Superheroes Bump Superegos in Joss Whedon's All-Star Avengers

At the start of Joss Whedon's long-awaited Marvel superhero supergroup flick, The Avengers, the Tesseract—a powerful, potentially dangerous glowing cube that fell to the ocean floor after Captain America (Chris Evans) liberated it from the Nazis in his movie last summer—is in the hands of NASA. The cube starts spewing gamma radiation, heralding the arrival of Loki (Tom Hiddleston)—brother of demigod Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and villain of 2011's Thor—who puts a spell on scientist Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Barton (Jeremy Renner) so that they'll do his bidding. The trio escapes with the Tesseract in hand, with eye-patched agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) unable to stop them.

With the help of ass-kicking all-purpose Girl Friday Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Fury gathers a motley crew to help wrangle the Tesseract back. There's Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), pulled away from Stark Tower, the gaudy monument to himself he has built to showcase a pioneering sustainable-energy source. Gamma-radiation expert Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is found in Southeast Asia, where he tends to the local sick and maintains an equilibrium that has prevented "the other guy"—the Hulk—from showing up for a year. Captain A., frozen in a block of ice for 70 years and thawed in the present day at the end of his movie, serves as the surrogate for the segment of the audience walking in cold and desperately needing to be debriefed on all of the above. Thor, initially unlocatable even by SHIELD's all-seeing surveillance, shows up looking for his brother.

"These people may be isolated, unbalanced even," concedes Fury. They're also largely up their own asses, each of them lone warriors wary of giving up control. Once they're assembled at Fury's invisible-to-outsiders secret headquarters, Whedon uses the calm in between Loki-initiated storms to demonstrate ad nauseam that the Avengers just can't get along. As daring as it might seem for the biggest superhero movie ever to turn the action knob way down for an hour so that its actors can do some acting, the actual material they're given is as programmatic as a bad culture-clash rom-com, transparently meant to tear our heroes apart just so they can come back together. One scene, in which Thor, Iron Man, and Cap each whip out their superpowers to show the others whose is biggest, amounts to a CGI-enabled round of roshambo.

Thor and Captain America, together at last
Zade Rosenthal
Thor and Captain America, together at last

Details

The Avengers
Directed by Joss Whedon
Disney
Opens May 4

Writer/director Whedon first showed his incredible talent for long-form storytelling in TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, infusing the fantastic with slowly built, genuinely relatable emotion. On The Avengers' comparatively minute canvas of two and a half hours, Whedon effectively creates a sketch of a working universe and tells us that his characters are emotionally damaged but doesn't explore that damage in any substantive way. The most Whedon-esque parts of the script are the flippant wisecracks—self-satisfied, self-deprecating, or somehow both—that the fucked-up superheroes toss off as knee-jerk self-defense in life-or-death situations. What worked as the cool diffusion of stakes in Buffy here underlines the lack of suspense to the mission: We never get the sense that any of the heroes might not survive to snark again.

Maybe it's the shock of the new, but the most exciting actor here is Ruffalo, the third star cast as Banner/the Hulk in 10 years, after Eric Bana and Edward Norton proved unprofitable. Ruffalo successfully refreshes the Hulk myth, playing Banner as an adorably bashful nerd-genius who, in contrast to the preening hunks on the team, knows better than to draw attention to himself. As a fellow top brainiac with dangerously repressed issues, Banner brings out a measure of complexity in Tony Stark that a tired-looking Downey—who was revelatory in the first Iron Man as someone forced to become part machine in order to realize his full human potential—can no longer muster on his own.

The four main male Avengers at least combine to form a varied gallery of masculine neurosis. The women fare less well, with Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts, who was briefly promoted to CEO of Stark Industries in Iron Man 2, given just one dialogue scene: Barefoot in cutoff shorts, she whispers implied sexual promises to Tony and then books it so he can get some work done. Johansson, reprising her role from Iron Man 2, is the only actress given any sort of inner life to work with. The Avengers hints that this former Russian spy with "a very specific skill set" has a complicated backstory—sordid and shameful, perhaps, but also rife with transformative drama, suggesting an arc that's much more interesting than anything the characters travel here.

The final act of The Avengers consists of an insanely complex action set piece, containing some truly cool visual shit, not least the alien army summoned by Loki, which arrives in some kind of undulating, indestructible, prehistoric flying fish. But really, who cares about another battle? We know how this is going to end. The long, technically bravura sequence is given dramatic tension only by occasional scraps of dialogue, such as a two-line exchange between Natasha and Barton over a job they worked in Budapest, alluding to the mysterious lives they'd all been leading before this movie. Then, a few minutes later, Iron Man breaks a moment of tension with a homophobic wisecrack. Every time the movie hints at something rich and evocative, Whedon undercuts it with a punchline—his instincts as a big-picture storyteller crippled by his short-term need to please the crowd.

 
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122 comments
Steve C.
Steve C.

Seriously, every season ender of "Doctor Who" is way more gripping and better executed than this long, empty-caloried piece of commerce.

Diana Maras
Diana Maras

I don't understand critics. Why can't you just enjoy a movie? They're made for entertainment purposes only. So why does every critic look for the answer to life to be somehow exposed in a film? If you're so empty - don't blame the movie industry - blame yourself. Pull your head out of your butt and figure it out. It's really not that hard.

Michael
Michael

Wow, people are really defensive about this movie. I was bored as hell by the final scene. Really, that's the end of the world? Lizards on flying jet-skis? Shooting lasers. Was Whedon messing with us? I'm sorry I want more, but I do. I want something insanely bad-ass. Now I'm sure some idiot will come on here, telling me "those weren't lizards, they were 4th dimensional living rock things", but I DON'T CARE. I couldn't help thinking "lizards on jet-skis" so that's what they were.

Thor on the Chrysler building was cool, the Grand Central Station thing was kinda cool, but for the most part it was lame. Where was the Air Force? Cruise missiles? If arrows can take down those things, a freaking sidewinder should have no problem. These aliens couldn't even take down NYC, and we are supposed to believe they were going to take over the world?

That is why end-of-the-world movies are hard to pull off. How do a group of superheros save the world? Not by fighting bad guys that can get taken out by arrows, coming through a portal that was at most 1/2 a mile wide, in traditional battle. Maybe I needed a second bag of popcorn. I hate people that say this, but I could have come up with something better. Then why don't I? I'm seriously wondering the same thing right now.

KlingonLovePonyPOP!POP!
KlingonLovePonyPOP!POP!

I could have overlooked the wisecracks if it weren't for my choice of seating. I was sitting directly in front of a group of 20 somethings that couldn't help but laugh loudly at EVERY single joke. I wanted to kill myself by the end of the film. Jesus Christ, how could one group of people find every single idiotic joke funny? Watching Family Guy must make them hyperventilate. Maybe they were high on something? Yeah, they must have been high. It's either that or they spent the last 24 hours preparing for the movie by slamming their heads against rocks.

Ricko8687
Ricko8687

Ease up stop taking everything so serious. It's a fun summer movie

jmarquiso
jmarquiso

While I enjoyed the movie, and largely disagree with this review, she does make some fair points.

Every movie, sequel, sidequel, prequel, or otherwise should be looked at with fresh eyes. While the film is largely for fanboys, that's not the only audience meant to be reached here, and it shouldn't. Franchises largely focus on expanding audiences rather than losing them, and that's what's important here. This particular critic / audience member didn't appreciate it, and that's her prerogative.

In the echo chamber of fan press and reviews, it's important to look at counterpoints to improve the medium.

While I happen to like the Whedon-esque dialog in this movie, I generally don't like it in every movie. Being clever and witty with a line does undercut tension too much. Works for a comic book film, but not for any drama. So this is a fair point for the review.

As for Tony's "homophobic" comment, well, Tony's not supposed to be admirable. He's a bad man trying to do a good thing for redemption - which has been the most important aspect of his character since the beginning.

Edit: I will have to also profoundly disagree with the immature comments on this review.

Marxist
Marxist

yeah.....

this is a comic book movie actually trying to be faithful to it's source material..

At worst it's a popcorn film at best it's a blockbuster because of this.

pointing out the obvious to try to prove how hip you are just proves this movie wasn't made for you....

And that's fine.

David Schulz
David Schulz

"his instincts as a big-picture storyteller crippled by his short-term need to please the crowd."

Have you lost your mind? This may be the most assisne comment about a summer blockbuster movie I've ever heard. Isn't PLEASING THE CROWD the entire point of making movies like this. I swear, you film critics don't get it. These movies are what make it possible for studios to make the crop of box office failures that was this years Oscar nominees.

Geologic
Geologic

So Calcutta, India is now in Southeast Asia? Since when?

Axtell71
Axtell71

If you're not going to go into a movie with an open mind and not a bunch of (wrong) preconceived notions, then what the heck are you doing reviewing movies in the first place?

The fact that the reviewer obviously had it in mind that it was just another superhero movie without giving any credence to the story-telling or plot development or character building is proof positive that, regardless of how well made this movie was (and it is amazing), this reviewer was going to trash it.

If they summation of the review is 'who cares, we know how this is going to end', then why watch any movie? Why watch any romantic comedy, for example, when we know 9 times out of 10 the main couple is going to end up together? Why watch any movie if this is the reviewers defense?

While the reviewer is of course entitled to their opinion, as a published reviewer its their responsibility, rather, their JOB to be open-minded going in. Publishing a review trashing a film for simply being a film the reviewer obviously abhors is as lazy as it is dishonest.

Eurynome
Eurynome

Thor is not a demigod... He is a god, lmao I don't care to much about the avengers but honestly, your a critic, get the facts strait.

Gjc1695
Gjc1695

Now, now, good people. Let's remember that a professional critic renders an opinion. It's just an opinion. Here, it happens to be one that is informed.

groupthinker1984
groupthinker1984

"One scene, in which Thor, Iron Man, and Cap each whip out their superpowers to show the others whose is biggest, amounts to a CGI-enabled round of roshambo."

This is the problem when non comic book fans try to review comic book movies. There are two reasons that scene exists. First, because its longstanding comic book tradition that two superheroes have to fight before they team up. Second, because it makes sense to the plot. Thor believes Loki is his responsibility and Iron Man has no way of knowing what Thor's intentions are but knows that S.H.I.E.L.D's prisoner was just swiped. Its probably the most logical execution of the "Heroes fight before teaming up" trope I've seen to date.

Sakara
Sakara

nerd boy fnaboyz really go nuts over stoopid comic book movies.

more proof that today's college kids are dumb.

Can1
Can1

YOU ARE TERRIBLE. WHY EVEN REVIEW THIS??? you decided you would hate it before you saw it.... What? Just to be smarmy and full of yourself?What is the point? Think of something interesting to say..... READ YOUR OWN REVIEW AGAIN AND LISTEN TO HOW RIDICULOUS YOU SOUND!!! PLEASE!!!

It'

Breginol
Breginol

Don't write reviews anymore because it is asshole pompous bitches like you that attempt to ruin it for the rest of the world. Go rent the notebook buy a cheap bottle of wine and drink until you fall asleep in the tub at the motel you're renting ALONE!!

Tallulah Alice Mae
Tallulah Alice Mae

Thank you for restoring a little faith in your gender for me.

I can't even comprehend the level of sexism in all the comments on the internetz right now.

It's actually hilarious, because Joss Whedon is a feminist.

Tallulah Alice Mae
Tallulah Alice Mae

This isn't an altogether bad review; I don't agree and as people have said, being any kind of deep and evocative is not its purpose. I take issue with Stark's homphobic comment...? What? Are you referring to the 'I hope none of you kissed me' line? Ugh, how is that homophobic. Honestly.

Sjayc1
Sjayc1

The Avengers does not have the complex story that The Dark Knight has. It doesn't need to. It is the best comic to film movie in the purest sense that has been made to date. The back stories have already been told, we already know the villain. The plot has been revealed through mid credit teasers since 2008's Ironman. Any critic who would review this movie without watching the prior films is just asking to get humiliated. Male or Female. I grew up on comics. Before I could read them I would just flip through the pages to get to the fight scenes. I loved seeing the heroes get in to scraps. Whedon gets that. From Ironman vs Thor to Thor vs Hulk and so on.

Of course the winner isn't in doubt. If you went in thinking the Aliens would destroy the earth and the Avengers would bite it well, you're just plain stupid.

There is not one single critic or viewer that could possibly come out of this movie and say they didn't laugh once, nearly cheer on a couple of occasion or wish, for just a second that they could command lightning or turn in to a big green rage monster and stomp someone's butt! For 2.5 hrs of your life you can forget the rent, the car note and all the other things that stress you and immerse in to a world of entertainment.Maybe the next go around Mr. Whedon will cater to the 7% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes that didn't like the movie. Maybe filming it without audio will get him a nod for best picture 2015?

Rafael
Rafael

"Writer/director Whedon first showed his incredible talent for long-form storytelling in TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, infusing the fantastic with slowly built, genuinely relatable emotion. On The Avengers' comparatively minute canvas of two and a half hours, Whedon effectively creates a sketch of a working universe and tells us that his characters are emotionally damaged but doesn't explore that damage in any substantive way. The most Whedon-esque parts of the script are the flippant wisecracks—self-satisfied, self-deprecating, or somehow both—that the fucked-up superheroes toss off as knee-jerk self-defense in life-or-death situations. What worked as the cool diffusion of stakes in Buffy here underlines the lack of suspense to the mission: We never get the sense that any of the heroes might not survive to snark again."

Did this reviewer know that 5 movies were released where all of this was explore already? And this is not freaking Buffy, is The Avengers. Anyways, I did not finish to read the review because half of it I was not sure what the heck she was talking about, LOL

Bunga Manggiasih
Bunga Manggiasih

I love comics but never like American-type superheroes (except Watchmen, but it's not a mainstream superheroes comics for sure). Perhaps that's why although I didn't expect much, I found The Avengers to be boring, overlong, jammed with too much city destruction scenes. But I agree it is somewhat helped by Ruffalo, Downey Jr., and Johansson.

However, a trivial note for Ms. Longworth: in the movie, Branner was not working in Southeast Asia, he was in South Asia.

ultrassjstuart
ultrassjstuart

Yawn... the hilarious reverse-sexism bias of this 'review' is palpable, visible from the moment only Black Widow's character is given any positive mention, despite the only part she played was to bring back hawkeye and then they were essentially one character: 'the normals' in the group. Another pathetic vomiting of another self-obsessed feminist who is as bad as any chauvinist out there. Shocks me how anyone can spend a thousand words to say 'duh! Men have egos and fight a lot, why no women in this more? duh...'

Kindly get your head out of your own vagina and stop soiling our eyes with this bull.

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Troy Mccauley
Troy Mccauley

im sorry but this review comes off as exactly the kind of self absorbed, pretentious crap that makes people hate movie critics. Any movie should be reviewd on how well it acomplishes its goal of entertaining its target audience.

This is a frakking comic book movie, not a shakespear adaptation, slamming it for being fun is like crapping all over ice cream for being sweet.

Please just shut up.

Epac
Epac

I'm pretty sure that most movie-goers aren't walking into this thing expecting Academy Award-Winning performances.

drakejr
drakejr

Oh look, another superego, and it's from the reviewer. Get over yourself Ms. Longworth, stop trying to pretend you are too good for simple pleasures, you're not.

This is not me!
This is not me!

This is why women should stay in the kitchen and let the men watch movies!! Goddamnit!, woman..... I saw it twice and I will see it a few times more. But this review was retarded. I agree Village has gound its idiot!!

Richard
Richard

I'd like to believe that at least some of the blame for this movie being less than relevatory can be placed at the feet of Zak Penn, who wrote the original story (that Whedon then reworked) and Marvel, which obviously wouldn't give Whedon free rein to work his magic like he could on his own creations. I'm not one of those people who thinks Whedon walks on water, but he probably could've done better if the focus wasn't so much on pleasing the studio, making back the $100s of millions spent to make the movie and then some, and juggling all the egos (coughcoughrobertdowneyjrcoughcough) as on making the best story.

That's of course assuming this critique is accurate, but I have no reason to think she's not on point. (I'll find out Friday at 12:01 am for myself...)

...and for what it's worth, I'm far more excited about Batman. ;)

Solfyre808
Solfyre808

Seems like the Village has found their idiot...

Dvdbash Wordpress
Dvdbash Wordpress

Today Disney/Marvel/Joss Whedon‘s The Avengers has already grossed more than its production budget (estimated to $220 million) in overseas markets. The movie is expected to rocket past $500-600 million by Sunday, and become a worldwide box-office tsunami. Mark Ruffalo has signed a 6-film deal for The Hulk, and Samuel L.Jackson may sign a 9-film deal as Nick Fury…

Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse is going to be soon a multi-millionaire !

Tony Thornhill
Tony Thornhill

"Who cares about another battle" "We all know how it's going to end"? What kind of dumbass comment is that? You critics are something else, if the movie is dialogue heavy you critisize and say "they turn the action knob way down for an hour so it gives it's actors time to act but the material is programmatic" if there are action scenes then you say "who cares about another battle we all know how it's going to end", so if dialogue is wrong and action is wrong,... what the hell do you want!!!

Just sit down eat some popcorn, have a Coke and a smile and stop trying to examine everything under a microscope. This is the summer movie season, save all that psychoanalysis bull$#!t for the Fall movie season where everybody is trying to win the damn Academy Award.

Xbenj06x
Xbenj06x

I say actually watch the movie before you diss it. Smart Move and common sense this movie is gonna be the opposite of what this review says........... AWSOME!!!

Johan
Johan

I agree with this review. I find it amusing that so many nerds on here start hating on the reviewer for simply having a different opinion. It's strange how these superhero fans get so worked up, but are blind to any sort of criticism. This is not a perfect movie, it will never be lauded as a work of genius when the history of film is written. The Avengers is a big budget studio movie that is entertaining, but also unoriginal and safe.

Akash Yadav
Akash Yadav

Really you should change your profession. Do you know how to review a film. Every battle is going to end. So what should everyone stop watching action films. And start watching some tear jerking drama that get Oscars. Reviewers like you should be eradicated from the face of earth. And BTW Bruce was in India not South Asia so stop acting like a super intelligent when you are as intelligent dumb blonde. If you don't like action and mega budget movies then don't watch them go to see The Artist again to remember the golden days of your youth again.

$/\G/\R !
$/\G/\R !

Hulk was in India not south east asia..its more like south asia

JHAAS
JHAAS

I will have to agree with the majority of views in these comments. The key to any good review is to understand the genre in which you are reviewing. How well does the movie project the style, and successfully accomplishes the goals that said genre dictates? While it is true that some movies, like the Dark Knight, rise above its genre, there should be nothing inherently wrong with simply effectively existing within the genre either. Would the Avengers movie have made sense as a dramatic treatise on loneliness, and egotism through complex character exchanges? Of course not. That not only would be wrong for the genre, but counter to the fans' expectations. At heart, superheroes are about super feats. They are myth, and wish fulfillment. No one wishes to be stuck in inane conversations for two hours. A fair review only occurs when the reviewer removes their own bias from the work. It is okay that you do not enjoy action flicks or comic book plots, but be fair to the movie, and fans, who do.

Josh
Josh

If knowing the end of a story discounts its purpose, then I guess every movie based on a book shouldn't exist. I mean if we know that Harry Potter dies and then comes back to life, or that Gandalf saves the day in the end, then why even watch these movies? The story and the action and the content is all irrelevant I suppose. Only the end of a story matters. They should just release the last 20 minutes of every movie from here on out. Maybe then they would drop the price of admission, too. But I doubt it. :(

Alexander Szatkowski
Alexander Szatkowski

I wont hate you for having your own opinion. However....you had WAY to many spoilers. so fuck you for spoiling bits. I couldnt read your review for fear of them after the opening paragraphs, and thus cant say if your review seems legit

#fail

Scott Nicholson
Scott Nicholson

I haven't seen the movie yet. If the author reads this, I'm a nice guy and I would like you to know that the rest of my post is going to say some terrible things about your work on The Avengers, so please do not read on.

1) I CANT BELIEVE YOU GIVE SPOILERS LIKE THIS AWAY BEFORE THE MOVIE IS EVEN OUT

2) I haven't read any of the authors other articles, but I would have to assume that she hates awesome.

3) Author, I hate you and you are an idiot. Please never go see another comic book movie again. You are not welcome.

Ahahshdu
Ahahshdu

Worst review ever!! I hope you loose your job for this!! "Who cares about another battle??" Mmmhhh all your readers who you just pissed off....

zyko
zyko

Hahaha horrible review. One doesn't have to enjoy the film to not miss its point entirely. This film is a COMIC BOOK ensemble flick... And rather than develop each major character's arc within the cramped confines of "Avengers," they each have their own films (in stark's case, he has two) to do just that. Now maybe those films suck, too (try convincing fans of marvel comics but whatever) but any hogwash about character development in this particular film is asinine. That alone nearly invalidates this review. Also, as a rule of thumb, noob, you don't literally soak your review with explicit narrative spoiler. Spoilers are obviously a part of the risk but you just summarized the film. I hope you arent paid for this garbage

Guest
Guest

'But really who cares about another battle?' Huh...maybe the 94% of the critics on rotten tomatoes who certified this movie fresh, maybe the millions and millions of people around the world who went to see the movie and helped smash the overseas earnings record for an American movie, maybe all the comic fans who grew up reading these comics back in the days when internet did not exist and television was a luxury, maybe all the people who just want to go to the movies and have a great time watching a 'simple' but entertaining movie without having to dissect contemporary society. It is one thing to have personal preferences, but that does not give you a right to insult other people who have different views or to distort the facts about this movie (I found the reference to the homophobic wisecrack from RDJ particularly misrepresentative of what it really is in the movie). And as someone rightly pointed out, some movies are meant to be funny, others are meant to be dramatic, others romantic. Now, we wouldn't want an Avengers movie to be a thriller now, would we? It is a movie inspired from the comics and should be treated as such.

Steven
Steven

O 'deeper meaning' yeah?!? But you're not reviewing "babel" miss, you're reviewing a COMIC BOOK MOVIE, read COMIC BOOK MOVIE..., again COMIC BOOK MOVIE! And in a COMIC BOOK MOVIE you expect FUN, WITS and lots of BOOM, BOOM, POW and this particular COMIC BOOK MOVIE gives MORE than what we expect for. WE ARE ENTERTAINED!... I would rather watch the AVENGERS 99th times and pay 99th times than watch 'BABEL' for even a minute... You get that? You go to movies and pay to get entertained and have fun in the first place, RIGHT PEOPLE?!? RIGHT...

Miguel
Miguel

excellent review. thank you for writing a real honest review! this movie SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nautius
Nautius

Spoken like a truly stupid liberal b!tch.

genitals
genitals

What a load of complete rubbish. Your review is obviously trying to accomplish one thing. Your personal notoriety. Mission accomplished.

It comes at a price though. The overwhelming majority think you suck. Congrats

Michaelf1968
Michaelf1968

*facepalm. How does this reviewer even have a job? Its a superhero movie, Not some foreign euro social drama. Judge it for what it is. "if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid" this review is exactly that.

 

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