Monday, May 7, 2012

Let Me Know If Ultimate Power Needs A Magazine

It's time for another great big bowl of POP culture! And when I say great big, I mean GREAT BIG, so go get your biggest bowls and pour yourself some milk, and let's get to it.

For those of you not living under rocks, the news of the week is AVENGERS! It's actually, really, a double dose of pop culture, because it's not just Avengers; it's also Joss Whedon, who is a pop culture phenomenon all by himself. However, I'm sure that everyone is going to be going on about Joss, so I'm not going to dwell on that aspect of the movie. Much.

Before I get into it, though, I'm going to point out that Avengers broke the record for top grossing opening weekend. Not just broke it, ground it into tiny particles. If you look at the weekend records, generally a new record has only been within a few million of the previous record; in fact, 3 or 4 of the previous records fall in the $150-160 million range. However, Avengers topped the previous record by more than $30 million (also becoming the first film to have a $200 million opening weekend)! That's considerable. (Sorry, Harry.) On top of all of that, Disney released the film to nearly 40 international markets (not including Japan (the second largest movie market)) a week earlier than they released it here, so the 10-day gross for the film stands at $650 million worldwide. I'm pretty sure it's going to be the fastest movie to the billion mark.

Of course, none of that says anything about whether the movie is any good. The fact that the average audience rating is an "A+" does, though. Of course, that doesn't say anything about what I thought of the movie, which is what all of this is about, right?

So... what did I think of The Avengers? Well, to answer that question, let's take a few steps back (this is where I take some of the focus off of Mr. Whedon, because, as good as his writing was, he had an excellent foundation to work on, and what he did would not have been possible without it).

Last summer, I did a series of posts comparing Marvel's movies to DC's. In the third post, I talked about vision (not The Vision) and how Marvel has it and DC doesn't, which explains the (much) higher quality of Marvel's movies as compared to DC's (overall). The Avengers is evidence of this.

See, way back in 2008 when Marvel released Iron Man (and, then, The Incredible Hulk), it wasn't just about making an Iron Man movie. Iron Man was actually a pretty big risk for Marvel (yeah, I know, it's hard to believe that, now). Outside of comics, Iron Man was fairly unknown character. Sure, he'd had his own series for decades, but it was rarely a top selling series. Never before had a super hero movie been made featuring a character that was, basically, a second stringer. A B-lister. Could they pull it off? Most people didn't think they could. And, really, why would they even bother? They had many other better known heroes, right? But it was all part of the plan.

Marvel's goal was never to make an Iron Man movie. Or a Hulk movie. Or any of the other Marvel Studios produced movies. Their goal was to make an Avengers movie. Yes, it all started with the Avengers. Their plan, then, became to make a series of movies each featuring one of the heroes that would make up their beginning Avengers team. Why do it this way? Origin stories. The difficulty with any super hero movie is establishing the origin story of the character. Especially for a character like Iron Man who isn't all that well known.

They very carefully established the central heroes in their own stories before bringing them all together for their team movie. Yeah, I know... Hawkeye and Black Widow. Maybe, I'll do a post on them later, but let's just leave it at they didn't think they could pull off solo movies for those characters, especially with the changes (for the better) they've made to Hawkeye. [It's also why they left out Antman and the Wasp (because they did, actually, have an Antman film planned, but, currently, that project is on hold.] What they did, what Marvel did, was really quite ingenious. They've lent the same since of continuity to their movies that their comic books have (something they "invented" back in the 60s when Marvel first became Marvel Comics).

All of that to say that Marvel really very carefully laid the groundwork for this film. Making The Avengers was always the goal, and everything they've done for the last six years has been to bring about this moment.

Bringing Joss Whedon on board for this movie was, perhaps, the most natural thing in the world. After all, he is the expert in writing teams for TV and movies. There's not really even anyone else you can point to other than, maybe, the guy responsible for Stargate: SG-1, but, then, that guy has no experience with comic books. On top of the fact that Whedon is responsible for the team shows Buffy, Angel, and Firefly; he's also has movie experience and he's written for Marvel. Basically, he knows everything. He knows the characters, he knows writing teams, he knows making movies. And he's possibly the best writer in Hollywood today. There was no other logical first choice. Just be glad he said yes.

Mr. Whedon pulled all the strings together and tied them perfectly together in a beautiful little bow.

I loved The Avengers. I saw it twice over the weekend, and I'd go again if I could (but that's really the whole movie budget for May, so I'll have to wait till the DVD to see it again). Even my wife (who re-watches movies in the same way that I reread books (which is to say, she doesn't)) wanted to go see it again. It was so good that I have no favorite scene. I have no favorite line (not even the title of this post. I just thought it fit best (no, don't ask me why)). I have no favorite anything about that movie. There are too many moments to choose from. It was all great.

However, I will say that Mark Ruffalo was especially good as the Hulk. Not that he was better than anyone else, necessarily, but it was good to finally see someone nail the part of Bruce Banner. He really pulled off "nerdy scientist" in a way that Bana and Norton were just unable to. From his slouched posture to his baggy clothes to the glasses... everything was just right. I hope the do another Hulk movie with him in the lead.

Also, I think the movie set up perfectly for a solo Nick Fury movie along the lines of the Nick Fury VS. S.H.I.E.L.D. series. I don't know of any plans that they have for that, but it would be cool.

Bottom line is that The Avengers is great. It has great action. It has great humor. Yet, it never loses the seriousness of the situation nor does it sacrifice the individual characters' stories. Unless you just don't like super heroes, you should go see it. Seriously. Go now.


  1. It shattered records all right!
    Thought it was awesome. Saw it first showing Friday and it rocked the house.
    The Hulk had the best line - "Puny God."

  2. I'll probably go next weekend just so I can review it for the blog. Otherwise I probably wouldn't bother.

    But yes I do wonder why DC can't get their shit together and make a Justice League movie. I suppose in part because other than Batman they haven't been overly successful in launching other characters.

    It was funny to see the box office results this weekend: Avengers 200, Think Like a Man 8, Hunger Games 6. It's really rare that the #1 movie makes 25 times the #2 movie.

  3. I thought Avengers was the best comic book movie I had ever seen. It was so good.

    DC characters kind of suck to be honest. They just aren't interesting.

  4. My eldest daughter saw it Friday night. She thought it was so good she took her sisters to see it Saturday!

  5. I saw it twice over the weekend too. I've been a pretty big fan of Whedon for a while now, and got pretty darn excited when I found out he was on board to write and direct. If I were Marvel, I'd hand him the keys to the Marvel universe (at least in film) and ask him if he'd be interested in doing several more.

    I'm interested in where Marvel will go from here. It was clear from the beginning that Loki wasn't the real big bad and they made it clear who that would most likely be in any follow up films, but still, like you said. It's all been building to this. I'd love to see them take on the team up concept, give Cap the Falcon to banter with in his own movie, let Stark have Iron Fist as a sidekick or something. I don't know, now that they're on top of the world it's going to be hard to maintain. And it looks like they aren't going to be getting their rights back to Spidey, X-Men, or the FF for some time.

    Anyway, I was a big Avengers reader as a kid. I read them religiously and they were my favorite title for a while back in the day. This movie had everything I ever wanted in an Avengers movie and I really managed to be a 10 year kid for a couple of hours while I watched. I think there was a scene during that invasion sequence where we had one flying camera track and follow one avenger as he battled, then it would move to the next, then the next, until it had gone through the whole team... It was truly great.

    Man, I want to go see it again.

  6. My husband saw this last week with his work, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it myself. I love Mark Ruffalo... :)

    Thanks for the Marvel back-story, too... I didn't really connect all that. Smart folks!!

    In Which We Start Anew

  7. My favorite line - "He's adopted." Good god Joss Whedon. He never, ever fails.

    I thought it was absolutely incredible. I have HIGH expectations, and it blew them right out of the water. It's hard to imagine any movie topping this one (my upcoming review will, of course, be a rave). I saw it Friday and Saturday, and already want to talk my friends into going again :)

    P.S. You never re-read books??

  8. I'm a big Whedon fan! I have not seen The Avengers yet because I am waiting for Amber to get home from college as I promised to see it with her. Glad you liked it this was a great review.

  9. I've looked forward in anticipation to this movie as soon as I heard rumor of it. I didn't know they planned it this far in advance though. Brilliant bit of thinking then as it broke box office records. Sadly for me, I have to wait till it comes out on DVD to see it because my Hubby is unable to sit upright in a chair long enough to see a film. Now I'm on pins and needles waiting for the DVD.

  10. Alex: See, I can't agree that that is the best line. As soon as I start thinking about -any- line being the best, I think, "but what about..." and the debate begins all over again.

    Grumpy: It's because DC has never really had a plan at all. That's why they've had to re-set their universe so many times. Being owned by WB doesn't help, because their only plan is to make money.

    Michael: It was awesome!

    Al: It was that good. I'd go again.

    Rusty: My first reaction was "Wow... where do they go from here? How can they ever top this?" But, you know, that little teaser during the credits... I can't wait to see what they're going to do with that!

    Jo: Oh, no problem... I'n good like that. And what are you doing here? Go see it!
    And thanks for stopping in!

    S.L.: Well, I can't say never, but it is rare. Generally, when faced with the decision of rereading over reading something I haven't read, I'm going with what I haven't read.

    Jennifer: You should sneak and go see it and just not tell her. Just act like you haven't seen it.

    Anne: Wow... I don't envy you. I don't know that I could wait.

  11. Thanks for the background. I really don't know much about Marvel and haven't seen any of their movies--though all the hype surrounding them now has made me want to.

  12. I am loving all the repeat movie watchers hanging out here. I am definitely one of you. For gross personal reasons (yes it was bad) I was in no position to see Avengers this past weekend. I will make a point of it shortly.

    Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

  13. We also loved it. It was epic. Amazing cast, writing, effects... And it was a lot funnier than I was expecting! Like you said, so many great lines.

    My understanding is that there is an Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor 2 (2013), Captain America 2 (2014), Nick Fury (????) and Avengers 2 (2015?) currently planned. Here is some of that news:

    If they keep making insane amounts of money, I see no reason for them NOT to keep making these awesome movies. :)

  14. I won't see this until it comes out on DVD and then only if I remember to watch it. It's mostly a matter of economics and time. My wife and I used to go see a couple of movies nearly every week, but no more.

    Also, I've grown a bit weary of the superhero and effects movies. They nearly always entertain me when I watch them, but afterwards it's much like riding a roller coaster--big thrill while it's happening, cool to remember the experience, but nothing that has made me grow intellectually or spiritually.

    It's an impressive box office take though. One has to admire the business side of these types of films when they're successful.

    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  15. Thanks for the thorough review of The Avengers. I seem to be the only one who didn't see it last weekend. must fix that soon.

  16. GE: (Can I call you GE?) Well, I've been a big Marvel fan for about 3 decades, so I probably know too much about them. Being as objective as I can be, though, they're good movies and worth watching unless you don't like superheros.

    Elizabeth: Um... gross personal reasons? I both want to ask but am afraid to.
    Go see it!

    Bonnie: Well, that other movie that you have as Nick Fury is unknown at the moment, but my money's on Antman. That was has been in and out of development for several years, so it makes sense that they would do it, now, with the success of The Avengers under their belt. Hank Pym is kind of too important to leave out of their movie universe.

    Arlee: I think they've done a good job with all of these movies of ingraining the human struggle into what's going on so that there is more than just lots of action. Specifically, with The Avengers, you have Stark dealing with whether he can be a hero. Rogers dealing with fitting in. Banner dealing with... well... anger management. Even Thor grappling with guilt over dragging a war to Earth.

    Theresa: Yes, fix it! And you're welcome for the review.

  17. Wow that is quite the review! Love it.

    All my students said they were pleasantly surprised.

    You saw it twice in one weekend? Both times with the kids?

    Man. You have almost convinced me. The only thing remaining is the price-tag. And Scarlett bugs me.

  18. All you're doing is making me want to see it more, which I thought was impossible since I'm already planning to see it this afternoon.

    Like you, Brandon has already seen it twice. I've seen it zero times. However, as mentioned, the wife and I are going this afternoon.

  19. Pish: No, only once with the kids.

    I can't argue with you over the price issue, but Scarlett is surprisingly good in her role as Black Widow. Oh, man, the scene with her tied up in the chair is amazing.

    ABftS: Before you went (I hope you went), you should have stolen one of the times Brandon saw it from him. That would show him! Then, you could go see it and throw that extra time he saw it in the trash! Okay, well, no, you wouldn't want to do that with The Avengers. You'd just have to taunt him with it.