Image source. Copyright 2012, Paramount Pictures.
Earth about to be destroyed
And with that haiku that took me two seconds to make, I have given a complete description of the uninspired, dull, half-baked piece of hackneyed trash otherwise known as Marvel’s The Avengers. Four years ago, this was the movie that broke all box office records (which were then broken by Star Wars last December). It boasts a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.1 on IMDb. How? Why? I still can’t figure out. After all, the initial sensation of seeing all your favorite Marvel superheroes together on one screen can only do so much in the face of the most painfully undeveloped plotlines, characters, and visuals. Right?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Hollywood is a business, after all. It needs money – and the simplistic world-on-fire concept driving The Avengers does at least rake in cash. Watching this movie, you can just see the honchos at Marvel Studios plotting the best way to make the biggest profit with the least amount of effort. Their thought process probably went something like this:
Hmmmmm, we need to make another movie. And we need a profit, bad. But darn it, we just have to be out of all the cool superheroes…OH WAIT! (Lightbulb) They liked Thor, they enjoyed Captain America, and they loved Iron Man. Why don’t we just put ‘em all together? OMG, that’s perfect! Oh, and of course let’s throw in all the usual angsty personal background stories, painfully cliché teamwork obstacles, melodramatic do-or-die scenarios, villains with zero nuance, ridiculously confrontational dialogue that only sounds cool – and, of course, big, big, BIG explosions! Never mind that all together, it’s fairly meaningless, or that it’s been done before, or that all that tension and fighting doesn’t go anywhere in the end. After all, isn’t it just so awesome to see all those people and buildings go boom boom boom?
All right, I concede – if you’re feeling completely enervated and need something to get your adrenaline rushing, The Avengers will suit your taste. There *is* a lot of boom boom boom, sinister villains acting sinister, heroes sacrificing heroically, cool people acting cool and important. It’ll easily check off all the boxes needed to make you go “Ooh” and “Aah.” But when the fireworks all die down, you only need to look at something like The Dark Knight to realize that superhero movies can be so much better than this. Star Wars: Episode VII suffered from the same problem of meaningless melodrama, but it at least had an ubiquitous brand name and a cultural legacy to keep it afloat. Perhaps I don’t read enough comic books or watch enough superhero movies, but I don’t think Thor, Black Widow, and Captain America quite have the same kind of universal appeal. So there’s very little that can save this movie from being one long eyesore.
Not all movies have to be profound or earth-shattering, of course. That’s a bar very, very few movies can meet. A lot of movies are simply meant to be entertaining, and in that sense, if this kind of thing appeals to you, The Avengers might make the cut. But even “fun” movies still have to have some kind of basic thought process, some kind of indication that the guys who made it wanted to make it interesting. With The Avengers, it’s abundantly clear that Marvel Studios only wanted to make money. It never goes beyond the superficially awe-inspiring superhero boss battle scenarios all elementary schoolers dream up at naptime. In Marvel’s defense, however, the movie *did* end up making a lot of money – $623 million at the domestic box office is no small feat. So I suppose you can call it a success. It accomplished that much, at least.
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston
Running Time: 142 minutes
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn