The Avengers was the best Marvel-produced film yet. That is to say, it was good. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
But just because it shouldn’t have worked, and did, is not to say (like some have) that it was a Great Film. The cross-continuity is cool and all, and what everyone’s inner kid wants to see, but even with the film’s 2 hour 20 runtime, one could discern the strain to let every character have a good scene, to force them to interact.
Meantime, there was a good deal of ambiguity running through (e.g., are Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D.’s actions defensible in light of their results?), and of all people I’m all for that. I mean to say, don’t mistake me for someone who hates a lack of closure, but the lack of resolution here was nothing more than a continuation of the film’s carrot-on-a-stick setup. Even Joss Whedon didn’t really know how to tell this story, and we’re left with an ideological mess in which characters aren’t developed (no change from Iron Man, then) beyond a routine “let’s team up despite our differences”.
Again, don’t mistake me for that “story is everything” guy. No-one likes that cunt, and I’m weary of shit directors regurgitating that diarrhoea in interviews. But this was not an art film – this was a conventional Hollywood production, and you go in with certain expectations. Marvel didn’t hire Zack Snyder – they hired Joss Whedon, who essentially wrote an 143 minute TV episode. A TV episode with cracking dialogue and engaging characters (no change there either, then), but I find it somewhat worrying how audiences are responding to that.
With that said, let me elaborate on what I liked about the film. We already knew the cast was going to be great, but their chemistry was a bonus, and I could’ve easily watched another hour of the Glengarry Glen Ross-esque bickering – here’s hoping that’s what we get with the director’s cut. Loki was just a PG-13 Hannibal Lecter imitation, but thank goodness Whedon actually gave character to Iron Man 2‘s insanely forgettable Black Widow. I liked both Hulk films, and would have loved both Ang Lee and Ed Norton’s versions of each, but it has to be said that great things were done making the character fun.
A scene that sticks out for me is megalomaniac-mode Loki forcing a crowd to bow. One man stands up, which actually breaks the whole convention of crowds in movies, highlighting the individual in spite of introducing a character who is never seen again. I’m not sure I really like the scene – for one, it’s awfully American to believe in the individual above everything (or at all); there being a German is plausible but somewhat token, and the parallel made isn’t subtle at all. On reflection this for me was deliberate, that you couldn’t miss it, that it gave the film an artificial sense of depth. Loki isn’t the only trickster.
A very entertaining, but ideologically and narratively problematic, blockbuster.