The Avengers (2012)


*. This was how you spent 220 million dollars in 2012. And this is what you spent it on.
*. And this is how much money it made: $1.518 billion.
*. That’s all the important stuff out of the way.
*. The curse of the comic book movies, or MarvelCrap, is inflation. Not just in terms of budget, though this is certainly an issue. Each new movie has to blow the last out of the water. It has to have more. And unfortunately what this often means is more superheroes and more supervillains. The original Batman cycle paved the way, upping the ante from a first film that had Batman facing off against the Joker, to the second where he was taking on Max Shreck, the Penguin, and Catwoman, to later entries where he was joined by Robin and Batgirl and was taking on Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bane, and whoever else was ready to suit up.
*. Marvel learned the lesson. How many bad guys did Spider-Man have to take on in the third of that series? The Green Goblin, the Sandman, Venom . . . was that what the “3” stood for? And the X-Men franchise gave us superheroes facing off against each other in what looked more like a football game than a cage match.
*. But once locked into this kind of inflation there’s nowhere to go but up. And so, clocking in at 143 minutes, here we get a crowded cast of heroes who, when they aren’t fighting each other, are taking on an army of baddies from another dimension. More, more, more. This movie is fat.
*. You’d think it would all be incredibly complex, but it’s not. This is because it doesn’t make a bit of sense. The plot is a throwaway. Loki, a troublemaker out of Asgard, steals the “Tesseract,” which is a powerful crystal that can open a gateway to another world, letting in a bunch of crazy aliens known as the Chitauri (a bit of information I had to look up, by the way).
*. Come on. You’re going to spend over $200 million on a picture and you can’t come up with a premise more original than that? Why not throw in a magic spear for Loki to carry around too. Yes, just like that one . . .
*. But this is only what makes the plot clichéd. Let’s move on to the nonsense. The Chitauri, for starters, disappoint me. They have all this power and advanced technology yet when they get flushed into Earth’s dimension what do they do? Tear around on their scooters blowing shit up? Go breaking into office buildings and frying the workers, or destroying streets and blasting taxis into the air? They came all that way for this?
*. Even in a comic book, are we really supposed to believe that Iron Man and Captain America can fix the flying aircraft carrier or hovercraft thing as it’s crashing to the ground? But I guess they do. Sort of. I don’t know how they kept it in the air, to be honest.
*. What exactly was Loki’s plan in getting caught? He had the Tesseract already, which means he could have just gone ahead with his plan without going on to the hovercraft. So what was the point of all that?
*. Why are the Avengers so concerned about rescuing people from that city bus when the Chitauri are busy tearing up all of Manhattan, and presumably killing hundreds if not thousands of people already?
*. All the talk about freedom and human nature is awful. Couldn’t they have come up with something simpler, about taking over the world, without bringing in the political philosophy?
*. The effects in these films are becoming predictable. When did tearing up a canyon-style street (usually in Manhattan) become the de rigueur set-piece for CGI overkill? Godzilla? I’m getting tired of it. And keeping in mind the note I began with about inflation, where do you go from here?
*. The cast is the best part. They seem into it and play well together. When Mark Ruffalo says the Avengers won’t be a team but “a chemical mixture that makes chaos” he is presumably giving us Joss Whedon’s formula.
*. I don’t think it’s very well structured. For example, what a lot of fanboys will presumably be waiting for is Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk, but this comes at an awkward moment where he doesn’t save the day but only gets into a fight with Thor. Then the second time he transforms it is so fast it doesn’t build any buzz.
*. The actual fights between the different superheroes are also starting to get a bit old. People get slammed around and punched through buildings while having big things thrown at them, but they just keep popping up again.
*. Is it a dangerous film? I don’t want to answer that question yet. Maybe after another few rounds of MarvelCrap I’ll come back to it, because I think it may be important. But I’ll say here that I don’t mean by this that there are any fascist overtones to this sort of action film. The politics we get are a comforting muddle where nobody is in the right and everyone is compromised somewhat. What I mean is that these are movies that are not just unconcerned with real people. These are movies that don’t like real people, and perhaps even despise them. At best, humanity is given the role of a slack-jawed, child-like, and quivering mass audience to these marvelous happenings.
*. A ten-minute credit roll at the end. With a couple of extras for those in no rush to go anywhere. As if we hadn’t had enough already! But more is more is more is more . . .

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