Monday, May 14, 2012

The Avengers: What Was Missing

My mom is pretty rad.  I don't say that because she wanted us to take her out to see The Avengers for Mothers Day, but it's definitely a contributing factor.

So anyway, my social mediaverse has been dripping with Avengers-flavored orgasmic juices basically for weeks now, and of course hype is a spoiler of a different kind: if enough people tell you that it's the most awesome thing EVER, you're bound to be disappointed when you finally get there.  The fact that I STILL enjoyed the dickens out of this movie surprised me.

Here as my belated effort to catch up to the rest of the world, then, are

Five Things Missing From The Avengers (spoilers included)

1.  Romance.  Or maybe better to say 'giant protracted romantic subplot.'  I'm not dogging on romance in general, but in this movie, the given purpose is to stop Loki from screwing planet Earth, and I appreciate keeping the focus there.  Yeah, there's some hints about there being some kind of a something between Natasha and whatsisname, but that's the extent of it: hints.  Then we're back to kicking ass.  Isn't it wonderful?

2.  Angst.  Maybe this is the great side-benefit of sticking six superheroes together and forcing them to share the screen: there's not enough time for any one of them to take 20 minutes and an overwrought monologue to mope about whatever.  Everybody got a minute and a couple (excellent) lines of dialogue to get poignant.  Then we're back to kicking ass. 

3.  Poor Decision-Making.  Sure, everybody's got their own personalities and prejudices, which makes for some decidedly less-rational behavior, but at no point does the plot hinge on somebody doing something holler-at-the-screen ridiculous.  Iron Man doesn't go diva and quit the team in a huff.  Thor doesn't blow the mission trying to 'redeem' his brother.  These people are adults, pretty consistently making smart decisions to advance a shared goal, and that is unbelievably refreshing.

4.  Fight-Scene Filler.  Let's be honest: long straight-up fight sequences are boring.  Spending ten minutes watching Wolverine fight the spiky-nails chick, or Captain Jack and Norrington duking it out on top of some ridiculously convoluted hamster-wheel bullshit, is boring.  Because all you're doing is waiting to see which one wins, and you already know that even if the good guy loses, he's not going to die.  The Avengers has its share of long action sequences, but it's much less like watching a CG version of Super Punch-Out, and much more akin to extreme eye-candy speed-chess: the outcome of each encounter changes the whole board, and keeps your brain engaged even while your eyeballs are juicing. 

5.  "Strong Female Characters."  I knew this wouldn't be a problem with Joss ("the Boss") Whedon, but it still warrants a mention.  There is some kind of insidious rule that a "kick-ass" heroine must be a rude, domineering, abrasive, nigh-unbearable shrew who strangles innocent bystanders with her ovaries.  And gets naked at some point.  It was so nice to see a lady character who was genuinely kind and polite and kept her (admittedly skin-tight) clothes on all throughout, and STILL kicked major ass.  Aspiring writers of the world, please, for the love of God, take note.

You know, I'm glad that the studio dumped $220 million into this thing: it allowed for a bunch of truly top-tier actors, amazing setpieces and special effects, and some first-rate marketing.  I just hope that when the movie gurus look at The Avengers' eleventy-billion dollars in revenue and set out to emulate its success, they will realize that the secret formula isn't "expensive eye-candy and lots of it."  Good writing is cheap by comparison, and yet incredibly valuable.  It's nice to see that rewarded.

Clench up, Legolas.

No comments:

Post a Comment