Saturday, April 21, 2012
Marvel's The Avengers
Unlike pretty much everyone I know, I do not believe everything that Joss Whedon touches is gold. In fact, I lay the blame for me (a fan, reader, and collector of comics for more than twenty years) walking away from comics for two years squarely at Joss' feet due to his oft-lauded run on Astonishing X-Men. I do love Joss' original works (Firefly, Dollhouse) but I admit I was scared the instant I heard he had been given the reins of Marvel's The Avengers movie.
The Avengers isn't just your ordinary film, even before it was made it was something special. The films Iron Man, Incredible Hulk (the first Hulk is not referenced in Marvel movie-verse canon), Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, although solo character films, were the lead-in for The Avengers. These films introduced the title characters, along with some smaller players (although hardly smaller in fandom circles), to people in a greater depth than was ever going to be possible in less than two and a half hours of The Avengers. That said, The Avengers still had to deliver or all that time and effort would be for naught.
Were there aspects of the film that I feel were less than successful?
Yes, but not many.
A weird issue I had with The Avengers occurred right near the start of the film. We've all seen The Avengers branding on posters and trailers, so when a very bland title card appeared it was off putting and took me out of the moment. A bizarre thing to critique, perhaps, but it impacted my enjoyment at that point in time and has continued to bother me as I try to work out the motivation behind such a move.
Aspects from the solo films were addressed with offhand comments in some cases (Jane Foster and Thor's method of returning to Midgard), while others were given more time (Tony and Pepper). Pepper felt too tacked on. She should have been reduced to a similar level of mention as Jane was, or given more screen time. Considering the way Pepper is utilised in The Avengers, a little more screen time to address a couple of emotional moments tied to her would have been better.
As I said earlier, it was always going to be impossible to fit everything into the run time enforced by studios. That restricted time frame's impact is somewhat felt on the film. Thankfully more than thirty minutes of cut footage has already been mentioned as a DVD inclusion.
The above criticisms are all minor.
My biggest criticism of The Avengers is something I won't comment on at this point. It is a major plot point but it's something I felt just didn't work, and it didn't work purely because of Joss Whedon. I'll revisit this after the film has been released.
So, after all that, did The Avengers deliver?
Yes. Yes! YES!
I loved the film. I left the cinema buzzing and very happy with what I'd seen. Seeing all these heroes in the same film is mind-blowing! Every superhero daydream adventure you had as a kid (or older) is right there in front of you on the big screen!
In a cast with this many stars there was always the possibility that some characters were going to outshine others. The balance between the major players was handled quite well, and the minor players seemed to follow the already established hierarchy of importance/fan favourites when it came to screen time.
One portrayal I'm very happy to comment on is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, and Hulk. Mark is great in this role. I wasn't sold on him before seeing the film but he works! His take on Banner, and Hulk, is interesting and fun.
Scarlett Johansson is truly brilliant as Black Widow. Nothing we've seen of the character previously has done her justice, and I thought she was great in Iron Man 2. She's just a million times more awesome in The Avengers!
The banter between characters, something Joss is renowned for, is brilliant and had the audience laughing, applauding, and even woohoo-ing. This was a media screening, not a fan screening. Media are not normally known for woohoo-ing!
Hulk possibly has the best moment and line in the entire film, which had the crowd heartily laughing and applauding, although Chris Hemsworth as Thor delivers an outstanding line, regarding his brother, which is a personal favourite and had the audience in stitches.
I believe The Avengers will be a very successful film, and I look forward to seeing it again on opening day.
So after all this build up to The Avengers where does it leave us?
The next few years have more Marvel solo character films slated, both of those characters we've already seen and those featuring characters we love from comics but have yet to grace our screens, and, of course, the next installment of The Avengers on film. I eagerly await them all!
With this caliber of film coming out from Disney and Marvel, and the wonderful efforts put into marketing (just as Disney did with TRON Legacy), I hope Disney reacquire the rights to the remaining Marvel movie characters so that they can handle the entire movie-verse in-house.
Marvel's The Avengers hits cinemas in Australia on Wednesday April 25th, in the UK on Thursday April 26th, and in the US on Friday May 4th.
(who is seriously in love with her Avengers character 3D glasses!)