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Avengers Rocks... Does it Matter?

O Updated
There Will Be Games

So on Friday night I hooked up with a couple of buddies of mine. We picked up some beer and headed on down to the beach. Guy’s night out. We sat there and discussed past Super Hero movies debating exactly how much it matters if Batman talks in a voice like Gomer Pyle and how it's odd that some people find it completely irrelevant whether or not his voice was comical to you. We discussed why X2, a movie with very little fireworks after the opening scene and with a pointless fight using X23, still managed to be the best of the bunch somehow (we left Incredible off the table believing it was unfair to the other movies). We discussed how Superman failed so miserably and what we liked and didn’t like about the series of movies leading up this new Avengers flick.

We enjoyed the beers, watched the boats sit in the harbor, looked at the mountains and threw a ball for some guys dog since his owner didn't seem to care and we were suckers. We even lit up a spliff to get us into the appropriate 16 year old boy frame of mind needed to really enjoy this latest super hero blockbuster in all it's 3D glory.


It was an excellent night.


We then made our way down to the Cineplex, waited in an obscenely long line for 45 minutes just to get good seats, bought some over priced garbage food and sat down to wait for the film still arguing about past efforts but trying to be as polite about it as three 30 something (barely) guys half drunk/high can be in a  quiet theatre. Everything was going great.


Then the movie came on. It was fast, bombastic, funny, and generally pretty well done. The scenes for the evil dudes in evil dimension were perfectly set and felt utterly appropriate. The characters were all just how they should be (but get rid of Iron Man’s girlfriend already) and the movie couldn’t have been more by the numbers. He goes through a little re-introduction to all the characters pre build up and it’s all very much formula. I loved it. The movie does an excellent job of bringing unashamed comic book glory to the big screen. Finally movie goers can see what we comic book fans have been seeing for decades. Finally. But is that a good thing? Am I giving away my answer by asking the question? I remember watching Sin City in the theatre and that’s when I first realized that as well done as the film was putting a comic book on screen exactly as is, is the most pointless waste of celluloid out there.. I’m including porno. It accomplishes nothing except to insult the comic medium by assuming that simply because it’s a O MY GOD movie that you need to see it. I hate that mentality. That process should be treated the exact same way the novelization of Star Wars is treated. Not the spin off books, the novelization of the films. Avengers doesn’t do that, it is not the Ultimates no matter how many similarities it has. It’s just another take on the same stories we’ve heard a hundred times before. It’s one of the things I like about comic books. People get to take the characters out for a spin and put an individual touch on them. That can be a lot of fun and it’s amazing how different the stories can feel when new writers are brought on board.

The Avengers gets this right. It’s not the same as any other Marvel story, not exactly anyway. It’s a Whedon stamped story, maybe even too much so at times. minor spoiler – there’s a scene where Captain America approaches the public during a major catastrophe and quickly gives some orders out to a cop. The cop looks at him incredulously and says: “Why should I listen to you” then three evil ass aliens show up and he makes quick and stylistic work of them. Instantly the cop turns around barking the orders Cap asked him to… it’s the same joke he used in the train episode of Firefly only it was better in Firefly. If you’ve seen that series, it’s the scene where they try to return the money and the first tough dude will not listen so they kick him into the engine - dead... and the second tough dude just agrees as quickly as possible. It was funny once Josh, your audience will recognize it. Not your new audience but your fans will. Spoiler over –

It did feel like a  hodge podge of things Whedon has done in the past put into a super hero film. That’s fine if you don’t know his work already but for the rest of us it might be irritating. There is a little too much nudge nudge wink wink going on in the film but none of these are things that bother me. No. What bothered me was not in the movie, it was the slow realization that I just like these characters better in a comic. You need the silly Whedon comedy in a movie. Its tough enough to take seriously as is, without the levity it would be a slog. You don’t need it in the comic, you can accept these ridiculous things at face value in a comic. Super Heroes are ideally suited to the comic format. They fit that world. In movie world things are too real, the costumes seem sillier, the dialogue laughable, the plot ludicrous but comics have relied on that for too long. I enjoy the Grant Morrison Justice League comics as impossibly stupid as they are but I only would enjoy them as a comic. You can go as over the top as you like and I will still find a way to read more into it and never feel stupid for doing so. The comic book is an incredible medium. I love looking at a double page spread and I love seeing all the panels laid out in front of me. I love figuring out how an image got from one still to the next. I don’t want it done for me, I don’t want to hear Cap America’s voice or see Loki’s insufferably shiny armour in real life. It looks stupid in real life.


I’m not saying I don’t want more super hero movies, I do want more superhero movies. I’ve seen more Kung Fu flicks, Samurai flicks, Westerns, Romantic Comedies, Zombie flicks, War movies etc… then I have supers and I have more room for supers still. I am sick of every second reviewer saying enough with the super hero movies already. There isn’t that many, calm down. I will still watch them. Besides, like any producer can resist making more supers films now anyway. This thing is making obscene buckets of cash and all the greedy money grubbing producers will do anything they can to repeat that success. Plus all the comics I read now seem more and more like movie treatments, practically beggining some producer to turn them into films. Even the artists in the medium seem ashamed of their job as they instantly flock to any other medium that will have them.


But even though I will still watch them they will never be as good as the comics for me. The Avengers is about as good as it could be and the Ultimates (it’s closest comic neighbor) still beats it in every way imaginable. I can’t shake the feeling that movies are sillier… in this setting, than comic books are. Movies make everything seem sillier, less realistic because you can see the cracks in the armour, you can tell the bolder is paper mache, and you know Hawkeye makes no sense in this world firing one arrow every ten seconds while his enemies fire off hundreds of bullets in the same time all missing him while he stand out in the open. You can buy that in a comic for some reason, the medium speaks to you differently.


I’ll probably watch the Avengers again before I decide if it’s better than X2 or not. It’s not better than the Incredibles so just forget about that but it might be better than X2 and it certainly would be if X2 didn’t have those two voices saving line after line of dialogue that just wouldn’t work in the hands of mortals. Avengers doesn’t have those voices, but it is so unashamed and proud of it’s origins, stupid and silly as they are, that it’s impossible for me to not admire it. Not even the Spiderman movies are as unashamed of their origins as this one.


So yes, the Avengers rocked. But it can never be as good as the Ultimates. I’ve read that book more times than I can count, I don’t know how many times I’ll watch the Avengers, but I’ll be able to count that high. I think movies, as much as I love them, are just as limited a medium as any other.


There Will Be Games
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