Film / Review

The Avengers (2012)


Not being a huge fan of the comic book/superhero genre, I wasn’t surprised to walk out of the theatre entirely disappointed by Joss Whedon’s attempt at the “biggest movie of the year”.

What does biggest movie of the year mean, anyway?

Revenue? Oh, ok.

The Avengers certainly succeeded financially on its opening weekend, an impressive £2.5 million in the UK alone (http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2012/04/27/the-avengers-blows-the-doors-off-the-box-office-in-uk/). In terms of formula, The Avengers has it all. Smart one-liners, great costumes and a huge budget which means – lots and lots of action.

A mind-numbing amount of it. After the first few fight scenes in the movie, a headache began. Maybe this was exacerbated by the lack of character development and  inexplicable plot holes. I wasn’t expecting Lost in Translation, or anything, but my goodness.

Lost in Translation is, of course, another film featuring Scarlett Johansson, an actress whose work I’ve been familiar with for a long time. Even she couldn’t save this movie for me. As a wonderfully kick-ass heroine in Iron Man 2, I was somewhat less-than-pleased when there was a hinted romance between Black Widow and a fellow agent. All hope was lost at that point for me.

The most interesting part of this franchise was the disintegration of a core aspect of superheroes – isolation. Bringing together the finest and strongest characters in comic book world will not bode well; Tony Stark (Iron Man) says: “I’m volatile, self-obsessed, [don’t] play well with others”. That’s exactly what I wanted to see – a somewhat dark and troubled look at what happens when isolated people have to work together. Apart from one lengthy scene in which our heroes bicker over who’s essentially “the best”, that’s all it really boils down to.

Robert Weiner (2008: 108) in his book Captain America and the Struggle of the Hero: Critical Essays says:

Moments before a battle with the Hulk, Steve Rogers [Captain America] is framed in a claustrophobic set of tiny panels. He is walking alone in an urban landscape devoid of life. “Slowly, falteringly, he walks through the night…” [Stan] Lee writes, “A lone, silent figure…haunted by his past…plagued by his past…plagued by memories such as few have ever known…tortured by doubt…yet driven by duty.”

I found myself drawn to Captain America in this film; although not characterised very well, I could relate and empathise with his need for redemption and frankly, his selflessness and will to be a good person. Pair this off with chauvinist Stark and egotistical Thor, and all you have again are a few one-liners, nothing close to Weiner’s above observations.

Overall, I couldn’t help but think the death of a certain character in the film was the (very loose) string that bound all our heroes together, to remind them that they have a purpose. Though, is it to avenge? Save the world? Or simply to make themselves look totally “bad-ass” together? The audience were reminded of the high price power and greed can have on humans. But it’s ok if superheroes are greedy. They can just come back and save us any time.

Pros

  • Great visual effects (obviously)
  • Good links between each of the films in the Marvel franchise
  • Interesting connections between the characters

Cons

  • Little characterisation
  • Unexplained/random plot at some points (what was the nuclear threat thing?!)
  • Too much emphasis on witty one-liners (mainly from Downey Jr.)

Final Verdict

4/10

Somewhat of a boring two-and-a-half-hours, I would recommend this film to children and fans of the franchise. Avoid if you’re prone to headaches because of too many explosions and not enough thought.

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2 thoughts on “The Avengers (2012)

  1. Pingback: Unbreakable (2000) | Film & Philosophy

  2. Very good review, thank you. I love Captain America and also thought he was under/misused in this one (except for his ‘Are we done here?” after stopping a fight between Thor and Iron Man).

    One question: did you really not understand the “nuclear threat thing”? I felt it was quite clear.

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