Review: THE AVENGERS (2012)




The Avengers (2012)
Written by:         Joss Whedon
Story by:              Joss Whedon and Zak Penn
Directed by:       Joss Whedon

So if you’ve been reading my reviews, and since I’ve seen the site stats I know you haven’t, you’d know I tend to open these movie reviews with a question.    Usually a question about the nature of sequels and make no mistake, Avengers is a sequel.  But this time I’m skipping the question.

I’m not a fan of Joss Whedon. I think he’s a one trick pony; if you want a story where evil old men menace an overly-sexualized underage girl and everyone sounds like what a middle-aged man thinks kids sound like, he’s your man.  If you want a story where likable heroes battle villains, you’re doomed kiddo.

I came to this realization during his run writing the X-Men when Joss took over from the incomparable Grant Morrison and proceeded to turn the X-Men into a Buffy clone. Considering this, I had some concerns when I’d heard Joss was tapped to direct Avengers.

To this point, Marvel was batting a thousand.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau had teamed up to turn Iron Man from a B-list comic character into a cultural phenomenon.  Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth had given Thor a Shakespearean flair while Chris Evans and Joe Johnston had made a Captain America movie that was absolutely fantastic.  Even Incredible Hulk, despite not being the box office success the other movies were, did an admirable job of the probably impossible task of making a Hulk movie (that’s a rant for another time.) 

As a result, everything was in place for an incredible movie.  Likable heroes, a looming threat to bring them all together in the form of what many assumed was the Cosmic Cube. (To be fair, it was a glowing cube that had what appeared to be magical powers.)  They even had a charismatic villain in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.

In ride The Avengers and it all goes to hell.  Suddenly these likable heroes turn into a bunch of dicks.  Captain America is a mopey dick that thinks the world has passed him by.  Banner’s an angsty dick that calls the Hulk “The Other Guy” and remember how in his own movie Thor was explaining how the Universe worked to an Astro-physicist?  You’d be hard pressed because in Avengers he’s a big dumb jocky-dick that is just a bit smarter than a brick wall.  As for Tony and SHIELD… Never mind, they were dicks to begin with.

They stand around and argue in quippy Whedon-speak with each other for over an hour and by the time the plot actually starts I have grown to hate these people so I’m almost rooting for them to kick the hell out of each other.

What happens when you’ve managed to turn a bunch of likable characters into dicks just in time for act three? How do you keep the audience on your side?  You pull out Joss Whedon’s favorite cheap writing trick: Kill somebody for sympathy. 

Say goodbye, Agent Coulson.

Then you have, as Red Letter Media would probably describe, “The Giant Blue Space Beam of Doom.”  A big overblown CGI battle that wrecks a huge section Manhattan and eventually the Day is saved when Tony flies into the GBSBoD with a nuke.

Bah!

Listen, I know this is the minority opinion but most people who would be reading a review here have probably already seen the Avengers and made their own assessment.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe succeeded on the back of this movie, despite its numerous failings.  I consider that something of a tragedy because every movie (including Fox/Sony-Marvel and DC) following this one had to follow this formula to some degree or another and they all felt increasingly soulless.

This formula isn’t sustainable unfortunately. Like all bloated film franchises it’ll wear out its welcome and on that day they can say “Here Lie the Avengers, They Were a Bunch of Dicks.”

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