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So I saw The Avengers
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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.

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I have to say I loved it. And seeing Thor beforehand, though, added a huge amount. Thor alone changed SO much in the course of that one - it's hard to imagine not knowing so much more about him. And that's aside from all the action with Loki. It's pretty key for understanding what's going on there. Yes, it's easy to follow this movie, but it's not nearly so straightforward in Thor.

I think I would have to recommend Thor as the superhero movie in the Marvel universe that everyone should check out. I think it's possibly Branagh's best movie since Much Ado About NOthing.

I attribute the most beloved moments in the movie to Whedon knowing how to cater to expectations and subvert them as well. As a whole the movie was a very simple structure of heroes getting together/fighting/working out their differences in time to go after the bad guys but the major bits in which Tony Stark is snarking and the whole operation is run by plutocrats who prefer to sit in darkened rooms (or have bad cameras) but aren't really as powerful as they think was pure Whedon.

Also, the Shwarma scene is my favorite just because it kept going and it made me happy that the group was just too zonked out to even talk to each other (seemed like Banner was the happiest of the bunch).

And I'm one of those people who loved the Ang Lee Hulk. I don't know if the second Hulk movie got any love. It seemed like it was trying to have it both ways (action + psychological torture) and failed. I am also going to attribute the happier version of the Hulk to Joss Whedon - especially the knowing bits in which Ruffalo is trying to tell people that putting him on a plane is a bad idea. Also, cameo by Harry Dean Stanton is always welcome.

Actually scratch that. The shwarma scene is my favorite part because it's a total slap to all the post-credit scenes we've come to expect from Marvel movies in that it had absolutely nothing to do with any movie that would follow. Oh sure, they did the Thantos scene for that, but still I can only hope that the next Avengers movie will be a My Dinner with Andre movie with all of them just in the shwarma place.

I've been rooting for Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner ever since they announced him at Comic Con, because of my unrealistic media crush on him, and I have been SCORNED AND LAUGHED AT FOR TWO YEARS, and basically have just been the smuggest jerk about it ever since.

But seriously, the fan community owes that guy like $10 because a.) They were so mean and b.) He was that good.

(And I have to say, my favorite part of the film was Stark and Banner becoming super science BFFs within 5 seconds of meeting each other.)

He was! And I really enjoyed that relationship. I think he needs a friend like that.

Actually Black Widow does have some sort of super power; I believe she was genetically modified to be able to do the stuff she does as some sort of sooper seekrit Russian experiment.

I can't decide if I want to pretend I didn't hear that or if that makes the whole thing make a ton more sense.

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I was quite happy to realize that although Black Widow does show a little bit of cleavage, if you think about it she's pretty much in exactly the same outfit as Hawkeye, and if I had to choose a character the camera was emphasising the physique of, it'd have to be Captain America.

Also, oh my god, Samuel L. Jackson's twitter feed is now my new favourite thing. I like "mughfughquahs". It's the 'q'. It makes it hilarious.

I knoooooow. At one point I'm pretty sure he spelled it "mufuqqas" as well, which might have been my favorite.

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'm from Cleveland and I saw that set, in Cleveland, and could not take that scene seriously at all...oops.

Saaaaaaame. My parents are from there and I was like- Did they turn an RTA bus into a- yuuuuuup they sure did.

I agree with this so very much, right down to the "Look, Whedon just doesn't normally DO it for me, and LET'S LET IT GO AT THAT PLEASE." I admire what he's capable of, but have never been able to get into any of the TV shows he's done. Yet somehow he managed to apply his particular schtick in precisely the right amounts. I'm duly impressed.

Re: Banner/Hulk...

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.

The Bam-Bam moment got the loudest, longest laughter out of our theater, to the point where I missed what Hulk snarled afterward. (Was it "puny god"? I dunno.) But for my money, the best (out of a wide possible selection) bit was, "My secret... is that I'm always angry. *IMMAPUNCHTHESPACECREATUREKABLAM*"

And I mean the best bit in the movie not just for Bruce-y. Dunno why that one worked for me so much better than so many others, but damn. Good stuff.

So, drinking game! Whenever a standoff is resolved by a third party rocketing into one of the two parties at high velocity from off-screen, take a drink.

I used to be a big Whedon fan, and you're right - one of my main complaints about him and his writing is that, unless he makes a deliberate effort, every character ends up sounding exactly the same (which is to say, like Joss talks in real life).

I'M NOT IMAGINING IT!! I feel semi-validated now. I mean, not "YUH HUH IT IS TOO A BAD THING I SAID SO," but just... at least I'm not imagining it. Which is, again, why I think it worked in his favor to step into an existing franchise and work with characters who had very distinct voices. Like, "...he's adopted" struck me as very much his sense of humor without leaning on that overused tone; it worked well. He seems to do a lot of reversals and subversions like that, like when, both times, Natasha just very pragmatically drops a pretense of distress and says "Okay, Loki just told me where it is" or "Stop trying to rescue me, he was telling me everything." But it kept that sense of subversion while dropping the Buffy Dialogue Tone, so it kind of hit that happy medium, I guess?

As always, I appreciate your reviews for a myriad of reasons, and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

8) I have not yet seen the movie, so I cannot speak to this scene in particular, but as for the speaking-English-to-a-German-crowd thing: Germany is a non-official multi-lingual country where nearly everyone under the age of 50 knows English well enough to at least understand it spoken, though possibly not well enough to respond in it (though I've never had a conversation with a German who couldn't hold his own in English). Nearly all children learn English as their first language in school, with Latin or French being second.

This doesn't mean that Loki shouldn't* have been speaking standard German (because that really would make sense and logic), but there isn't actually as much of a language barrier as might be expected. As long as the guy responding at least spoke with a fake German accent, I'll be happy enough to overlook it.

*wheee double negative.

I remember seeing somewhere that the Asgardians actually speak Allspeak, it just comes out English because that's what we speak, but, for example, if Thor were to talk to my grandparents, they'd hear Chinese...?

So it's plausible for Loki to just blather on, though not sure why the German guy spoke in English.

lol I feel precisely the same way about Whedon's dialogue and was pleasantly surprised by the dialogue in this movie for that reason. I think, like you said, it probably helps that they all had distinct voices and therefore couldn't really smush into one identical Whedon-esque blob.

This is probably not the comment you are expecting, but thank you for finally talking about the biggest issue I have with Joss Whedon's writing in a way that explains it clearly. A lot of times I'm just reduced to saying I don't like it because I can't really explain why the smug self-awareness that so often can be charming and/or funny can really easily tip the scale into feeling like Whedon showing off just how smart he is and how in love he is with how smart he is. I mean, the above sentence is the statement I give, but it never seems to get the point across the way what you've said does. So, yes, thank you.

I have to say I love Joss most when he has a cast of disparate voices he's being faithful to. You can see it in his run on Astonishing X-Men and in Dollhouse, particularly- there will be one character who is the Whedonspeak mouthpiece, but it's not rampant.

So it made sense to me that he would do well with the established personalities in The Avengers. The man knows how to work an ensemble, that's for damn sure.

I've seen it twice because I'm an Avengers geek of old, though, and it just gives me all the happy feelings.

I really liked his run on Astonishing X-Men*, I think he'd do really well on an X-Men movie as well.

*except for his portrayal of my favorite character, Emma Frost. Grant Morrison's New X-Men Emma is so completely awesome that any version after that was going to pale in comparison.

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The dialogue was pretty much exactly what I hoped for from Whedon being involved in this movie, and I think it worked because RDJ is so good at carrying off those sort of comments, and they gave most of them to him.

It did twig something in the back of my head, though, when Black Widow was delivering very Whedon-esque dialogue, like her "I don't see how that's a party" line. It wasn't just the line, but the delivery really reminded me of Buffy and made me wonder if it was the direction or if maybe ScarJo was a Buffy fan. (Same thing for the "Yeah, sure, it'll be fun" line. The way she said it really reminded me of like, early Willow.)

Dude, even I noticed that, and I obviously am not the most versed Buffy viewer. It totally sounded like sort of a deadpan, wide-eyed Willow. Not that this was a bad thing.

One of the next Avengers series movies lined up (OF THE SO MANY OMG) is a Black Widow film that will actually be a prequel. They just announced it and I'm guessing that everything she and Hawkeye vaguely alluded to in The Avengers will get spelled out then, including why she's so amazing with the gymnastics 'n' such.

I feel like what we got of Black Widow in this movie laid a pretty solid foundation for making a strong movie centered around her.

(Also, the best part about the shawarma scene was my dad laughing HYSTERICALLY when he realized they weren't going to say anything.)

Huh - I'm not surprised about that. The previews are going to have to sell it. I'm not that big a fan of Black Widow or ScarJo, so it might be the one Avengers movie I don't see. Unless they mash it together with a lot of Hawkeye back story since it seems you can't have one without the other. That's my take though.

(hah, I love that everyone is basically agreeing with you about Whedon).

Anyway - that was my favourite line too. And for reference, (as I know you care ;)) my favourite throwaway joke was the guy on the superubercomputer turning to play Invaders. It was just so... silly.

I know there are plenty of major Whedon fans around here, though. They are probably not too happy with me right now.

Hee, yes, the computer guy. That was another big laugh in my theater.