This holiday break, unlike the rest of you who watched “The Last Jedi,” I watched Marvel’s “The Avengers.” To which you say, “You haven’t seen ‘The Avengers’ yet? It came out in 2012! Have you been living under a rock?” And to which I say, “No, I haven’t been living under a rock, I’ve been living in Australia.”
(Honestly, that’s not fair. The “Last Jedi” is out in theatres here too, I’m just too cheap to go. Also, I moved to Australia waaaaay after 2012, so that statement doesn’t even make sense.)
(Wait, that statement’s also waaaaay too mean. I like living in Australia. Melbourne is a bit too big for me, but the wildlife in the surrounding areas is outstanding. Not to mention there’s no snow. No snow. Let me repeat that in case you didn’t catch it: No. Slipping. Snow. And Melbourne is kinda cute and small town-y despite the five million other people, because when you send out your Christmas cards you write “card only” on the envelope to get the cheaper rate and everyone believes you. And when you walk in stores, everyone’s playing 90’s music like the city’s on some kinda time warp, but I like 90’s music so it’s cool.)
But back to “The Avengers.” My husband was really impressed that I took out this movie from the library because the last superhero movie I ever watched by Marvel was “Batman” where the bald guy climbs out of the pit for a million years. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.
And then I was like, “Actually, I’ve seen tons of Marvel’s superhero movies. Like that really old one about the guy in the blue tightie whities? The one who my mum thinks is hot? You know, Superman?”
And my husband was like, “That’s not Marvel. A different company made Superman.”
And I was like, “Oh. Wait–what?”
And my husband was like, “But you’ve seen Spiderman, right? That’s Marvel.”
And I was like, “Yeah. Except not Spiderman 3, because I fainted in the movie theatre parking lot before I even got to watch it because I ate too many mangoes.”
Anyway, after watching “The Avengers” I had so much burning inside me to say that I figured I might as well write a post about it. Just keep in mind the person writing this post only watched “The Avengers” because she figured she liked superhero movies because she read “Zeroes” cowritten by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. (Superhero books are different than superhero movies – for one, they actually contain emotions. Ba-dum pshhhhhh.)
Also, keep in mind that the person writing this post was not intimately familiar with the Marvel franchise. She hadn’t even read the Marvel comics, since the comics she likes to read are indie and gay. She didn’t even see Spiderman 3 because she fainted from eating too many mangoes.
Of course, since the internet is filled with reviews from people who are clearly not the target audience of the media they’re reviewing, I expect my review will fit right in.
So without further ado, let’s go!
1) The major problem I had was with the characters.
a) First of all, I had no clue who anyone was. I kinda figured out Captain America because the movie wouldn’t let you forget it, and Black Widow (I’d heard of her before), and the Hulk because he was angry and stuff. But as for the rest, I had no freaking clue. There was jerky dude in the shiny red suit with blue glowy things, Brad Pitt (later I learned he wasn’t actually Brad Pitt) with a hammer, and an arrow throwing guy I was left to assume was Cupid’s older brother. Now, eventually I figured out fake Brad Pitt was Thor. However, nothing informed me as to who red shiny blue glowy dude or Cupid’s older brother were. Their superhero names never were said once in the movie. The back of the DVD informed me that the dude in the red metal suit was Ironman. However Cupid’s older brother’s name was nowhere on the back of the DVD. My husband told me his name was Hawkeye so I’ll have to take his word for it. It would have been nice to learn everyone’s names in some corny suit-up sequence montage in the beginning. It. Was. Not. Clear.
Also, I have no clue where the eye-patch dude fits in. Does he have a super power? Or is his only power navigating his disability in an able-bodied world? If so, that’s admirable, but I had no idea why he was there.
b) I felt no emotional investment in the plot. I didn’t care about the characters. One minor character died and all the heroes were practically crying with emotion. I didn’t feel anything because that guy had five minutes of screen time and I couldn’t remember how he was helping the good guys at all. Eye-patch dude said something about him being a spy, but I never saw dead dude spying so I think I misheard him.
Basically you can’t have six heroes in one movie taking up equal screen time. Because that is six stories and not enough time to develop them. They should have focused on one or two characters and the others could have cameos or something. Then touching scenes can actually be touching.
c) When Thor and Ironman were fighting I didn’t care about who won or lost. I think I was supposed to be like “Oooh will Thor’s hammer kick Ironman’s butt or will Ironman’s blue electric glow dominate Thor’s lighting?” Right, that didn’t happen. And not just because I didn’t know Ironman’s name. The fight reminded me of two little boys playing with their action figures and it was really, really boring. I spent the entire endless scene wondering what the point was. Apart from some homoerotic undertones this scene had nothing going for it. Because frankly, the person who wins, wins because the script writer wrote it as so. And the scriptwriter wrote Captain America breaking them apart and winning which leads me to my next point.
2) The second major problem I had was with the super powers themselves.
a) Captain America. I really hate this guy. I know he’s supposed to fill you with the warm, patriotic feels of American ideals. But even though I’m technically dual citizen American, I grew up in Canada. And let me tell you, the Canadian part of me laughs at Captain America so hard.
Let me create a new superhero for you. Let’s call him Captain Canada. He wears a white suit covered in red maple leaves. And he goes around beating everyone up over the head with club that’s really a super strong taxidermied beaver carcass. And no matter how awesome everyone is, he always wins because Canada knows best. If you think this is ridiculous, you’re right. It is. But it’s no more ridiculous than Captain America.
Now, I’m not saying national pride is bad. In fact, I think that Canada should suit up and kick some dead beaver butt and actually take pride in empowering their citizens to innovate technology and create art, instead of relying on their star spangled neighbour to the south to innovate and create everything for them. However, there is a balance. Captain America is not always right. And when he goes around saying corny punchlines and dominating the battles to save the world, he comes across as uneducated and arrogant.
b) The Incredible Hulk. This super power has issues stemmed in permissive male rage.
Why male rage? Since the morphing form of The Hulk is hyper masculine with enormous muscles and a half-naked body it clearly refers to male qualities. And since the change from man to Hulk only happens when the character gets angry, it is pretty clear it refers to anger issues.
Basically, this character gives the message that as a man, you can try to control your anger but it’s futile. And when you lose control you aren’t responsible because the creature isn’t really you. As long as you’re in Hulk mode you can’t remember anything you did and that’s okay, because when you aren’t in Hulk mode you have the best of intentions and try really hard to stay calm. However, it’s a losing battle. The anger will be expressed and when it’s expressed in an uncontrollable and destructive way that threatens and harms other people, it can save the world. Totally permissive and problematic.
c) The Black Widow. As far as I can tell, her only super power is looking sexy and beating people up. I guess that’s a thing? Her powers to me seem to be more like a fetish than a superpower. Just saying.
3) The third major problem I had was with the villain, Loki. He just looked goofy and didn’t seem threatening at all. I think his smile was supposed to terrify me and feel me with unease or be creepy at least. It just looked ridiculous. And the giant horns on top of his head did nothing to improve this image.
4) Using special effects instead of a plot line. The battles were massive and must have taken a lot of work. However, because I wasn’t invested in the characters I was really, really bored. During the final battle, I actually paused the movie and cooked dinner. When I returned to it, I had no clue what was going on because I wasn’t interested. Even though the saving the world stakes were kind of high, they didn’t feel high because I just didn’t care whether the characters lived or died because they had done nothing to endear themselves to me. No matter how many giant whale space ships they threw into the plot, it couldn’t change the major lack of emotional stakes.
5) The ending. Now I’m going to assume that you (unlike me) haven’t been living under a rock since 2012 and have actually watched this thing. So this next part will contain spoilers. If you don’t want these spoilers, stop reading now.
Still here? Okay. So, you know how the major alien threat was neutralised by Ironman throwing a nuclear bomb through a porthole to blow up an entire alien planet and how the port hole conveniently closes in time so that the US receives none of the fallout?
Well, there is a problem with this.
First, let’s realise that the alien threat really only was shown to be destroying an American city. So, it wasn’t directly threatening the world. It was directly threatening the US. (Okay, okay, the aliens could then spread from the US to the rest of the world, but it’s not really clear that’s their plan. They could just take out the US and call it a day. Basically the immediate the threat and the one we see in the movie is solely American.)
As for the aliens, what kinds of people are these? Well, since Americans have no problem calling actual people aliens, it’s not too much of a stretch to think “Hey, these aliens are a foreign threat. They symbolise people who aren’t American who threaten the US.” Supporting this idea even more is how the aliens were attacking the city. Airships smashing through giant skyscrapers. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Now, I’m not negating an American anxiety about terrorism or invaders or whatever. There’s precedent for them to be concerned. However, “The Avengers” has a message. These acts of violence by a few can only be solved by nuking the entire territory belonging to the perpetrators.
And there is a massive problem with that.
We don’t know much about this alien planet. However, we do know that Loki sided with some group of people living on it who had an army. We don’t know if this alien army represented the majority of the people living on this planet. We don’t know if this alien army was a fringe group. We don’t know if there were tons of innocent people living on the planet who had no idea about what their military planned or whether they supported the idea or whether they were under oppressive rule or what. We don’t know.
And apparently we’re not supposed to care.
It doesn’t matter if an entire environment and innocent lives are destroyed as long as the US triumphs and forces the foreign force into submission.
How’s that for an empowering message?