Skip to main content

People Need A Little Old-Fashioned: A Review of "The Avengers"

I'm telling you, Joss Whedon makes all the difference.

I feel that one of Joss Whedon's specialties as a writer and director is balancing a large group of characters, giving each character depth, a background that motivates them, and an equal place in the friendly (or not so friendly) banter that is inevitable when you've got a wild assortment of personalities in the scene.

The Avengers team

Joss certainly did not hide this talent of his when he was creating "The Avengers." I can't praise this film enough. It was funny and exciting sans the lame dialogue that often accompanies superhero movies, and it was family-friendly so that all the young fans out there can go see their favorite icons in action.

It's not too often that I laugh out loud in a movie theatre, which I did at least three times during "The Avengers." But Joss uses humor to give balance to stories that deal with heavy and somber material. Despite the jokes and our heroes' shiny armor and all the astounding and dazzling special effects, "The Avengers" still takes the time to get right to the heart of what good versus evil is all about.

The Hulk, a.k.a. Bruce Banner

Much as the story of Watchmen did, "The Avengers" deconstructs the hero, but unlike Watchmen, when we leave the theatre after "The Avengers," we still put stock in the concept of heroism. "The Avengers," ironically, emphasizes the characters' decidedly human struggles as much as their superhuman abilities. Bruce Banner has anger issues that can turn very ugly very quickly. Tony Stark is a bit of an egomaniac who revels in his wealth, status, genius, and playboy reputation. Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton have committed dark deeds they'd rather have erased. Thor and Loki have an explosive sibling rivalry and family issues. Steve Rogers struggles to adapt to and analyze a world that has, for him, changed drastically in the blink of an eye.

Steve Rogers finds himself in a world much changed since he last fought bad guys

But "The Avengers" doesn't leave it at that. It doesn't leave us asking "But who watches the Watchmen?" - fearing to put trust in strong leadership or this ideal we hold of a "hero." It seems to me that for every character that he writes as an outcast, or an assassin with a seedy history, or a selfish billionaire, or a big green monster with serious anger issues, Joss Whedon also writes their way to redemption. He did it for Ripley the human-Xenomorph hybrid and Call the android in "Alien: Resurrection," and he will do it for the Avengers, too. He already achieved it with Tony Stark - a man with obvious character flaws (though Robert Downey, Jr. makes them endearing). Peter S. Beagle says in The Last Unicorn that "...the true secret of being a hero lies in knowing the order of things." And that is precisely the knowledge Tony Stark demonstrates. He may be a childish billionaire playboy with an ego the size of his R&D tower, but when all depends on him, he does not flinch - even for a moment - from what he knows he must do. Stark proves himself a true hero because a true hero knows when it is time to make a sacrifice, and does it without complaint.

Tony Stark - genius billionaire, playboy, egomaniac, hero.

Agent Phil Coulson, ecstatic over finally meeting his longtime hero - golden boy Steve Rogers - tells Steve he even got to have a little input on Captain America's new uniform.

Steve Rogers: "The uniform? Aren't the stars and stripes a little...old-fashioned?"
Agent Phil Coulson: "With everything that's happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned."

I couldn't agree more, Agent. We want to see the bullies put to justice, we want to see selfless teamwork between super friends, and we want to see our heroes combat the enemy - both the external and the internal - and emerge victorious. And Joss Whedon gives the people what they want.


Popular posts from this blog

This Week's Window Shopping

While I think in many cases leggings tend to get mistaken for a garment you can wear by themselves, I would make an exception for these awesome sword leggings from SOVRIN on Etsy, which I LOVE.

Also, check out this incredibly clever Dewey Decimal System pendant from thependantemporium shop on Etsy.  I want!

Last but not least, if you are a shop-happy geek like myself, you are probably already aware of this site, but if not, you should know about, which has a different geeky T-shirt every day for $11.  If you see one you like, you have to act fast! But there are so many awesome designs, including today's, which features a quote from Vasquez in "Aliens." :)

Chain Mail Bikinis Don't Count As Armor, and Other Thoughts (Mild Spoilers)

Comics Alliance calls it "The story Disney should have been telling for the past 20 years," and while I believe Disney plays its part in a healthy mix of fairy tales for children, every little girl (and boy, for that matter) should read a comic like "Princeless." "Princeless," from Action Lab Entertainment, introduces us to Adrienne, a princess who is not interested in waiting around in her tower to be rescued. A prince even shows up at one point to do just that, and she turns him away, saying, "Don't let the dragon hit you on the way out." Love it.

Movie Review: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is the first feature film to be shown at 48 frames per second, as opposed to the usual 24 frames per second, but even so, I loved this film so much that I'm not sure there could ever be enough frames of it to make me happy.

As a longtime Tolkien fan, I can assure you that if you are a reasonable person who understands that books and film are two very different mediums, then you will be pleased with - and maybe even excited by - the changes that Jackson brought to the adaptation of our beloved story. The pace is ever so slightly slow in the beginning of the film (not complaining!), and this is understandable because audiences - especially those who have never read the book - need to hear quite a bit of exposition and background before the tale can proceed. Once the quest of Thorin Oakenshield's company is truly underway, however, the pace is breathtaking and there are mishaps and perils at every turn. Some of t…