Lower your expectations: Avengers good, not best movie ever

The Avengers, assembled and ready to bust some blocks.

By now, Avengers is well on its way to becoming a true global blockbuster, blowing past its $220 million price tag in limited overseas market release, before it even hits the US, on midnight Friday. It’s had near-universal positive buzz and reviews, with some people calling it the best superhero movie of all time.

All of this is a good thing, as writer-director Joss Whedon justly deserves greater recognition and appreciation. But in deference to the masses, and potentially endangering my Whedon fandom creds, I’d sum the movie as, “good, but not great.”

Look, I’m a comic book geek of the bronze-age school, growing up on Marvel’s classic titles in the 70s and 80s, around the same time as Whedon’s comic consciousness was being formed. In kindergarten, I had an Avengers poster on my bedroom wall, and owned a full-sized Mego action figure of The Falcon— Marvel’s first black superhero— which I managed to lose on the roof of a nearby apartment building while getting him to “fly.” Even today, stored away are four long-boxes of comics, the bulk of which are Marvel titles extending back forty years. This should go towards preclude any notion that I don’t get The Avengers. I do, and perhaps that’s the problem.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Whedonite, I have rather high expectations for my entertainment. That, too, is a problem when dealing with an actiony movie like this, which carries the weight of an existing comic book world and film prequels to deal with.

For the most part, Whedon succeeds in juggling the needs of general audiences against those, like myself, who understand the intricate backstories that make up the shared Marvel Universes.

If you haven’t seen Avengers and are spoilerphobic, stop now.  Otherwise, click below to read the review.

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Simon

Simon founded the Whedonverse Network in 2010, an expansion of WhedonAge.com He has been involved in fandom since launching SaveAngel.org in February 2004.
Also on:

Simon

Simon founded the Whedonverse Network in 2010, an expansion of WhedonAge.com He has been involved in fandom since launching SaveAngel.org in February 2004.

5 Comments:

  1. Michelle O'Donnell

    I completely agree with your review. You are one of the few, honest fans who have reviewed the movie so far, simply by not agreeing that it is “the best superhero movie of all time”. I was disappointed in the storyline for its forced application of Loki as the main villain and the “war” with an alien army that had no explanation of why they were present. I feel like most people who will see this movie will think it’s amazing, just as a cat thinks a moving string in front of it is amazing. Millions of people will go see the Twilight movies for the “story” but fail to realize the poorly executed story in The Avengers in replace of the quick action shots.

  2. Thanks for the comment. In reading an interview with Joss published in Wired a few days ago it seems that Marvel enforced some storyline limitations: “The company told him the villain had to be the evil god Loki, from Thor. Execs said the movie had to have a big fight among the Avengers. They wanted a set piece in the middle that tore the team apart somehow. And there had to be an epic final battle.

    I think, under such restrictions, Whedon did a yoeman’s service. It met the beat points, had lots of explosions, and entertained without being overly complex. The movie did what it was supposed to do. I just kinda wanted more. But now, with such a high profile success under his belt, we can hope that Joss will get more clout to call the shots next time.

    As to the alien army, the argument might be made that the story suggested a quid-pro-quo arrangement with “The Other” — and that Loki was merely an intermediate stepping stone for an attack on the earth, and was required to open the portal for their passage, on orders of someone even more powerful. Problem is, IMHO, the aliens just weren’t that impressively tough or army-like. Was their purpose destruction or conquest? An army is supposed to be organized, and have an ultimate goal; and in this case, they seemed more like the proverbial ants Loki mentioned– getting crushed, rather than the boot doing the crushing.

  3. I also enjoyed the film but I never felt like the good guys were in danger. Yes, the planet is being invaded, but with bad guys pouring out of the sky we’re supposed to believe that Iron Man can enforce a three block perimeter by himself? Also, we see Iron Man take a shot at the device which created the portal and the sphere of energy/force field protected it. Why not just blast away at the building right below the device causing it to fall to the street below? The only other thing I would have done (and Joss probably didn’t have the permissionto do this) was to throw in a cameo of a Marvel character lwho just happens to be nearby when the attack happens. We see Cap racing towards what he thinks is a civilian being mobbed by aliens only to find it’s Luke Cage and he can take care of himself. It’d also introduce a black superhero which would be cool. Most people wouldn’t even get it but it would have been an amazing fanboy moment.

  4. Excellent point, john. I think that was part of what didn’t work for me, either: the heroes never seemed out-matched, out-witted or out-gunned– because whatever was thrown at them, they sort of knocked over. And good call on the plot-hole of the building. Considering that the device was on the Stark Tower, and tied into the Tower’s energy field, you’d think Tony might have some sorta alternate plan to shut it down.

    I’d also love to have seen some cameos of other Marvel characters. After all, NYC is hero-central. Are we to assume that it’s just these guys who noticed an alien invasion?

    Granted, Marvel/Disney currently have licensed away Spider-Man (to Sony) and Daredevil, FF and X-Men (to 20th Century Fox); which kinda tri-furcates –if I can coin a term– the Cinematic Universe. But there’s a whole stable of other, un-licensed characters, like Luke Cage or Doctor Strange, who would be awesome to sneak in. There’s been development by Marvel in getting a movie for Black Panther, which even Stan Lee says he wants to see next– but so far, it hasn’t progressed past the script-shopping stage.

    [ETA: add’l comment about Stark Tower]

  5. John, I agree with most of what you said but ESPECIALLY about Luke Cage. And that would set up the Iron Fist movie.

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