"We’ve Got a Hulk!" The Avengers Assemble On The Big Screen!

For roughly two weeks before the UK release of The Avengers, I avoided as many clips and spoilers as I could, as is my custom for Superhero Films ever since an abundance of spoilers ruined what was left to enjoy of X-Men: The Last Stand. However, after leaving the theater, I felt that my efforts had been somewhat wasted. The plot of The Avengers was so simple that there really wasn’t very much to spoil at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the film and I definitely would have enjoyed it less if I had broken my spoiler embargo. But I walked out a little confused about why so much effort had been spent on keeping the plot secret (by the filmmakers). Because it really wasn’t all that secret. Loki returns to take over the earth, now backed by an alien army. Nick Fury recruits Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop Loki. In fighting and out fighting ensues. And (spoiler!) the Avengers win the day. I guess I was just hoping for something just a little bit more. But as far as summer popcorn films go, The Avengers hits the mark even more accurately than Hawkeye.
So with that out of the way, let’s talk about what made the film freakin’ awesome.

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When it came down to choosing someone to helm this project about a superhero team, it was clear that there was no better choice than Joss Whedon. His voice and his eye worked perfectly to bring all these heroes together. I’m a big Whedon fan and was stoked to see what he could do with such a big budget film and I was not disappointed. His fingerprint is all over the film. Lots of interesting camera choices, reflections and long shots that worked quite nicely. And let’s not forget the hilarious dialogue.
 
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Unlike other Superhero Team films, like the X-Men and Fantastic 4 franchises, The Avengers doesn’t have a central character. Instead, the team itself goes through the different stages of the Hero and they rise together. Nick Fury acquires the team. They adjust to their new status and each other’s powers. They [spoiler] lose a mentor and rise to the occasion, finally defeating the villain.
So what about the Avengers themselves? Just as The Avengers lacked a sophisticated plot, so too was it light on character development, relying on the audience having seen the characters develop in their own films. This is perhaps most noticeable in Captain America’s character, as he is the most out of place, roughly 50 years out of place, in fact. And yet, he seems to adjusting quite well to the future, and things like new fashions, computers, and all of his friends and loved ones being dead doesn’t really seem to bother him. We see him get a bit angsty during his introductory scene, but after that, it’s fairly smooth sailing. But he does kick some ass and makes for a pretty badass leader, once he accepts the role. [NOTE: Whedon has admitted that the original cut of the film had an additional 30 minutes, most of which revolved around Cap dealing with the new world]
One of the mainstays of Whedon’s projects is a nerdy character that acts as Whedon’s own mouthpiece. Xander in Buffy, Wash in Firefly, Topher in Dollhouse. But Whedon is no longer the nerd on the sidelines, and neither is his new voice, Tony Stark, the coolest of the nerds. Having already been out on two adventures with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, one would think we’d all know what to expect by now. But Whedon has Stark spouting out so many memorable lines that it drowns out the quotes from his previous films. Hilarious doesn’t even begin to cover it, especially when he’s going up against Captain America.
I will be the first to admit I was disappointed that Edward Norton would not be reprising the role, more because I’m a fan of Norton in general than because I liked his turn as Banner. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised with Mark Ruffalo’s take on the character. I was pretty much sold after the first scene, where Banner tries to keep himself and Black Widow calm so they don’t have to deal with “the other guy”. Ruffalo’s Banner may not be afraid of his own shadow anymore, but he is definitely still afraid to even say the word “Hulk”. His nervous hand-wringing and unassuring assurances that he’s got “the other guy” under control easily made Ruffalo my favorite Banne so far. And once the other guy finally does come out to play? Well, let’s just say we definitely know who the heaviest hitter on the team is.
And then there was Thor. As great as Chris Hemsworth was last summer, it seems that here he is just around for his muscles and his hammer. He gets about the least amount of character development of the group. Every time he tries to have a serious moment with Loki, someone busts in with a BFG and blows them away. He doesn’t disappoint on the action, though, and even gets in a few cracks on Stark.

All in all, Whedon managed to pull together a pretty fantastic film. Aside from the expected lack of character development and complex plot, the film made for a pretty good ride. I suppose as a writer, I had higher hopes for a project that had been in development for so long, but such is Hollywood I guess. Looking ahead, the new trailers for this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises seem to promise some more complex Superhero Films to come.

About the author

David Molofsky

David is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of AP2HYC.

1 Comment

  • Firstly, I understand you, being all expatriated and all, may have seen the version of the film missing the clip at the very end of the credits, in which case, hope the fish and chips are worth it.

    But yes, you are right, the film has Whedonprints all over it. From the opening shot trailing up a sinister looking staircase with a V.O. from an even more sinister voice being lifted straight from Buffy, to pretty much every exterior shot of the Helicarrier being lifted from the “Serenity School of ship-in-clouds CGI”, to [spoiler] killing the character that will most incense the warrior in the group mentality (TaraWashJoyceAnyaBookTopherKillYourDarlings) it was a most glorious Whedonfest.

    I dunno about Rogers and adapting well. I mean I don’t see him taking well to the modern fashion thing, with the greaser jacket, the vintage bike and the basic cotton tees that look as well in 1942 as 2012. I’m not sure either he’s adapted to modern technology super well, (on fixing the helicarrier: “I’m at the panel… it seems to use some sort of electricity…”, “Well, you’re not wrong there”)

    Hulk is kind of perplexing, at once an impossible IP and in irresistable one. For all it’s faults, the Eric Bana Hulk may still be my favorite, and much as they tried to disavow that for the Ed Norton version, if looked at closely, there’s in fact nothing RetConny about it, but rather it is an actual sequel, citing events from the first movie and everything. Mark Ruffalo was a fine choice, and I suppose its nice to not be tied down to one actor when you want to take the character in another direction. I think what Norton’s version really accomplished was to make it acceptable to reinvent the character as needed, more than to give it a clear new path followed in this movie.

    Thor was, I think, exactly as he needed to be. He was the serious one, and as the deity of the group, particularly the one opposing the god of mischief, he was best set to play it. I don’t know if it was underdevelopment so much as, he was kinda a Branaugh character in a Whedonverse; a universe that affords very little time to long winded speeches. The movie, like most things Joss does, aimed to skewer the traditional concept of heroism (the cheerleader turned savior, the freedom fighter turned space pirate) and Thor was simply the best fit for whom to embody the traditional heroic form being lampooned. Loki too, in fact, the whole movie’s take on Whedon’s “fast and clever” approach, as it contrasts with Brannaugh’s “high drama” is best embodied by the scene near the end between Loki and Hulk… that pretty much says it all.