Alright, so… where do we go from here?
This movie is 143 minutes long (counting the 6-minute end credits). That’s almost as long as There Will Be Blood. Does the story of The Avengers really need that long to be told? Exactly four things happen in this movie: the bad guy shows up and steals a doomsday device, the good guys assemble their team, they capture the bad guy but he escapes, he turns on the device and the aliens from Halo attack New York City.
Mixed in there we’ve got an aircraft carrier that both flies and turns invisible, we’ve got Iron Man fighting Thor, we’ve got Thor fighting the Incredible Hulk, we’ve got giant flying alien monsters, and we’ve got long, LONG talking scenes that “develop” characters who have all already had at least one movie completely to themselves.
My eyes hurt and my brain feels like it’s ready to ooze down into my jaw. These superhero movies have become so big, so bloated, so overblown in scope and self-reverence, that they literally numb the senses. By the end, the sight of a gigantic space monster’s fin gouging a big hole in a building was actually dull. That sight – a wonder, a marvel produced by movie-making technology it took over half a century to develop – was boring. Seeing said monster crash into Grand Central Station and die was routine. I kept checking the time – “Still 45 minutes left?” – and wondering why I had to see yet another scene where a guy punches another guy through a wall.
The plot sloughs from one city-crushing CGI battle to another with tedious inevitability. Will Tony Stark get hit in the balls and utter a wry quip that belies his physical pain? Will the Hulk do something incongruously zany to lighten the mood? Will we get slow-motion shots of stuff exploding and people running away? We sure will! And I hope you liked them, because you’ll be seeing them again. And again.
There is no unifying style, no “look.” Everything is slick and shiny and cold. Colors that should be bright – Captain America’s shield, Iron Man’s armor, Hulk’s skin – are dulled and grimy-looking. When you turn on one of the Tim Burton Batman movies, you know it’s a Batman movie. You see the urban decay, the almost liquid shadows, the flashy, twisted outfits of the villains. Watching these modern superhero movies, they could be anything. Loki and Thor might have wandered out of Lord of the Rings; Black Widow looks like a Bourne escapee.
When Superman came out in 1978, its tag line was “You’ll believe a man can fly.” There was a genuine wide-eyed sense of awe at seeing a comic book superhero brought to life on the big screen. Now we can see a man not only fly, but intercept a nuclear missile in mid-flight, take it through a space portal, use it to blow up an alien mother ship, and fall back to Earth without batting an eye.
What happened to us?
8 Movie Cliches I’m Really Tired Of That Appeared In The Avengers
- Samuel L. Jackson. Can he not be in every movie playing the cool, intense guy who shouts a lot? Thanks.
- People saying “With me,” and having other people fall into line behind them as they stride purposefully down a hallway.
- People saying “Talk to me,” when they need information in a tense moment. What next, will someone say, “In English, please,” when they don’t “get” technical jargon? (Someone does)
- Asian scientists. Come on.
- English-sounding bad guy. Loki is a Norse god. Why does he speak with an English accent?
- Bad guy intentionally letting himself get captured as part of a ludicrously complex scheme. Unfortunately it seems like every bad guy is going to do this after The Dark Knight. See also: Skyfall.
- Bad guy in a cell playing mind games with the people who come to visit him. Haven’t we seen enough of this one? I kept expecting Loki to ask the Black Widow about the lambs she had as a child.
- The speech at the end where people talk about how the heroes will always be there for them.