The Avengers – Art 1/5 Ent 5/5 Worth 2/5
How can you make a comic book movie interesting? Trick question, you can’t, they’re fucking stupid and built around lame fantasies. Whether they’re excellent or pure rubbish, they’re united in their appeal to illiterate unimaginative dweebs who haven’t discovered scarfing yet. But a better question is how can you make a comic movie the minimal height to get on the adult rides? Good question, you make it an ensemble movie. The multiple layers of flat, one-dimensional characters and paper-thin subtexts swirl into something that – combined – works out to at least constitute an eighth or a sixth the conceptual thinking that goes into a real movie.
The story … yeah, “story” … is a superhero variation on all three of the Transformers movies: We’ve got to get the Allspark or Tesseract, a cube of pure energy, to save the world from alien domination. The heroes must come together on their heli-carrier that’s straight out of a side-scrolling air force arcade game to save the planet. Along the way they find themselves and the meaning of “team”. Only from the incomparable minds of Marvel and Joss Whedon, folks. They’re raking in the cheddah so they must be right.
But best of all is the happy accident of rounding up more than one decent actor into a ‘team’ action film, that through the mystical forces of storytelling, makes The Avengers begin resembling the dynamic of Seven Samurai more than any one of its constituent Voltron-esque individual superhero predecessors. If you’re looking forward to a big flaming piece of action rubbish, the least they could do is give us a half dozen of the most iconic superheroes fighting in pitched battles against evil fish monster-ships.
To our woeful regret, there are only four real actors in this ensemble. There are two on The Avengers team, one that is the new international action star and one evil stock British guy. Five, counting the robot voice. And no, Scarlet isn’t one of them. I’m in no way complimenting her on being able to read back Russian lines through rote memorization with a heavy American accent, and then cast a dark and sacred feeling over her Ecks vs. Sever relationship with a brainwashed arrow boy.
Robert Downey, Jr. is at his typical snarky Stark best as Iron Man. There isn’t much to his character that is fleshed out from the Iron Man movies, but we do get his individualistic attitude in comparison to the others as a signature hallmark of the old comics that would have no story if not for infighting. He gets the lion’s share of the cute one-liners in the film, and plays T-Ball with them accordingly. It takes a good actor to make a superhero movie hard to laugh at, but it takes a great actor to make a superhero movie guilt-free to laugh at.
Mark Ruffalo, replacing the inimitable (in a bad way) Eric Bana, and the always uninteresting and over-the-top Edward Norton as The Hulk, demonstrates what Winston Churchill once said about us Americans: we eventually get it right, after exhausting every other option. Ruffalo is signed on to continue his role as the subtle metaphor for alcoholic rage in a sequel due in 2015, thanks to the early reception of this movie, and it’s easy to see why. Ruffalo pulls off a very sympathetic Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People-like presence, being very Zen helping sick Indians, and is brought aboard the ‘team’ as a gamma radiation expert, and only as a gamma radiation expert of course, just in case they might need his world renowned intellect. Only Whedon.
Jeremy Renner, “hawk up in his nest” (maybe the lamest introduction for any superhero in history) shoots people with arrows and broods. It’s what he does. Tom Hiddleston as the evil god Loki continues playing the studios like fools to launch his career, if only he’ll wear a ridiculous power ranger villain helmet and play characters written by George Lucas’ retarded clone. Big things from this guy, and soon, thanks to belittling himself with these roles.
Thor is still stupid, Captain America is still constipated and doesn’t have Hugo Weaving to save his presence anymore, Samuel L Jackson is still mad about snakes on his plane, Gwyneth Paltrow is still just dispensable eye candy with minimal lines, and I’m still not entirely sure why they gave Scarlett that many lines. Or rather, why they alluded to some big past of hers to develop her mostly pointless character, but the comic book nerds need their violent boobies to look at. Stellan Skarsgard is the token Scando again.
Anyway, this movie is dumb, but it has explosions and you zoom around with Iron Man in CGI environments. So … weee.