Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ten Random Thoughts About the Avengers

Thanks to the insistence of good friend Trey Causey, I braved the crowds and saw the Avengers Friday night, and I am happy to report it is well worth seeing. It was perhaps the most fun I have had at a movie since the first Iron Man. (Prior to that I might have to go back to the first Pirates of the Carribean.)

I have a lot of thoughts about the movie, so I'm going to enumerate them to try and keep myself on task.

1. Disney has got to be happy!

Disney originally bought Marvel for $4 billion dollars (a sum that sounds cheap in these days of tech companies snapping up smaller companies for patents.) Avengers looks to be on track to beat all box office records (some estimates have it possibly opening with $200 million domestically.) When you add the money Disney will get from liscensing and DVD/Blu-Ray sales, the Avengers may well help them recoup a large portion of their initial investments just by itself.

2.  Joss Whedon has got to be happy too!

If Serenity cast a pall on Joss Whedon's movie career, then the Avengers has given it new life. I've always liked Josh Whedon's dialogue style, which Scott Simmons (another friend of mine in attendance Friday night) boiled down to "...where all the characters are one and a half times cleverer than real people..." In other words, it's a style where you get the idea everyone had time to think of the best quip or retort possible before saying their next line. It's not the best reflection of real life, where time and emotions often interfere with communication skills, and because of that, some people that style of dialogue is a bit too precious or artificial. Still, considering the type of movie this was, I think it fit perfectly. Like Scott, I think Captain America got all the best lines.

3. I wonder if Mark Millar is happy?

When Mark Millar introduced his Samuel L. Jackson looking Nick Fury in the Ultimates, I was originally put off by the character. One, because I hate it when comic characters are phototraced from pictures of real people (I find it jerks you out of the medium.) Two, the change of race for the character seemed unnecessary. However, for the purposes of appealing to a larger demographics, that racial switch out really panned out for Disney didn't it? I wonder if it was a conscious move to use that version of Nick Fury on Disney's part? Updated since Trey reminded me that Nick Fury actually started showing up prior to Disney owning Marvel.

4. The smaller line up of the Avengers works better for movies doesn't it?

I've always felt that in the comics that the way the Avengers can consist of 5 (and even 4!) heroes makes it a team that has never really stacked up, powerwise, against the Justice League (unless you count the Aquaman led team back in the 80's)

However, for a movie, a smaller team really works well. If there had been another two characters to deal with, it would probably cut down a good bit on the great character moments Joss Whedon put in the script. Something for DC to consider, eh?

5. What was Loki's plan on the Helicarrier?

I had to go to the restroom, and I think I missed something. What was all that about exactly?

6. This movie may have saved the Hulk franchise.

I saw over at Bleeding Cool that Mark Ruffalo has signed a 6 picture Hulk deal with Marvel  and based on audience reaction to the Hulk scenes, it looks like the time is right to relaunch that franchise. I feel the key with the Hulk is is to remember that he is not just a raging brute, but that he can also be a bit childish at times. This gives writers innocence and indulgence aspects of the character to explore.  (Like this scene from the classic Len Wein/Herb Trimpe era)

It's not something that is played up in current Hulk comics, but I believe it is vital to fully exploiting the wish fulfillment aspect of the character. It would also be a much needed source of humor for any resulting movies.

7. Aliens are the new Ninjas

I guess it's just a by product of action movies that they have scores of creatures for the heroes to fight. Sometimes we get clever variations on the them like the Nazi zombies in SuckerPunch. Still, I do grow weary of the meaningless hordes.

8. Is this a history making/game changing movie?

In discussing the ensemble cast of this movie, I was struck by the notion that this was the first time that characters from successful movie franchises had ever been gathered together all in one movie. As I thought on it more, I realized that's not necessarily true, as back in the heyday of the Universal Monster Movies, we saw this classic picture:

Since then, there have been a few other dalliances in combining an assortment of fictional characters in a movie (Murder By Death, Aliens Vs Predators, Freddie vs Jason and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) but none of those had the combined star power this movie had. With the success the Avengers is having, will we see this formula repeated? And if so, what grouping (outside of the DC Universe) would lend itself to such an ensemble?

9. The Spider-man trailer looked better than the Batman trailer.
'Nuff said.

10. The Loki at the Opera scene!

I haven't seen a lot of people comment on this scene, but with its use of Local Music and eschewing of dialogue during this part, it felt like a tip of the hat to the classic opera scene from the Godfather 3. Tom Hiddleston stole the movie as Loki, and this moment highlighted just how well he was able to portray the character even without talking.

Anyway, if you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favor and go!

- Jim


Trey said...

(3) Samuel Jackson Nick Fury goes back to the first Iron Man. Why do you think Disney had something particularly to do with the decision?

(5) He gave a reason, but largely it just seems to have all the cast together as it doesn't make a lot of sense as a plan.

(9) If you like Spider-Man as angsty conspiracy film about a guy's search for his parents and the secrets that quest holds, oh yeah, it's great. I don't know exactly what version of Spider-Man it's bringing to life though. I liked this sort of operatic, portentous superhero film better when we called it the Nolan Batman franchise--oh, wait...

(10) Huh. Never heard of it as "local" music--usually it's "diegetic."

Reno said...

I thought Loki's plan on the helicarrier was just to bring it crashing down. Something as simple as that.

JimShelley said...

@Trey - You are right! I forgot that Disney wasn't calling the shots back in the Iron Man 1 days. Thank you for the heads up!

JimShelley said...

@Reno - you know, I sort of thought the bringing down the Helicarrier was a just part of his plan but I think you are right.

Matthew Slepin said...

I'm largely with Trey that:

5. Didn't make much sense. I think the plan was to keep the Avengers distracted so they don't remember Loki is stealing stuff and presumabably building soemthing evil with it. But it seemed awfully convoluted for that.

I guess you could argue that Loki is good at creating trouble but bad at creating coherent end-games for his schemes. But that may be a bit precious. The narrative purpose was, obviously, to get everyone togetehr so maybe we should just accept it.

9. I'm trying to keep on open mind, but the new Spidey picture looks wrong to me. Even the comics has tried to forget about the Parkers as spies.

Matthew Slepin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Espana said...

Seeing THE AVENGERS at the midnight screening on Friday was not just the culmination of the excellent work that Marvel Studios has been working towards since its inception as a major filmmaking entity (and not just branding that appears before all of the other Marvel character films owned by other studios), it was the ultimate childhood fantasy come true for many comics fans: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk coming together in one big-budget Hollywood film. Sadly, for the fringe critics who have made up their minds long before seating themselves in a darkened theater and allowing this 140-plus minute moviegasm to invade their senses and assault their hipper-than-thou minds, it's also an astonishing piece of filmmaking.

JimShelley said...

@Matthew Slepin - yeah, the more I hear people talk about it, the less I'm convinced that there was a real (plot) plan for Loki on the Helicarrier.

JimShelley said...

@Espana - yeah, I think sometimes critics just take an opposite side of a movie to have something unique to say. They may do this unconsciously.

Matthew Slepin said...

Or, at least, they have critics who explicitly don't like superheroes, comics, or movies about same, reviewing these things. It's so stupid. Would anyone read a critic who complained about a family drama having too much dialog and melodrama? Or a Western that was just an excuse to show horses and guns?

Tonomori said...

Loki's plan on the helicarrier, was to get to the Hulk so he could mentally influence him and have him attack the rest of the avengers.


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