Friday, 11 May 2012

The 3 problems with 'The Avengers' (2012)

So I reviewed The Avengers here and gave it 4.5 out of 5, which obviously means I loved it. But also that I thought it could be better. And here's why......

Problem 1 - Captain America
He's the guy we see things from, our POV character, and he gets the most screentime of all the Avengers. So he's developed well. But Joss Whedon mentioned cutting about 45 minutes from the film, which apparently included various scenes showing Cap's thoughts on modern times. As things stand, it's comical - he doesn't understand the technology and is proud to catch a Wizard of Oz reference. He also struggles to grasp the ideals of today's world (questioning whether a uniform comprising of the American flag is really the way to go).

This is all great. But what the story needs is a more personal outlook - how does Cap feel about the fact that his whole world has gone? When he left, WWII was in full swing. He wakes up 70(ish) years later to find the war over and everyone (and everything) he knew dead and buried. That would fuck with your head (and your heart)! Also, it turns out that his seemingly heroic sacrifice to save the world was not, in fact, that sacrifice-y. But then again, there's something very awesome about being a sacrifice that somehow lives on.

That's what the Cap character needed to explore more. Yes, the intro of him bashing the poop out of several punch bags summed a lot of his feelings up in a smart, visual, non-expositioinal way, but I wanted more.

Problem 2 - The Hulk
It's a tiny issue. When Bruce Banner first hulks-out, he is holding Loki's magical staff. We assume (later) that this is the main reason for said hulk-out, we assume that this is the reason that he was completely unable to control the Hulk, and we assume (afterwards) that Banner always could control the Hulk to a high degree. But there's a lot of assuming going on. I think we needed to be told (later, in a fun way) that Loki's staff was the reason for Banner's complete loss of control.

Problem 3 - Black Widow
Easily the finest character in the movie for me and she has the best scenes (her meeting with Bruce Banner, her "red ledger" exchange with Loki, saving the day in the film's finale et al). One of her shiniest moments comes when Banner hulks-out and she is forced to run for her life. She is swatted against a wall and is next seen "cowering in the corner. The look on her face is that of a woman utterly broken. It takes a few moments before she finally responds to her radio summons." (that quote is taken from here - a highly recommended read, it'll only take a minute. Honest.)

It's a moment that comes out the blue - it's easy to forget that these superheroes are people too. Yes, Black Widow can kill kill kill when she needs to, but she is so taken aback by being completely overpowered and nearly squished (thank Odin for Thor's intervention, eh?) that she freezes. The only thing missing from Black Widow's story is how this huge (albeit brief) scene has effected such a hardened assassin. Like the gentleman from the above article says: "It's too bad, because in a movie fraught with cartoonish destruction, it's the one moment where the audience actually sees some real damage."

So that's it really. I know I'm nitpicking, but I think with those three things tweaked somewhat, The Avengers would undoubtedly be a 5-star movie. What say you?

Read more of Neil's film/TV articles.


Alex Fox said...

nice review, i think you've covered everything

halojones-fan said...

Captain America: I have a feeling that "Captain America 2" is going to take place before "The Avengers". As you say, the character we see in "The Avengers" is definitely one who's accepted the fact that the world he was fighting to save died 70 years ago when he hit the ice, and that needs to be a story and not just backstory.

The Hulk: I got the idea that it wasn't Loki's staff that made Banner lose control; Banner is always just about to lose control. Loki knew that, and knew that all he needed to do to get a hulk-out was to put Banner in a room with a bunch of people yelling at him. (Indeed, one of the stock Avengers plotlines is "brilliant scientist has fatal flaw. He promises us he can control it. Oops, turns out he can't.") That's where Banner's "I'm always angry" line comes from.

Black Widow: The kung-fu badass secret agent woman is a well-done character in a Joss Whedon production? quelle surprise. (Not that I'm complaining!) It's going to be heartbreaking if they play completely to the Ultimates storyline and she turns out to be evil.

Neil said...

An interesting thought on the's about taking Banner from "pissed off" to "I'm filled with anger". Able to Hulk out at any moment, but not willing. However, like everyone, he can lose control. And when he does, it's BIG!

RE: Black Widow - I'm with you, I hope the Ultimate timeline stays away from this. I like those comics, but Black Widow needs to stay Good. And away from Tony Stark in general methinks.