Last night I finally saw Marvel’s The Avengers and it was pretty much exactly what I thought it was going to be, nothing more. But maybe a little less. When it first came out people were freaking out, and calling it the greatest superhero movie ever. I mean how could a movie with Tony Stark, Thor (come on, even I have a little crush on Chris Hemsworth), Captain America, and Mace Windu disappoint? Well aside from the first Iron Man, none of the individual Avengers movies were anything spectacular. Truth be told I haven’t watched the newest Hulk with Edward Norton, but since they recast him I can only assume it wasn’t that great. But Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man 2 were all very entertaining, plus I really enjoyed the Avengers tie-ins. In fact I had pretty low expectations for Thor and CA, so they were both pleasant surprises. The Avengers was just that: fun. But I’m still glad I didn’t get all amped up to see this at midnight on opening night like I did for the abomination that was Spiderman 3.
WARNING! | THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Now before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m a big Batman/DC Universe guy. I read the comics and watched the Batman cartoon religiously when I was a kid, and have even been watching some of the newer Batman animated shorts. I have zero prior knowledge regarding The Avengers or any of their members. The extent of my Marvel Universe knowledge other than recent movies lies solely with the X-Men.
One issue I had with this 2 hour and 45 minute epic was that it took way too long re-introducing all of the characters. A prerequisite to seeing The Avengers should have been to see each member’s individual movie. Especially Captain America and Thor, since they included the introduction of the the Tesseract and Loki. However I feel as though these were the two that most people didn’t actually see. I was seeing this movie with someone who had only seen Iron Man 1&2, so I had to give him a long rundown of back story before the movie. By the time they had reintroduced all the characters and given unnecessary flashbacks to remind people who they were, I was already losing interest. This may have been coupled with the fact that I saw it at an AMC Fork & Screen, so after two 23 oz beers I was struggling to not break the seal.
The banter in this movie was top notch. Maybe my favorite part, since I can pretty much get the same over the top action from The Expendables 2. You have Tony Stark the wise-cracking, billionaire, playboy, smartass, coupled with a demigod from another world, a super soldier who’s been frozen and in isolation since World War 2, and a suspiciously soft spoken and laid back Bruce Banner, recast for the third time in eight years by the always talented Mark Ruffalo (Wild Wings). The nerd love between Stark and Banner is great, since they both seem to be in awe of each other’s research. I also really loved that when he’s not in Hulk mode, Banner is portrayed as the exact opposite; calm, cool and collected. Almost as if he has The Hulk so under control that nothing could phase him. Excellent contrast. One criticism I had was that when he first shifts from Bruce Banner to The Hulk on the SHIELD ship, he goes nuts, attacking anything and anyone in his path, but when he turns into The Hulk in New York, he carefully targets only Loki and the Chitauri. I assumed that when he shifts on the ship, it was his first transformation in some time and he was having a hard time controlling it, or maybe he was pissed at SHIELD and Nick Fury for having that cell for him on the ship. Regardless, I was a little miffed about that.
Now to HawkEye and Black Widow. This is where Marvel fanboys are going to jump all over me. Actually let me look up who the actual Avengers are so I kind of know what I’m talking about….okay. It seems to me like there have been almost 100 different members of the Avengers since it’s creation in the 1960s (the original members being Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, The Wasp, and The Hulk, with Captain America joining shortly after). Now you’re telling me that out of these nearly 100 members, which includes Spider-Man, Venom, and FREAKING WOLVERINE (my second favorite superhero after Batman), the best secondary Avengers members Marvel could muster up were HawkEye and Black Widow? While listed as “a pair of killer assassins,” they’re really a dude with a crossbow and a flexible chick. How exactly did they get thrown into the mix to fight alongside actual super heroes? Chewbacca would have been a better Avenger than HawkEye. At least he had a bowcaster, HawkEye doesn’t even have a gun. He even runs out of arrows during the movie. What is he going to do then? Deadlift some dudes? Flex at them? At least Black Widow realized she was basically a secondary character and tried to utilize her super spy skills. Every scene HawkEye was in, he seemed to be trying way too hard to fit in with Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America. There were honestly scenes that I couldn’t stop myself from laughing over how ridiculous HawkEye and Black Widow looked next to them. A friend of mine reminded me that they didn’t have the rights to any of these other characters, and thus couldn’t use them in the movie, which makes perfect sense. But I still think they could have picked some better secondary Avengers.
Another pet peeve of mine was the scene where Iron Man re-directs the warhead to the Chitauri mothership, which Joss Whedon basically ripped off from Star Wars: Episode I. Anakin destroys the Trade Federation control ship, which deactivates the droids on Naboo, rendering them useless. In The Avengers, Iron Man destroys the Chitauri mothership, causing the aliens forces to deactivate on the surface of Earth. I guess when you think about it though, George Lucas probably stole that idea from Independence Day. C’est la vie.
When all is said and done, Marvel’s The Avengers is a really fun movie. I would still choose any of Nolan’s Batman films over any of the recent Avenger films 100 times out of 100, but sometimes you just need a movie where superheroes blow stuff up. As my one friend said, it’s spectacle not substance. I guess not every superhero movie can be The Dark Knight, but the dialogue was great, all the actors did a phenomenal job, and the special effects were well done. And I take back what I said before. The banter wasn’t my favorite part of the movie, the extra extra hidden scene was. If you didn’t stay til the very end of the credits you missed out. Mmmm…shawarma. All in all I give Marvel’s The Avengers a respectable 7 out of 10.
Alright now it’s time for me to go on a Batman rant. I apologize for this post being monstrously long. While at the movies for The Avengers last night, I told my friend that I bought tickets for the AMC Theaters Dark Knight Trilogy, where you’ll be able to watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight at the theater prior to the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. I’m really looking forward to this since it should be the ultimate Batman experience, and if you’re as big of a Nolan Batman fanboy as I am, the trilogy showing is a must. Needless to say I expected him to call me crazy, since nine hours of Batman is a little nuts, but instead he was dumbfounded since he had no idea that Batman Begins was even a movie, let alone that TDK and TDKR were both part of a trilogy.
Is this notion commonplace? Do people not know that Batman Begins is the first film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy? If this idea is more widespread, people desperately need to be schooled. This is unacceptable. I understand that most people hadn’t seen Begins prior to seeing TDK, but how can you watch it in a vacuum? It can’t be watched without realizing that there are clearly connections to a previous movie. Not only does TDK need Batman Begins to set up Batman’s eventual fall from Gotham’s good graces, the movie would be severely lacking in character development without the ability to reference Begins. That should cause some people to have almost no idea who the characters are or what is going on. Inside jokes are lost. There should be confusion on a massive scale.
Another troubling fact is the idea that people did know about Batman Begins, either before or after The Dark Knight’s release, and still haven’t seen it. In the name of all that’s holy, how could you watch the masterpiece that is The Dark Knight and not want to see the movie that led up to it. I’ve spoken with a number of people, including friends that are as big of movie buffs/Batman fans as myself and many argue that Begins is even better than TDK. For me it’s a close one, but I still have to go with The Dark Knight. While I love the soundtrack, the rise of Batman and his motivations, and the R’as al Ghul backstory, Begins can get a little campy and I think TDK is the single best superhero movie ever made. R.I.P. Heath Ledger.
If you plan on seeing The Dark Knight Rises next month, you have to watch Batman Begins (and The Dark Knight if you somehow haven’t seen it). From what I can gather, there are going to be a lot of allusions to Begins, as well as a story arc that ends where Begins started. If I could, I would personally screen Batman Begins for everyone who hasn’t seen it (I’m forcing my one friend whether he likes it or not), and make it mandatory to have seen the previous two trilogy pieces before you’re allowed to enter the theater for TDKR. I’m the kind of person who wants to educate people about amazing films they haven’t seen, both for their own benefit, and to put my mind at ease. Batman Begins is one of those movies.
And before you go all like “Wait! Coug! I never said thank you.” I’ll turn around and be all like “…and you’ll never have to.”