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Extra Medium #4: The Top 10 Worst and Best Things About “The Avengers”

The assembled heroes of The Avengers

Comics don’t stay in comics. For better or worse, most comics are produced in the hopes they will lead to films, cartoons, action figures, video games, backpacks, beach towels and bubble baths. Extra Medium is my column about all these things and more.

I fell in love with The Avengers. I know that sounds like a fairly lame and generic reviewer thing to say, but I mean it much more literally than you may think. I don’t mean I’m going to marry it and open a joint bank account (though, that would work out nice for me). I mean that while The Avengers was my favorite film of the year; that I saw it five times in the theater (which is something I haven’t done since I saw Tim Burton’s Batman eight times before it left the second-runs) and do not regret a single viewing; that it may very well be the best superhero film ever; the flaws of The Avengers were glaring, and I noticed most of them as early as my first viewing. None of them hurt my experiences in the theater though. I didn’t care about things that would’ve at least irritated me in just about any other film. I didn’t care because I didn’t just love the movie. I fell in love with The Avengers and my objectivity was shot.

Now that some time has passed and the DVDs and Blu-rays are due to be released today, I thought I’d put aside some time to think about those flaws. But since I love the thing, I didn’t just want to talk about that. So here are this columnist’s choices for the Top 10 worst and best things about The Avengers.

And since it’s always nice to save the best for last, let’s start with the worst.

THE TOP 10 WORST THINGS ABOUT THE AVENGERS

10. CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. IRON MAN

Captain America and Iron Man stand side-by-side after battling Loki in Avengers.

My only problem with the conflict is that it seemed to come from nowhere. Sure, there are good reasons for them to rub each other the wrong way, but they just hate each other too quickly. You can tell as soon as their first meeting that they’re going to push one another’s buttons. Iron Man seems just as annoyed to have saved Cap from Loki as Cap seems annoyed to have been saved by him. As soon as they’re in the Quinjet, Tony goes overboard trying to antagonize Cap with his “Capsicle” comment. It doesn’t seem like they have enough time to even get to know what they hate about one another before they’re swinging. I felt director Joss Whedon was trying too hard to build upon the conflict between the two in Civil War but just didn’t give us enough of a foundation for it.

 9. BLACK WIDOW’S LACK OF COOL STUFF

Black Widow in AvengersMy only disappointment with Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow was that she didn’t sport many cool gadgets. If I recall correctly, there’s one brief moment in the final battle when she has some kind of electric shock thing in her uniform that she uses on one of the aliens, but that’s it. Other than that, she just has her hand-to-hand skills and her guns. It just seemed very plain. Even though her appearance in it was much shorter, they gave her some cool spy stuff to work with in Iron Man 2. It’s tough to watch her firing her handguns at the aliens and not think “Yeah, uh. I could do that.” I couldn’t probably, but I’d still think that.

8. HULK

The cover image of the comic book The Avengers #2In spite of how wonderfully Hulk was portrayed in The Avengers, in spite of the irony that it was the best Hulk movie yet even though it wasn’t a Hulk movie, the Hulk does not belong on a team like the Avengers which is why he took a hike as early as the second issue of the original comic book series. He returned occasionally for brief appearances – usually during big we-need-every-Avenger-ever stories – but was never a regular member again until the popularity of the movie made it a no-brainer to throw him back in.

But he isn’t an Avenger. He destroys cities. His alter ego has spent most of his adult life thinking of him as a curse or a disease. The guy spends most of his time fighting the US military. You think he’s going to take orders from a dude wearing a flag?

Others may argue that there are less wild and more intelligent versions of the Hulk, like the Merged or so-called Professor Hulk who enjoyed the intelligence of Bruce Banner but the strength and power of the Hulk. But even at his most civil, the Hulk has never been a team player. Check out the “Professor” Hulk in Infinity Gauntlet or any of Jim Starlin’s Infinity series. Read the Incredible Hulk issue included in the Onslaught crossover. Read that earliest of the Marvel crossovers, Secret Wars. Even at his most intelligent, the Hulk doesn’t like other superheroes, considers himself better than all of them, and does not work well with them.

Still, I doubt I would’ve enjoyed the movie quite as much without my favorite good guy.

7. THOR

Thor grabs his hammer Mjolnir on the deck of the helicarrier in The Avengers

If any of the four major characters with their own film franchises got the short end of the stick in Avengers, it was Thor.

First, the Thor of Avengers clearly lacked a lot of the power of the Thor of the comics. The Hulk might not have KO’d the thunder god, but he clearly manhandled the guy.

Second, while words like honor and loyalty are part of what defines the Thor of the comics, Whedon sacrificed a lot of that for effect. There’s no way in hell (or Hel) that Comic Book Thor would’ve opened the fight with Iron Man by hitting him from behind. Nor would he have swung a blow at Captain America which, had it found its mark, would’ve killed him. In the final battle, when Loki blasts the Quinjet carrying Cap, Black Widow, and Hawkeye out of the sky and Thor responds by ignoring his allies’ danger and pounding on Loki, I couldn’t help but think, “Um, super-strong guy who can fly? Yeah, your friends? Gravity?”

6. CIVIL WAR

There were a lot of hints that Whedon may be building the foundation for a Civil War story somewhere down the road. The very presence of Maria Hill harkens back to it, as does that untrusting look she gives Nick Fury at the end when he assures her the team will reform if the world needs them. Of course, the ongoing conflict between Cap and Iron Man is also reminiscent of Civil War. From what I’ve seen of the deleted scenes, there were even more hints originally intended.

I don’t know if I like the idea of the Avengers movies going in that direction. Civil War had great potential but in the end it failed to deliver. Not to mention that it’s difficult to imagine a Civil War without a Marvel Universe filled with many more heroes than Marvel Studios has adapted for the screen so far.

Perhaps Whedon or another director could give a film adaptation of Civil War what it lacked in the panels, but for now I’m not thrilled with the idea.

5. HAWKEYE

Didn’t love him, didn’t hate him. He was just kind of there.

Brainwashing Hawkeye in the beginning was a mistake. Unlike Black Widow who enjoyed some significant screen time in Iron Man 2, before Avengers our only film introduction to Hawkeye was his cameo in Thor and that achieved little more than have all of us already-invested comic geeks go, “Oh, hey. Hawkeye.” We didn’t get to know him enough to even care that much that he was in trouble.

And I don’t care what everyone else says. I like the purple comic book suit. To hell with all this black leather crap, Purple it up.

4. KILLING

I miss the days when superheroes didn’t kill people; when that was, in fact, pretty much their Prime Directive. Sure, there were the exceptions like Punisher and Wolverine, but now it seems like just about everyone in a mask has taken a page from Frank Castle’s war journal.

I don’t like seeing Captain America cut off an alien’s arm or kicking a guy off a helicarrier. Yes, you could argue that the Earth was at war, and Cap didn’t have a problem killing Nazis in World War II (either in the comics or in Captain America: The First Avenger). You could also argue, however, that the comics have found Cap and his team in other wars – like Kree-Skrull Wars, Secret Wars, Subterranean Wars, wars with Atlantis, wars with Kang the time-traveling warlord, or the Destiny War of Avengers Forever – but Cap didn’t turn off the No-Kill button any of those times.

Call it personal preference. Call it nostalgia. Even call it childishness. I don’t like superheroes killing people.

3. LAME EXPLANATIONS, PLOT HOLES, etc.

The plot of Avengers has quite a few holes that are easier to see once you get some distance, and there were some that were glaring the first time I saw it. Some explanations just don’t make sense, and some are acceptable but stretch your suspension of disbelief to its limits. Thor’s return to Earth is explained only by Loki’s brief “dark energy” comment at the brothers’ first meeting. In spite of how crushing it was to Thor to destroy the Rainbow Bridge and sever his physical connection to the women he loves, he doesn’t bother to even visit Jane Foster (sure he was busy, but he freaking made time for shawarma). While it was a well-directed scene, Black Widow’s “interrogation” of Loki never rang true to me. I just didn’t buy the way Loki’s dialogue was supposed to reveal that he was manipulating Banner. Speaking of the Hulk, while it was such a moment of pure awesome, no one ever bothers to tell us exactly how Banner’s “I’m always angry” moment works; i.e., why is he suddenly in control of the Hulk when earlier he was going to turn Black Widow into a red-and-black smear on the deck of the helicarrier?

Of course I think the most glaring oh-come-on moment is Dr. Selvig’s revelation that he somehow subconsciously built a tesseract off-switch into Loki’s scepter while he was still under Loki’s control. First of all, it would’ve been more convincing if Whedon showed us Selvig resisting Loki’s control earlier in the film. Second, exactly how did he subconsciously build a safety into the scepter while he was brainwashed when he was utterly incapable of purposely turning off the tesseract in the beginning of the film when no one was screwing with his mind?

2. IS THE BAR TOO HIGH?

Really, at this point is there anywhere to go but down? With Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Thor: The Dark World all on their way – not to mention what may come of new franchises, including the possibility of a Marvel Studios produced Daredevil reboot – how can things not get convoluted? Whedon masterfully weaved together the different storylines with this one, but the stuff’s just going to get more complicated. How could Avengers 2 ever beat what we got this time?

1. JACK KIRBY’S HEIRS DIDN’T SEE A DIME FROM THE AVENGERS

Jack Kirby made it difficult for me to see The Avengers.

After Marvel won its legal battle against Jack Kirby’s heirs in July 2011, a number of noteworthy comic book bloggers and critics vowed to give none of their money or attention to Marvel products – including the films – until Marvel made things right with Kirby’s estate.

After my first viewing of Avengers, because of course it’s legally mandated I do so, I immediately went on Facebook to spread my geek-joy. A lot of comments from friends followed, and among them was a professional writer who wrote deep in the thread, “I have so far resisted saying that I hope you enjoy dancing on Jack Kirby’s grave and making the soul-less corporations rich.” I was not very happy with her, but she wasn’t wrong.

I am not proud that I did not side with Kirby. My voice wouldn’t have put a dent in Marvel’s armor, but that’s hardly the point. The guy helped to create the characters that littered the landscape of my childhood dreams, and I see my lack of support towards his heirs’ cause as a genuine failure.

It is stupidly melodramatic, but when I try to come up with an analogy justifying my love for the film, the money I spent to see it in the theater, the money I will spend again on the DVDs, and the fact that I am helping promote it; I think of Rusty Sabich cleaning the blood and hair off the hammer his wife used to kill his lover in Presumed Innocent. I almost can’t help it. I can, but I almost can’t. I fell in love with it, so I’m willing to do wrong to have it.

And on that lovely, fairy tale note, let’s move on to happier thoughts.

THE TOP 10 BEST THINGS ABOUT THE AVENGERS

10. SHAWARMA

Most either loved, hated, or were just confused by the second post-credits ending of Avengers. I definitely find myself in the Love camp.

It was the kind clever play on audience expectation that only Whedon could’ve come up with. And besides, it felt genuine. We’ve all had those days when we’ve been pushed to our physical limits and when we finally sat down to eat something it was so satisfying that rather than spoil the moment with discussion we enjoyed utter silence. And wouldn’t fighting off an alien invasion fit the criteria for one of those days?

9.  HULK AND IRON MAN

I was hoping for a tussle between Hulk and Iron Man in Avengers. Instead, I was surprised to enjoy some great chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. It makes sense. Bruce Banner represents a very there-but-for-the-grace-of-God character to Tony Stark. Stark is what Banner could’ve been if his own super-ness hadn’t brought him down a much darker path.

If you think about it, after that initial “enormous green rage monster” comment Stark makes to Banner on the helicarrier bridge, Stark treats Banner with more respect and deference than just about anyone we’ve seen him interact with in all three of the movies in which he’s appeared. At best he’s usually an arrogant but likeable jerk, but he treats Banner as a genuine colleague and even tones down the sarcasm when they’re alone in the lab (save for the brief shock treatment).

8. CAPTAIN AMERICA

I was concerned Chris Evans would get crowded out of Avengers by the more proven talents of guys like Downey and Ruffalo. That would be a huge shame considering that almost none of these characters are as integral to the overall history and identity of the team as Captain America. You could throw just about any other superheroes into the team and no matter how mismatched or obscure they were, as long as Cap was leading the charge I’d nod my head and say, “Yep, that’s the Avengers.”

Evans didn’t let himself get sidelined. He delivered a solid performance. He still isn’t exactly like the Cap I know, but I think that’s because he’s a more human improvement.

7. LOKI

Tom Hiddleston deserves every greasy drop of geek love he’s received. Ten years ago if you’d asked me to write a list of supervillains I thought would be amazing in a film adaptation, Loki wouldn’t have been within 100 miles of it. The Loki of the comics was an uninteresting, one-dimensional cackling little weasel who always reminded me of the Grinch. Tom Hiddleston rendered Loki sexy, devious, manipulative, and one of the most sympathetic supervillains out there.

6. THE FACT THAT THIS WASN’T X-MEN

Before Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch built the foundation that made the Avengers movie-ready with Ultimates, and before Brian Michael Bendis frustrated Avengers purists by bringing top-selling lone wolves like Spider-Man and Wolverine into the fold, the notion that an Avengers movie would be one of the biggest superhero movie success stories was pretty damn laughable. Before comics like Ultimates and New Avengers, most of Marvel’s successes were not unlike pirate treasure: X always marked the spot.

With the resounding success of Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men movies, I was convinced that superheroes of a more traditional sort – like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor – would find little love outside the funnybooks. They just weren’t as edgy or hiply relatable as Professor X’s students.

The Avengers not only proved me wrong, it gave me hope that characters like Superman and some of the more dated members of the Justice League, under the right direction, could find contemporary success on the screen. That hope has definitely not been realized yet, but give it time.

5. CHEMISTRY

My biggest fear for The Avengers was that – just as Singer’s first two X-Men flicks were essentially Wolverine and His Amazing Friends – Downey would steal the show. The Iron Man film franchise is more successful than the others, Downey is a much more well-known and proven actor, and some of the advertising suggested he would be the focus.

Thankfully, Whedon was smarter than that.  I felt like The Avengers didn’t really have a main character regardless of who got top billing. While as I mentioned earlier I do think Thor didn’t exactly shine as much as he could’ve, for the most part Whedon did an excellent job giving everyone equal time center stage. In spite of all the conflicts between the characters, no one ever seemed to come out as being more “right” than the others, and the chemistry was surprisingly enjoyable.

4. THERE WASN’T A BORING SECOND

As I wrote in the beginning of the column, I saw The Avengers in the theater five times. I can say without fear of correction that I didn’t yawn once. After 5 viewings, I didn’t find a single scene to be anything but completely engaging. If anything, I just got bored with seeing the same trailers over and over.

Whedon was smart enough to not burden the plot with background. He assumed we’d seen all the movies and didn’t need to be reminded why Tony Stark has some glowing thing embedded in his chest or what the tesseract was or where it came from. If he had bothered worrying about that stuff, the exposition would’ve dragged the movie down a dark, lonely crevice.

3. HULK

I cannot hide my bias, but considering what I’ve heard from fans of the movie who aren’t rabid Hulk nuts like me, I don’t think this is a stretch.

The Hulk’s prominence in The Avengers was a huge and very welcome surprise. It would’ve been tough to blame Whedon if he had chosen to either downplay the character’s involvement or not include him at all. Neither Incredible Hulk nor its predecessor broke records with ticket sales, and to render an impressive CGI character in a film already heavy with special effects and expensive talent couldn’t have been easy. Not to mention that out of all the superheroes in the film – including the ones without their own film franchises like Hawkeye and Black Widow – Hulk is the one least associated with the Avengers.

Ruffalo was a great choice for the role. I will say, however, that while I’ve heard a lot of noise about how much better Ruffalo was than Ed Norton, that I think if Norton had been directed correctly in Incredible Hulk – and if the film had a better story – he would’ve been considered essential to The Avengers. My suspicion is that there were at least a couple of Avengers scenes written with him in mind. Black Widow’s first meeting with Banner, I think, was probably scripted with the assumption that Norton would be playing Banner. Incredible Hulk’s director, Louis Leterrier, was too short-sighted to utilize the very reason why Norton could have made the perfect Bruce Banner: Norton’s unnerving ability to play a complete wimp one second who transforms into an intimidating bully the next. That’s why I can so easily superimpose Norton over Ruffalo in that moment Banner appears to lose his temper and scares Black Widow into pulling her gun.

For the first time, you could physically see Banner in his CGI-rendered alter-ego. If you watch the behind-the-scenes stuff for Hulk or Incredible Hulk, you’ll hear plenty of talk about how the faces of Eric Bana and Norton respectively were incorporated in the Hulk’s appearance. Then if you watch those movies and squint here and there, you can kinda-sorta-maybe see it a little. This was the first time you didn’t have to try. That’s Ruffalo’s face roaring back at the alien horde. That’s Ruffalo’s face screaming at the attacking jet pilot.

He provides so many classic moments. The “I’m always angry” punch. The sucker punch. And, of course, his “battle” with Loki.

I’ve got to say it’s kind of shocking. I love the Hulk, but I’d like to think I have a sense of humor both about the character and my adoration for him. And it shocks me that three different directors have dealt with the character over the span of a decade now in three different live-action films, and it took the third one to figure out that a big green half-naked guy might have some potential for humor.

2. THIS WAS THE COMIC BOOK MOVIE

In my mental list of the best comic book superhero movies, The Avengers is at least a nose beyond The Dark Knight.

Out of all superhero movies that blasted out of the flood gates when X-Men opened them back in 2000, The Avengers was the first that made me think “I am watching a Marvel comic on the screen.”

In other words, I did not think, “I am watching a film adaptation that takes the iconic characters of comic books and updates them to render them more relatable, more topical, and easier for a more mature audience to enjoy.” I thought, “The Hulk and Thor are batting around aliens while riding on the back of a flying space whale. I am watching a Marvel comic on the screen.”

I’m not saying films like The Dark Knight are bad. They’re freaking genius. I simply appreciate a film like The Avengers differently from how I appreciate The Dark Knight.

Whedon took the magic of Thor’s world, made it work with the more believable science of Iron Man’s world, and pitted them both against the kind of grand, fantastic intergalactic conflict that all of the Marvel film franchises have shied away from until now. He made it all work, just like it works in comics.

As much as any film possibly could be, The Avengers was more than an adaptation. It was a Marvel comic on the screen

1. THE FACT THAT IT HAPPENED

There was no reason this movie had to be made. And there was no reason it had to be good.

The success of the Iron Man franchise didn’t guarantee anything. The second Marvel Studios movie, Incredible Hulk, was not the same resounding success Iron Man was. Even Iron Man 2, while good, didn’t make the same splash as the first.

Consider the summer of 2011. First came Thor which was followed by Captain America: The First Avenger. What do you think would have happened if both had flopped?

There’s no reason why they couldn’t have failed. Neither Chris Hemsworth nor Chris Evans were household names. Thor not only had to introduce its main character, but a whole cast of magical characters living in a fantasy world where science and magic were the same thing. It had to make us believe that Asgard existed alongside a more real world. Its director, Kenneth Branagh, did not exactly make his name directing big action flicks. Captain America: The First Avenger was a period action piece that didn’t even bring the main character into the present day until the last few minutes of the film. Its character suffers one of the corniest looking superhero get-ups out there. Neither of these films had to work. And if both had flopped, what would it have meant for The Avengers?

At any point, this whole thing could have come crumbling down around its various architects’ ears. At best, Marvel Studios would have been left with some individually successful franchises, but probably would never attempt such an ambitious move again.

But it did happen and no matter what else you want to say about Marvel or Disney, you have to admit building a Marvel Universe on the screen took guts, commitment, and ingenuity.

Whedon got more than a half-dozen leading actors to work together on a movie whose plot was dictated by four disparate film franchises.

And Axl Rose can’t get Slash into a studio.

The Avengers was more than just a great action flick. It was the result of five years, four film franchises, and five films; not to mention the decades of comics that laid the first foundation. That probably has a lot to do with my creepy, gushing love for the flick. I never expected Marvel to pull this off, but that they did it feels like a childhood promise I never knew was made has finally been kept. If every other Marvel Studios flick that follows fails miserably, if Avengers 2 crashes and burns; I will still be grateful that I got to see The Avengers.

The DVDs are scheduled to come in the mail today. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while




  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    I expect I’ll be watching it sometime this week, but I cannot help but feel a little antagonistic toward it from the outset. First, if it works as well as so many have said it won’t be a problem that, at its core, The Avengers represents a shrewd but also cynical franchise farm from which any stray Marvel character could slip into and be spat out the other side in its own movie series.

    Second, that Jack Kirby thing. I will feel badly as I watch it, but I will watch it. Justifying that the horse has already escaped the open barn door will get me there only so far. I said the same thing about Bill Mantlo and JJ Abrahms’ plans to adapt Micronauts (only Mantlo is still alive and could really use the money). There is something morally wonky about how these characters have lapsed into the mega-corporation structure and the creators have been omitted because of their work-for-hire status at time of creation.That wasn’t their chosen way. That was just the way it was then, and who knew those creations would be more profitable when they weren’t just temporary entertainments/wartime propaganda?

    Third, a formula is now well-established for Marvel features and when it comes to movies I’d rather be surprised than have my wish list checked off. I am one of a select few that appreciated Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist because it didn’t shy away from a jaw-droppingly tortured ending. With these Marvel movies, I’m expecting resolutions, mostly clean ones, and I’m expecting the mid-credits/post-credits teaser scene (a’la James Bond will return in “Mo’ Money!”) and I get them without surprise. What I liked about Nolan’s approach with Batman was that messiness that things do not cleanly resolve. They stay fractured and the true resolution is not changing it but living with the breaks.

    So we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll enjoy Avengers, but I’m not likely to appreciate the attendant magic realism.

  • http://twitter.com/childlike1 Michael Rachap

    Mick, I loved this write-up as much as I loved the movie, which I saw twice (once in a drive-in). And I don’t think I’ve ever even read a Marvel comic. This is just a fantastically entertaining film.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabriella.santanna.7 Gabriella Santanna

    Amazingly written. The most epic superheroe(s) movie of all times.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pearceduncan Pearce Duncan

    Re: Hulk losing control on the helicarrier but not at the end: this seems really simple. Loki was manipulating ALL of the Avengers on the helicarrier to make them antagonistic towards each other, and Banner changed into the Hulk unexpectedly; whereas at the end, Banner voluntarily and calmly changes into the Hulk.

    It’s the difference between losing your temper because people keep needling you while you have a splitting headache, and choosing to act aggressively because the situation merits it. In one situation you’re out of control, in the other you aren’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.aguilar2 Ben Aguilar

    In addition to this comment, you may also recall Banner (Edward Norton) at the end of The Incredible Hulk suggesting that he may not be able to control the Hulk, but instead “aim” it. Reiterating what Mr. Duncan already stated, Loki was successful at turning The Avengers against one another, for the brief moment he needed, before the explosion caught them all off guard and set Banner’s “aim” towards The Avengers. The only question I have in regard to this is, how did Loki know so much about Bruce Banner/The Hulk in order to even plot this scheme?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=746875316 Jon ‘Jonny’ Preece

    the 2 plot holes that got me were hulks “im always angry” and the fail-safe trigger being built in. neither made sense :( didnt like black widow or hawkeye at all and felt there WERE boring scenes (only 2 though!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=746875316 Jon ‘Jonny’ Preece

    i got the feeling something had changed between him going mad on the helicarrier and returning to the group, like he’d realised something…

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    Thanks Michael!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    I agree. And I would add that at the very end of Incredible Hulk, it was implied that Banner had actually achieved the kind of control he shows in the final battle of Avengers.
    BUT, I think this was complicated by a couple of things. First, in part because of the change in actor, I wasn’t really sure if they were keeping everything from Incredible Hulk. There was no mention of Betty Ross or her father, no mention of the Abomination or the fact that it was Cap’s super soldier formula that helped create him (and in fact, if Whedon wanted to, he could’ve worked Abomination into the movie since, other than Loki, he’s the only Big Bad out of all the related films to survive). Second, I think it wasn’t crystal clear exactly what Loki’s scepter was doing, in part because as soon as the worst of it hits, the film goes straight into the big helicarrier action sequence and there’s no time to look back and say “Oh yeah, that was Loki messing with our heads.” In fact, if you think about it, at no point after that little heated debate right before the big explosion does ANYONE in the movie ever mention whether or not they’ve realized Loki was messing with their heads.
    So yeah, Ben and Pearce I think you’re both right, but that wasn’t made crystal clear in the flick.
    Ben, as far as your question about Loki, I think Loki and Thor both showed more knowledge about the Avengers than you might expect. Remember, Loki recognized Captain America as soon as he showed up. And I got the sense when Thor says to Iron Man something along the lines of, “This is beyond you, metal man,” that Thor knew who he was long before the fight (otherwise how would he know what is and isn’t “beyond” Iron Man, though I guess it could just be hubris). My assumption was that we’re just supposed to accept that because Thor and Loki are Asgardian, they have ways to learn this stuff.
    I think there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t explained to us, and that goes along with my complaint about the Iron Man/Cap conflict; i.e. it isn’t that their initial dislike of each other doesn’t make sense, it’s that they seem to hate each other BEFORE they even meet and we never really learn why.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    Thanks very much Gabriella!

  • CaptainMagnum

    I just appreciate that you refered to the giant flying creatures as a “flying space whale” and not a “flying space worm” like other more hateful people have refered to it as. Its clearly more majestic (and threatening) than a worm.

  • willy2fly

    U shouldnt beat urself up with choosing to watch The Avengers when u feel so strongly about the Marvel / Jack Kirby issue. Im sure all Jack would really want for you is to enjoy and love the characters as he so obviously did. Dont let ur politics get in the way of your enjoyment of media you adore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.hauser.18 Jimmy Hauser

    Wow, what a great article!

  • pipes_46

    I couldn’t agree more with 2. This was THE Comic Book Movie

  • Alex

    Reason Why Cap Hates Iron Man: When he was flying to the Helicarrier, Coulson showed him these videos of the other member’s skills or something of the sorts. He even tells Tony that all he does is fight for himself. Cap doesn’t like arrogance and selfishness (the defining qualities of Iron Man).
    Reason Why Iron Man Hates Cap: Tony is a natural smart ass so he is automatically going to condescend someone (shown in the “Capsicle” comment). He doesn’t like to be called out on his bullshit so when Cap tells him he’s selfish, he will automatically get angry.

  • Alex

    I thought he had built the fail safe into the machine that held the Tesseract, not the staff. The Staff was actually given to him by Thanos anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smileyofchaos Cody Taylor

    Of the numerous mistakes in the film, the one thing that got me the most was Thor was portrayed. He would not hit Iron Man from behind, and would not have tried to hit the Captain with Mjolnir as it would easily kill him without his shield. Also, he shouldn’t have had as much trouble as he did fighting Iron Man. The opening throw should have at least severely damaged the suit and made it inoperable, more realistically it should have killed Tony. Mjolnir packs far more of a punch than the Iron Man suit can take.

    But the worst thing was how weak he was compared to the Hulk. Yes he got off 2 hits in the ship, but for the most part Hulk walked all over him. He also had trouble fighting Loki when Hulk used Loki as a ragdoll, though I can attribute that to him not really wanting to hurt Loki and not using his full strength.

  • Sjaxem

    What do you mean when you say they didn’t mention trying to replicate the Cap serum? Do you mean in the movie or do you mean addressing it as an issue? Because it’s mentioned by Cap in the Quinjet on the way to the flying fort. He’s even holding a laptop that shows Banner going postal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    Sorry, I should have specified. I didn’t mean they didn’t mention the military (and Banner) trying to replicate Cap’s serum; they didn’t mention that, along with Hulk, it helped to create The Abomination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    Well I agree with a lot of what you said. Though, to be fair, Iron Man and Thor have tussled before and Iron Man can hold his own. I agree, in the comics Iron Man wouldn’t have done quite so well, though I don’t think one hit from Mjolnir would kill Tony.

    I actually feel the opposite as far as which is worse: the strength difference or his relative lack of honor. The way he fought dishonorably isn’t just a this-is-different-in-the-comics complaint: it speaks right to his character and everything that makes Thor who he is. As far as his the difference in strength, yeah I can see how people might get irked (which is why I mentioned it in the article), but there are two things to think about there. First, if you make Thor’s strength on par with Hulk’s – as it is in the comics – well, then why the hell would the Avengers bother having the Hulk around? Thor already has what he as, plus a bunch of other powers, and he isn’t an occasionally-rampaging wild card. Second, I actually like how his lack of strength (compared to comic book Thor) makes him appear a lot more heroic. When he tackles Hulk to get him away from Black Widow, then starts to get back up on his feet and finally gets a good look at Hulk, you can see in his face that he may have bitten off more than he can chew. It doesn’t stop him from taking him head on, though, and even savoring the challenge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shinsplitter Brandon Smith

    I’m with you on The Mist. One of the few movies that truly pains me to watch, not because it’s poorly done/badly acted(looking at you, SyFy movies) but the characters are all too human. The end just crushes you ilike a ton of bricks. The unknown vs. what you can see, the fact that our fears and beliefs can either build us up or destroy us, and that the unknown can drive us to terrible things.

  • http://www.culturewarreporters.com/ CultureWarReporterEvan

    Your “is the bar too high” point was pretty weak. Just because the sequel will struggle compared to this film isn’t a point against it. The success of The Avengers 2 shouldn’t be taken into account at all when looking at this film. It’s less than a weak point, it’s just bad.

    Apart from that, though, I agreed with everything else on both lists. A really-well written group of pros and cons.

  • Anonymous

    OP is a faggot.

  • btem

    Iron man doesn’t play well with others & very ego driven, he fought majority of the avengers so its easy to see where the conflict ia coming from. As for hulk, the only person Bruce really got along with wass Tony & he did loose it in the hellicarier whilst with black widow. As for Thor, I’m gonna have to disagree, if anyone got the short end of the stick in this movie its cap & I’m sure iron man took the first blow on Thor (whilst he was speaking to loki) & I didn’t think he neglected the rest, he was obviously dealing with Loki because loki was the source of the problem. I think more characters will be brought in like black panther, wasp, ggiant man & ms marvel. I agree with u about Hawkeye, brainwashing him was the only way of getting a story out of him! I love the purple suit!

    I should think or hope thor’s return be explained in Thor 2 since it was made clear in Thor 1 that there are other ways to earth! I really can’t wait for the sequels.

    I saw the avengers 4 times & probably 20times more since i worked at a cinema. The first time I. Watched it, I hadn’t seen any of the prequels & the movie still made sense & I loved it! That was when I became a comic freak haha so I do agree that not much background was covered yet i was still able to enjoy the movie though I wasn’t familiar with the characters

  • btemi

    Yeah I agree! Loki’s staff was emitting gamma rays to the point that Bruce picked it up…do you think that’s a trigger?

  • btemi

    Can u remember Dr salvige telling Loki that the teseract tells you everything? Maybe that’s how Loki knew? I know that seems vague

  • btemi

    I don’t think Thor was in any way dishonoured. Iron man did hit the first blow & attacked, Thor had to defend himself somehow & when cap came, iron man had that ‘don’t get involved in my business’ tone so they all ended up fighting one another. Also speaking from sci-fi perspective, we would assume iron man’s armor is integrated, saying it would actually kill tony seems to realistic & less sci-fi & he did dodge for most of the attack, when he took an actual hit, that empowered the armour even more. I really didn’t like how it sent Thor flying though. Between cap & Thor, I see it more as testing the strength of a warrior, I don’t think Thor would hurt cap, he obviously had his anamantium shield but I guess we can all see it differently

    Another point about having both Thor & hulk is that in this movie, initially Thor never received an invitation to be an avenger, he came for Loki & the team needed another asgardian minded person hence he stayed. Adding to that, hulk wasn’t invited to join the avengers initiative, they wanted Bruce, to track gamma rays. It just so happened that they needed hulk aswell

  • http://www.facebook.com/alicia.hornsby.9 Alicia Hornsby

    This is a fantastic article but I have a slight issue with your so-called “most glaring oh-come-on moment” about Dr. Selvig. I don’t understand why (if you did in fact see the film as many times as you say) you ask how he subconsciously built a safety while brainwashed when he was incapable of purposely turning off the Tesseract in the beginning of the film? Especially since some of the first lines in that opening scene are of Fury and Dr. Selvig discussing exactly that.
    Fury: I assume you pulled the plug.
    Dr. Selvig: She’s an energy source. We turn off the power, she turns it back on.
    I’ve only seen the movie twice(May/September) and still remembered.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    Sorry, maybe I’m a little thick, but I don’t understand how that piece of dialogue works AGAINST what I wrote. Selvig says “We turn off the power, she turns it back on.” Which seems to suggest he doesn’t know how to turn it off and keep it off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michileen.martin Michileen Martin

    “I don’t think Thor was in any way dishonoured. Iron man did hit the first blow & attacked, Thor had to defend himself somehow”

    When Thor hits Iron Man, he isn’t defending himself. Tony tells him to stay out of the way and is clearly turning to leave. And just as clearly, just before he throws the hammer, Thor is trying to be sneaky about what he’s about to do.

    The Thor of the comics would’ve spun the hammer over his head for a minute, screamed 3 or 4 different battle cries, mentioned at least 4 different people and places he was fighting for, and overall would’ve made damn sure Iron Man knew what was about to happen before he even thought of letting Mjolnir loose.

    As for the thing with Hulk, IMO you need to read between the lines a little bit more. While Fury and the rest SAY they’re only interested in Banner for his abilities to track down the cube, I think it’s pretty clear it’s the big green guy they wanted.

  • RGG

    Couple of comments….first Stark and Cap. Stark makes a comment to Banner about Cap when Cap leaves to go do some recon on Phase Two. His comment was about his father Howard Stark went on and on about Cap when Tony was a kid. Stark has issues with his dad’s attention and affections. Clearly his fathers adulation of Captain America hit a nerve and it shows in the way he interacts with Cap. Starks ego is, in part I believe, a result of trying to prove himself to his dad. His comment to Cap that the only thing special about him came out of a bottle emphasizes his belief of who is the greater intellect and success. He respects Banner, who’s powers are losely linked to Caps creation but Banner has the intelligence that Stark respects. So, I think the script had enough moments to let us connect the dots on this rivalry. The biggest flaw in the film which I saw was not mentioned in the article. After Iron Man sends the nuke into the mother ship Cap orders Black Widow to close up the door pretty fast when they really could have waited longer. At that point there was no urgency. Bothered me for a micro second but hey did it really matter in the whole scheme of things? Nope. Last comment is on the best Hulk to date. What bothers Banner but he supresses the Hulk remembers at the base level. Thor’s arrogance about humans being “small” sets the stage for the Hulk’s show stealing “puny God” line. Even after they fight side by side the Hulk just has to deliver the parting shot to an unsuspecting Thor that sends him flying. I for one loved the rivalries of imperfect heroes. It is one of the elements that made this film great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.curtis Doug Curtis

    I have to agree with your plot points. Can I add that not only did Black Widow NOT have fun gadgets to play with, what about Hawkeye? He needed a wider variety of arrows, i.e. arrows with nets, bola arrows, boomerang arrows, etc. Also, didn’t his quarrel seem a bit “small” for all the shots he was making? I’m such a fan of Cap, I’m glad he got the respect he did, but I wanted more, I wanted him to succeed more! From the Cap I know in the comics, I thought he was faster, but he can always grow and shine in the next movie, but don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for his portrayal, and love this movie. Hulk was so spot on. I disagree about Norton as Banner. Norton is so humorless as an actor, and it comes across. A lot of what Ruffalo brings to the character is himself, and he’s so natural and likeable. I’d rather be buds with Ruffalo than Norton.

  • Barack Samson

    I saw Thor’s “lack of strength” as him seeing the necessity to hold back on the helicarrier. If he went all out and there were two hulk level fighters going at it then there would be nothing left but falling bits of debris.

  • http://twitter.com/chandlerwindham chandler windham

    Great article, very well written. I truly appreciated it. If anyone’s interested, I have three Avengers related blogs I wrote here at, http://www.thepeoplesmic.blogspot.com – Check me out and let me know what you think.

  • Mike

    Then you missed the part where he said the tesseract gave him the knowledge to complete (after he gets turned by Loki) everything he was trying to accomplish in the first place. So if he had some marginal influence over his actions while granted this knowledge I think that covers it.

  • KniteStudios

    Umm the issue I have without like too much of a comic book nerd…If you know your Avengers. Hulk/Banner makes perfect sense considering he’s founding member. Way back Banner/Hulk came and left. Now Cap on the other hand if you want to be technical shouldn’t be there along with Widow and Hawkeye. First members of the Avengers Ironman, Antman, Wasp, Hulk and Thor. I’m just saying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003727028435 Joshon Cobb

    I just wanted to add my opinion on the Hulk. One thing I didn’t like about the Hulk was that his Movements, looks, and other actions seemed really “Monkey-Like” to me, it didn’t feel like I was watching the Hulk, but more like a Giant Green Ape in his place, and also he was too much of a “Team Player” for me. The Hulk has never been that much of a Team Player, sure there were times when he’d help out, but it never seemed like he helped them because they were The Avengers, but more like because they Annoyed him less than the Opposing force.

    Another thing was Mark Ruffalo, I agree with you entirely when you say that If the “Incredible Hulk” movie was directed correctly that Ed Norton could have been very essential to ‘The Avengers’ because of his ability to portray Bruce Banner as a wimp one second, and then a Giant Green Monster the next. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Ruffalo did a Great Job, but I just prefer Ed Norton’s version of Bruce Banner more,

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003727028435 Joshon Cobb

    4 months later Lol.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.micallef.52 Mike Micallef

    Im a littlle late to the party here, but those “plot holes” wern’t plot holes.
    -The Dark Energy perfectly explained Thors arrival, and will likely be covered in the Thor movie.

    -He is told that Jane Foster has been moved to a safe place, far far from there and Thor going there wouldnt really work since he is kinda trying to save her planet.

    -side note: Thor cant “fly” in the films. He throws his hammer in a direction. Its more the Hammer that leads him then any actual flying. So if he tried to do something like save the quinjet, he may very well have just destroyed it.

    -The interrogation scene was wicked and made perfect sense. She accused him of being a “monster”. Her whole idea there was to appear as a failed last attempt. She wanted him to see her as weak and undermine her so he would drop his guard. Thats what happens. Whens he calls him a monster he reveals that he is not the monster, or the muscle in his plan. They brought the monster. As in they brought their own demise.
    They know Loki’s MO from talking to Thor, they know his abilities. They realize he is manipulating them and that his goal is to have the hulk flip out on the carrier. Which brings me to my next point:

    -Banners “im always angry” scene where he has control over the hulk was not a sudden revelation. He had been working toward that for years. That doesnt mean its perfect, the mind set he is in when he transforms makes a big difference. Loki was manipulating him, why would that end when he turns into the Hulk? When banner transforms on the helicarrier its in a manipulated mind set, hell the whole room was ready to kill eachother, this guy just has a worse anger problem. Thus, manipulated Hulk and then later the controlled Hulk.

    -Black widow uses her spider bite wrist guards and didnt do any sneaky business in the movie really. She didnt need batman gadgets.

    -Hulk is an Avenger. Hes listed as a core member, and a founding member. And even if he isnt the most reliable of the Avengers, if you want to turn to the comics this is more heavily based on (The Ultimates) Hulk is very central member to the team. He is also much more of an animal in Ultimates than here, and Captain America can control him just fine.

    As for Selvig, yeah that was kind of a cop out, but selvig being who he is would naturally build in an off switch. One that only his master could control. I mean, why wouldnt he?

    Anyway, that should answer some of your questions.
    And yes, the bar is very high now.. lets hope Iron Man 3 can take us in the right direction. They have said that the idea going forward is not to try to up the anti, but to go in a different direction and make it awesome that way. Which is good thinking.

  • macklemore

    You take this too seriously…

  • http://twitter.com/RRekon Nicholas Williams

    Seriously? You say the Hulk is one of the worst things about the film then you say he’s the best? Wha….I……nevermind.