I ditched work this afternoon to see Marvel’s The Avengers. It was okay though, because my boss went with me. We both enjoyed the movie, and it certainly helped that we had previously watched Iron Man, Thor and Captain America together. I would have been a little more up to speed if I’d seen Iron Man 2, since Scarlett Johansson’s character was introduced in that one. Can you enjoy The Avengers without seeing any of the other Marvel films that came before? I have no idea, but I think knowing the back stories of the characters definitely helps. [Warning: this contains some plot spoilers. ]
The happiest surprise for me is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. I’m no fan of the Hulk, and even though I like Bill Bixby, I never enjoyed watching him as Banner in The Incredible Hulk TV series. Ruffalo’s Banner is intelligent and wryly funny. His exchanges with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) make for some of the best moments in The Avengers. Downey provides most of the comic relief, but even straight-laced Captain America (Chris Evans) gets a laugh with his line about flying monkeys. I really enjoyed Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) but wish he didn’t spend most of the movie with the freaky makeup and eyes. I just looked at his amazing arms during those scenes. Everybody in the movie is scary fit, with so many bulging muscles and tight buns and those veins that pop out—do those have a name?—that I might end up with a bad inferiority complex now. Best to avoid mirrors for a day or two.
I wrote in my review of Thor that I really like actor Tom Hiddleston (Loki). I like him even more in this new film, because he’s obviously having a great time. He’s also not as lean and hungry-looking. I know he lost weight for Thor, but it was too much for my taste. I can’t wait to see him as Prince Hal/Henry V in the BBC’s new Shakespeare history cycle. (Here’s a preview clip!) It was also fun spotting Ashley Johnson (Growing Pains) and Harry Dean Stanton in their small roles in The Avengers. 85-year-old Stanton appeared in Laramie and The Rifleman, my two favorite TV westerns. I didn’t spot Stan Lee, but I wouldn’t know him if he fell on me.
I read some of the pieces online about Indians being annoyed about only the poorest part of Kolkata being shown in the film. That segment was so short and quick, I’m sure I wouldn’t have paid attention if I hadn’t read about it beforehand. I was just pleased to understand some of the Hindi, because of all the Indian films I’ve watched. I will say that eleven years is still not long enough for me to be comfortable seeing New York City attacked, with sections of buildings falling down on people. Why does it always have to be Manhattan, anyway? Once the streets were clear of pedestrians, I was able to relax and enjoy the film again.
If you’ve seen The Avengers, let me know your thoughts. If you haven’t, it’s important to stay for at least part of the credits at the end. After the big names, before all the thousands of special effects folks start scrolling, there is an extra scene that sets things up for The Avengers 2.
Update: Oops! I just found out there were TWO bonus scenes during the credits. I only stayed for one of them. I had to ask another friend for a description of the second one, which comes all the way at the very end. Now I’ll definitely have to rent the DVD.