Comic Books & The Avengers movie.

This movie is phenomenal

I’m always a little wary of calling myself a comic book fan because I’ll get tested and I’m pretty sure I’ll fail on the most basic cannon. I like comic books, I have a few of them laying around (none that are worth anything mind you). I wrote a dissertation paper on the history of comic books and their impact on Western society when I was eighteen. I needed 2,000 words, I wrote 15,000. Cutting it down was super painful, but writing it was a joy. Don’t worry, I won’t make you read it, I’m not sure if I can even find it. It’s probably for the best, trust me.

I watched a most of the cartoon shows growing up and while I never really cared for the characters beyond Spiderman I enjoyed the stories told by Marvel. Comic Books as a medium have always fascinated me. Ever been inside a comic book store? Rows and rows of glossy pages filled with action, drama, fantasy and love. Maybe I just love books? I know it sounds silly, (I’m an Advertising major so shuush) but the old comics had the best adverts. So retro, silly and awesome. 

I know comic books are all too often dismissed as fluff for children to play pretend, but they regularly deal with complex issues or act as a vehicle to simplify and understand issues that are present in our society. Far from being silly fantasy fluff about explosions and gratuitous sex and violence, comic book characters are symbols of Good, Evil and all that goes in-between.

When these symbols are done badly it hurts the people who grew to love them (I’m looking at you 2003 Hulk movie, you were bad and you should feel bad). While the pain stings I do truly understand why there haven’t been very good movies of these characters before. Comic Books are very fluid, there is a lot of history and the storylines aren’t exactly linear. Continuity is something a film needs to be coherent but something comic books can’t be said to have a firm grip on. 

Take any character you like, they’ll have at least a dozen backstories in alternate timelines, universes, some will know of each other, some will not. How do the writers pick just one? Which one will make sense? Which story is most important? Relevant? Interesting?

This time Marvel have done it right. Part of the problem with comic book movies is that they struggle to establish the character’s plausibility to the general audience. What tends to happen is a movie with a lot of explanation that still makes no sense (Superman Returns), or a movie with a lot of explosions that makes no sense (Spiderman 3). Neither end up feeling like what a comic book movie should be. There are a lot of non mainstream comic books and graphic novels that have had a good silver screen representation such as Sin City, Watchmen and V for Vendetta but more ‘commercial’ comic books seem to be struggling. 

Studios generally don’t make movies for fans, they make movies for the general public while using source material that they hope will appeal to fans. The Last Airbender is an amazing example of this. Fans of the TV show were disappointed at the direction the movie took. As a stand alone product the film is relatively okay, but in comparison to the source material it is easy to understand their grievances. With a comic book you know what you’re going to get when you pick it up, you leave conventional logic at the door and accept whatever the writers tell you is happening. But in a movie, no matter how minor the set up is, there is always a set up involving a backstory. The longer this set up takes, the less time there is for actual story and action, but if it is skipped the writers stand a good chance of losing the audience. 

What Marvel were amazing in doing is giving each of these characters a set up movie. Before we entered the theatre for the Avengers we knew the character of this Tony Stark, we knew what he was going to be like and we knew why he was going to be the way he was. We already knew his fears and his hopes because all that had been extensively covered. I cannot think of a movie franchise in my lifetime that has attempted and succeed to create movies that flow so well into one another. While Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are great movies in their own right they all served a purpose and that was to subtly link into one another through their plot lines and the after credit scenes. And because of the intro movies, this movie was tight, there was no part of the movie that felt like filler or was unessential to the plot. Every quip, every movement, every scene was there for a reason. We were able to fully explore what the characters meant to each other as a team and Joss was excelent in doing what he does best, killing a character we all love.

.. my heart. 

Just kidding (not really), he did great work! After his projects kept getting cancelled (Firefly and Dollhouse -sob) it’s nice to see him get some recognition for how amazing he is as a director and a screenwriter. 

But this movie, my god. It was amazing! I was worried that after all the hype it would be bad and I would feel bad for being excited but it did not disappoint. 

SPOILERS.

I went into the theater only caring about Thor & Iron Man. Everyone else was filler. Thankfully Joss knows best and managed to shine a light on every character in equal amounts, there was no one star of the movie, it was all about the team.

The Hulk as a character was by far one of the funniest things about the movie. Mark Ruffallo gave a truly awesome performance and while his origin movie didn’t actually include him it didn’t actually matter. To be honest, I didn’t really care for the Edward Norton movie. I thought it was boring and the Hulk I knew from Spiderman was funny, he was not so I didn’t connect. 

But this Hulk! This Hulk was funny! There was a scene where Cap’n was telling everyone what they needed to do and when he turned to Hulk he just said, “Hulk.. smash” everyone in the theatre lost it, it was amazing.

To be honest, a lot of the scenes when the theatre erupted were Hulk scenes. But the Puny god scene really stole the movie. In movies like this there is usually a big showdown to take down the bad guy to show that good does triumph over evil. This was not the case, instead Loki gets tossed around by the Hulk. I can’t explain how funny it is, you just have to see it. 

I really thought Black Widow and Hawkeye were going to be a bust, just because they have no magical powers didn’t mean that their skills were overshadowed in the team. They were just as essential to the story and the team dynamic as Thor or Cap’n. Their friendship (and very obvious romance) was really well done too, I loved that it didn’t consume their interactions but that it was obvious they meant a lot to each other. What I loved about Black Widow’s character is that she played to the other’s character’s perception of her femininity as a weakness against them. Try to emotionally hurt her and belittle her? Go for it, while you think you’re winning and breaking her down, she’s letting you monologue and give her information. It. Was. Brilliant. As was their expressions. 

I left the theatre feeling happy, surprised and excited to watch again. I really look forward to what come next for Marvel. Should be exciting.

Oh, there’s a new Batman movie coming out soon? Your move DC because this one is going to be hard to top. 

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