

    Oh, and the Hobbit comes out in December!