Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on The Marvel Universe – The Avengers

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on The Avengers:

Final Thoughts on The Avengers:

Colin:

Get ready. This is going to take a while.

We have a dilemma here. One might say that in The Avengers, we have a very impressive film that dazzles with a star-studded cast, cutting-edge effects and a scale of action that dispatches even recent summer blockbuster competitors. One of our most consistent complaints about Marvel films is that things don’t really get to progress well during individual hero movies because everything needs to come together for the group flick that’s been scheduled years in advance. That whole thing like, “Hey, there’s a fella named ‘Thor’ who has to appear to be on the brink of death and risk losing everything in this movie! But he’ll be in this movie coming out in a year, so I’m sure it’ll all be okay.” The only way you solve that problem is to not universe it (I can just hear the idiots asking me, “So what are they supposed to do, just NOT have a universe or something?” And yes, that’s exactly the solution.) and consider killing some people every now and again. But now that we’re in this far, we should at least feel fortunate that the group movie is here to move the characters along. All the risk-averse movies with guaranteed safe endings are through, and we’re ready for our really dark movie where people die and things have consequences.

Okay, so that was the fantasy world that the optimists among us inhabited for a little while. We ended up getting a movie that took no risks and wasted a lot of our time in the process. Let’s examine the set-up, shall we?

First, we have a voiceover threat. I have no idea who this threat is or why we care about him. Someone’s talking to someone about destroying Earth, at which point you’re just aping the Transformers movies. Loki is the bad guy because we know who he is, and he knows about the Tesseract, which has to be our MacGuffin for reasons that will become relevant later. So instead of explaining our enemy, his motivations, or what happened between the events of Thor and now, we have a faceless space threat in the first shots of the movie. Already, I question the film. Why make Loki the bad guy when his character here shares little more than an appearance with his Thor character? In his initial appearance, he was the ambitious younger brother who was eager to please, misguided, self-loathing and dejected. His final act of [attempted] suicide was enough to show just how crestfallen he was to have failed in the eyes of those he loved. The only hatred present in that moment was directed inward. Fast-forward to this movie, and he’s a maniacal space general out to conquer Earth with a borrowed army because….power? They spend mere moments explaining this, and it has no basis in the character. What if he wanted to take over because humans kill each other and war has gotten too out of hand on Earth? It would be another misguided case study for Loki to undertake in hopes of proving his worth and redeeming himself in the eyes of his brother and father. Then when Thor tries to stop him, along with the rest of the Avengers, Loki might perceive it as the older brother trying to hog the spotlight. You know, something with a basis in the characters they spent a whole film and $150 million establishing. I’ve seen people online speculating about Loki’s intentions and his actions, and the point is this: no matter what reasoning you may have for explaining his behavior, the film doesn’t come close to making any of that explicit, nor does it try to expand on background of one of the franchise’s stronger villains in establishing a threat for the film. So if you think you have the answer about why Loki acted a certain way or why he did what he did in this movie, stop it right now and understand that you’re just rationalizing.

From the threat introduction, we have Samuel call the team. This was the first mistake they made in sequencing, because this movie is pretty clearly a character film. Nobody gives a single shit about WHAT the threat is (5 extra points if you remembered the name “Chitauri” even a day after you first saw this movie), we only care about the lead bad guy and how the team manages the threat through their own specific modes of action. There are two simple ways of doing this. The first involves isolating the characters and giving them some time on their own before we even find out what the threat is. You’d have Stark on his own, then Banner, and then Rogers. There would be character moments, and then when the threat arises, we meet Barton and Natasha with the rest of SHIELD, who’s there to see Barton get mind-controlled. The team assembles and even though Thor shows up later, he peppers in his own character stuff while explaining what the hell is up with Loki. So to repeat, character time for a little while, then threat, then they come together. The other option is to do the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven intro, which is where a team is being assembled and each character joins for their own reasons, demonstrating what they care most about and determining how they will likely act throughout the film. I particularly like this, and it’s closer to what actually happens. The issue is that everyone just comes on because there’s a problem. There’s no reason for any of them to be there, other than that they were all asked. Remember that of the six team members, only three need to be convinced to join; while it’s kind of sad that the character development only really applies to Stark, Banner and Rogers (Barton and Romanoff will just work for SHIELD and Thor is showing up cause of Loki, no questions asked), it would have given them the luxury of time to spend on their recruitment. Basing it on the characters’ backstories, you’d have to have reasons for each of those three to first decline but then want to join after all. Stark would decline on the grounds that they didn’t want him, but that same ego would bring him back looking for action. It would also lead him toward arrogance, making his sacrifice all the more touching. Banner would want to stay away from danger, but be brought on because SHIELD was able to convince him that the coming war involving the Tesseract would unleash gamma radiation that could adversely affect millions. That’d be enough to get him on board, albeit struggling to manage his alter ego. Rogers had to be the one who doesn’t think he’s relevant anymore but answers the call to effectively lead the group when he recognizes the areas in which modern heroes are lacking. Now, they did all of this stuff up to like….80 percent, throughout the whole movie. You piece together everything, and you’ve got most of what I just said, except for Banner. What they did instead, was start by just asking everyone to help out (to which they all said yes, cause…okay?) and then giving them all a series of awkward scenes over the following 30 minutes, during which almost all of the characters size up almost all of the other characters before the action even starts. The perfect example is Steve Rogers on the plane heading for the carrier. He sees the dossier on Banner, and gets the backstory about the serum and what happened afterwards. Steve says that he guesses things didn’t work out too well for Banner. It’s awkward, pointless, third-party dialogue about a character whose movie we’re supposed to have seen and who we’ve already met a few minutes into this movie, and that special effects budget in the tens of millions of dollars — that’s all going toward rendering the interior of a very impressive, very fake aircraft that stands in for a briefing room instead of showing us what’s wrong with Banner firsthand with others present. At the very least, you pull a Hunger Games and give characters time to get to know one another on the train, in isolation before the fun begins. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, people. But the best they can do is a few seconds at a time, like when Rogers tells Banner he doesn’t care about Hulk and shakes his hand.

What about how the characters interact throughout the film? We have three main phases of character interaction, each focusing on different relationships and different stages in each character’s “arc.”

The first phase is recruitment and briefing, when everyone sizes each other up. Banner’s suspicious of everyone, Stark’s an arrogant ass, Rogers is a suck-up, Thor is impatient and direct, and Romanoff is cool, but manipulative. Barton’s mind-controlled, so we don’t care. Again, they tried to do a lot of this, but didn’t pull it off. Banner was way too chill during this part of the movie, so more antagonism from him would have been appreciated. Thor shows up and cracks a bunch of jokes in the briefing room despite having used dark energy to come here and secure his presumed-dead brother. If we’re getting really out there, you could even try to go the Nolan route and make Rogers’ character some sort of commentary about what America’s lost and what’s wrong with the way we wage war today. Some of that may come through with him later, but in this movie, he mostly follows orders until he figures out the right thing to do and does it.

The second phase is the team’s disintegration. Banner doesn’t jive with SHIELD’s gamma-related weapons program, and splits. Romanoff peels off to save Barton, hopefully. Stark attempts to cut a corner somewhere and either gets someone killed or doesn’t succeed in stopping an enemy (so that he has a reason to make the sacrifice later, other than Coulson). Thor, tired of these human squabbles, decides they’re wasting time and goes it on his own before being brought down by some new Loki power, which teaches him prudence in addition to the humility he gained in his own movie. Rogers has the potential to be the most interesting of him all because he’s the opportunity for a Western-style character who poses a thought experiment pitting the old modes of action against the new. They almost scratched the surface of a really basic version of this idea when he breaks into the weapons room instead of waiting for Stark to hack the system. What would have been more effective is if he’d rallied the SHIELD troops (maybe giving Cobie Smulders something to do in the meantime) and led them in battle to retake the bridge or rescue someone where technology and surveillance had failed thus far — you shoot it with lots of imagery reminiscent of WWII battles and show everyone that sometimes bravery and ingenuity can deliver results just as well as superheroes.

The third and final phase is everyone returning to the fight as a team and finally bringing what they’ve got to the fight. Banner is back because after leaving, something prompts him to transform suddenly and he realizes he can’t outrun his problem; in embracing the fight and resolving to deal with SHIELD later on, he finally loses that fear and takes control. Stark is shaken by his earlier failure and has accepted that sometimes it’s not about him. He’s a team player now and still makes his sacrifice. Thor is back but he doesn’t rush into the fight, instead electing to devise a more comprehensive plan of attack with the team as an equal member, and perhaps even acting as a mediator in the event of any residual hard feelings between characters. Rogers is tricky, because his only flaw thus far has been his eagerness to obey orders. Perhaps the council’s first attempt to wipe out New York with a “Phase Two” weapon is unsuccessful because Rogers preemptively sabotaged it out of suspicion. Romanoff and Barton are the two who really don’t matter, so I guess they can be the way they were in the movie, only with a little more emotion. Maybe she shows some real emotion for a change. The team pulls through and Stark saves the day. Only…

Someone needed to die. I’m really sorry, but there’s no way that we can accept these movies if they’re entirely without consequences. It’s not like there’s a goal in this movie other than to stop the bad guy and not die in the process, and it’s not like they’re going to lose to the bad guy, so the only way to not completely cop out is to kill someone. Romanoff is the only woman, so it can’t be her. Barton would be easy, but he never really had a character to begin with. Thor needs to be around because he’s our space connection, and Stark isn’t going anywhere because while these filmmakers can be lazy at times, they’re not stupid. It needs to be Banner or Captain America because they’re both tragic characters and really the two most innocent and good. Hulk is the only one without a series — why didn’t Banner die after finally conquering his other half? It’d be bittersweet because he’d have sacrificed himself for the fight but he’d also be at peace, finally. And then you replace him with a woman character, who gets her own series and evens out the gender balance a little bit. Think about how much more tension we’d have going into Age of Ultron knowing that they had the balls to kill someone off like that. Most good popcorn movies are predicated on perseverance in the face of adversity and the ability of protagonists to shrug off personal losses. Think about Jaws, Top Gun, Star Wars, The Dark Knight, or even something like The Lion King. These are all great summer popcorn movies that deal with loss as a major theme and as a driver of action. How does Maverick come back after Goose dies? How does Luke pull his training together after witnessing the puzzling death of his only mentor? Sadly, everyone in this movie is a potential future money-maker, so they’re simply wheeled out for bad guys to shoot Nerf darts at them. Even Transformers killed characters, guys.

The disjointed script, lack of character development, failure to build real chemistry between characters and the formulaic threat point to a depression in audience film IQ that should concern you. The logic bar for summer blockbusters has been — and should be — set low, because we should be generally more concerned with enjoyment than with plot holes. What happens when any semblance of logic is thrown out the window in favor of crowd-pleasing moments? The example I took issue with was Thor making his entrance on top of the aircraft carrying Loki, presumably after he arrived on Earth from another planet or dimension or whatever. He’s got no way of knowing where Loki is, where this plane is in the thunderstorm he’s created, or even any concept of what’s going on here. But you know, we need a badass entrance that sets up the fight between him and Iron Man, so whatever. Nobody in the theater questioned how he got there, and if they did, I guarantee that it went something like, “Hey where the hell did he just come from?” “Uh, space.” “No, I know, I mean how did he kno– nice wordplay, Stark! This fight’s gonna be epic!” Same with Banner arriving for the final fight. He’s angry because his worst suspicions have been confirmed and more, then he turns, then he wakes up. So from the there, the obvious course of action is to try to figure out where they were all headed and go right there to join the fight that he’s stated on numerous occasions that he’d be staying out of. How’d he know New York, and how’d he know that spot? Why does Barton leave Fury alive if Loki’s not going to mind control him too? For that matter, why NOT mind control Fury? Why make a distraction and get the eyeball if Loki could probably get into that vault no problem on his own? Why are the supposedly all-powerful Chitauri stymied by arrows and pistols, and worse yet, why are they basically Trade Federation battle droids who all die when something blows up on the other side of a magic portal? Ultimately, it comes down to whether they’re providing enough consistent action and new match-ups to keep us occupied and otherwise sated. So yes, Thor has a five minute fight with Iron Man, but I’m struggling to remember if he exchanges even a single line with Romanoff. We’re meant to care about Coulson’s death, but they force feed us the tragedy of it like a child had died or something, when in reality, only two or three members of the team really had lines with him.

That’s what’s going to bug me about this forever. It’s perfectly acceptable for a movie to skip a really complex or complicated plot in favor of a really great character movie. When done right, a movie like The Magnificent Seven (usually my yardstick for American ensemble action movies) can take a bare bones story and infuse it with character moments and themes with which the audience is asked to identify. Even the more recent Fast and Furious movies succeed on a basic level when we see Dwayne Johnson weighing duty and justice, or Vin Diesel risking it all for family. At the top is a movie like The Fellowship of the Ring, which has great characters and a great story to boot. The Avengers skipped the story, but never delivered on the characters, either. We got anywhere between ‘some’ and ‘still not quite enough’ of the kind of development I suggested above; while you might still say that the Avengers are their own worst enemies for most of the movie, they still all show up at the end because what the hell else are they going to do? Thor is literally standing in a meadow for what appears to be hours while Tony fixes his suit and everyone else gears up for the final fight. Instead of trying to draw us in emotionally, this movie is trying to physically envelope the audience with IMAX, 3D and surround sound — everything that occurs between explosions is just waiting, really.

I still have paragraphs and paragraphs to write about SHIELD, the helicarrier, the other space bad guy, the council, the same bullshit post-9/11 ending we’ve seen a jillion times that features the destruction of an American city, the fact that however dire the threat, we experience almost zero civilian deaths or friendly fire, the questions that arise about SHIELD conduct when you find out later that they’re being partially run by HYDRA, why Cobie Smulders was in this movie and featured so prominently in the publicity, and particularly about why Loki didn’t take a drink when he was first offered one.

For those of you who stuck it out and read this, congratulations. To Marvel, I say: I’m sure you guys put in a lot of effort, and it’s not that it doesn’t show through all the CGI work you did. But am I impressed? I’d say I’m twelve percent impressed.

My Final Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what I’d write here, since I’ve contended from the minute this film came out that it’s just not all that great. It has moments that are fun, but you can say that about just about every big budget studio movie. Even fucking Hercules did some things right. But from the start, all the collective “ermahgerd” from people about this movie — critics and audience — was baffling.

This movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel. This movie doesn’t even tell a particular good or coherent story. My thoughts as to why this is thought of as a good movie is because people put in five hours watching these other ones, so they feel “invested” in all of this. This is basically what X-Men was, just taking the long way and giving everyone movies first. And now, the way the culture is, people are so conditioned to accept mediocrity and not only are okay with mindless entertainment, but they even prefer it. There’s this weird mass reaction to movies where, when we’re given the same thing — stuff blows up, the scale is large, the plot doesn’t really make sense, but they give you just enough laughs and moments of entertainment — and people come out going, “Man, that was really great.” But you don’t remember half the movie. And the movie wasn’t really that good. But everyone just sort of agrees that a C movie should be an A-. No. You’re only allowed to overrate a movie if you’re giving a gut reaction outside the theater. People should not be treating this movie like an A or A- movie three years later. This is a B movie at best, maybe curved up to B+ because it has moments of pure entertainment.

I don’t even care about what this movie does right (though I will say, Whedon does sneak some interesting shots in there occasionally, even though he doesn’t linger on them at all and mostly the film is a bland piece of garbage, visually). I’m just gonna ramble off a bunch of things this movie does wrong, as I continue to wonder why people still think this is great.

Again — Marvel formula. And Marvel weak villain. Loki is a good character, but as a villain, he does nothing, and when you really think about what’s going on — he’s doing nothing while working for THANOS, who does nothing. And then the army is a bunch of faceless aliens who are easily killed and pose no real threat whatsoever. I don’t ever feel like the world is in danger.

Also, poor characters. Stark is reduced to one-liners. Thor is barely in the movie. Hawkeye has nothing to do until the end, whereupon he basically just shoots arrows really well. Banner is attempted to be made interesting, but really all he does is lament his situation and then get angry when he needs to. (Also, “I’m always angry?” That’s one of those things that makes me hate Marvel. Because everyone likes that line. Even I like that line. To an extent. But it makes no fucking sense and 90% of the audience won’t even bother dissecting that line and realize how ridiculous it really is.) Captain America doesn’t have much to do here at all. Black Widow is really the only one who gets interesting stuff to do. And most people don’t even remember her when you think about the stuff that happens here.

There really is no plot here. Loki comes down. He’s mad at the world and wants to take it over. And he’s working for Thanos, but whatever. And ignoring all the logic flaws behind him getting the cube, Fury just kind of decides, “Well, let’s just get all these heroes together.” Meanwhile Thor is really the only one you need. So maybe just get Jane Foster, since Thor watches her and jerks off all the time. Even without that weird dark magic workaround — he could have gotten there. But even so — you realize that if they don’t involve Stark, he’s right there when the shit goes down, right? And then it’s just an Iron Man movie with another underdeveloped villain showing up at the end. And then these people get together, argue, and then come together over nothing, and then defeat the enemy. Okay. You’re basically doing the plot of every team movie of all time. This is basically the Dirty Dozen except they’re all good guys and not prisoners. (FYI, Suicide Squad is essentially stealing the idea of the Dirty Dozen for their movie.) They don’t bother to set up the motivations for anyone, because they just want shit to come together. The whole thing is held by the barest form of thread, and nobody gives a shit.

So much of this movie is built around the main characters fighting each other. Which they barely do. The big fight scene between Iron Man, Captain America and Thor takes place in the fucking dark where you can’t see anything. Why even bother?

And don’t even get me started with the Coulson stuff. I mean… no.

It’s not that I hate everything about this movie, it’s the idea that people are so willing to accept a movie that doesn’t really make sense, sacrifices too much logic (since you have to sacrifice some for a movie of this size) for the sake of… something. It’s not totally entertainment. Some of it is nerd-stroking. Characters meeting each other, and having dialogue with each other, and setting up future conflicts and things. A lot of that is for the comics people.

The real problem is that, as Colin said, they did too much here. Too much involved. The helicarrier sequence is a great idea, but it really didn’t help tell the story of this movie. It just added action to it. Though, Colin said it would have been better to have a scaled back story. I feel like this was them feeling they didn’t have to do that, because we know all the characters, so we can just crank everything to 11 and do world annihilation because they’re all gonna go back to their “smaller” (he said, sarcastically) stories. There’s really no way they could have done any less than they did. (In more than one sense of the word. Because, seriously, this is Thor’s arc in this movie: comes to Earth, gets his brother. Fights with the other guys. “You humans are petty and tiny and this is an Asgard issue.” Then fighting. Then he stands in a field and stares at his hammer for four hours and conjures lightning. Then more fighting. That’s it.)

The real problem here is that, despite having so many problems with this movie, I have so many more problems with the rest of Marvel that I will actually end up ranking this relatively high on my list. Relativity is a terrible thing in this franchise, because the third best Marvel movie is honestly no better than like, the fifteenth best James Bond movie. I do ultimately prefer this movie to half of Marvel. But it’s still, like most of Marvel, a giant mess as far as film construction goes, and my biggest problem with it is how nobody seems to know or care how much of a mess it is, and how accepting they are of all the bullshit Marvel throws out.

If you had this movie in your top ten movies of the year for 2012, you are part of the problem.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we’re back to single-hero movies.

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18 responses

  1. I always said that The Avengers is in basic structure a sports movie. Team of underdogs comes together, struggles and finally win because they team up. So while I see it as a good Superhero movie, I never was THAT hyped about it. Especially since being “good” is not a high bar because I consider nearly all Superhero movies mindless sh… and not because I have something against Superheroes, but because they are contrived and don’t put enough effort in the characters.

    And that’s the key word: Characters. Your critics read like a typical hype-backlash reaction. Is The Avengers that good? No. But it is also not that bad. It lives of the character interaction. It is mostly about showing how the four main Avengers react to each other, but also about establishing their strength and weaknesses in relation to each other. Nearly every action scene is also there to give insight in the characters. THAT is basically what the second part of the movie is about (the first time is about briefly introducing them to the audience, because you actually don’t have to watch any of the movie which came beforehand to understand what The Avengers is about).

    I also give the movie a lot of praise for actually allowing every single one of the Avengers to confront Loki at one point, and how different the confrontations are. Cap basically confronts Loki on the base of “I’ll never bow down to you”. With Black Widow it’s a fight of words. Thor tries it on an emotional level. Tony is another one who is basically tricking the trickster, but it boils down to technology for him. Even Clint is allowed to shoot a trick arrow at him, even though it is only a short moment. And Hulk…well, puny god, right?

    I think the movie did what it set out to do very, very well. It is just that what it set out to do is in the end very simple.

    May 31, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    • BlueFox94

      The caveat to all the action scenes giving insight to the characters, though, is that that’s all they do—insight. Aren’t fight scenes relevant because they mean that our heroes could be defeated, physically and/or mentally? Didn’t Marvel spend five movies giving us all the general insight we need for these characters? The only insight we should’ve received for this film should’ve been why they would join up in the first place—whether they joined for selfish reasons, emotional reasons, and the like.

      I do like that the film has all the Avengers have individual confrontations with Loki at one point. But I also believe that his being made secondary to Thanos from the very beginning of the film downgrades his centrality as the “villain”. The Avengers are trying their all towards someone who’s ultimately a lackey. Any other film, our main heroes would be trying to connect with the main baddie, not his right hand man, with whom they would have the colorful confrontations, not the ones with the most stakes.

      Now I understand that this was sort of how James Bond related to SPECTRE. The difference, however, is that the Avengers don’t even know about Thanos yet, even after Ultron. That’s not setup, that’s stalling. The early Bond films had 007 deal with the lackeys in the individual films before he finally confronts Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, making for a fantastic reveal. However, Bond always knew that SPECTRE was more than just Dr. No (that dinner scene in the underwater suite spelled it out), more than just Rosa Klebb and Red Grant, more than just Goldfinger, and more than just Emilio Largo. He may not have known Blofeld by name, but he knew of the organization.

      This is why Guardians of the Galaxy was so much better in its structure. Yeah, Ronan was awesome, but the thought that he was really working for Thanos played a continuous factor in the minds of each of the Guardians. That line by Drax towards the end really hits that point home for the audience. Plus, the risk that Ronan took in taking the Infinity stone for himself gave us stakes, both with regards to the stone and for Thanos who was seeking to claim them all for himself.

      All this has to be discussed before we even get to the aesthetics of the films. And boy…does Marvel barely care about that most of the time. But that’s another discussion.

      June 1, 2015 at 10:32 am

      • Oh, I certainly agree that Guardians of the Galaxy is the better movie – both in structure and in being visually pleasing (the colour choices alone make it stand out). But I don’t agree that Loki not being the actual threat is a bad thing. It actually puts the audience in an interesting position, because it knows more than the heroes. They only know that there is someone who send Loki and conclude correctly that they have won the battle, but not the war yet. They don’t know who the big boss is because (and that’s what makes the whole matter so interesting for me) they are not important enough. In the universe, earth is just another place to squash. And in a way that makes the whole thing more terrifying.
        The “bigger baddie” which suddenly turns up behind the “big bad” is such a common trope, but it usually happens for shock value or to justify another sequel. Knowing who exactly is preparing to attack the earth while the heroes don’t and seeing how the world deals with the knowledge has it’s own value.
        The MCU has it’s downsides, but it has also the upside that the audience can examine the ripple effects one event has from more perspectives than even a TV show could. We have seen how it affects the world in general in Agent of Shield, we have seen how it affects the hero in Iron Man 3, how it affects the villain in Thor 3 and how it affects the people living in New York in Daredevil. I also think that you don’t give Marvel enough credit. Yeah, the start was shaky. But Phase 2 showed a lot of ambition on Marvel’s part. It doesn’t always pay off, and some of their choices puzzle me, but I also think that the success of GotG gave them the confidence to push ahead.

        June 1, 2015 at 10:57 am

      • Oh, and I don’t think that we need to know why they would join up…they are heroes, that’s all what matters. But we need to know how they would react to each other. Those are the best written crossovers, which show what one character you like thinks about another character you like.

        June 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    • BlueFox94

      I realize what you mean. I almost forgot about the “badder baddie” trope and things like that. From the outside of the universe, sure, the developments appear fine and the elements are mostly there.

      The devil, however, is always in the details.

      The sequencing and structuring of the characters and plot developments are all out of wack. The issue is that Marvel hopes that we can be entertained enough so that compartmentalize their properties into apparently fair-looking pieces that can continue to make money. They make us wait for the Avengers by giving us movies for the individual heroes where we know they’re not going to kill anyone too major. It’s that hopeful optimism that Colin talked about.

      What makes guys like Mike, Colin, and myself angry is not necessarily just the films by themselves. Phase 2 had its misgivings, but the accumulating baggage gave audiences a bit of a safety net. GOTG was both risky and phenomenal. It’s more how the studios believe that the “success” of these films and the fact that so few would dare talk against their deep flaws (flaws that would destroy other films and people would talk about them) are the future of cinema and they desperately cling to it. The studios don’t learn from the risks that made GOTG a great film. They only cared about how it made so much and presume that the rest of the MCU is like that already (which is mostly untrue).

      People who complain about the lack of originality in Hollywood can’t do so as long as they give franchise films that only exist as such because of money like these a pass. This is how our culture is sinking and so few people care. These films are the symptoms of this degredation and people who write about how “we’re going to be fine” with all these non-original films are naive. People who complained to Simon Pegg’s statements about geek culture as being primarily a glorification of childhood, not a maturation from it, are naive. It’s sad.

      It’s because of this dilemma that Birdman ended up becoming such a powerful film and it so happened to be both Mike’s favorite film of 2014 and my favorite film of 2014.

      June 1, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      • Birdman was an awful movie. And I don’t say that because I think that it spoke up in any shape or form against Superhero movie. I don’t think that it did, and it is beyond me that so many people saw it that way. It was a slam against the world of movies and theatres in general, and if anything it was way more critical about the theatrical than the Superhero side of things. A friend of mine, who is deep in the theatre scene mostly enjoyed it because of the accurate portrayal of how crazy, annoying and demanding actors tend to be (which is in my eyes the real reason why so many people in Hollywood enjoyed it, what they saw was familiar to them). The ironic thing is that the movie became exactly what it spoke up against: A self-important declaration of its own relevance.
        Not that the movie is without it’s merits. For example the single shot (I think that’s the right word, it is difficult to find the right equivalent for movie specific terms in English) is very effective in the scenes during the performances, but looses it’s impact when it is used the whole movie and turns into a gimmick. (And not even an impressive one, with the current technology it is fairly easy compared to when the first director did it decades ago in Russia). The ending was pretentious and not surprising at all. I was literally waiting for it to happen the moment the weapon got mentioned by Norton. (Which brings me to the next problem: I kept seeing the actors in the movie and not the characters they were supposed to play. And did you notice that Norton practically vanishes out of the story at one point? Talk about leaving loose ends).
        The thing is, we don’t have a dilemma. We have, as always, good and bad movies. Movies which tried something different won’t vanish just because a genre becomes popular for a while. A lot of movies which are nowadays considered “classics” started out as blockbusters. Others didn’t but got eventually critically acclaim nevertheless. And some movies are incredible important for the history of movies, but are overlooked even by people who claim themselves to be experts.
        A movie is not bad just because it belongs to a certain genre, or because it is a sequel. There are in fact some sequels which are considered better than the first movie. Godfather II is one prominent example. Star Wars II, originally heavily criticised, is nowadays seen by many as the best of the Star Wars movies (and not being a Star Wars fan myself, I am inclined to agree). The Good, The Bad and the Ugly was a prequel which was created to two other movies back when Westerns were popular.
        The next question is: What is original? Isn’t everything we see a variation of already existing stories? And can’t a movie which is part of a franchise not be original in its own right? Didn’t nearly every franchise start off with an original idea?
        How many movies are out there which deal with the question “how would someone feel who suddenly has to life 90 years in the future” which are not either comedies or science fiction movies?
        You know in the end I rather take a movie which has something to tell once I look past the explosions (and The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3 certainly had something to tell), then one which pretends it has something to tell but once I look closer, I find a pile of nonsense.

        I will end with a translated quote: “Only those who become adults and are still staying children are human.” (Erich Kästner) There is no harm in allowing our inner child out. I would even argue that it is the start of all creativity out there.

        June 1, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      • BlueFox94

        Oh man, then I wonder what Mike would tell you regarding Birdman…

        I do get that we ultimately end up with good movies and bad movies. They all have their merits, some more than others. However, it is with the industry and all movie people talking about movies that we see where the direction of the art form is heading. The backdrop, the stage where these movies play changes and goes in a cycle. In a way, I feel like we’re in the 1960s again, when studios were scrambling with their deep but still limitless pockets to see what sticks in the midst of all the daring, small, revolutionary films that were breaking the mold.

        Can we get another 1967 soon? Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner–such great films in one year!

        That’s what I think is the true object of our anger. How the movie people overrate some things and underrate others in the context of the industry as it is. The perception of the artworks. And it’s the overrated things that misguide the industry into making more of that with little regard for true quality that more than likely lay hidden in the underrated works.

        True, pure originality doesn’t actually exist anymore. Only God can bring into existence things that never were before. We’re just taking old stuff and making them new. The difference for us is how much of the old stuff are we taking and how much of that stuff we’re actually transforming, making fresh, subverting. I remember watching CinemaSins and how the guy made a rant video after Disney announced their Winnie the Pooh live-action remake about how originality is dead. Where are the non-adapted scripts?

        It’s guys like Mike that help make films one of the centers of my life. His commentary is quite unique and speaks of films without being pretentious. It’s helped me when formulating my opinions on films.

        I believe in the end that film is not ours to claim. The medium of cinema is almost as difficult as comprehending God himself. Yet we have the history, we have its birth, its maturation, its successes, its failures. We have great works of cinema, ones that earned fame, money, and/or awards or even nothing at all. But that’s where we must begin, and so few take up the challenge of the quest.

        As such, we watch. One film at a time.

        June 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm

  2. BlueFox94

    Here’s one response I got when I shared this awesome Final Thoughts article on one of the Facebook movie groups of which I’m a member:

    “”part of the problem”? The person writing this is clearly part of the uneducated problem. He (or she) clearly has no knowledge of any comic characters nor has seen any other film aside from the Avengers. Half the article is spent talking about how there is no character development….which is why we had Ironman 1, 2, 3, Thor 1&2, Captain American 1&2, and 2 versions of Hulk.
    Let’s not mention this is a PG-13 film made for all ages.
    I could go on and on about how ignorant and stuck-up this article is, but instead; The real problem is people trying to fit films into their ideal box and anything that they don’t understand is thrown out.
    As someone who loves a variety of films (from 2001 space odyssey – The Avengers), I would hate to see films be limited to certain people’s tastes.”

    And here’s his reply when I suggested he should read the rest of the MCU franchise articles and follow the screenshots:

    “If that’s the case, the article is even more ridiculous lol…..as far as character development, how much more could they show us in a movie that’s supposed to be about THE AVENGERS starting off??
    Like I said earlier, there’s sooooo many mistakes in this article, it would literally take hours to go through them all.
    This piece is a “What’s wrong with blogging” showcase.”

    Any thoughts, Mr. DiPrisco??

    June 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    • I just make dick jokes for fun.

      June 1, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      • BlueFox94

        Heads-up, there’ll be more responses soon.
        *pulls out popcorn*

        June 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm

  3. BlueFox94

    Another comment from a member of one of my Facebook film groups. Unfortunately, they said it’s not worth it to come and comment here directly, so I’m sort of mediating between you and them by quoting.:

    “I didn’t like this from a movie fan perspective and from a perspective of someone who values opinions. He [both Mike and Colin actually] seems to really disregard fans of the franchise and I don’t care for that. He has opinions and that is fine but they are his opinions and certainly not “better.” He derives most of his article from the standpoint that the characters aren’t developed in the movie. Whilst I would argue that some development exists, the mcu deals with all this in the previous movies. Think of the mcu as a massive movie. The avengers is like the explosive third act of that movie when the development is done and now we can have all the fun. Now I also want to say what I felt is like the obvious but this movie was made for two people. It was made for the general movie audience AND comic book fans who have known the characters for years. I’m not saying this means he can’t critique it because it doesn’t, however, it does clash with his statement that he seems to be making and that’s that everyone who see’s this movie is in someway settling for a lower quality movie. Which is one of the most elitist things I have heard from someone….Ever. He also makes some weird points. Especially the suicide squad one. I am quickly going to clarify that. The suicide squad was created in 1959…The dirty dozen was created nearly a decade after.”

    For the record, I pointed out to him that Seven Samurai (my all-time favorite film, btw) came out in 1954, five years before Suicide Sqaud. No response to that.

    Then, when I asked the same commenter about how you and Colin assessed the lack of risk throughout the MCU and how The Avengers should’ve finally been the one to do so, preferrably through the death of a character, this was his answer:

    “I don’t think they needed to [kill someone]. The original avengers movie existed to just show us these giants fight together. Killing of a character wouldn’t give us that. Plus it killed of coulson didn’t it. Sure he came back in the TV show but for the movie…He died. It’s also a franchise movie so they can’t be expected to kill someone so early on. In age of ultron they do kill someone off.”

    Knowing how you despise the pretentious They Shoot Horses, Don’t They crowd, this guy’s accusing you as “elitist” really surprised me. I think it would be great if you could respond to this guy, good sir.

    June 4, 2015 at 1:24 am

    • BlueFox94

      I meant to write “They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?” My mistake. :)

      June 4, 2015 at 1:27 am

  4. Mike doesn’t answer a lot of comments, but I will clarify a point I made.

    The problem is accountability. I’m only invested if there’s a chance of loss, as a fan or a member of the general audience. All the satellite films have to end with characters intact so they can suit up for the next Avengers movie, sure, but The Avengers is — sorry, should be — where risks are taken and losses are sustained. The existence of the first Thor movie doesn’t give The Avengers a pass on not developing Thor further, and the unwillingness on Marvel’s part to end a 143 minute movie (more than long enough for these “giants to fight together”) with the loss or exit of even a single major character removes any perception of stakes from the franchise.

    Part of that is a problem of medium. Comic books are built on having your cake and eating it too; Marvel is that child who, upon touching the ‘lava floor’ in a make-believe game, exclaims, “No, but, um, I had on my lava-proof boots, so it didn’t count this time!” I tried not to weigh in on the Simon Pegg argument, but I do think that sort of guarding from loss is childish and unnecessary. Marvel’s been so stingy with their characters that they had to kill Coulson and try to manufacture an emotional connection with him after the fact, despite very little contact between him and our heroes. And then even he had to be resurrected for the TV show. They’re missing the point: when you touch the lava, you’re dead, but that’s the beauty of make-believe — you can start a new game with a new character.

    Finally, the issue of disaster porn. There’s something very wrong with the recent trend of destroying major cities for the purposes of dramatic action sequences. I grumbled about our heroes being too flawless and never accidentally killing anyone, but how about the bizarre lack of civilian casualties in The Avengers? Chitauri shoot, but we don’t see them killing people. When a giant fin slices though an office building, nobody inside is even knocked down, and when the huge space snake crashes through Grand Central Terminal, it’s conspicuously empty. One site puts the onscreen confirmed civilian body count in New York at 16 — seven kills by Loki and nine for the whole “mighty” Chitauri army. There’s something perverse about trying to make a dark, dangerous film for the older fans while keeping it accessible for younger, more sensitive viewers. We witness hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of property damage and plenty of footage reminiscent of 9/11, but it’s done in such an innocent, civilian-friendly manner that you’re left trying to reconcile the desolation with the complete lack of loss. This was just one more addition to a long list of movies — Transformers 3, Man of Steel, etc — that showcase the sterile annihilation of a major city, but in which the casualties are almost exclusively architectural.

    I hope that explains my thinking. The only people getting misty-eyed at the ends of Marvel movies are probably in the insurance industry, and the rest of us leave the theater trying to find something that’s changed since we walked in. There’s no character development, there’s no threat of death. To paraphrase Tony Stark, “there’s the next movie, and nothing else.”

    -Colin

    June 4, 2015 at 3:58 am

    • My favorite thing is that people posting film discourse on a Facebook group refuse to write something here, where we’re actually NOT taking this stuff seriously. Good luck with that.

      June 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

      • BlueFox94

        Hahaha, I know, right? =D

        June 4, 2015 at 10:53 am

      • BlueFox94

        I made the point in the group that you guys do the screenshot articles with a largely laid-back approach with sprinkles of seriousness mixed in when necessary, saving all the seriousness for the Favorite Shots and Final Thoughts articles. Then again, I’m pretty sure no one will go through the screenshot articles out of spite from reading this Final Thoughts article.

        June 4, 2015 at 10:56 am

      • BlueFox94

        Even when I suggest to the peers and classmates of mine who are Marvel fans to check your guys’ articles on the MCU out, they seem disinterested. It’s almost as if they believe that anything that could expose any major flaws in the films that aren’t The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man 2 and 3 (the lack of any passionate hate for Thor TDW by anyone other than Mike makes people assume that it’s good. ugh…) that would normally cripple most other films couldn’t and shouldn’t exist.

        It kinda does feel alienating as a film buff when so few are willing to talk about these things except this blog. Major props to you guys, all dick jokes notwithstanding. ^_^

        June 4, 2015 at 11:18 am

      • BlueFox94

        Damn…I really wish you guys could see this debate I’ve had with some of the people on that Facebook film group about this article.

        June 5, 2015 at 1:21 pm

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