MIXED REVIEW: Glenn and Mike Geek Out Over “The Avengers”
We each saw The Avengers at fan-filled midnight screenings, separately but equally. We tried to avoid any spoilers here, but we can’t guarantee we hit that mark. And, being who we are, there are a couple of teasers in this dialog.
MIKE: Did you see it in 2-D, 3-D, or IMAX?
MIKE: Me too. This was the first movie ever that I can recommend in 3-D.
GLENN: Which is amazing, considering it was upsampled to 3-D. The film was converted to 3-D during post-production for the theatrical release. But it certainly paid off.
MIKE: The 3-D imaging credits were as long as the Manhattan phone book.
GLENN: Someone asked me point blank if The Avengers is the greatest superhero movie of all time. I said I don’t know about that, it has some very tough competition. But hands down, it’s the greatest superhero battle movie of all time. Act Three in particular is just completely packed with the loving destruction of the New York skyline, and in 3-D it’s incredibly staggering. It’s also fast and fun, as compared to the smashing of Chicago in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon… that just felt drawn out and more akin to a disaster movie. Here, it’s battle, action, and a much better feeling of scope and scale.
MIKE: Yes. It was a real superhero battle in the classic Marvel sense: everybody fights each other then gets together to fight the bad guys. And I’ll never be able to look at Grand Central Terminal the same way again.
GLENN: Or the Pan-Am building. Or 387 Park Avenue South, or Marvel’s address on 40th Street. All of that and they didn’t blow up any of DC’s offices. Have we reached detente?
MIKE: Well, they blew up CBS’s first teevee studios. Which is funny, as this was a Paramount movie.
GLENN: Not really a Paramount movie, Disney bought ‘em out but they had to keep the logo on.
MIKE: And, of course, Paramount got a truckload of money and, I’ll bet, a piece.
MIKE: Did you notice they hardly ever referred to anybody by their superhero name – other than The Hulk, who is obviously different from Banner, and Thor, who is, obviously, Thor.
GLENN: I think everybody got name-checked at least once.
MIKE: Yeah. Once or twice. Period.
MIKE: About the only thing I didn’t care for – a few minor plot holes aside – was the score. It was virtually invisible. Could have saved money by paying for needle-drop.
GLENN: And mostly unmemorable, just evocative. Most of the Marvel movies have had unmemorable scores. It wasn’t the clunker of a score that Green Lantern had, though.
MIKE: It wasn’t the clunker of a movie that Green Lantern was. But this was the first score I noticed as missing.
GLENN: I challenge you to hum any bit of music from any Marvel movie that wasn’t taken from classic rock radio, a 60’s cartoon, or Bill Bixby walking down a lonely road.
MIKE: I can hum the My Favorite Martian theme. And I’ll bet Len Wein can hum the theme to The Magician. On another topic, it was nice to see Jim Starlin get a credit. And Jack Kirby getting credit twice.
GLENN: Shh! Don’t mention Starlin!
MIKE: Why? I know he’s refusing to work for Marvel any more.
GLENN: Starlin gets mentioned for the big surprise post-credits. Shhh!
GLENN: Does whatever a spoiler can. Blows plot threads, any size…
MIKE: Speaking of which, I think Avengers ups the ante for The Amazing Spider-Man. That’s a tough burden, but Spidey will be compared to Avengers. And to Dark Knight. Good luck with that!
GLENN: The Spidey trailer looked great in 3-D though, didn’t it?
MIKE: We didn’t have it. We had trailers for about seven-dozen redundant Pixar movies, and for Frankenweenie.
MIKE: Ruffalo was the third great Banner. I liked Bana and loved Norton, but I think Ruffalo struck the exact right note for The Avengers.
GLENN: All of the returning cast were fine, with a lot of time given to the minor characters.
MIKE: Almost every character that led up to this story was involved, including a couple who only had a slight presence in the past. I loved Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill.
GLENN: Ruffalo played so well with Downey, adding a lot to both characters. I’m almost hoping they touch on Warren Ellis’s Ultimate Iron Man/Hulk story next.
If anyone gets short shrift here, it’s Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and even there it’s mainly just short shrift as a character other than a wisecrack generator. On the other hand, he certainly isn’t shorted on the action, as he nearly brings down the Helicarrier. On the other hand, Renner’s done a lot of the same role of late.
MIKE: I think they did more with Hawkeye than Marvel did with the character in his early years. He looked like he was capable of holding his own with the rest of the team.
GLENN: And he did.
MIKE: If they don’t do a Nick Fury movie, they’re missing a bet. And probably incurring the wrath of Sam. Fury/Hill/Widow. My favorite performance was delivered by Clark Gregg, particularly when he just geeked out over Steve Rogers while staying in SHIELD agent character.
GLENN: One of my favorite character moments was seeing Coulson acting differently to Cap than he has to anyone else in the films, and an inspired way to play it. Here’s a guy who’s not impressed by billionaires or demigods, but he geebles all over Cap, and Cap takes it all in stride.
MIKE: Absolutely. Coulson’s been the human element in the whole series. Now he’s also the fan’s representative.
GLENN: Chris Evans as Cap, by the way, is very capable. Still a bit flummoxed from being seventy years out of date, but still marshaling authority from everyone… eventually.
MIKE: Compare his Steve Rogers to his Johnny Storm. The guy’s got real reach – although both characters tended to speak in short sentence responses.
GLENN: Or his Jake Jensen, or his Lucas Lee… geez, how many comic characters has this guy played?
MIKE: Not as many as Buster Crabbe, as of yet. Still, if it was anybody’s movie – any one person – it was Robert Downey Jr. Unavoidable, and great fun. Clearly Marvel knows where the money is.
GLENN: Downey was solid, but as usual works best playing off of people. He didn’t have quite as much room to improv here as usual.
MIKE: So now we’ve got the beginning of a new Marvel movie story arc.
GLENN: There’re certainly a few big hints for it, yes. What will be interesting are the issues of time.
MIKE: Oh, they gave it a good kickstart, while protecting their continuity. They really learned what has made Marvel work the past 50 years, something Warner Bros. simply cannot grasp. And WB owns the rights to all of the DC characters!
GLENN: It took a lot of years to get to this point… what will it take to get through the next arc?
MIKE: Until Avengers 2.
GLENN: Samuel L. Jackson’s under contract for four more films… let’s see: Thor 2, Cap 2, Iron Man 3… yeah, it’ll just make it.
MIKE: Ruffalo’s got six more Hulks and no guarantee of a Hulk 3. Now, I’d be surprised if they don’t give that a shot – maybe after another appearance somewhere. And Sam will add another to his contract if they offer him a SHIELD movie… for an above-the-title paycheck, of course.
GLENN: Last I heard, they were talking about bringing Hulk back to TV with Ruffalo. Which could be very interesting.
MIKE: Only if they avoid the mistake WB made with Man of Steel in reverse. Or Green Arrow.
GLENN: One thing that bodes well: I didn’t hear a single complaint this time around about the Hulk CGI.
MIKE: The earlier stuff didn’t bother me as much as it did some other folks, but I agree. This was a lot better. The Hulk actually looked like a Hulked-out version of Banner.
GLENN: Which does bring up our traditional fanboy question: who’s stronger, Thor or the Hulk? Thank heavens it was addressed.
MIKE: Well, I’d like to see them arm-wrestling at a Hell’s Kitchen bar. And I think Marvel has the rights back to Fantastic Four…
GLENN: Yeah, but now they have to recast Johnny.
MIKE: They don’t have to, but I’m sure they’ll recast everybody.
GLENN: Amazingly, we’ve only scratched the surface of all of this. Joss Whedon really did put a lot into 142 minutes, and called out to a lot more of fanboy references, with no real drag anywhere in the film. It was incredibly impressive.
MIKE: Yes. I think Joss is the real star of this movie. He never had a budget like this, and few directors were ever put into a position like this. This was as big as King Kong was in its day, and he certainly delivered. I hope he’s around for more.
GLENN: I think you’d have to pry him away with a crowbar. Besides, there are so many people in his repertory company he hasn’t given work to yet.
MIKE: Ha! Very true. And many could be very useful. Nathan Fillion as Ant-Man?
GLENN: He keeps bucking for the job.
MIKE: It’s a small part.
GLENN: There are no small parts, only actors made small by CGI. Are you going to see it again?
MIKE: Yes. Maybe in 2-D or IMAX. Bobby Greenberger is seeing it in 3-D IMAX with his daughter this weekend. That one-ups me and my daughter last night.
GLENN: Yep, I’ll be seeing it a few more times myself. This time, paying attention to more of those easter eggs I’m sure are lurking… or at least to figure out which Sal Buscema art was used for the Captain America trading cards.
MIKE: I thought I caught a glimpse of Kirby there, but yeah, those hidden bits will reveal themselves in repeated viewings. Of course, they’ll be well-outed by then. Probably already.
GLENN: Kirby? Kirby who?