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The Avengers (2012)

Joss Whedon

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#161 SDG

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 07:16 AM

Whedon: It was very important for me to build that concept and have Tony (Downey) reject that concept on every level, so that when he ultimately is willing to lay himself down on the line, you get where's he's come from, and how Steve (Evans) has affected him.

Oh, that's interesting. I missed that completely, but I like it a lot.

#162 Christian

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:53 AM

But like the rest of the Marvel run, even though THE AVENGERS is by far the best entry to date, I don't think it'll be a film to which I return. The kinetic energy provided by the character mash-up is enough to sustain a single viewing, but it's sensibities are too "dial-a-blockbuster" to draw me back for return visits.


I think I'm with you on this. I saw the film in 3D "IMAX," on a very large screen. That helped, all talk of whether it's "real" IMAX/3D etc. considered, although I wouldn't tell people they have to see it that way to enjoy the film. I do think some of the film's enjoyment will be diminished on the small screen, and since I don't find much of interest in the material, I doubt the movie will draw me back for repeated viewings.

Edited by Christian, 05 May 2012 - 01:39 PM.


#163 Anders

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:56 AM

THE AVENGERS is fun. It's an enormous Saturday morning cartoon done wth live action. More than anything, I appreciate the scale; THE AVENGERS is the first time that a Marvel film has felt large enough for the characters it contains.


This is what I was hoping for. I'll be seeing it tomorrow afternoon.

But like the rest of the Marvel run, even though THE AVENGERS is by far the best entry to date, I don't think it'll be a film to which I return. The kinetic energy provided by the character mash-up is enough to sustain a single viewing, but it's sensibities are too "dial-a-blockbuster" to draw me back for return visits.


Yeah, the only Marvel film that I've revisited intentionally is CAPTAIN AMERICA, which I tonally relate to Joe Johnston's earlier film, and personal favourite of mine, THE ROCKETEER. Though as you point out about the aesthetic design of the Marvel films, even CAPTAIN AMERICA lacks some of the style of Johnston's earlier WWII-era superhero adventure. I have seen the first IRON MAN (with friends who really wanted to watch it) and THE INCREDIBLE HULK (it was on TV and it's enjoyable enough) twice.

#164 Joel Mayward

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:51 PM

THE AVENGERS is fun. It's an enormous Saturday morning cartoon done wth live action. More than anything, I appreciate the scale; THE AVENGERS is the first time that a Marvel film has felt large enough for the characters it contains.

But like the rest of the Marvel run, even though THE AVENGERS is by far the best entry to date, I don't think it'll be a film to which I return. The kinetic energy provided by the character mash-up is enough to sustain a single viewing, but it's sensibities are too "dial-a-blockbuster" to draw me back for return visits.


Yep, that's exactly how I felt today after a late-night viewing with a few friends. It was like a superhero roller coaster--fast and fun and worth the wait, but not something I feel I need to revisit any time soon. It also elicited plenty of laughs from me and my theater, probably than any previous Marvel film. Some of the Hulk's humorous moments in the final epic battle were a perfectly-timed respite from the non-stop action. A good film overall, but I honestly got more thrills from the three trailers before the film began: "Prometheus," "Brave," and "The Dark Knight Rises."

#165 Tyler

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 06:24 PM

The only Marvel set-up movies I've seen are the two Iron Man movies, but I didn't have trouble catching up with The Avengers. It does a good job of giving context without getting bogged down in explanations and introductions.

One of the things that I like about Whedon stories is the major-characters-can-die-at-any-time stakes, which you don't get in this movie (for obvious reasons), but it's still a fun ride, even if the ending feels inevitable.

Vulture has a good explanation of what's going on in the end credits teaser, including the appearance of a well-known Whedonverse actor.

#166 Evan Day

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 06:44 PM

A slightly awkward but very Whedonesque joke was Captain America commenting he got the 'flying monkies' reference. Since he would have seen The Wizard of Oz. I imagine Steve finds pop culture references extremely frustrating.

I was on another forum that actually came up with the idea of Tony Stark having Steve over to the big screen TV room in the Avengers Mansion to give Steve a crash course in movies (sounds like a forum topic in and over itself: What movies would you show to someone trapped in ice since 1945?).

I'm really wondering what they'll do with a character like
Spoiler


#167 Nick Olson

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 07:20 PM

Whedon: It was very important for me to build that concept and have Tony (Downey) reject that concept on every level, so that when he ultimately is willing to lay himself down on the line, you get where's he's come from, and how Steve (Evans) has affected him.

Oh, that's interesting. I missed that completely, but I like it a lot.


Glad to see this. I was just thinking about this a couple of hours ago when I was pondering the angle for my column. I did notice it, but didn't expect to see it put quite like this from Whedon himself in an interview. It's not really going to be the focus of my column, but I did plan on mentioning it. Thanks for sharing, Bowen.

#168 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 11:39 PM

Tyler wrote:
: One of the things that I like about Whedon stories is the major-characters-can-die-at-any-time stakes, which you don't get in this movie (for obvious reasons) . . .

Well, actually, you sort of DO get that in this film... especially if what someone here said about a certain character's popularity is any indication of anything...

But you're right about the REALLY major characters. So many sequels have already been announced to all the tributary franchises that it does kind of limit what this movie can do with those characters.

#169 bloop

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:18 AM

Knowing Whedon's previous work, I should have known Agent Coulson would die, and at that moment, but I didn't.

Edited by bloop, 06 May 2012 - 08:18 AM.


#170 Jason Panella

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:44 AM

Knowing Whedon's previous work, I should have known Agent Coulson would die, and at that moment, but I didn't.


I actually had a death pool going on with a few people before the movie's release, and Agent Coulson was #1 on my list. As soon as they started giving him lots of screen time, I knew he'd get the Whedon axe.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed it. As some people mentioned over at the Whedonesque forums, seeing Whedon's name attached to a movie playing before a theater of cheering people is kind of surreal. (And yes, I know he's had popular success to some degree before, but not like this.)

I can understand Jeff's exhaustion over something like this (has his review been posted here?), and I share that to a very tiny degree. Still, there was much I *did* like (even love) about it: the dialogue was snappy, it was genuinely funny, and the giant set piece at the end actually felt huge, something I think most of the other Marvel-related movies haven't done as well.

#171 Jason Panella

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:53 AM

Oh, also:

I really liked how Whedon managed to stick some of his acting troupe in the movie, too. Ashley Johnson and Enver Gjokay (from Dollhouse) both have minor roles, and good ol' Alexis Denisof voices The Other throughout the movie. I knew I recognized the voice. (Though I'm sure you could say that Hemsworth and Renner are both part of his gang, having been in Cabin in the Woods and an episode of Angel, respectively.)

#172 Tyler

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:28 AM

Box Office Mojo is reporting a $200 million opening weekend, which tops the previous record--by the final Harry Potter movie--by more than $30 million.

Hulk Smash, indeed.

#173 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:29 AM

Q: How would you describe “The Avengers” genre?

Whedon: From the start, I wanted to make a war movie. I wanted to put these guys through more than what they would be put through in a normal superhero movie. It was very important for me to build that concept and have Tony (Downey) reject that concept on every level, so that when he ultimately is willing to lay himself down on the line, you get where's he's come from, and how Steve (Evans) has affected him.

Doesn't this undermine all the talk about Iron Man having Captain America at a disadvantage? Steve may seem the most vulnerabel to Iron Man's wit as he's the straightest character in the room, but he's also the personification of what everyone else ultimately aspires to be. There's a reason he is the best hero to intervene when Loki is forcing a crowd to kneel, even if he may not be the best one to go one-to-one against Loki. Stark's teasing is good-naturedly ignored by Banner because Banner has to ignore it. His teasing bounces off Thor because Thor simply doesn't care (or perhaps doesn't even understand it). His comments matter most to Cap because Cap cares.

Oh, FWIW, my review.

... In particular, there’s a moment during the climactic battle that looked to me (I’ll have to see it again to be sure) like it might be intended as a kind of comeuppance for Cap’s nobility, which would be all kinds of wrong — and contrary to the character established in Captain America: The First Avenger ...

I read your review before I saw the film, so when I saw it, I actually looked for this. Couldn't find it. In fact, during the climatic battle, Cap is ultimately the one giving orders (even to Stark), setting up all the heroes tactically in order to best use their individual strengths, and the one who pays more attention than anyone else to protecting innocents/noncombatants.

I am completely mystified by reviews that indicate this movie belongs to the Hulk. I mean, I liked the character (know the TV series, not the earlier movies), but don't understand the enthusiasm for Ruffalo in the role nor how Hulk is in any way more dominant than the other characters in The Avengers.

[braces for lengthy explanation as to why I missed the obvious]

It's not the Hulk's film and he's not more dominant than the others, but I think he's the biggest surprise. He's one of the less popular (comparatively speaking) characters. But Ruffalo gives him more personability than I was expecting, and Whedon (or someone) gives him most of the film's physical gags.

I was afraid that I wouldn't like this film. It's really Joss Whedon's first film where he wasn't allowed to create the universe of his story. I don't think Whedon's ever had to work with as many plot and character details already predetermined for him. Plus, 2012's film fare over the last four months has been trying to encourage my film snobbishness. But thankfully, the film is great fun. I hope I will never grow out of liking this sort of fare - there ought to be a place for it. Yes, about 50% of the film is action (literally, I think about half the film is fight scenes). Yes, the film is stuck in a comic book. Yes, in order to give a collection of Marvel superheroes a formidible enough adversary, you have to start using more and more crazy-magical-alien-macguffin sounding plot devices. But it's got a collection of familiar characters who have been, and are being, developed over a series of films like a long high-budget TV show. They are actually fun to root for, and unlike the protagonists of most big dumb action movies, they all have unique personalities that have earned the affections of the entire movie audience. Even the idea of their meeting and building the beginnings of friendship with each other is special all by itself.

I haven't been in a movie theater where the cheering of the theater audience reminded me so much of the cheering for the home team at a baseball game. Marvel has created a collection of heroes that are genuinely loved - and loved by children. Whedon respects this, plays with it, and by the time he's done, each hero is still worthy of the admiration of children. The grand entrances and shining moments are old-fashioned, yes, but they're also justified. I liked how, towards the end, Whedon plays with this a little more by showing the artwork being created by people in New York - artwork evocative of why comic book heroes are considered valuable in the first place.

#174 Tyler

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:38 AM

I am completely mystified by reviews that indicate this movie belongs to the Hulk. I mean, I liked the character (know the TV series, not the earlier movies), but don't understand the enthusiasm for Ruffalo in the role nor how Hulk is in any way more dominant than the other characters in The Avengers.

[braces for lengthy explanation as to why I missed the obvious]


If I understood Loki's machinations correctly, the point of the whole flying airship invasion sequence was to get/provoke Hulk. I'm still not sure why it was, but that could be one reason for people calling it Hulk's movie. But I agree that the movie doesn't belong to any one character, and the way it balances all of the egos without tipping to one or the other is one of the most impressive things about it.

#175 opus

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:01 PM

Some thoughts:

- Enjoyed it quite a bit. Nothing revelatory, but still lots of fun, and a great movie to see with the guys late at night. In other words, to use Jeffrey's metaphor of movies as food, this was a nice solid bacon double cheeseburger. And sometimes, that's what you need.
- I've never been a Hulk fan, but his were some of my favorite moments. Loved it when he put Loki in his place, and the little coda on his battle with Thor was a nice bit of slapstick.
- Robert Downey, Jr. can toss out snark as Tony Stark like nobody else, and I love him for it. The "Legolas" line had us all in stitches.
- I liked that someone else caught the scene between Tony and Bruce. I loved their rapport, due, no doubt, to Tony (finally, in his mind at least) being around someone who is his intellectual peer.
- Loved the "God" line from Captain America.
- Once again, Whedon shows his uncanny knack for taking massive casts and ensuring that everyone gets at least one or two good lines and scenes.
- Wasn't sure how I'd like Hawkeye, but I dug Renner's portrayal of him as this no-nonsense, ultra-efficient and capable soldier. Makes me even more excited to see him in the upcoming Bourne film. And I liked the hints we get of something between him and Black Widow that seems to go beyond mere camaraderie.
- Was sad to see Agent Coulson go, but I don't think that's the last we'll see of him. He's in talks to be in Iron Man 3 (though, admittedly, it could be in some sort of flashback scene).
- Yes, I was one of those nerds who lost it during the post-credits scene with Thanos. I've always been a fan of Marvel's more cosmically minded titles. (My favorite comic book character, period, is the Silver Surfer.) This opens up a whole realm of possibilities -- Infinity Gauntlet? Celestials? Beyonders? Adam Warlock? -- though I can't help but wonder how future movies would incorporate that stuff, and how well it would be received. Hopefully, they'll do a better job than X-Men 3 did when it came to explaining the Phoenix.

#176 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:31 PM

RE: the post-credits scene and the implications for future films, we know the Infinity Gauntlet was in Odin's vault, so...

#177 Attica

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:42 PM

Ryan H said:

:But like the rest of the Marvel run, even though THE AVENGERS is by far the best entry to date, I don't think it'll be a film to which I return. The kinetic energy provided by the character mash-up is enough to sustain a single viewing, but it's sensibities are too "dial-a-blockbuster" to draw me back for return visits.



It's not a film like Batman (which I know isn't Marvel) that I'd want to return to in order to dig into its themes and their connection to modern society, but there were a few moments in the action where I was thinking that I'd like to see the sheer awesomeness of those particular scenes again.




Opus said:



: Enjoyed it quite a bit. Nothing revelatory, but still lots of fun, and a great movie to see with the guys late at night. In other words, to use Jeffrey's metaphor of movies as food, this was a nice solid bacon double cheeseburger. And sometimes, that's what you need.



Absolutely. I wonder if a movie like this wouldn't also have a bit of "good food" for a younger mid-teens like mind. There was some heroic, uplifting, learning to put aside differences, control anger, and work in community type stuff in it. Lessons of reaching potential etc.



:Loved it when he put Loki in his place.



Yeah. That was a pretty cool bit of comedy that gave our theatre a good laugh. Timed, staged, and performed/animated perfect.



:Loved the "God" line from Captain America.


That was a nice touch, probably connected with his values from an earlier era. I also appreciated the little dialogue about his "Captain America" suit.



:Yes, I was one of those nerds who lost it during the post-credits scene with Thanos.



During that scene there was a demented side to me which was hoping that the reveal would be of Darth Vader. That would have been awesome.

#178 Ryan H.

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:44 PM

It's not a film like Batman (which I know isn't Marvel) that I'd want to return to in order to dig into its themes and their connection to modern society, but there were a few moments in the action where I was thinking that I'd like to see the sheer awesomeness of those particular scenes again.

My fear would be that those big moments would have significantly less impact on the small screen.

#179 Attica

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:53 PM

It's not a film like Batman (which I know isn't Marvel) that I'd want to return to in order to dig into its themes and their connection to modern society, but there were a few moments in the action where I was thinking that I'd like to see the sheer awesomeness of those particular scenes again.

My fear would be that those big moments would have significantly less impact on the small screen.

That could very well be.

#180 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:08 PM

Persiflage: I think the scene SDG was referring to was the one that takes place inside a bank. Note how the camera lingers on Steve Rogers' face afterwards.

Tyler wrote:
: Box Office Mojo is reporting a $200 million opening weekend, which tops the previous record--by the final Harry Potter movie--by more than $30 million.

Ah, memories of when Spider-Man -- yet another Marvel movie -- became the first film ever to gross $100 million in a single weekend, exactly ten years ago.

It's even crazier than that, though, here. The Avengers has been playing overseas for 12 days and has already grossed $441.5 million overseas -- more than any other Marvel Comics movie except for Spider-Man 3 (2007, $554.3 million). And even here in North America, after 3 days, The Avengers has already outgrossed the TOTAL box-office take for each of the other films that led up to this movie, except for the two Iron Man movies (in other words, The Avengers made more in its opening weekend than The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger made in their entire theatrical runs).

I'm honestly kind of stunned by this. For some reason, all along I've been assuming that Iron Man was the "big" franchise here, and that the audience for each of those other movies had been more-or-less a subset of the Iron Man audience. I thought The Avengers might do SOMEWHAT better than Iron Man on his own, but to do THIS MUCH better? It boggles the mind.

Attica wrote:
: I also appreciated the little dialogue about his "Captain America" suit.

I was telling my wife just the other day that it's interesting to see how there's something kind of "meta" about the approach these movies have taken to the Captain America uniform. It's almost as though the filmmakers didn't think modern audiences would accept the outfit without some extra layer of interpretation or something between them and it. In the first film, the original uniform is explicitly designed as part of a 1940s-era propaganda tour, with comic books and stage musicals and all the rest of it; the clothes he wears into actual battle are notably different and look a little more battle-ready. But THIS film brings the primary colours back -- and it explicitly says that the new uniform was designed with input from a Captain America fanboy who has all of the captain's vintage trading cards. So if Captain America continues to wear this uniform in future films, it will be partly in honour of the fanboy who designed it -- and thus, in turn, it will be in honour of the fanboys in the audience.

Contrast this with the costume designs for the Hulk (nonexistent, as he always rips his clothes), Iron Man (hey, sleek robotic designs never go out of style) and Thor (who never wears his winged helmet in this film, even though Loki sometimes wears his horned helmet). Either the outfits translate well to the modern screen, or they are subtly altered to fit the modern movie audience's sensibilities. But Captain America's uniform actually gets some, for lack of a better word, contextualization.





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