Oh my, that was fun!
I grew up with comics. For years I had a subscription for Donald Duck and I read them over and over again until they fell into pieces. I read the Asterix and Tintin albums until I knew them by heart and I still catch myself ever so often quoting them in everyday conversations, taking for granted that everyone else knows exactly what I’m referring to.
I read all sorts of comics and I still do. Everything except for one kind: those about traditional superheroes. You know, those who have silly stretch pants and can fly. They were the territory of my seven years younger little brother. It happened that I threw a glance in his magazines. But they never stuck with me.
In an effort to give all sorts of movies a chance, I tried a couple of superhero movies last year, but they turned out to be disappointments and I as good as swore not to see any more superhero movies since they’re bound to suck.
I tell you this to let you understand the nature of my relationship with superheroes. With a few exceptions (read Dark Knight) it’s cold.
The Joss Whedon effect
Considering this I probably would have stayed away from The Avengers if it wasn’t for two things
1. It had been picked for the-movie-to-watch-together for our monthly meet-up with the Swedish film blogging network and I didn’t want to miss out the discussions.
2. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is one of my TV series. (And no, Buffy doesn’t count to the silly superhero category. She doesn’t fly and she hasn’t got stretch pants.)
So I went to the theatre with a fairly neutral mindset. I still remembered how bad I thought of Thor and I dreaded to see another movie in 3D after some bad experiences. But again: it was Joss Whedon. And my friends seemed to be hyped about it.
A long takeoff
So what did I make of it? Well, to begin with I didn’t know at all since the starting distance before I reached the takeoff point was huge, almost as long as the introduction of this post.
It’s not that there’s a long stretch of set-up and babble in the film; we’re thrown into action at once, but the movie just failed to bring me on board.
I think my problem was that the film is if not a direct sequel, at least connects to a whole bunch of other movies about the various superheroes that are in the center for it. And of all those movies, Thor was the only one I’d seen. I hadn’t seen The Iron Man, I hadn’t seen Captain America and I was only familiar with The Hulk through the TV series from my childhood, not from recent movies. While Avengers doesn’t require you to have seen all those movies, I think it helps if you have, since you’ll figure out who the characters are and connect to them more easily.
As it was now, it took almost an hour before I was completely into it. But on the other hand: once I was there, I didn’t want it to finish.
After the slow start, it got better and better, the more warmed up I got, and in the end I found myself digging The Avengers quite a bit, much more than I had expected.
Five reasons why I liked it
Those are my top five reasons for caring for it so much:
1. The humor. This is my number one reason and I think we have Joss Whedon to thank for it. I found myself laughing or giggling a lot, much more than in ordinary comedies. I’m generally sulky and hard to get to smile, but there was something in the tone, the self referring jokes, the glimpse in the eye, that worked for me, and I could sense the ties to Buffy. It’s fun, but in a loving way, never going as far as to being a travesty. I love it.
2. The special effects. If you make a superhero movie with a huge budget and an expected huge audience, you should have special effects to match it. Where Thor failed, showing the same little strip in the desert over and over again in fighting scenes that felt small and unimpressive, The Avengers goes all out and provides all the beauty and majesty and excitement you could expect, from cosmic worm holes to melting sky scrapers and a hulk that looks as believable as a hulk can be. It never feels cheap.
3. The cast. I’m not sure who I like best – Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye or Tom Hiddleston as Loki. But they’re all pretty wonderful.
4. The lack of cheese. With so many characters to handle, there’s very little time available to spend on the back stories for each one of them. Priorities need to be made. Sometimes this type of blockbuster movies can be dragged down into stereotyping and awkwardness by some cheesy mandatory romantic side story, but lo and behold, we don’t get much of this. The focus is rightly on the visually stunning fighting scenes and the fun dialogues. Thank you for that!
5. The Hulk. There’s no shortage of superhero characters, but if you ask me to mention one, it will have to be The Hulk. I had a conversation over twitter with Steeve, whose middle-aged father also took a liking for him. My conclusion was that we easily can identify with him, having a lifetime of experience controlling our temperament. There’s a scene where we see him unlash his wrath at one of the opponents that especially stuck with me. I was close to standing up in my chair cheering and clapping. You’ll know when you get to it.
2D or 3D
In case you’re in doubt whether to watch it in 3D or 2D, I’d recommend you to go for the 2D. The 3D isn’t as bad as in John Carter, but it doesn’t add very much either. Especially if you watch it with subtitles, you may encounter issues with the text getting blurry from time to time. That happened at our screening. Clearly this wasn’t just an issue with my eyes; everyone in our company complained about it. I solved this by only listening to the speech, ignoring the text as if the film had been scratched, but if you’re depending on the subtitles I can imagine that it’s extremely annoying. I would go as far as to say that I would be prepared to pay MORE to watch it in 2D than in 3D and I think that was a bit against the whole idea?
All in all I enjoyed hanging around with the superheroes enough to give it a good rating. I’m pretty sure though that if you ask me about it in a year or even as little as a month, I won’t remember a thing. The blurring process has already started.
TLDR version: Oh my, that was fun!
The Avengers (Joss Whedon, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5
I watched this movie together with my fellow Swedish bloggers in the informal network Filmspanarna, which meets up every month to watch a movie and chat intensely about anything film or blogging. If you have a movie blog you can get in touch with any of us to get an invite to our next meeting.
Here’s what the others thought about it: