The Avengers (2012)

Hey, look! I’m not dead. Check pulse. Yup, I’m sure, not dead.

As usual in movie reviews, here comes… THE IMDB PLOT!

Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

Spoilers? Spoilers. I mean, for sure this time, I need to spoil this. Also, beware if you’re a Whedon or Marvel fanboy.

Anyway, the easiest way to describe The Avengers is “it is an incredible good sequel, but a very lousy movie by itself.”

What do I mean by that? That the movie is only good because it is based on everything that Marvel did before. If it wasn’t for Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain American and the numerous remakes of Hulk, this movie would suck donkey balls.

Just to show this: If you saw the movie already, answer me this: Who is Hawkeye? No, “the guy who can shoot arrows without even looking at the target” is not the valid answer. Who is Hawkeye? We know that Iron Man/Tony Stark is super genius, incredible egocentric guy from the previous movies (and that he is dating Potts only due his guilt/she’s the only one that cares); we know that Captain America/Steve Rogers is the supreme-good-guy-Greg who is in all about do what’s right form the previous movie; we know Thor is the demigod that cares about Earth due his experience when he was stripped of his powers in the previous movie; we know Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff is the supreme spy and very good at hand-to-hand combat from the previous movies; we know Hulk/Bruce Banner is the super smart guy that can get angry or he turns into an incrontrollable beast from the previous movie. And what do we know about Hawkeye? That he was sitting in a crane on Thor in a very small scene and that’s it. There is absolutely no character development and those were traded with very small “in the previous episode” type of recons.

If someone who never saw Thor (the movie), for example, would that person understand why Thor (the character) cares about Earth? Probably not.

So yeah, it’s a sequel. No matter what anyone says, this is a movie for anyone that saw all the previous Marvel movies.

And for the science, I’m happy that Joss Whedon didn’t ruin this movie too much. Now hold your freaking Firefly[1] fanboyism and listen for a second: The problem with Whedon is that he’s a nerd. The same way I could bore you to dead discussing some intrinsic property of some programming language, he could probably do the same about comic books. It’s too much for anyone that only wants to learn a programming language or read a comic book. But, again, we both hold ourselves and the movie is saved, which a few exceptions in the screenplay — which is also partially credited to Whedon.

I won’t discuss acting of everyone ’cause, as I said, the characters are pretty much the same you saw before. We don’t need to talk how Scarlett Johansson makes a mysterious but well trained assassin/spy ’cause she’s just redoing the same thing she did in Iron Man 2; or how Robert Downey Jr does a good job being the playboy, narcissistic, super-smart guy ’cause he’s just replaying the same guy he did in two movies.

But we have Mark Ruffalo doing Hulk, a job that was done before by Andrew Norton and Eric Bana. I think he does a good job being the “I… must… control… myself… must… not… get… angry…” type of guy but his physique is a bit… off. The Banner/Hulk relationship is similar to Steve Rogers/Captain America, with the “return to previous state” clause: The thin, weak guy vs the bulging, strong guy. But Ruffalo is already a good-sized guy, which feels… out of place. Nothing that ruins the story, though.

Heck, compare the way Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the very old “The Incredible Hulk” series. Sure, both actors have different sizes and there was some camera tricks to enforce this difference, but it worked: The Hulk was huge and Bruce was tiny.

Even if he’s doing the same job he did in Thor, one must point the incredible work of Tom Hiddleston being Loki. I mean, really. What this guy did with the character is the same thing Brent Spinner did for Lieutenant Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation: There is no actor, only the character. The movie could pretty much put “Loki as himself” in the credits and it would still be accurate. A few maniacal laughs missing, but still pretty good character portrait.

I can’t really say anything about Jeremy Renner. I really like the guy, I usually enjoy the way he acts and the type of character he portraits but, again, we are stuck in the question: Who is Hawkeye?

Story wise, there are so many plot holes as created by the number of explosions in the movie. First and foremost, Who the fuck is Hawkeye? Maria Hill also don’t have any character development, but she’s always in the sidelines and never in the center of the screen. But Hawkeye? Oh, come on! And, most glaring, is the fact that Loki is captured because he did want access to the Hulk. Only that he never ever gets near him (Hulk gets near Loki, though, and that’s completely different). It’s never said why Loki wants to get the Hulk as the Hulk never contributes to his plan or against it — Loki doesn’t need Hulk gamma-saturated body parts and the Hulk doesn’t have the power to simply stop Loki, and one sees clearly that Loki doesn’t fear the Hulk later on. Wanna a plot this? Loki wants to use the power of the Stark Tower, but change that to the generator in Tony Stark chest and BLAM! Tony Stark is the monster! OH SHIT! Except that don’t. And if Bruce Banner is always angry and can sort-of control the Hulk, why he goes apeshit on Black Widow if one can clearly see that he’s pissed with S.H.I.E.L.D. — Nick Fury specially — in the discussion? Tony Stark gets annoyed with the idea of losing Coulson (told you, spoilers), walks away when Fury talks about it, gets angry with Cap when they talk about it and, still, nothing really changes. He doesn’t break. He doesn’t bulk up. He shows to be the most affected by Coulson dead and, still, he doesn’t give a fuck? The fuck! And goddammit Whedon, if you want to show semi naked, long legs girl, why the fuck Gwyneth Paltrow? Geebuz!

And then we have the combos. I mean, for anyone who played Marvel Ultimate Alliance — both games — know that this is a big thing: Heroes combine their powers for even stronger attacks! And you keep expecting those to happen, which twice in the movie, in one symmetrical distance between start and end and never used again. Cap, Thor and Iron Man find out an incredible powerful combination that can really destroy lots around them but, when cornered, they go by themselves instead of using this knowledge. Earth Mightiest Heroes, but not smartest, for sure.

The movie is good but only because it stands on the shoulders of its predecessors. Story-wise it’s full of cracks and, if it wasn’t for the previous titles, this would be on par with any Michael Bay movie — or even below them.

[1] And Andromeda was way superior than Firefly, ’cause they had Kevin Sorbo and the series was still kick ass.

Edit: Ok, two things I realized after I posted this:

  1. The implied relationship between Black Widow and Hawkeye is only there exactly because they gave zero fucks about his character development. It was added ’cause you already know Black Widow, you care about Black Widow and, thus, with said relationship, you now care about Hawkeye by proxy.
  2. Let’s take a step back and look at “Loki needs Hulk” thingy: Let’s say that the plan was really to blow up the Helicarrier. You can kinda make this by seeing that Banner picks the scepter and that the whole discussion was actually Loki manipulating everyone in the most perfect timing in history. And then nobody realizes it was actually some mind manipulation going on, including the two most brilliant minds in the Marvel universe?

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

IMDB Plot:

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

For anyone that knew me after my teen years, it may be hard to imagine that I could relate to the pre-Captain Steve Rogers: I was thin as a stick and I really wanted to have a nice body (although I never planed fighting for America). And I watched the “unanimated series” from the 60s cartoon — and that’s my only experience — and expectation — for this movie.

Now, before anything else, one thing I worried about was “Is this a movie for Americans?” In an interview, Chris Evans said that the movie could be renamed “Captain Nice Guy” and still work, but it’s kinda hard to believe he would say something that would ruin the box-office worldwide. But the real question is not if “Captain America is ‘America, FUCK YEAH!'” but if the movie is made for Americans — somewhat, bad memories of the first Spider-Man with those bad lines like “You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York” “You mess with one of us, you mess with us all” (completely ignoring the fact that the Green Goblin was also a New Yorker, herp derp) and Spider sitting in a pole with a huge American flag for no good reason (actually, I know why they put those things there, but still!). Anyway, no, the movie is not tailor made for Americans: The cast is diverse enough, as the Allies were in the World War II. Sure, Captain America leads the story, but you have the German scientist who made Cap a possibility, the British intelligence officer and the “Howling Commands” (which are never given a name in the movie) which have British and French army guys — and never ever in the movie is mentioned how “America will win this war”. So that line of “America ideal’s” on IMDB plot is, once again, pure bullshit: It’s more “the Allies ideal’s”.

The script is on par with the other super-hero movies from the Avengers series: Good, but not “Batman Begins” level. In a way, they finally started to use the big story arc they are building for Avengers, putting hits on the future of the series there and there. Fortunately, they still manage to add character building long enough so we care about Steve Rogers enough to now want him to die in the next movie. Sure, sure, there are plot holes, but they don’t mess with the general story — even if the Hydra agents seem to have taken shooting lessons with the Storm Troopers: “Hey, look, it’s the main character and the guy that it’s kicking everybody asses here! Let’s shoot two miles over his shoulder, that should stop him!”.

Acting is mostly good. I was surprised how Chris Evans managed to make a believable “nice guy” character. Hayley Atwell makes a good (mutual) love interest for Cap, although I couldn’t really listen to her British accent. Do I need to go and say anything about Tommy Lee Jones acting as a military officer? I don’t think so. The only downside is, weirdly as it seems, Hugo Weaving as the villain. I mean, we saw him being a maniacal, ruthless villain with a big ego who thinks he can take over the whole world — and that can be said about Red Skull too. But I guess he was so worried about not doing another Agent Smith that he toned Red Skull down a bit too much, to the point that it seems, deep down, he’s not sure he can take over the world — or that he really is better than any other human. Again, another Agent Smith would work for Red Skull, but I have this feeling Hugo toned things down to not be compared to his own character.

One thing to note about the movie is the end credits. I mean, the pre-“rolling text” credits, when they put the main people names before everyone else: The did a nice mix up of American pro-war posters that, although it’s American, they are also some piece of history. Also, there is, as usual, a post-“rolling text” “more story”, but it’s not that awesome. It’s just the teaser for The Avengers but you know how teasers are. In short, not really worth staying 10 more minutes in the theater just to watch it. Wait a few days and watch it in HD on YouTube.

Overall, Captain American is really entertaining and worth watching, as much as any Iron Man or Thor movie is worth watching.