THE AVENGERS round-table discussion – Film Review

Team Crimespree in different cites went to go see Avengers. This movie has been building for a while and we’ve all been getting more and more excited. The little teasers at the end of the Marvel superhero movies only added fuel to our fire. And now it’s here. On the big screen and rocking the house.

Jon: I’m kicking off and stating flat out that Mark Ruffalo stole the show as Bruce Banner/the Hulk and that Scarlett Johansson was great as Black Widow.

Dan: The Black Widow character has a very long history of being a solid, capable super spy. I think Whedon’s presence made sure she wasn’t lost in the background noise of a film filmed with Hulks, aliens, and ancient deities.

I spent a good portion of the film with my jaw on the floor. Each scene just got bigger and bigger. The action on the SHIELD Helicarrier (yes!) would have been the climax of any other action movie!

Kate: Like Dan said, it’s not surprise that the Black Widow has so much screen time considering that Whedon wrote it. There were times that I really dug Johansson, and then there were scenes that I found her cloying. That bit about “red on her ledger” when on for a scene too long. I get it. You have debts to pay. I do think that Whedon used this to test the waters for a Black Widow stand alone movie. A lot of hints were dropped about her back-story, but not too much was given.

As for the Hulk, this was the best use of that character in his past 3 movies. I didn’t understand why when the first time we see the “green rage monster”, as Stark called him, he appears because Banner can’t control him and the Hulk smashes everything. But when we see him during in the climatic battle at the end, Banner can control his appearance and actions more. And why did Loki need the Hulk anyway? His gamma radiation link didn’t really appear to help Loki at all. I did love Hulk’s meeting with Loki in Stark Tower! “Puny God”.

Bryan: Kate, I totally agree. Ruffalo was so good I actually WANT to see a hulk movie. His Banner was just a totally defeated person. He had no hope of ever really being free. However, he hadn’t given up on humanity, i.e. working in India.

Widow. WOW! I totally think that Whedon’s handling of Black Widow was important. He has a knack for creating amazing women who are total badasses, but also very vulnerable. She is extremely afraid of Banner, and through Johansen’s amazing acting, you see it in her eyes, even when she isn’t facing the monster down. She always looks at Banner like he is a loaded cannon with a lit fuse pointed right at her head. The combination of Whedon and Scarlet made Black Widow, who could have been a tertiary character in this, a shining star in the ensemble cast.

The ensemble is also something definitely worth mentioning. This is a true ensemble movie. There is no one star that stands above the rest. They each add something to one another’s performances, and elevate everyone in the movie to a level higher than they could reach on their own. The interplay, the mini clicks, and the arguments each of the characters have are spot on. Banner and Stark being buddies? Of course. They are the 2 smartest guys in the room. Capt and Widow, both being ex military of a sort have an instant bond. Stark and Cap getting along, NEVER! Constant tension when they aren’t in crisis mode. All these touches, no matter how small they play out create huge moments that build the characters into real people, not just capes.

Whedon’s brilliant handling of all the characters and actors has the potential to exponentially build the Marvel movieverse. I desperately want to see a prequel w/ Hawkeye and Widow that isn’t a superhero movie, so much as a kick ass spy flick in the Marvel world. I genuinely want to see a Hulk movie if it features Ruffalo. The amazing interplay with the cast also opens the door to a host of team up movies, not just Avengers movies. Thor and Iron Man. Cap and Hulk. Not to mention all the other Marvel characters still waiting to be shown in to the spotlight.

Alright, I have rambled long enough for now. There is just so much that is amazing about this movie, it’s hard to focus. It was 2 and a half hours of unadulterated awesomeness screaming off the screen. EPIC is too small of a word of it.

Ruth: A friend said of Avengers (take a bow Joe W.) “It’s amazing that a movie with this budget managed to be so big and still all Whedon”. I loved the cast. All of the cast, not just our Avengers. Everyone brought their A-Game. If you’d have told me two years ago I’d become a Chris Evans fan… well I’d have accused you of being on drugs. I love Jeremy Renner, so great to see him.

That said Whedon , through his sheer love of the Marvel Universe made this movie accessible to those who’ve never picked up a comic. The climatic scene as they’re setting into position for the big battle is the first time I recall “movies” doing such a terrific job at the Splash page.

It was truly wonderful to share this experience in a theater. Everyone laughed and gasped together. I cannot remember the last time the energy in a theater was this unanimously kinetic. It was fantastical too, that when the Stan Lee cameo came only about a third of us broke into wild applause. How many people are going to discover the source material because of this movie. It boggles my mind.

I don’t know how much “word of mouth” a movie well on it’s way to 450,000,000 really needs but if you need a reminder of why to get out of your recliner and actually go to the theater, the Avengers is must see.

Bryan: So now that it officially has the biggest opening of all time, do we think that the studio can keep up the quality achieved in this awesome flick?

Jon: I think that this shows them it’s worth the money. I can’t wait for a few years when I can sit down and watch Avengers movies all weekend. I can’t wait for the next one. And part of me would love a short film of Midwest Avengers based in Milwaukee!