THE AVENGERS: I Put a Bullet in My Mouth and the Other Guy Spit it Out


The Avengers (2012) – The 6th Marvel Cinematic Universe Film – Directed by Joss Whedon – Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Alexis Denisof, Stan Lee, Powers Boothe, Lou Ferrigno, and Harry Dean Stanton.

I’m gonna go ahead and guess that there will be a few new people stopping by the site to read about THE AVENGERS, so let me offer a warm hello to all of you new folks. It’s great to have you stop by, and I hope you’ll enjoy your time and maybe even join in the conversation in the comments section. Let me take a moment here in our initial meeting to make something perfectly clear: SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them. This isn’t Facebook or Twitter or the grocery store or any kind of public forum where I have to keep my mouth shut. There are hundreds of newspaper critics that will talk about the movie without divulging any of the details and that’s cool of them, but this ain’t a newspaper. This is my establishment, and my establishment is for people who want to talk about everything that happens in a movie. If you don’t want to talk about everything because you want to see it all fresh, I totally understand you not wanting to read past these italics. If you take this option, I hope you come back and chat after you’ve seen the movie.

Now, I’m spending a bunch of time telling you this right off the bat so I don’t accidentally SPOIL something for you, because it’s not my intent to do that. Someone spoiled one of the big “WOW!” moments in AVENGERS for me, so I know how unpleasantly that sucks. Anyway, if you just want to know if AVENGERS is a movie you should go see, I have four sweet little words for you: BEST. SUPERHERO. MOVIE. EVER.

In case you were confused, that means, “Yes.”

If you really want to read about AVENGERS without having anything spoiled, check out my reviews of the earlier AVENGERS-related films: Hulk, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Right, then. You keep reading, you’re gonna read SPOILERS. Understood? Good. Let’s do this.

Join the conversation on Twitter.

Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS is the culmination of five previous Avengers-related movies, but it is also a spectacular beast unto itself. It is, quite simply, the greatest superhero movie ever made, a massive, engaging, moving, funny, smart, blockbuster. It is fitting that AVENGERS hit theaters on May 4th, recognized in sci-fi fandom as Star Wars Day, because AVENGERS is potentially to 2012 what Star Wars was to 1977, the new standard in summer entertainment, and the new golden goose every other studio in town will try to replicate.

What AVENGERS, the franchise, represents is something monumental and seismic in cinematic terms but feels completely natural to the comic book world. What Marvel Studios has done is to give to the world what they’ve always given to comic book readers – a shared universe. When one takes a step back and thinks about what’s actually got everyone so excited about AVENGERS – all of these heroes coming together to appear in one movie – happens every single month in the comics. Yet so unusual is it for this to happen in the movies that AVENGERS comes off as some kind of Zeusian thunderbolt, sent down from the heavens to shake the ground beneath our feet and reveal the New God for the sheep to follow.

Make no mistake, it will be insanely fascinating to watch how other studios react to what Marvel Studios has built and brought to fruition with AVENGERS. During the fallout from the John Carter fiasco, it was revealed that Disney was really only interested in financing franchise movies. Whether that thinking was a result of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it inherited when it bought Marvel Comics or not I have no idea, but clearly Disney and Marvel Studios are now wholly committed to the Franchise Model of film making.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with this concept. I’m not one of these people that freaks out when the box office is dominated by sequels and remakes; if the people want it, the studios are going to make it, and if that many people want to see it, how is this a bad thing?

Well, the movies could suck, I suppose, which will make the AVENGERS ripple effect so interesting to watch (especially when it comes to the post-Nolan Batman), because THE AVENGERS definitely does not suck.

(And, seriously, if you catch a spoiler at this point, don’t come whining to me.)

Whedon keeps the story deliciously simply in AVENGERS, realizing that the power of seeing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo/Lou Ferrigno), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) together on the big screen doesn’t need a complicated story. It just needs a big enough story to get them in the same room. From there, their personalities will take over.

I had been expecting the Avengers to be in the movie, of course, along with the SHIELD contingent of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and new addition Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), but I hadn’t expected to see secondary characters appearing, too. As silly as it might sound that seeing Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) show up is a big deal, their inclusion helps drive home the larger narrative.

As I mentioned, the story here is exceeding simple. Selvig is working on the Tesseract inside a SHIELD facility, bringing together the worlds of the CAPTAIN AMERICA and THOR movies. The cube begins to act wonky, some really impressive blue energy starts to waft out, and after a big boom, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is standing there. He wants the Tesseract, of course, and takes over the brains of Hawkeye, Selvig, and enough other SHIELD agents to make his escape. Before the escape has been made, the SHIELD facility has collapsed, the Tesseract is gone, and Fury enacts the previously decommissioned Avengers Initiative.

I love how Whedon doesn’t waste time getting to the action as it signals that he’s not here to screw around. The opening sequence is important to set up a big enough threat to need to assemble the Avengers, and provides a decent amount of thrills as we wait for, you know, the Avengers to assemble. He also gives us the previous Big Bad as working for a powerful alien race called the Chitauri, which are apparently some kind of Skrulls from the Ultimate universe. (If any part of that sentence from Chitauri onward confused you, don’t worry about it. They’re space aliens in cool armor. That’s all you need to know and that’s all the movie tells you about them.) This opening sequence effortlessly brings everyone up to date with the narrative, establishes the bad guys, gives us a nice twist with Selvig and Hawkeye going to work for Loki, and gives us a reason to get the band together for the first time.

Most importantly, the opening sequence also sets the tone for the rest of the film as being an interplay between big action scenes and powerful personalities being put into conflict with one another.

The tone and narrative conflict thus firmly established, the call goes out to bring the Avengers in. There’s a shadowy Council that gives Fury orders; they don’t have a huge role to play in the film, but they do add another minor protagonist, and it gives the film an excuse to have Powers Boothe’s voice show up, and there are few voices in the world cooler than the one belonging to Powers Boothe.

The recruitment of the Avengers is handled by Fury, Coulson, and the Black Widow. Coulson has to call the Widow in from the assignment she’s on, and as we drop into her current goings on, she’s tied up in a Russian warehouse, being interrogated by a Russian general and his two goons. It’s one of the film’s signature moments, blending solid story, humor, and action. One of the goons’ phones goes off mid-interrogation and he answers it. On the other end is Coulson, who orders the goon to put Widow on the line. The general doesn’t want to give her the phone but Coulson calmly informs him that he’s got all sorts of fun weapons pointed at him. The general relents and Tasha gets to take the call. Coulson wants her to come in, but she doesn’t want to be pulled out of the field. “This idiot is telling me everything,” she insists, but when Coulson tells her that Barton has been compromised, she flips a switch and fights her way out.

“Get the big guy,” Coulson tells her.

“Stark?”

“No. The Big Guy.”

Tasha is off to India, where Bruce Banner is helping the locals with medicine. A little girls comes crying to him for help with her dad and he follows her to the edge of the city, where he finds the Widow instead of a sick dad. She tells him Fury wants him to come in and Banner is reluctant, of course, thinking that Fury doesn’t want him, but “the Other Guy.” That’s how Banner refers to the Hulk throughout the film: the Other Guy. Even when Tasha assures him that they only want the scientist, Banner is reluctant and bursts out in anger at her, slamming his fists on the table and screaming at her. Tasha instantly goes for the gun she’s strapped under the table, and Banner relaxes, telling her he just wanted to see what she would do. What’s impressive is that as cool as Tasha was in the previous scene, the idea of Banner going Hulk terrifies her. Ultimately, Banner agrees to come in.

Fury drops in on Captain America, and it’s an elongated version of the scene at the end of Cap’s solo film where he’s boxing and Fury comes in with a mission, and it’s an okay scene, but the real winner here is Coulson dropping in on Tony Stark at the new Stark Tower in New York. Stark doesn’t want to talk to Coulson and orders Jarvis (Paul Bettany) to give him the run around. He’d rather be all flirty and romantic with Pepper, and Downey and Paltrow have a really nice, relaxed chemistry here. I didn’t know Paltrow was going to be in this movie, but her smiling ability to gently take the p*ss out of Stark is a nicer version of the personality conflicts to follow.

Early on in the production of the film, there were reports (which maybe were true and maybe were not) that Downey wanted AVENGERS to be centered more on him rather than a more equatable time share. If Downey was ever worried about his screen time, he really didn’t need to be, because he’s the only full-fledged A-list movie star in the world who also steals every single scene he’s in. Think about it. Damon, Clooney, Cruise, Pitt, Depp are all wonderful movie stars and fine actors, but they don’t steal scenes. Movie stars don’t have to steal scenes because they’re the center of the film. They’re the ones who get scenes stolen from, not the other way around. Yet Downey has that rarest ability to be both the center of the film and have the ability to make it seem like he’s stealing the attention from other actors.

When Coulson shows up in Stark’s private elevator, the way Downey plays the scene makes it feel like he’s stealing attention away from Paltrow and Gregg. It’s really brilliant acting and writing. First, even though Stark is clearly committed to Pepper at this point, they still have a fun, playfully bickering relationship. Then when Coulson shows up, Stark is clearly disinterested in what he has to say, but what comes across more is how insecure he is at Pepper spreading her affection around. When Coulson arrives, Stark deadpans, “Security breach,” but Pepper greets the SHIELD agent with a big smile and a “Hello, Phil.”

“Phil?” Stark asks, dumbfounded. “His first name is Agent.”

With part of the team assembled, Cap, Iron Man, and Widow go after Loki in Stuttgart and there’s some decent fighting, but again, the real thrill here is the personality conflicts that emerge. Stark and Cap are on each other’s case constantly, and it’s not really all that friendly, which again, speaks to just how good Downey is here. He has a combative verbal relationship with nearly everyone in the film, but he can be playful with Pepper, annoyed with Coulson, and antagonistic with Cap in quick succession.

Loki forces everyone to their knees and prattles on about how humans are sheep and freedom is a lie, and that humans want to be told want to do. He forces everyone in the crowd to their knees and then one old German guy stands up. Loki has some really good monologues here (delivered splendidly by Hiddleston), and this is one of them. “You were made to be ruled,” he says to them. “In the end, you will always kneel.” That’s when the one old dude rises to his feet.

“Not to men like you,” he declares.

“There are no men like me,” Loki sneers.

“There are always men like you,” the old guy says defiantly.

It’s a really great moment in the film, and serves as the AVENGERS equivalent of those scenes in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films where New Yorkers unite to help out the Wallcrawler. To Whedon’s credit, he doesn’t milk this moment. He just lets it be what it is and in the context of everything else going on in the film, this won’t be the scene that people leave the theater talking about, but trust me, you’ll eventually talk about it. For all of Whedon’s verbal pyrotechnics in the film, he knows how to underplay scenes when that’s what they need. This is just an old guy speaking up to a bully, but that small act of rising to his feet and letting Loki know that for all of his power he wasn’t special carries a great weight with it.

Loki goes to incinerate the guy but Cap shows up at the last second to save him. People appearing unseen from screen left (or right) is a trick Whedon goes to multiple times in AVENGERS. After smacking Cap around a bit, he instantly surrenders when Iron Man starts throwing his weight around. They take him prisoner, but on the transport back to SHIELD Thor finally arrives, breaking into the jet to steal Loki away. Iron Man and Cap go after him, which leads to a pretty good superhero throwdown. Heroes fighting before teaming up is a huge staple of comics and it’s great to see it play out on the big screen. It’s also a really good fight. The best part of the action scenes in AVENGERS is that they make you feel the violence. When people get hit, it looks like it hurts a whole hell of a lot. Iron Man and Thor smack each other around the forest without pulling any punches and then when Cap shows up to order them to stop, Thor drops Mjolnir on him, which causes a massive burst of energy that knocks the trees down and brings an end to the fight.

Finally, everyone (minus Hawkeye) is on board the SHIELD Helicarrier and we get to see the personalities begin to clash. It’s a lot of fun watching them get on each other’s nerves, and it’s to the script’s credit (which was written by Whedon and Zak Penn) that everyone’s view point is given equal weight. It doesn’t feel like the film prefers Cap’s point of view to Stark’s, or vice versa. The characters stay in character during all of these verbal spats.

These internal conflicts are important because the film gives so little time to the villains. Loki has plenty of screen time but he carries the entire villainous weight of the film until the big action piece at the end of the film. It’s this middle section of the film that takes place in the Helicarrier where AVENGERS works best. Yes, the action at the end is amazing, but the real joy of the film seeing our heroes interact. Loki sits in a prison designed for the Hulk (it’s a big, round, glass cage), and a few people stop by to yap with him. Fury gets the first verbal crack, but it’s the scene between Loki and Widow that works best. She shows up wanting to know about the mind-controlled Hawkeye, and Loki begins dissecting her Hannibal Lecter-style. Widow is brought to the verge of tears as Loki is at his monologue best, telling her that “you lie and kill in the service of liars and killers,” and that she’ll never overcome the evils she’s committed during her life as a spy. Widow walks away and Loki commits the standard villain’s error of monologuing a bit too much. When he lets out more info than he should, Tasha turns around, her eyes clear of any tears, and we realize that she’s been playing him this entire time. Even Loki is impressed that she’s discovered his real plan at allowing himself to be captured is to let loose the Hulk.

The mind-controlled Hawkeye leads an assault on the Helicarrier, which gives us the big, central action sequence where several huge events happen.

The first is that Banner – moments after a big team argument which ends with him telling everyone that they’re not a team but a time-bomb – finally lets the Hulk out. We get a Hulk vs. Widow battle, and then a Hulk vs. Thor battle. Yup. Thor vs. Hulk. And it’s a darn good fight, too, as they bash each other around the Helicarrier. We get the Hulk trying and failing to pick up Mjolnir, and we get a brutal, crushing blow from Thor as he slams his hammer across the Hulk’s face. As with the Big Three battle in the forest, no one is pulling any punches here.

The fight ends up splintering the team. Thor gets tricked into switching places with Loki inside the cage, which leads to the second huge event: the death of Agent Coulson.

Yeah. It totally sucks and was totally what the movie needed to keep everything grounded. Clark Gregg’s performances as Coulson have become some of the best parts of every movie he’s been in. Coulson looks like middle management but talks with the conviction of the smartest, coolest guy in the room. Not cool in a Joe Cool sense, but cool in an eternally unflappable sense. Challenging Loki as Thor remains trapped in the Hulk’s cage is pure Coulson. He’s staring down a Norse god with a gun he barely knows how to use, and he’s telling Loki that the god will lose because he lacks conviction.

I love Coulson staring Loki down, and I love how Fury steps in to use Coulson’s death as a way to unite the team. Fury goes so far as to plant Coulson’s prized Captain America trading cards on the dead body to give the Avengers the push they need to come together. What I love about Fury’s action is that the team was already uniting in their distrust of the head of SHIELD, and here he doesn’t do anything to disprove that mistrust. He is, as Stark rightly pointed out, a spy who never tells anyone the whole truth.

The Widow beats up Hawkeye, which brings him back to their side of the ledger, and Cap and Iron Man work together to repair an engine.

Now united, the Avengers head to New York for the big final battle. Selvig has opened a portal to space to allow the Chitauri to come to Earth, and there’s all kinds of wonderful fighting scenes here.

Again, though, as good as the action is, the real joy here is the personal battles. Stark heads home to Stark Tower to find Loki waiting there, and they have an almost personable chat about what’s going on. Stark offers Loki a drink, which the god refuses. “Please tell me you’re going to appeal to my humanity,” Loki scoffs.

“Actually, I’m going to threaten you,” Stark casually remarks.

Loki goes on to tell him that, “I have an army,” to which Stark instantly replies, “We have a Hulk.”

Ah, yes, the Hulk. First, Mark Ruffalo is absolutely fantastic as Bruce Banner. Where both Eric Bana and Edward Norton played Banner as something of a victim struggling with his condition, Ruffalo’s Banner has accepted it and moved on. How did he do this?

Because he tried to kill himself and failed.

“I got low,” he admits to the team. “I put a bullet in my mouth and the Other Guy spit it out.”

Banner’s admission is one of the truly great moments in the film. Chilling and effective, Banner lets them know that you can’t get rid of the Hulk by killing Banner because the Hulk won’t allow it. (The line also signifies how every character in the film has some psychological issue he or she needs to overcome.) Later, during the big battle at the end, he lets the team in on his secret to staying Hulk-free. While the traditional Banner line has been, “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry,” and the traditional struggle for Banner has been to not get angry, the Ruffalo Banner has a different tack. “My secret, Cap,” he says to the team before transforming into the Hulk, “is that I’m always angry.”

During the final battle, the Hulk completely steals the show. First, he and Thor team up to take down a Chitauri dragon (or whatever the heck it’s supposed to be) and as they’re standing there shoulder-to-shoulder, breathing hard and taking a moment to gather their thoughts, Hulk snaps out his left arm and knocks Thor out of the way.

The Hulk’s best moment, however, comes inside Stark Tower. After tearing through the Chitauri forces, the Hulk finds himself face to face with the Asgardian. There’s a pause in the action and Loki adamantly insists, “I am a God! I am not going to be bullied by a…”

He never finishes the thought because the Hulk decides he’s had enough of Loki, and he picks the god up and begins slamming him around like a rag doll. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a theater explode in such a wild combination of laughter and applause as when the Hulk began slamming Loki into the floor BAM! BAM! BAM!, eventually leaving him lying there unconscious.

“Puny god,” Hulk growls when he’s finished, to the delight of the crowd around me.

The Avengers win the final battle, of course, and everyone gets their turn at the center of the action. Stark puts aside his Cap-centric put downs and lets the out-of-time soldier deliver the final battle plan. It’s awesome to watch the team work together and awesome to watch them fight with their powers unleashed.

With the film finished, it’s time for the post-credits scene that we always wait for, and AVENGERS has a trick up it’s sleeve. First, it gives us the post-credits scene mid-credits. We drop in on the defeated Chitauri forces and see the Loki’s Chitauri handler, the Other (Alexis Denisof) informing someone even more powerful than the Chitauri about the events on Earth. Who is this mysterious leader?

Thanos.

F*CKING THANOS.

This is the big surprise that I had ruined for me, but still, when the Other talks about how going after the Avengers will be courting death, I got that thrill run up my spine knowing that “courting death” meant Thanos was about to appear on the big screen. Unbelievable. Would I have preferred to see the next villain revealed as Ultron or Kang instead? Yeah, sure, but the sheer shock at it being Thanos made it better.

The second post-credits scene truly comes post-credits and all it consists of is the assembled Avengers, immediately post-Chitauri battle, sitting in a small, neighborhood shawarma restaurant, eating food and looking completely exhausted. They don’t even talk to one another. Cap even looks like he’s sleeping, and the rest of the team is in that post-stuffing-themselves state where it looks like it’s a struggle to take another bite of their food. It’s the perfect ending, and not just because it ties in with Stark’s deadpan line about going out for food after the battle. It’s the perfect Avengers ending because it reminds us just how human these characters are at the end of the day. Even if DC gets its act together and uses the Snyder Superman, post-Nolan Batman, Reynolds Green Lantern, and whatever other superhero film projects it can get off the ground, the Justice League can never have this moment, because at the end of the day, Supes, Bats, Diana, and the rest aren’t humans. They’re gods.

Speaking of gods … there’s a lot more I want to say about AVENGERS, but I’m already 4,000 words deep in the review. There’s so many wonderful one liners (“He’s adopted,” “No hard feelings, Point Break,” “If I put an arrow through his eye, I’d sleep better,” “You have reached the Life Model Decoy of Tony Stark. Please leave a message,” “I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster,” “We have a Hulk,” “that guy’s brain is a bag full of cats,” “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now,” “Hulk … smash,” “This guy’s playing Galaga,” “I think now is the perfect time to get angry,” etc.) and so many small character moments that I want to dig into, but now is not the time. (Because now the time is 5:17 AM and I’m bone tired.) Check back later in the week; I will likely write up a few character-specific reviews of AVENGERS that will allow me to get into the details a bit more deeply and purposefully.

For now, though, 4,200 words will suffice to say what I could have said with seven words: AVENGERS is the best superhero movie ever. Big and fun, loud and hilarious, action-packed and psychologically-driven, AVENGERS is the new gold standard in summer movies. I can’t wait to see it again.

And again.

And again.

Puny Other Movies.

———

Atomic Reactions: Marvel Comics on Film now available.

____________

THE AVENGERS REVIEW INDEX

THE AVENGERS: THE MOVIE REVIEW
THE AVENGERS: THE HAWKEYE REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE AGENT COULSON REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE BLACK WIDOW REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE NICK FURY REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE MARIA HILL REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE CAPTAIN AMERICA REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE CHITAURI/THANOS REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE HULK REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE THOR REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE LOKI REACTION
THE AVENGERS: THE IRON MAN REACTION

THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REVIEW INDEX

1. IRON MAN
2. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
3. IRON MAN 2
4. THOR
5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

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36 thoughts on “THE AVENGERS: I Put a Bullet in My Mouth and the Other Guy Spit it Out

  1. Excellent review and 4,000 is not nearly enough words. I look forward to your character focused reviews.

    Favorite line: “He’s adopted.”

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    • That was one of my favorite lines, too, Def One. The character reviews will let me flesh these things out a bit more. And I need the room because there’s so, so much more to say about this movie.

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  2. Of course Coulson got killed. This is a Joss Whedon film, and Whedon will always – ALWAYS – kill someone that the audience love in a movie. It’s just one of the things he does. He did it in BUFFY (several times), in SERENITY with Wash, and he does it here. When he got stabbed, I was completely unsurprised and fully expected him to die. I’m just glad he got to blast Loki. Joss even has him explain why. “It was never going to work. They needed…”

    Normally, UK audiences don’t utter a lot of noise during a movie apart from the occasional chuckle. But that moment with Hulk and Loki… that got a huge round of laughter and applause. Ruffalo’s Banner/Hulk are almost the best thing about this movie and I really hope we see him do a Hulk movie.

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    • Yeah, when we got the whole “His first name is Agent” bit, and then later Stark offers to fly him to Portland so he can catch up with his missing lady friend, I kinda knew this would be his end.

      Unless he’s a Skrull, of course. :)

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    • And on the applause bit … yep, that totally happened here, too. Spontaneous applause at several points, and especially the end. I’ve never been in a theater where there was such a good vibe from the exiting theatergoers. Everyone was happy.

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  3. Oh, and we never got the second post credit sequence in the UK. I know because I waited till all the credits ran and the lights came up.

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    • Wow, that sucks! It’s a really great scene. No talking, barely any moving, just a group of really exhausted people digesting a load of food. It’s such an Avengers moment.

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      • Hopefully it’ll show up on the Blu-Ray (unless its one of those damn tripleplay things, in which case I will get the DVD).

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      • I’m sure it will, Jason. I don’t know if the “North American exclusive” was some subtle way of giving American fans a bonus for getting the film so late, or a not-so-subtle way to get the rest of the world to either go back to the theater or buy the Blu ray/DVD. I’m gonna guess the latter. :)

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  4. I realize I’ve said this before (on your fb link to this review actually), but this was hands down the most fun I’ve had in a theater… ever. There are plenty of better films, as far as these things go, but wow was this fun.

    For me, Ruffalo stole this film (well, he and his CGI alter-ego) hands down. His depiction of a Banner who had if not embraced, then at least accepted his lot in life fully was great. I love the gallows wit he just drips in every scene he’s in, probably no more so than his return for the final battle, “Well, this all looks pretty terrible.”

    It was a nice touch, as well, to show a little more emotional range in Hulk with the smug grin he had after suckerpunching Thor (wild laughs in the theater we were in), and the sarcastic, dismissive snarl after thrashing Loki (wild laughs, cheers, and a high five from my son at that one).

    From start to finish, everything about this movie worked, and worked well right down to Fury’s only-works-because-this-is-Sam-Jackson line about ignoring a ‘stupid-ass order’. They already had me drooling over the thought of a sequel, and that was before Thanos’s grinning alien mug popped up (wondering if they’re going to work Adam Warlock into the plot…).

    Oh, and can I just say, I was already drooling before the film even started, just from watching the extended trailer for Prometheus…

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    • Well said, Eric. The changes they made to the Hulk were small but incredibly important. I didn’t feel like the Hulk had a personality in either the Lee or Leterrier films – he was simply a beast who was calmed by the presence of Betty Ross. Here, however (and this is something I’ll get into more when I do the Hulk-specific review later this week), he has a personality. For the first time, I get the sense that there’s more going on behind his eyes than an animal trying to process a world he doesn’t understand. This Hulk seems to get the world well enough, and to some extent (like Jim in Huck Finn), he’s playing a role so the others don’t figure out he knows more than he does. I’m not saying this is a Banner-level smart Hulk, but there is a greater awareness of what’s what. If there wasn’t, then Banner wouldn’t have come back, and the Hulk certainly wouldn’t have saved Iron Man at the end.

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  5. I’m with you on that Thanos spoiler, Mark. Words cannot express how completely pissed off I was when some goddamn asshat on a message board decided he’d randomly spoil the Thanos reveal. You had the courtesy to preface your review by saying you were going to spoil the whole movie, but this bastard, just one line in a post, “Thanos appears after the credits.”

    Both my girlfriend and I were so upset by Coulson’s death. We’ve loved him in every single one of the films so far and to see him die like that and then being reminded of his hero worship by the trading cards…man, it was wrenching.

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    • That’s just what happened to me, Perry, so I’ll take a little blame for reading the comments of an article about the movie, but it’s still a no-class move by people looking to play big man and ruin the film for everyone else. There should be some common courtesy about all this – like Jason has done over on the BITD Facebook page – he saw the movie 2 weeks ago or something and hasn’t spoiled anything.

      I’m with you on Coulson. Such a great character and such a powerful link between the movies. It will be interesting to see how that role of go-between in handled in future movies. I’m sure we’ll have some link between the films from SHIELD’s perspective, so I wonder if we’ll see Maria Hill’s role expand, or (and this is what I’d do), if the filmmakers will take the opposite route and instead of the professional-and-positive Coulson, we get the professional-and-negative Henry Peter Gyrich.

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      • Bringing Coulson back as Vision is a rumor I’ve heard from a couple places. It actually makes sense from the standpoint of the overall Avengers series. At least in as much as when you think of classic Avengers villains, the first to come to mind for most people would be Kang and Ultron, and you can’t have Ultron without working Vision in there some place.

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      • That’s why it will be really interesting to see if the reveal of Thanos standing there at the end is setting up the next round of movies, or if it was just an easter egg to fans and a creepy, evil guy to non-fans.

        Personally, if the next round of films is going to be about the Infinity Gauntlet … yeah, that’s going to be pretty sweet, but we don’t need to have the Vision there for that. It’d be nice, though.

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    • If Whedon were to read that about your reaction to Coulson’s death, he would regard it as a job well done. That was the whole point of killing him off after all, to have it be wrenching, and to get the group to take that final step and be a team.

      To be honest, I knew someone was going to die because that’s what Whedon does. Sometimes its easy to figure out because he usually kills the one everyone loves the most but sometimes he’ll throw a curve in there. In retrospect, it should have been obvious Coulson was the one.

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      • Yeah, neophyte, AVENGERS introduces us to both the idea of the LMD (through Stark’s comment, which suggests LMDs are rather advanced), and sort of the Skrulls, through the Chitauri. I’d rather see them go with an LMD, though I wonder, given Coulson’s popularity, if there’s any thought to turning him into the Vision.

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      • It definitely was a job well done. The death was moving, purposeful and didn’t feel even a little bit out of place. But that being said, I’m still upset he had to die. Especially since the only other place to see Gregg as Coulson is the god-awful Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

        I hope Mark’s idea of Skrull or LMD involvement proves true. Or that Coulson becomes the Vision, that would be sweet.

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    • It wasn’t there when I went to see it the first time. We got Thanos, then the end credits. I stayed till they finished and the lights came up and there was nothing else. I guess they must have added it to the US print. I didn’t wait around till the very end on the second viewing though.

      I suppose I could always go see it a third time and make sure :)

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  6. In the theater where I saw THE AVENGERS we missed the “puny god” line because everybody went absolutely nuts when The Hulk pounded the immortal piss outta Loki. It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve seen a movie with a scene that produced such a reaction. People were cheering, clapping, laughing, screaming and high-fiving each other.

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  7. Pingback: The Avengers « The Ferguson Theater

  8. This was a well written commentary on the movie. I enjoyed reading it to relive the special moments in the film. I, too, missed Hulk’s “puny God” remark due to the laughter and the hoots in the theater. I had to ask a total stranger next to me what he said. There was one part where they were in the lab (can’t remember if was when all of them were there or just Stark and Banner) where Tony had a whole slew of lines where I couldn’t understand what he said. RDJ has a way of mumbling lines and if you’re not prepared to decipher it just goes on by and I have to chalk that line up for the DVD subtitles when it comes out! I don’t think Hiddleston had as much of an effect on me in the Thor movie as it did here… He pulled off the subtle humor in his character just as well as the other guys- “I’m listening…” As a Marvel movie lover, sadly I have no history with the comic books. I had no idea who that was in the scene mid-credits. It made me feel better that every guy I asked as the movie let out didn’t know either! One was even trying to look it up on his phone. My 9 year old son said he vaguely remembered him on the TV cartoons. I’m afraid it will be that way with a lot of moviegoers. Again thanks to all your insights!

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    • Thanks for you comments, Amy! Always nice to hear from a new voice.

      You’re totally right on Downey – half the time I didn’t even process what he was saying until the the next person was talking!

      Agreed on Hiddleston; he definitely came into his own as Loki in this film.

      Again, thanks for the comments!

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  9. I should have come here first and politely said hello, rather than just diving headfirst into the Loki comments. :)

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your well-written, well-conceived series of Avengers reviews/character impressions. As you mentioned, too many writers seem to have missed most of the depth in this film; I’ve seen far too many reviews/comments about it being light on plot, light on story, light on characterization, and so on… which leaves me 1) wondering if we saw the same movie!, and 2) a little sad, because they missed something wonderful.

    Anyway, I’m babbling. I could talk about this film for hours, and am excited to have stumbled upon both your great material and the accompanying discussion.

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    • Jumping right in is a great way to introduce yourself! :) It’s always great to see someone new join the conversation.

      Thanks so much for the kind words – it took a while to do all these but I’m happy with the way they came out and I’m thrilled that they’ve been the launching point for so many discussions. Your comment about criticism of the movie targeting its light plot and characterization is spot on – I think what happens is too many critics see this movie as “just another superhero movie” or get so caught up in the action that they miss the deeper character motivations going on around it.

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      • There *is* a lot of action, and it *is* fun… but there’s just so much more. To overlook the emotional pain/psychological struggles and to not recognize the feints within plot twists within plot twists within feints is to miss 3/4 of the movie.

        Puny reviewers! :)

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  10. Belatedly …

    Excellent review of a truly outstanding film. Yes, it’s enormous fun; but the reason it’s so much fun is because it’s so witty, and I don’t mean that word just in the “funny” sense but more generally — it is a film of wit, that has its wits about it. There’s an intelligence to the dialogue in particular that is streets ahead of any other superhero film I’ve seen. For this, we have Whedon to thank — not only for the script, but also for the understated direction that lets the many, many jokes slide effortlessly past rather than setting them up as big moments. Fine acting, too.

    All in all, a delight, and one that I am really looking forward to seeing again, with my family, when the DVD comes out.

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  11. Wow. What a review and commentary. I know no one has chimed in for a while, but I’m just watching Avengers for the umteenth time and I came across this fantastic blog. I guess I’ll do as you say and ‘just jump in’ :)

    I was able to avoid all spoilers and tried not to get a hold of too many trailers…I was going to see it, I didn’t need any teasing. I did have friends that were hoping it wasn’t going to ‘suck’. As a long time Buffy and Firefly / Serenity fan I knew it was going to melt our brains. Whedon in my opinion is one of the best sci-fi story tellers today. Smart, witty, action packed, heart felt…he brings the total package. I agree with you, he put together the most epic superhero movie ever.

    I know Thor fans were a little disappointed as didn’t get to show his ‘full range’. The big 3 are still Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America. RDJ launched Marvel Movie studios by ‘becoming’ Tony Stark. We all grew up watching Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk and Captain America even had his own TV specials when I was growing up. I think Thor is the toughest for most ‘non-comic’ fans to relate to. I agree Hulk, kind of stole his thunder at the end by bashing Loki, but, it WAS Loki that wanted the ‘monster’, well he got him. What a great scene. But, Hemsworth is a great cast and with Thor 2 coming out they hopefully vet out his powers and character much further. I think with Thanos coming into the mix, Thor will be a bigger player in Avengers 2.

    I thought they did a fantastic job of casting and as you mentioned earlier, weaving small cameos of important characters from other story arcs to bring the movie together as a fully universal story. I thought the growth that JW and team brought to the cast of characters will help continue Marvel on the right path.

    I’m a comic fan in general, Marvel and DC both. I find it funny how everyone raves about how Marvel is ‘getting it right’ and DC is so lost (aside from Nolan’s Batman), when not so long ago there was the toe stubbing with Spawn, Spider Man 2/3 (were eh), Hulk (Bana), Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Fantastic Four. I’m hopeful we can get some reboots and have some cross interaction with some of the Avengers…I get goosebumps thinking about it.

    I’m hopeful that comic book hero movie directors take inspiration from JW and team by taking care of the characters that comic nerds like me have grown up with and update them so that they can be appreciated by both diehards and newbies across the board.

    I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness here. Thanks for giving me a place to ramble.

    Peace.

    Like

  12. Pingback: STAR WARS: At Long Last, the White Whale | Mark Bousquet

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