Short version: I liked it (my mother loved it), but (for me) it wasn't the hot fudge sundae of film, although I understand why it might have been for someone else.
I'd seen both the Iron Man movies and (somewhat randomly--literally, my sister and I just picked a movie to see on a whim) Captain America, but hadn't seen Thor or... what else was there? Hawkeye didn't have a movie of his own--oh, the two Hulk movies, which they might even prefer we not think about too much. I didn't have much trouble understanding what was going on, though. With a lot of fantasy or sci-fi movies--and I mean this in the best way possible, in the sense of tropes and archetypes--a thorough grasp of the plottier points just kind of doesn't matter, you know? "Unobtainium" is a stupid-ass (if traditional) name for an element, but it's as effective as anything in Avatar. I mean, I actually did go back and read up on the plot points of the other Marvel movies, but what you really need to know is that Loki is a sad panda who wants to rule the world because reasons, and there are aliens because there are aliens more likely than not these days, and the cube is how, and Loki's big bad blue light stick does stuff because we need it to. Also, he has a helmet that a bighorn ram would be jealous of, because why not. As a viewer, I don't sweat the building blocks.
1) I hadn't quite gotten what the big deal about Loki/Tom Hiddleston was, having not seen Thor, but I get it now. I did kind of feel like the movie was running in circles (or treading water, or pick your metaphor) with constantly arguing/interrogating/fighting Loki, given that it never, ever accomplished anything. (Okay, it did once. See below.) Like, Thor and Loki whaled on each other on the Stark building for ten minutes and... then went off to war somewhere else, I forget. Didn't they do that two different times? I don't even know. What I'm saying is, I like the actor and the character, and yet I was more than ready for the Hulk to pound his ass into the dirt.
2) It's true, Mark Ruffalo is one of the highlights, and it's nice (and yet a little ironic) that The Avengers is finally the movie that gives the character some appeal. God bless his sweet heart, I think Bruce was probably the character I would most want to hang out with, rage fits aside. And he got the two biggest reactions from my entire audience--going Bam-Bam on Loki, and then ever-so-casually punching Thor right off the screen.
3) "Reindeer Games." I nearly cried. That, and "No hard feelings, Point Break." I would be curious to know how many of the Sawyer-esque nicknames were pure ad-lib.
4) Obviously Robert Downey Jr. is the other highlight of the movie. I mean, we all knew this.
5) I wish they had let Samuel L. Jackson ad-lib. His first scene was really bizarre to me, because I couldn't quite get over Loki, Asgardian god of legend, riding around in the back of a truck like someone's golden retriever. I just kept wanting Fury to get on his radio and be like "SOME RAM-ASS MOTHERFUCKER JUST CAME INTO MY HOUSE AND STOLE MY GODDAMN CUBE, THE FUCK YOU GONNA GET DOWN HERE AND DO ABOUT IT?"
6) Samuel L. Jackson's Twitter is entirely worth it just for the myriad ways he spells his favorite word. So far I have seen "muhfuggas," "mughpfukkas," "muthughpfuccahz," "mughfughquahs" and "MAAADAAAHFAAAHKAAAAHZ!"
7) Seriously, you guys, that helmet.
8) Why did Loki shout at the German crowd in English? Why did that one guy answer him in English? Was it like, "I'm not actually that brave, I'm just the only one who understands what you're even saying"?
(I know, I know; I'm being facetious.)
9) Nice Silence of the Lambs riff with Loki and Natasha. I guess he learned it from his not-dad.
10) You know, I liked Natasha/Scarlett Johansson a lot more than I expected--granted, Black Widow has nearly superhuman gymnastic skills that I guess we're attributing to a lot of mundane physical training, but she mostly gets by on her wits and a shit-ton of moxie. I mean, this is someone who doesn't have super powers, and is still like, "I'll jump an alien craft to get to the top of the Stark building, no big." She ended up being an incredibly valuable member of the team, which I wasn't expecting from shots of her facing down alien hordes with a tiny gun in the trailer. Although I was really disturbed during that scene with Loki when I realized that her "skills" weren't actually sexual seduction--they involved her making herself vulnerable enough to emotional and/or physical torture that men would stop guarding themselves and start monologuing their inner thoughts. I don't know if it was a good disturbed or a bad disturbed.
11) @TheNerdyBird: The #Avengers was women friendly, ie, the women in the film weren't sexually objectified. They were vital & equally important.
You know, I know we got tons of shots of tight-assed catsuits on both Natasha and Maria Hill, but I always appreciate movies where women get clothing. They didn't even tear off half of Scarlett Johansson's uniform à la Padmé; I'm impressed.
12) I'm sure I have left out a number of things you want to talk about, which is why God invented commenting. Just as an overview... yeah, I did like the movie. It didn't thrill my soul, but other movies about things that are important to me have thrilled my soul even when I was objectively aware those movies were not without flaw, so I understand why this movie was A+ awesome for a lot of people, and how things I thought weren't perfect were perfect for them.
And no, I'm not a Whedon fan. I gave a ton of Buffy episodes throughout its run--when I was with other people who were watching it--a chance, and it just always left me cold. And when his trademark quippy-smug dialogue (to my ears, anyway) is what you don't like, there doesn't seem to be much point after a while. Much the way I don't like the Kidz Bop musical stylings of Glee: there's a point where it's the very thingness of the thing you just can't get into. And in my defense? Even Wired suggests that Whedon toning his Whedonity down is what made The Avengers more appealing to mainstream audiences. (OMG WHY DON'T YOU LIKE HIS AMAZING DIALOGUE?? From the Buffy pisodes I watched, almost everyone seemed to speak in the same snarky, self-satisfied, overly self-aware voice. It's like, imagine everyone talking like Tony Stark. I think The Avengers worked better in terms of Whedon's writing because all the characters already had very well-established voices, from Captain America's painful earnestness to Thor's lofty "Shakespeare in the Park" proclamations. Most of the smug post-modern snark came from Tony--whether it was written by Whedon or ad-libbed by RDJ--and Tony talks like that anyway.) And, not to be rude, but I'm not going to reply to any insistence that I watch X or Y or Z show of his. If five years of superfan evangelism has turned me off--let's just call it a day and keep things pleasant. If you want to write me off forever because of this, that's how the supercookie crumbles. But keep in mind all the things you don't like that I haven't written you off for.
(For my money, the best line in the movie is the simple, well-timed "HE IS MY BROTHER!!! ...he was adopted." I'm not saying I hate the man or something. He's just not my preferred flavor on the viewer sundae, is all.)
13) Anyway. The movie does a very good job of juggling a lot of character threads and alliances and feuds, even though I felt the middle--the huge attack sequence--got bogged down in endless fight combinations. But me feeling that doesn't mean it wasn't a lot of fun for other people, and I did like a similar amount of chaos in the last third--it worked better for me at that point, and I liked the feeling of moving action on moving sets, this chaotic sense of motion with various superheroes fighting side-by-side. Even then I felt like it went on kind of long, but... you get to do that at the end/climax/finale of the movie. If you overdo it, that's where you do it. I mean, I also feel like Return of the King earned every single one of its fifteen endings. Your sense of patience or indulgence depends on how important the subject is to you in the first place, I guess.
14) In conclusion, shawarma.
- So I saw The Avengers