Marvel Movie Marathon: Avengers: I love this movie.
I would have loved writing this review more if my browser hadn’t eaten it when it was halfway written, but I’ll try to recreate it with as much enthusiasm as the first go had. :p
The truth is I was really not confident about Avengers. I’ve watched a lot of Joss Whedon’s stuff, but I’d never drunk the Kool-Aid, and I was grimly afraid we were going to end up with Magic Widow the Superhero Slayer for this movie. We didn’t, and I’m still both astonished and grateful. I read a while after the film came out that Joss (or someone with enough influence over him) had looked at the early cut and thought “this movie has too much Joss in it” and subsequently left 20 minutes or so on the cutting room floor. If that’s the case, it’s a rare instance where I’ll doff my hat to Joss Whedon, because normally ego would override that kind of decision, and it was to the betterment of the film that it did not.
I don’t love it just because it’s funny, although it is (Cap paying up the $10 to Fury, and his delighted, “I understood that reference!”; Tony poking incessantly at Bruce; Loki’s snarky, “I’m listening!” and his baffled, “This usually works…”; Nat’s irritation at her interrogation being interrupted–“I not give…*everything*..?!”; Coulson’s utterly mortifying, “I watched you while you were sleeping.”; and the unbeatable Harry Dean Stanton line, “Then, son…you got a *condition*.”). And it’s not just the delight of seeing a long build-up pay off in the “meet, fight, bond, battle” arc that happens again and again in the comics, although the joy of watching Cap and Tony and Thor throw down in the forest never gets old.
I think what ultimately makes it work for me so well are the moments of poignancy and connection. I think it’s in Avengers where we start to understand how deeply Thor loves Loki, and how agonizing it is for him to have his brother be the bad guy. Natasha and Clint’s relationship, despite being given literally no screen time before Clint is compromised, is remarkably well wrought. And there’s Coulson’s story, of course, which didn’t rip my heart out THIS time (although I do desperately want to know if his ex-wife in the Framework was The Cellist), but that’s probably the first time it didn’t hit me viscerally. And his last line is a great one. Tony, trying to call Pepper, while Pepper is watching the TV to see what happens to him. There are a lot of really great emotional beats in this movie.
But of course if there’s a single moment that really lifts the whole film, it’s the old man rising to face down Loki. “There are always men like you.” And it’s because that moment isn’t about superheroes and impossible fantasy. It’s simple human courage, doing the right thing against insurmountable odds. He doesn’t know Cap is going to fall out of the sky and save him. He just knows he’s not going to kneel to a monster. And that’s the moment that seizes me by the throat, in Avengers.
Anyway, yeah, I could go through it on a line by line basis and complain that the beginning is a little slow, maybe, or that we could really do with some more women, thanks, but the guts of the matter are that I think Avengers works better than almost every other movie in the MCU. It remains in my top five, and I’m really pleased to have watched it again.