Monday, May 7, 2012


Avengers was not universally a success. Some characters were flat and stiff the entire film (Scarlett) while others just flowed (Downy, Renner). The jokes and comical bits had such an obnoxious, labored, setup it was almost intolerable. Thankfully the punch-lines were funny enough to carry how heavy-handed the writing got. Characters leave essentially the same, with maybe a minor tweak or a new buddy. But oh!, that final battle! Chest pounding, roar stifling (I was moved but I doubt public tolerance would extend to me screaming in the theater), action due to brilliant cinematography, and I especially applaud making every member of the squad useful through the major action, with Hulk stealing the entire film.

Rather than remove each facet for inspection, I'll keep in the spirit of breezy and fun with just the highlights (for me).

Hulk was riveting. Hulk made every single scene he was in the best of the film, until he upped himself in his next scene. His jokes were the funniest. His physical comedy killed. Hulk was mesmerizing. Silly hyperbole from a zealot? No no. I do like Hulk. I identify with his powers. But his powers mesh so perfectly with the viewing experience. As the action ramps up, I get more pumped, and thus a connection. It’s easier to imagine swatting a Space Chariot to bits than any other power on display in the film. It’s the most direct as well. Not even the Captain really compares because the Captain has finesse. He lands a punch or places a kick. The force and location are deliberate. Hulk just throws himself around. The feel is not “incapacitate this foe”, it’s “get me on him”. His rage bowls them over with almost no contact needed from Hulk. The only thing I missed was from the first (recent) Hulk film. As Hulk fought he’d grow. An ingenious touch that could actually elevate unbridled rage further during the course of a fight. It also had a one-upsmenship quality, allowing the Hulk to play the Confident Ass. The new dimensions of his character make up for that loss. No longer at the forefront of yoga techniques, Bruce Banner has been reimagined, and the reveal is one line: “I’m always angry”. This is like Superman saying “smoke and mirrors, really”. Bruce Banner is not suppressing Hulk. They are now two personalities sharing the same body. Sharing, not fighting for control of. This means Hulk can be a part of the story rather than a final plot device to clean up. Everyone should be excited because this means more Hulk.

Everyone still had a part to play when the Final Battle began. And here’s the weird thing… each role fit the character. I know! Hawkeye didn’t try to keep a similar bodycount to Hulk. He can’t. Not even the Norse God could keep up (Hulk STOLE THE SHOW). Hawkeye tracked enemy movements. He smartly observed their weakness and passed it on to a team member who could exploit it. Holy Shit! Hah, maybe the regular movie-goer isn’t blow away by this. It’s natural, right? What the hell else would he do? This is not common knowledge to comic book artists. When a fight starts, SPLASH PAGE, everyone punches something. That’s the fight. I loved not having to mentally keep track of all the characters, as the non-godlike ones got lost in a boring shuffle.

There is a tendency to portray fantastical action as though it were an equation. So unbelievable that only a straightforward presentation will suffice. The shot is zoomed way out, gently tracking the hero, while their movement is catalogued. That sorta works if I am physical in the same space as the incredible hero. But only because "real" fires off strong chemicals in the brain. Anyway. Avengers did it right. The cinematography tucked you right next to Iron Man as he flew through a busted New York. The aftermath of each Hulk punch was properly obscured by the colossal amount of debris loosed. And when some alien ran into Cap’s shield, you could feel their world stop dead before it violently reversed. Ect. Point is, living vicariously through a Superhero battle is exhilarating. Bravo.

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