Monday, April 30, 2012
"The Avengers" (2012)
Joss Whedon is one of the better writers of his generation. We have discussed that fact at length here at NonModern. He doesn’t just tell great stories and write wonderful dialogue. He is interested in the ideas behind the stories he tells. In the case of “The Avengers” the wonderful writing shines through even the often dicey German translation, and the ideas—as simple as they are—are thoughtfully addressed. The main idea being, in this case, teamwork.
Once again, it is an ultimately silly superhero adventure we are dealing with in this case. There is not a lot of room for deep spiritual truths to be considered here. However, the teamwork issue is one that affects us all, the communal beings that we are. What makes this film go beyond the normal action fare where story-telling is concerned, is the way Marvel has revolutionized the way movies work.
Comics have always been about building a world and then telling hundreds of stories in that world. Until now, comic book movie adaptations have always limited that world building. Even when a series is built around one character, the individual films are self contained, and there is no interaction between main characters across titles the way there is in the comic book universe that the story is based upon. Marvel has changed that. They have successfully managed to create four franchises that belong in the same world, and now they have had them interact with each other.
Following the picture, there are some thoughts involving spoiler issues, so don’t read on if you don’t want to have the story spoiled:
(There is a wonderful, small moment early in the film when Loki first attacks humanity in Germany. It is nice to see a German react in this fashion, against stereotype, and probably more realistically as Germans better than many others have learned the lessons of the past century.)
The great thing that this film afforded was the way it brought characters, already established in their own films, together and allowed those characters to become a team in a natural way. Teaming is not an easy thing and in this story we get to see struggles and even failures contribute to making “The Avengers” a better team—in spite of their own problems and differences.
Loki brings the heroes together knowing that they will clash instead of bond. He counts on all those strong independent types to not work together as a team. He is right too. There is nothing quite so challenging as bringing a bunch of gifted and motivated people together to accomplish a common task. Those individuals that are most likely to really accomplish something tend to be exactly the sort of people that will not perform well with others. The turning point in this story is when the heroes realize that they have to put egos aside to face the threat together.
At that moment, we see several of the greatest moments of the film: We finally see what Banner’s secret to controlling the Hulk has been. (Possibly my favorite moment in the whole film!) We see the Captain, possibly the least powerful or skilled character on his own; take the natural role of leader due to his best skill—vision. And we see all our heroes willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others, most impressively (due to his narcissism) Iron Man.
It is an inspiring story.
(Note: if you get a chance to see this in 2d, do so. The 3d adds nothing important to the visual experience, and will probably darken things enough to actually take away from your experience.)