In Praise of the Avengers Movie

Being rarely caught up on many of my usual projects, I took a few hours out the other day, and dropped in my Avengers DVD. Yes, I saw it several times in the theater, and then went and bought the DVD the day it came out. I know these days it’s pretty much not cool to say you like things (probably not to say “cool.” either, but whatever), but I’ll say it again: I love that movie.

Now, while I’m a huge fan, I’m not blindly devoted. Even as much I enjoy the movie, I admit there are a few mistakes along the way. Here are a few that jump out at me. When Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America have their throw-down in the woods, Loki is unattended on the rock outcropping where Thor left him, and apparently stays to watch the fight. Now, we know that Loki wanted, even needed, to get to the Helicarrier, but within the context of the movie, it’s just really weird that a master tactician like Cap, as well as brilliant mind like Stark, both don’t notice this weird behavior on Loki’s part.

Similarly, at the end of the battle for New York, Hawkeye runs out of arrows, grabs one off a fallen alien, and uses a grapple line to get away. Yet, in the big scene of the team standing over Loki at the end of the fight, Hawkeye’s got an arrow nocked and pointed at Loki’s face. I also don’t quite get what happened to Stark near the end. He goes through the rift, releases the missile, and then he and the armor both pass out? I’m not sure I get why that happened.

So those are the flaws I’ve found. And I think they are hugely outweighed by the rest of the movie, which is magnificent. The action and humor are great, the characters all have their moments to shine, but none are perfect. This is not only the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen, it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, if ever.

Here are some of the specifics of things I thought were so very well done.

The scene where Black Widow tricks Loki into revealing his plan was something I loved. It was not only a well written bit that played to her strengths, but it called back to her opening scene very well.

Just about everything with Iron Man/Stark was great. Downey’s delivery of Stark’s snark was fantastic, and Stark is a brilliant man and great hero. He’s been a great character in all the movies to date, and I’m eagerly awaiting Iron Man 3 next year. I can’t nail down any one moment for him, but I can’t think of any bad ones, either. I do think it’s rather amusing that, as a sort of running gag, Stark does seem to spend a LOT of this movie falling. Next time you watch it, keep an eye out, you’ll see.

What impressed me about Thor’s scenes were two, rather small things. The scene on the mountain where Thor and Loki are arguing was good in and of itself, but in one bit there’s a wide shot where you see two ravens circling the peak. In myth, Odin had two ravens, Hugin and Mugin, that served as his messengers. That made me think both that Joss Weadon did his homework and that Odin was watching his sons. Also, if you look closely, Thor’s two fights that last longer than one or two blows make it so very clear that, while he’s very powerful, he’s also a skilled warrior. His fight with Iron Man shows some slick moves, but his clash with the Hulk on the Helicarrier really illustrated it. Hulk is flailing away, but Thor is using actual skill.

Speaking of, my favorite bit with the Hulk was a quick, subtle, thing. Well, ok, second favorite. Let’s face it, “PUNY GOD!” might have been the best moment of the movie. But on the Helicarrier, as Banner is staggering around in the throes of his transformation, he steps on a deck plate with writing on it. If you notice fast enough, or if you obsessively freeze-frame, you can clearly make out “Contents Under Pressure.” Truer words were never written about the good doctor.

All in all, Avengers was a fantastic movie. I’ve seen it several times. I’ve enjoyed it every time, and I bet I’ll be watching it again. In the meanwhile, before Avengers 2 comes out, there’s Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, and Thor 2 to look forward to, as well as possible outings for Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a good point in movie history for comic geeks.