...or the amazing chronicles of everything that I like and stuff.
I’m not sure where to begin.
I have no shortage of love for what I’ve just seen. In fact I’ll run it to you this way: this is by far the most exhilarating Marvel movie yet. This movie is EVERYTHING that it had to be. It’s a better movie than both Iron-Man films by a long shot, it’s much better than Thor or the previous Hulk movies, it’s just. So. Fucking. Awesome.
Let’s get something out of the way: I’ve read complaints about the script. About a lack of character archs for the heros. I’m baffled by this. It’s a complaint made by people who missed the entire point of the movie. While it’s true that The Black Widow and Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers and (most of) the rest don’t do a lot of evolving during the movie, the actual main character here is the team, The Avengers, and the team has an INCREDIBLY SATISFYING arch. You couldn’t ask for better. That’s what the entire movie is about. These people should not be in the same room together, let alone form a team. But they have to. Add conflict, stir.
Let’s talk characters.
I was watching Iron-Man 2 yesterday (I ran through all the Marvel films in the past two weeks, just for fun) and I couldn’t believe how much of an asshole Tony Stark was for most of the movie, how unlikeable. It was a long way from the Tony Stark from the first film, who, even though just as self-absorbed, was extremely easy to root for because he didn’t feel like just a selfish jerk.
That guy is back in The Avengers. Tony Stark is great. Still snarky, still funny, completely brilliant, but the jerk aspect from the sequel is gone. In fact all the characters here are fantastic, nobody drew the short straw. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is incredibly good and relatable and gets some great moments, especially with Stark. Even the lesser known characters that worried me, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are fantastic and absolutely play a vital role in the unfolding events. Cobie Smulder’s Maria Hill could have been just a throwaway character but not on Whedon’s watch, no sir. She’s great too. Same for Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury. Most directors would have been fine having him bark orders for the entire film, playing the grandiose loud mouth Mr Jackson is often stuck playing. Not here. Whedon writes him as an almost quiet guy. There’s a clear feeling I got sometimes that Fury is the guy who knows what’s right and what to do but is also well aware that the things that need to be done aren’t always morally all that great. But Fury will make those calls. The beautiful thing is you can tell, in Jackson’s acting, that Fury doesn’t enjoy making them, that he probably gets many sleepless nights because of some of the things he does, but that these things need to be done.
These characters, Captain America, Thor, Iron-Man, the Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, fight. They fight enemies but they fight amongst themselves too. In really awesome fights as well as in heated arguments. The beauty is that every character has a valid point. When Stark argues with Cap, he has valid points, he’s not just being a dick. And Cap has incredibly valid points too. That makes for decidedly juicy dialogue.
Ahhh, the dialogue.
It’s great how you forget all about Whedon when watching this (normally you hear Whedon in his dialogue, which is not necessarily a bad thing - I love it - but here he understands that these characters already have their voices and he shouldn’t whedonize them) (well, not too much). He just gets every character, and their dynamic within the group, so well that he always puts the right words in their mouth. Often very funny words. Yes, that movie is incredibly funny. There are moments where I laughed, I’m almost certain, harder than I will at the movies for a very long time. There is one gag in particular that I laughed hard at and then continued giggling over for at least a minute or too. But he never makes a character do a joke or say something funny if it doesn’t completely fit both the character and the moment. He never betrays a moment for the sake of a joke. The man is funny but he’s smart too and he chooses his moments well.
But I knew all this going in. I know Whedon is smart and funny, and I know that he gets these characters and that he understand team dynamic. That’s not news to me, I’ve been a fan of him since the 90s for exactly that.
I never would have guessed, however, he’d be this good with all the action stuff. And, man, there is a LOT of action in this film. More, I’ll venture, than in every other marvel films put together. But WAIT! Isn’t that just too much? I mean you don’t want to go to the movies and get pummelled by an avalanche of explosions and punches and needlessly loud dolby surround, right? We already got Michael Bay for that.
Don’t worry. While there is more action in this than in the latest Transformers movie (seriously), there isn’t a minute of it that A) doesn’t make complete visual sense, B) isn’t emotionally compelling, C) isn’t clear in therms of goals, in therms of cause and effect, and D) all of this action is peppered by little moments between characters that let you catch your breath as well as understand why whatever awesome peice of badassery waiting to happen next needs to happen.
You may have noticed I’m staying away from the plot. Look, there is a menace, and they need to fight it. That’s all you need to know. This isn’t a Coen Bros movie, the script isn’t an intricate piece of tangled narative brilliance. It’s very straight forward. That doesn’t stop it from being impossibly effective. There is so much room for interesting character dynamics between all our main heroes that a overly-complicated script would have honestly been a hindrance, not a benifit.
Man, it’s just a great fucking flick. Every hero got moments that made me cheer, every one had opportunity to prove their worth during the movie’s two hour running time, every last one. But. I gotta talk a bit, just a bit, about The Hulk. Fuuuuuuuuck. The Hulk has a moment that made me want to stand up and cheer so loud, a moment that gave me goosebumps. The Hulk is a fucking star in this movie. He gets some GREAT laughs (remember: never at the expence of the character or the moment) and he gets this absolutely awesome moment (and many more before and after). And I mean “awesome” litterally. As in: inspires awe.
I could continue this for a while yet, but I think I’ve made my point. The Avengers is one of the greatest comic book movies ever made, right up there with The Incredibles and Spider-Man 2. It’s a jaw-dropping spectacle of the highest order and an endlessly satisfying night at the movies. This is one that I will pay to see again. Whedon just threw down the gauntlet and other directors must be shitting their pants.
Oh man I almost forgot: STAY UNTIL THE VERY END! I loooooooove the after the credit easter egg. Pure greatness.