Review: The Avengers

So, lately my response to stress has been to go see films. Or anyway, that’s how I’m justifying two weeks in a row at the movies. Thanks to the world’s most amazing sitter, last night was movie night WITH Scott, and we FINALLY saw The Avengers.

My review? Ah yes, now I remember why I was only half tolerant of Snow White and the Huntsman. Snow White wasn’t written by Joss Whedon. And although it had action and kept the romantic tension on the back burner, it was not an action adventure flick. It was more a swashbuckler. And I like to swash buckles. But I love to jump off of high buildings only to be rescued by my supersuit. Metaphorically. In short, Snow White catered to the interests of a primarily female audience, and those things usually rub me all kinds of wrong. I liked Snow White. A lot. But I loved The Avengers.

Let me get this out of the way first. Some moments in The Avengers are pure cheese. The whole Loki thing was weird. (He’s supposed to be a trickster, not a bad guy, at a mythological level, but he’s the Face of The Bad Guys in this one. I like Diana Wynne Jones’ take on him much more, if the truth is to be told.) But I forgave that in about point six seconds, because it’s a plausible comic book theme, and I know from being a Buffy fan that Whedon can sell me his cheese without losing my interest.

I couldn’t figure out character motivations at a couple of key points. Like, why does Hulk  … oh come on, that was not even  a spoiler. You don’t put a loaded gun on the mantel in chapter one and then leave it unfired for the whole movie. They put in Dr. Banner at around chapter 3. You know The Hulk < ahem, the ‘other guy’ > is going to go off like a loaded weapon at the worst possible moment. Now, my question. Why does he completely lose control onboard the ship but only then? I mean, he’s Hulk at other times in the film, so why does he have such focused anger then and not in the first place? Something to do with Loki’s proximity and  his underlying resentment about being deceived? Maybe. But distracting.

The ‘big name’ acting was rigid at times. At the outset, I had trouble believing Mark Ruffalo’s performance as a nervous, fiddling Bruce Banner. I felt a couple of times like I was looking behind his eyes to see him thinking, “OK, a twitch here, arm jerk there, and cut the eyes to the right. Good, repeat.”  And as much as I enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, she sometimes seemed to be reciting lines and giving off pouty-faced badly-planted sex appeal. Other times, though, the exact same things were right on target.

And I enjoyed the film’s meat very much. Besides the obvious references to the ‘prequelish’ movies that have been coming out for the last few years, Whedon also sneaked in nods to some other films like Ridley Scott’s Alien, (pretty cool with Prometheus opening this weekend) .  It had a good storyline, excellent character interactions, and great music, all of which are discussed elsewhere on the webosphere.

But I haven’t heard anybody talk about the two things that were first obvious to me. Come on readers. Tesseract?! Tell me I’m not the only one who went, “Oooo, Madeline L’Engle!” when that word first showed up in the previews! I spent the whole movie thinking “There is such a thing as a Tesseract,” in my best “Mrs. Whatsit” voice. And the Chtauri… their name even sounds like Lovecraft’s Cthulu. (So Whedon gets a double nod for making them both Cthulu AND Alien references.)

I also haven’t heard much discussion of my two favorite characters, Hawkeye and Hulk. Newsflash, Hawkeye gets ‘turned’ by Loki ten minutes into the film (I refuse to consider that a spoiler), but I love him anyway. I’m a Sagittarius, so I’ve got an affinity for archery. Plus, Dad taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow when I was five. I sucked then, and I presume that nearsightedness, astigmatism, and the addition of 30 years haven’t in any way increased my ability, but I still love archers. (Must see Hunger Games. MUST.) And Hawkeye is loads of fun. I won’t give away his ultimate fate (see, no spoilers), but there is one badass fight scene with Black Widow where he proves his hand to hand skills aren’t subpar either.

And since The Hulk is the embodiment of comic book bipolar, I can identify with his rage. I can also identify with Banner’s insurmountable anger. Yeah, I know, he’s supposed to be all Jeckyll and Hyde, but Whedon has done it so that it’s obvious that Hyde is always contained within Jeckyll. Banner can’t do anything without Hulk always being there in some way. And that portrayal is as much descriptive of bipolar as it is of anything in the comic book realm.

Anyway, go see the movie. It gets a solid four triangles up for plot, character, music, and Joss Whedon. (Yes, Joss Whedon gets his own triangle.) I haven’t even touched on Robert Downey Junior’s Iron Man, New York’s Finest (the fact that since nine-eleven, New York City is the model for or outright scene of every cataclysmic disaster completely rubs me wrong, and the whole underlying ‘real heroes’ theme got on my nerves, too) ,  Mjölnir   (you’re welcome), or schwarma. It’s a glorious comic book romp that I am ready to go see again. Oh. And first time viewers? Stay until the end of the credits. The very end. You’re welcome.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Review: The Avengers — 11 Comments

  1. I got into comics a couple of months back, and I started reading X-men when sichism came out. Now I'm starting to think about reading about the Avengers. What Avengers comics are there at the moment and is there a good starting point for me to jump into?

    • I actually deferred to the WWW for an answer. I’ve been reading these things on and off for most of my life, so I can kind of jump in and out of storylines, and they get pretty soap-operatic. Here’s a fantastic article that answers the question of where to start —,73461/

      I will add to that that I cataloged the Ultimates series several years ago, and I distinctly recall getting sucked in when I was just supposed to be getting a sense of the whole thing to assign Library of Congress Subject Headings. (Flashes Geek Card.)

  2. It's really hard to mess a superhero film up. Fairy tales on the other hand have boundless mess up potential.

  3. Just today, I was going to see Snow White. Since I missed the credits part, I could see Avengers again.

  4. First: I don't know nothing about Tesseract. (Maybe I got some reading to do. 🙂 )Second I loved that not every little thing made The Hulk come out. I'm like that, too. I don't go off much, but when I do people sometimes don't get the difference between this thing and that thing and what makes one a trigger and the other not.

    I found this movie very satisfying, too. (And my sister and I always wait to the very end of the credits – just in case. 🙂 )

    My sister put the last Transformers movie on her Netflix cue and when we watched it, I had such a pissed off feeling about them destroying Chicago on screen. I hated the previous Transformers movie with its long stretches of boring stupidity and the destruction of some of the worlds most respected antiquities, and I don't get any kind of a kick out of onscreen destruction on that scale anywhere. But when the recent one showed so much destruction on the streets I walk on an almost weekly basis, I got weirded out. I agree with you about destroying cities onscreen after 9/11. It hurts in a way that takes me out of a movie for a while. I wonder if that's what the movie-makers are going for, and if so why.

    Great, thoughtful review, Jessie.

    • Ooooh — A Wrinkle In Time. Very good book. I agree – I liked that not every little thing made him come out. I understand exactly what he means by “I’m always angry”. I just couldn’t understand why he was ‘Hulk outta control’ in the ship and “Hulk Smash In charge” in other parts. For the movie, I wanted to know what had been triggered differently on the ship and on the ground. And oh yeah baby, hit my triggers and POW, I go off.

      Sigh. Stupid Transformers. I hate them. H_A_T_E. However. That second one is one of my last-ditch-Sam-is-losing-it-today movies. He can sometimes do with violent action what I can do with horror, and use it to turn off the fury. I suspect when he’s older, he’ll be able to do it with horror. But unlike my Dad, I won’t be showing my five year old terrifying movies.