I hated the Tim Burton Batman movies, but I loved the Nolan ones. I don’t know when it happened, but somehow the taste for “fantasy” creeped out of me. Perhaps it was because I grew up a Batman fan, and everything about him was so… human. But the first “incredible” superheroes that were presented in a “credible” way were X-Men and Spiderman, two cartoons I religiously avoided. If I could enjoy those movies, surely there was hope?
But I was still always concerned about the Avengers project. Iron Man came out, and I became an instant Robbie Downey Jr. fan. The Incredible Hulk reboot was also very enjoyable. By the time Iron Man 2 came out, we all knew about the Avengers project. It annoyed me because that would involve placing the “credible” Iron Man (yes, even with his out-of-this-world technology) into the “incredible” world of green monsters and Norse gods. I cringed a bit at the time.
But I let the excitement build, even if it festered with my doubt. I knew the basic premise… they would be recruited, they would falter, then they would come together as a team to avert a global catastrophe. That is taken for granted. It was how they would do it that was my concern, could they keep my attention, and would each hero be given his due.
After all, it felt like a couple of movies were made just with this one in mind. So I thought, what the hell? At least I’ll get to see more of Sam Jackson than just a small teaser clip at the end of the previous movies.
But they did make good of it. And I was pleasantly surprised. There was enough emotion to go around, something I was worried would be sorely missed. We had the conflicted soldier complex of Captain America, a counterpoint to the renegade of funk that Tony Stark was. Both of them didn’t see eye-to-eye. We had the reserved Bruce Banner who wanted nothing to do with them. There was a romantic tension with Romanov and Barton that was more taut than a bowstring (see what I did there). There is the weight of the world on Nick Fury. There is the maniacal Loki who is bent on revenge, and I’m not certain anything else. I’m not sure what Thor brings to the table other than a big hammer, but it seems that Robin lady’s sitcom career wasn’t a waste after all because she landed a role in this movie.
Apart from that was a heavy dose of good action, which is hard to come by because we are so spoiled with all kinds of brilliant action pieces that we become kind of desensitized to it all. The film starts slowly (after an initial action packed bang, that was to be expected) with several references to previous movies that have you excitedly saying “Ooo, that’s the thing from Thor!” or “They told that in The Incredible Hulk, remember?” and “Oh yes, that comes all the way from Nazi days in Captain America!”. And also the recruitment process. This is not a bad thing, because it allowed for a lot of banter to take place- Tony Stark, of course, being the king of banter. Then comes the typical scattering, accompanied by a big action scene, where the heroes are distraught, and there is a lot of emotion here. And it is handled well. And finally the big kaboom when they decide to come together as a team, and Sam Jackson does not get eaten by a shark.
Now the thing about superhero movies is that the entire city or world has to be on the edge of doom. Otherwise, it’s no fun. In Batman Begins, Gotham was on the verge of destruction. In The Dark Knight it is arguable that even more was at stake. In all Spiderman movies, New York stood on the threshold of annihilation. Iron Man had problems with doomsday technology. Earth was going to be overrun by Frost Giants in Thor. Watchmen had the world poised on the brink of nuclear war. Hulk had to stop a giant scary beast from tearing apart Harlem in his movie. And Captain America… sorry, I was dead drunk for that one. But he beat up a lot of Nazis, so like, whatever. The point is, global catastrophes have become the order of the day, because anything less will fail to capture our destroyed attention spans for more than 2 seconds. Every life has to hang in the balance, or why the f**k do we need a superhero? In this case, however, a global catastrophe is DEMANDED by the sheer scale of things. And we are given one, one that is built across the span of at least 2 prior movies (Thor and Captain America). Everything has its place, everything fits.
The special effects are, as expected, amazing. When Romanov tells Banner and Captain that “its going to get hard to breathe in a minute”, and you think the boat is a submarine, but a second later you realize its not… these kind of things are what you love about these movies. And the action is beautiful. Not overcooked and unintelligible like certain Michael Bay movies. It is REALLY good. The big final fight where all the Avengers are working together is marvelous. And it really is a sweet cap on a truly excellent superhero movie.
My doubt can finally rest peacefully. I can finally look forward to the final Batman movie.