Monday, April 16, 2012

The Avengers: Assemble The Sequels

It is fitting that the 100th post on this blog should be about The Avengers. Because I can think of no other movie that so heartily embraces pop culture on multiple levels. Almost every person on the planet will have some reason to enjoy this movie. To begin with, it's a big summer blockbuster. It has the requisite special effects (I saw it in 2D, but I'm certain the 3D version is well worth it) and gargantuan action sequences that are so captivating that you dare not even blink. Then add in the fact that it is a superhero movie. And not just one superhero, but a collection of Marvel icons who have all appeared in their own separate films but are now gathered together to avenge the entire human race. If you liked any of these heroes in their individual films, then you already have a vested interested in watching The Avengers to see how your hero of choice will fare among this motley crew of costumed crusaders. If you are a huge comic nerd, you are even more invested in this movie because it lets you see these heroes working with and against each other in every imaginable combination. And finally, we get to the most specialized level of pop culture pedigree that this movie possesses - Joss Whedon.

Yes, the ever-dependable Joss Whedon is the director of this colossal movie, but more importantly, he is also its writer. And that is evident in every scene of the film, where pop culture references and jokes are thrown around at dizzying speeds designed to give you whiplash as you try to keep up. Especially pay attention whenever Robert Downey Jr. (i.e. Iron Man) opens his mouth - his references span decades worth of pop culture and I caught maybe 50% of them. One example: when he makes a snide remark about "flying monkeys," Thor doesn't understand the Wizard of Oz reference, what with his being a demigod from Asgard who doesn't have much time for the movies. But Captain America, who has been encased in ice from World War II until the 21st century and therefore can't understand most of what Iron Man says, is utterly delighted by this reference to something from 1939. It's silly, goofy, and the absolute perfect tone for a superhero movie. The whole idea of men and women in costumes running around to save the world is inherently bizarre, but Joss Whedon knows exactly how to strike the balance between action and comedy. He is the master of finding the jokes in any genre (see: Cabin in the Woods) and this movie will have you laughing just as much as any other comedy coming out this year.

The Avengers is not some dumbed-down blockbuster for the masses but a ridiculously smart and entertaining piece of work that works on several levels. The actors do a superb job and are bringing more to their characters than they did in their individual movies. This is due in large part to the script and the bewildering way in which Whedon has managed to flesh out each hero even though the large cast means that they get a very limited amount of screen time. During the epic battle sequence that finishes up the film, we get to see all of these characters interact with each other and witness the metamorphosis of these people from individual superheroes to one impeccable team of Avengers. Tom Hiddleston is a fantastic villain as Loki, Thor's half-brother who is intent on ruling the human race. He delivers many grandiose speeches but these are almost always interrupted by some new developments that allow for a slew of hilarious reaction shots. No one is allowed to take themselves too seriously, and the film is a great exercise in elevating a genre whilst simultaneously mocking it. (Again, see: Cabin in the Woods.)

There is not a single dull moment in this movie and it should be declared essential viewing for anyone who wants to make a superhero movie ever again. The Avengers is so good that you immediately want to re-watch it but also demand to know when there will be a sequel. And that is my main problem with the movie. I cannot even contemplate watching the sequel unless it is written by Joss Whedon. He has set the bar so incredibly high that he is the only one who could top himself. But those are concerns for a later date. For now, just watch The Avengers. Judging by the box office numbers, everyone else has already seen this movie, so you might as well be in the loop. And then we can decide whether anyone needs to make a superhero movie ever again.


  1. definitely will be seeing this!

  2. Congrats on a 100 Shloko!!!!