The other night some friends and I were grading comic book movies A-F, like you do when you’re nerds.
When we got to Marvel’s The Avengers, they all gave it an A+, to my A-, which I might add, is still the third highest grade I gave out. Nevertheless, despite my fair appraisal, a strange look entered their suddenly lightly bluish colored eyes. By Odin’s beard, I thought violence might erupt until I hit them in the heads.
Needless to say, bruised only in spirit, and having now seen the film multiple times, I stand by my rating, and you, noble reader, will learn why.
There are five failings of storytelling that prevent me from proclaiming The Avengers the best movie ever, like so many of my nerd brethren.
I tend to think we, as a community, give Joss Whedon more leeway than we would others due to past accomplishments and slights (see Cabin the Woods reviews as an example), but really, that’s a whole different topic.
And now, from mildest to worst, the reasons why The Avengers was a Great movie, but not the Greatest:
1. Thor’s Intelligence
Soon after "Point Break" arrives on scene, we learn, through the worst means possible, dialogue!
, that Loki has enlisted the aid of the Chitauri to invade Earth. We don’t know how Thor gained this knowledge. Does Asgard have spies beyond their realms' If they knew Loki was with the Chitauri, and that the Chitauri threatened the Earth, why didn’t Asgard try to take Loki in space, or protect helpless Midgard and destroy the Chitauri for us like they defended us against the Frost Giants in ages past?
How is Thor aware of the Chitauri and Loki’s association with them, but not the Chitauri’s association with Thanos? Or was that just not worth mentioning'
We can get a twenty minute car chase scene through a tunnel at the beginning, but we can’t see five minutes worth of some Bothans die to get this information?
Seriously, this would have been some excellent foreshadowing for a sequel, at least.
The Chitauri Drop Dead
This is kind of a double whammy. First, a conventional nuke can take out a Chitari mothership, really? And secondly, doing so immediately kills all the Chitari? Well, that’s
Seriously, an alien army with that obvious a weakness is going to conquer the Earth?
Think it through. Say there were no Avengers, and they did invade, and the Council did nuke Manhattan. Problem solved. Sure, lots of people dead, but really, in the history of movie alien invasions, that’s pretty weak.
3. Head Bumps
So all it takes to reboot someone possessed by Loki is a mild concussion? Not cardiac arrest? Not 1000s of volts of electricity' And, considering Loki has a reputation as a trickster, and plays some pretty long games, we’re just going to go ahead and assume that Hawkeye is all better now?
I mean, there’s no chance it’s all a ploy, and he’s still brainwashed and playing us? Nah, we’ll just let him out and join us without having any of the super geniuses on board run any tests. Black Widow’ll vouch for him, plus his eyes are back to normal. Totally not a liability.
4. Everyone Almost Comes to Blows
OK, so it’s a tried and true comic trope that whenever two heroes first team up, they have to fight each other to a standstill. I get that. I enjoy that.
But the scene in the lab where everyone was getting angrier and angrier with each other and Fury for trying to build weapons felt forced, to me. There was an implication from close-ups on the scepter to the way Banner ends up holding it that maybe Loki’s weapon was somehow feeding their anger vibe the way chocolate fills the void that is my self worth.
But that was never explored or anything. It would have been interesting for Loki to maybe use that ability on New Yorkers as a whole, to see them turn on each other until Captain America unites them with old fashioned patriotism.
Or maybe they were all just really cranky (after all, they didn’t get a chance to eat until the very end), in which case, none of that felt really true to any of the characters. If that was just them involved in petty bickering, it was the weakest scene in the movie. If it was the scepter, it was the greatest missed opportunity of the movie.
5. The Plan
Maybe Coulson was right, and Loki unconsciously is out to defeat himself. It’s the only thing I can think of, because was that really his plan? Bring together the people who would normally have nothing to do with each other to assure they’ll have nothing to do with each other to stop him?
It seems to me if I was intent on taking over Earth and had the power to brainwash people with a touch (with the exceptions of Stark and probably Thor) that Bruce Banner and Nick Fury would be pretty high on my list. And he had the
opportunity. It felt like the writers wanted an excuse to bring everyone together, but
couldn’t think of an excuse, so went all meta to say the excuse was that they were brought together so that ultimately they wouldn’t come together!
Why take the chance? Why not pick them off individually or bring them over to the Dark Side with a scepter touch? Sadly, I can only think that like all serial killers, Loki really wanted to be defeated, and his whole invasion of Earth was nothing more than a cry for help, which takes something away from the movie for me.
So there you have it. I loved the movie, and I think I’m being generous in giving The Avengers an A-, but the acting was superb, and so was the directing. It was just storytelling aspects that failed for me.
Now maybe the novelization or comic tie-ins will clean up or explain some of this, but it isn’t my job to have to go around and make sense of the senseless. I already did that with 2009's Star Trek.
And in case you were curious (and I know you were) the other two comic movies that got higher grades: The Dark Knight with an A and Howard the Duck with an A+++. That’s right.
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