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“The Avengers” talkback

Why fight it? Go see The Avengers. Joss Whedon has made a film that justifies my childhood love of these TV cartoons (and the comics they are taken from). And stay for the best post-credit tag I’ve ever seen!

  • Oliver

    If they make enough ‘Avengers’ movies, maybe eventually they’ll get round to the Carol Danvers seduced-and-raped-by-her-own-preternaturally-ageing-son storyline from Avengers #200, so all the ‘heroes’ can get arrested for dumbly standing by and enabling sexual assault.

    “I take full responsibility. I screwed up. My judgment failed, or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Sorry. Avengers #200 is a travesty.”

    — Jim Shooter, former Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics (and co-writer of ‘Avengers #200’), 2011

    “Oh, but this is old news,” people will tell me. “Why are you still bringing this up?”

    Because the superhero genre, both on screen and on the page, is still riddled with this kind of sexism, that’s why.

    • Ken

      Many, many comic books are poorly conceived and even more poorly executed. AVENGERS #200 is but one example. To damn an entire genre based upon your perception of one comic (a 32-year old comic at that) is a huge over-reaction. If you apply such a standard to everything, than all cartoons should suffer because of the racism prevalent in Thirties and Forties animation, every movie for the character of Stepin Fetchit.

      Superhero comic books and the movies they’ve spawned are primarily mind-in-neutral, escapist entertainment. They are eye candy. To expect anything more of them is unrealistic.

      • Josh

        I disagree with this final sentiment. Ever actually read the Silver Surfer’s solo comics? That’s some cerebral stuff. And what of Watchmen?

        To say that a genre *cannot* achieve anything beyond dumb escapist entertainment is to neuter that genre and box in your perceptions.

        I expect greatness from everything. I’ve seen great, intelligent, adult-oriented cartoons despite them being “for kids”. I’ve seen intelligent, well thought out, and absolutely challenging romantic comedies. I’ve seen superhero media that I’d consider outright brilliant.

        The Avengers, though, that falls directly into this category. It’s a dumb action movie with little plot that mostly works in terms of moment-to-moment charactrerization, but not much else. It’s enjoyable but frankly I think it’s outright forgettable and I’m at a loss as to why it is getting the praise that it is.

      • Ken

        >>Ever actually read the Silver Surfer’s solo comics? That’s some cerebral stuff. And what of Watchmen?<<

        Actually, yes. And many thousands more over the past 50 years. And while the few such as Watchmen try to be something more, primarily (as I said in my original post) they are escapist entertainment. That's not a condemnation, that's a fact. You're kidding yourself if you think that most superhero comics (or movies) have ever striven to be anything more.

        I never said, "To say that a genre *cannot* achieve anything beyond dumb escapist entertainment is to neuter that genre and box in your perceptions." You misread entirely what I wrote. A person can be entertained by silliness, slapstick, vicarious thrills. It doesn't have to be mind-expanding.

        As for The Avengers film–it is what it is. It was well-crafted visually, fairly true to its source and generally successful in appealing to its prospective audience.

        I enjoyed it and that's all that I wanted out of it.

      • The term “escapist entertainment” seems to be tossed around as if it’s a lower art form. If it’s poorly done, then it deserves the label. However, some of the greatest and most enduring entertainment of all time is “escapist entertainment.”

        Done well, escapist entertainment is far from dumb. It has raised the spirits of the public, inspired generations and stood the test of time.

        Relevant messages, adult themes and a sense of gravitas also inspires, endures and usually wins awards, but it’s not “better.” Each has a place.

        But life is hectic, times are tough and when a movie can take you — with skill and style — it’s just as important as the heavy duty stuff.

      • Obo

        Someone who sat next to me when i went to see the Avengers last night said something that stood out to me.

        After the last credits played and people began to stood up, he said he hadn’t felt so much joy watching movie since Return of the Jedi. He hadn’t seen a crowd react like that to a movie for years.

        Kids of this generation will forget this movie as much as children of past generations forgetting Star Wars.

      • @ Ken:

        I wholeheartedly encourage you to read Jeffrey Kripal’s book Mutants & Mystics. It might make you look at superhero comic books in a whole new light ;)

    • Thanks for that Oliver- not sure what I’m suppose to do with that info, but thanks.

    • cst

      The fact that you had to reach back more than a quarter of a century to find an AVENGERS comic to complain about actually speaks well of Marvel… especially because, for your complaint to seem justified, you had to ignore the fact that later writers on the book have CALLED OUT that story as a low point IN THE COMICS THEMSELVES. (When Danvers next showed up,the character confronted the other Avengers and tore a strip off them for their earlier behavior).
      Perhaps you should have waited a couple of months until DARK KNIGHT RISES comes out and taken the opportunity to point out that DC Comics is CURRENTLY (and quite unapologetically) pushing forward to new heights of sexism. (Let’s just say that anyone who only knows characters like Harley Quinn and Starfire from their ANIMATED incarnations would be appalled to see what they look like in “The New DCU”.)

      • Martin

        But Harley Quinn GOT her start in the animated series. Had she not shown up in the show she would have never been inserted into the comics at all.

        But I agree, DC has turned every single one of its female characters into walking jiggle-fest bonerific whores of fantasy. Hell there was even a story where Huntress ended up doing it with a fanboy. I forget how long ago that was though. And Starfire turning into a nudist sex freak is probably one of the most offensive reboots they’ve ever pulled.

    • E. Nygma

      Wow! We had to start the thread with a heavy comment like this. Go see the damn movie. It’s fun.

  • Ha! I knew you people couldn’t resist on posting something here related to the A movie. I’m still not fan of aliens suddenly appearing on screen, but I have to say “IRON MAN AND HULK SMASH”!!!

  • Brian Kidd

    I agree. It isn’t Art and it’s a bit slow-going in the beginning, but once it gets going, it’s a great deal of fun. Great action and genuinely funny jokes abound! Who knew The Hulk could be the best thing about an Avengers movie?

    • E. Nygma

      Actually it is art. The art of imagination, design and cinematography. Get the “Art of the Avengers” book and tell me the design and scene setup in there is less of an “art” than any Pixar movie or animated film. There is a lot of art and design involved here. I love that just because it is pop culture entertainment everybody assumes they can decide what is art and what isn’t.

  • JP

    I got to see this movie a couple of weeks ago at a sneak preview. I was surprised at how much I really liked it. I hadn’t seen any of the related Marvel pictures for each individual hero, but I was still able to follow along and find it very enjoyable.

  • I still love these rickety old cartoons – although to be fair I probably could not watch more than three episodes in a sitting…

    Would be great for Marvel/Disney to bring all the lost elements together for a restored release or just as extras.

  • Crappy cartoons are so much better with age- who knew :)

  • Steve Pissocra

    Wife, 10-year-old son and I saw it this morning. We all loved it. To echo JP, it was all that I thought it should/could be. Joss knows comics and movies. He nailed it.

  • The Gee

    I intend to see it. Probably just the 2D version.
    But, I am curious about something. Is Kirby mentioned anyhow, anywhere in the film? In the credits, in the locals–like a street name, building or business?

    Also, didn’t those Marvel cartoons use existing comic book artists art somehow. Without looking it up, I recall some artists who worked on those characters back then not being compensated for having some of their art used. Or, was that the DC comics cartoons?

    • The Gee – Yes, Jack Kirby is credited twice in The Avengers end credit crawl. Once as co-creator (with Stan) of The Avengers, and separately as co-creator (with Joe Simon) of Captain America.

      And yes, the 1966 Marvel Super Hero cartoons used the original comic book art for the basis of its limited animation.

      • The Gee

        That’s good. I had read that he wasn’t going to be mentioned. With that lawsuit his family has going against Disney, I seriously thought there was going to be a slight against him.

        “…the 1966 Marvel Super Hero cartoons used the original comic book art “

        Which partially explains why Captain American hold those poses in the clip you put up. It is weird how the superhero cartoons had such low budgets back then, especially considering superhero comics were “hot” at that time.

    • And from the looks of it, Kirby’s universe will be integral for the next Avengers-related movies *hint hint* ;)

  • Mike

    I feel like I’m the only one in the world, but I didn’t care too much for The Avengers. While some of the writing was clever, I felt much of the humor was too cheap or same-y. Plus, plot holes aside, there was nothing that made me care about the team or their goals, and I was bored by the time they hit New York. And this is just nitpicky, but I thought the score was pretty bland. Alan Silvestri can do (and certainly has done) much better.

    • You must be a Chitauri then :P

    • I agree. Nothing wrong with putting humor in an adventure movie, but you have to be judicious with it. If the characters are too jokey or casual as they are kicking other-dimensional monster-butt, you lose a sense of peril. Like the characters are just doing their jobs — punching the clock; not even breaking a sweat. I realize this is a comic book movie, so obviously you can’t take it too seriously, but within the world of the movie, if they don’t feel much peril in their situation, why should I, or how can I, as an audience member?

      Brad Bird had the right idea in The Incredibles. He made a deliberate effort to portray peril in his superhero characters. When a section of train track is destroyed, and the only way for the passengers in an oncoming train to be saved is for Mr. Incredible is to take a hit from the train and stop it before it reaches the gap in the tracks, we cut to a close-up of Mr. Incredible grimacing just before the train hits. This acknowledges to the audience that “this is going to hurt”. It makes the action more consequential, and it makes Mr. Incredible more heroic. Bird went out of his way throughout the entire movie to make sure that you could see that people (including the main characters) could get hurt or killed–that action has consequence in his movie.

      That didn’t seem to be the case in a lot of the time in The Avengers–especially in the final battle. Not much grimacing or screaming in pain or fear or even getting out of breath–just a lot of cracking wise. They even went “Looney Tunes” a couple of times with the Hulk. Made it hard to feel engaged in the story if the filmmakers were treating it like a big joke.

      That said, some great action scenes (especially with Black Widow) and cool special effects…

      I’m sure I’m gonna get slammed here, but that’s how I felt.

  • John

    So, Jerry says Avengers is a great movie, go see it, you’ll have a good time… and the first comment addresses a Jim Shooter-written comic that’s completely off subject and a debate breaks out. Classic Internet. #pullittogether

  • Rich Tom

    I was hoping that Disney’s love of their creative legacy would extend to their Marvel properties. I want to see Jack Kirby’s credit in large letters on its own onscreen next time, not buried in a crawl somewhere while g*damnned Stan Lee struts around like he owns the place (which he certainly does not).

  • Marc Baker

    Well, I saw ‘The Avengers’, and all I can say is WOW! just WOW! What an amazing super hero movie. While there have been many great solo super hero movies in the past, this one does the unthinkable by taking already established heroes from their respective movies, and teaming them up in an epic ‘summer blockbuster’ movie, and you know what, it was A blast! Sure, it’s made from the same ‘block buster’ type formula that’s helped Michael Bay become A millionaire, but Joss Whedon does it much better than Bay could ever hope for. Is it kinda silly, yes, but in A very good way. The movie tries to be really fun while at the same time treating these iconic heroes with A great deal of respect. The humor isn’t bad, racially offensive, or contrived at all. It’s clever, and very creative. While most super hero movies have been trying to distance themselves from camp, ‘The Avengers’ uses just the right amount of camp while maintaining some levels of seriousness to keep things epic in scope. This is so far turning out to be A good year for movies. If ‘The Hunger Games’ proved that A young female protagonist can offer something better your young girls than ‘vampire pedophile sex’, ‘The Avengers’ has proven that super hero team up movies can actually work, if they’re in the right hands. Who knows if this movie will convince Warner Bros. that A ‘Justice League’ movie can be made. Until then, congratulations to ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’. They deserved that success.

    • The Gee

      This might seem out of context, or just wrong, to state but I think “The Incredibles” showed that superhero team up movies can work.

      The genre seems to be hit or miss. All the promotion in the world may not save it. All the promotion in the world might save it. The movie could be kind of bad or could be really good.

      Obviously, special effects are prime for these types of movies and there’s been no shortage of the SFX elements that are staples of these types of movies appearing in other types of non-comic book movies (The Matrix and probably a lot of other sci-fi movies).

      But, I do wonder how “success” is gauged here? Box Office seems like the most probable metric. It seems obvious to watch that. But, could a lackluster version have gotten great ticket sales, too? The window for succeeding is so small that much of the ticket sales could be first time watchers and people riding the wave of Buzz. I think Marvel/comic book fans might have been disappointed and negative buzz could have killed it to produce a “John Carter” like performance, an underwhelming one. But, JC–sheesh–was dead enough out of the gate.

      Still, I think subsequent SHero/comic book movies still might end up being hit or miss, just like all movies are hit or miss. A good Justice League movie might not happen, could happen; could be well received, could be “a rental”.

      Oh well, Disney and other studios –involved or not– are probably breathing easier.

      • Mike

        I don’t think that claim about The Incredibles is wrong to make at all. One of the things I think it succeeds so well at (and one of my most profound disappointments with Avengers) was that through smart storytelling it introduced and characterized multiple characters, made them important and gave most of them a believable arc for personal growth (though Mr. Incredible’s was obviously the most central.) This is all the more impressive in that we didn’t knwo the characters at all going in. In the Avengers, on the other hand, there was next to no character growth for characters with which we are presumably already familiar. This is of course in part because each character had their own moment in a previous film, but I couldn’t help but be left feeling cold when the take-home lesson boiled down to “play nice with others.” I just didn’t care about the characters or what they were doing because the film failed to give me a reason for it. Even the growth they tried to push (i.e. with the Hulk) felt shallow and tacked-on, particularly when it was so poorly resolved (Look! He can magically control it now!)

        I don’t exactly know what my point here is, guess I’m just venting. But I wanted to concur; I think The Incredibles demonstrates that you can make a superhero ensemble film that’s both entertaining and satisfying from a story perspective.

  • Avengers ROCKED. I felt like the food critic in Ratatouille where he was “transported” back to childhood giddiness.

    I actually laughed out loud, got tingles and cheered with the rest of the gee…erm…excited moviegoers. Also it’s the first time I got goosebumps during a post-credits tag.

    Thor brings the thunder and lightning but who brings the “reign”?


    Shutting up now.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself! Although I sorta did, on my blog.

      To those geeks out there that “didn’t care for this film”, or “had problems” with it: Really? Will ANYTHING make you happy?!

  • It was fantastic, nuff said.

  • Tim

    To be fair, I think the Avengers movie was a little harder to make than the Incredibles, and far more original, at least the original source material was. That is not to say the Incredibles was not a good film, but the Avengers as a film has entered into new territory.

    • Mike

      Can you elaborate on how The Avengers entered new territory? It seemed like a pretty standard effects-heavy blockbuster to me…

      And regardless of which movie was more difficult to make (and I’m not necessarily sure it was Avengers), technical challenges don’t excuse problems with story or characterization.

      • Nick R

        The idea of one studio co-ordinating several blockbuster films based around separate characters, and then all coming together for a team-up, is very new territory. Especially impressive is the fact that not only did the individual characters’ films generally work pretty well, but that the team-up movie – which could have been a complete mess – has been so well-received.

        Imagine if one movie studio had made a James Bond film, a Jackie Chan film, a Die Hard film, and a Matrix film – and then had all those all those lead characters team up against against, say, the Terminator. OK, that’s not an ideal comparison (because the Marvel movies had the original comics as a baseline to ensure they’d fit together fairly well), but it’s a reasonable comparison for the scale of Marvel Studios’ achievement.

  • dbenson

    I think the whole 6-movie cycle ( including the two Iron Mans, the Hulk reboot, Thor and Captain America) is amazingly good. Some were better than others, but none of them was as weak as, say, the well-crafted but strangely blah “Fantastic Four” and “Superman Returns.”

    I’m coming at this as a boomer kid with a casual interest and fond memories, not an industrial-strength fan who’s followed the comics closely. After decades of misfired attempts and sorry rehashings of the occasional gems (Batman, Superman, X-Men and Spider-Man all seemed to sour after one great movie and one good sequel), it’s a great pleasure when anyone delivers what I always hoped to see: intelligence and a semblance of depth, and the big thrills rendered believably.

    The “Avengers” half dozen, plus Spider-Man and X-Men (the first two of each), pretty much deliver all the Marvel I’ve ever wanted, just as the original Star Wars trilogy constitutes all I want of that universe. If future Marvel features turn out well, I may or may not bother.

    Oh, and the DC shows from “Batman: The Animated Series” through “Justice League Unlimited” are likewise all the superhero animation I’ve ever wanted. They had everything the old Saturday morning shows never had (including a sexual quotient). I leave all the newer hero shows to the kids.

  • Marc Baker

    Since some of you pointed out how ‘The Incredibles’ does A good job with A super hero team, it was an original idea from Brad Bird, and their family dynamic was mostly inspired by The Fantastic Four. ‘The Avengers’ by comparison, takes different heroes from their own established movies, and sub-genres, and puts them together in one movie. Something that’s commonly done on TV, but never in movies.

  • Mac

    Having seen all the films leading up to this, this was another fun superhero movie for me. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favourite film of the year. I’ve gotta say though that all the friends I saw it with went absolutely crazy for it. Their enthusiasm (plus the positive buzz of the packed cinema I saw it in) made me enjoy the film a whole lot more than if I’d watched it on my own. This is definitely one big crowd-pleaser of a movie. The Hulk was the best character getting the biggest laughs from me and the rest of the audience (well except for that one hilariously unexpected line which Loki delivers to Black Widow).

  • Matt Sullivan

    There was an A-113 reference at the end ( on a computer screen in the lower right hand corner )

    • Kevin

      I had no idea what an “A113 reference” meant until I read that. I won’t spoil it for anyone who doesn’t know. Google is your friend.

    • Nick R

      In this article about the movie’s visual effects, there’s a mention of the visual effects artist who added that A-113 reference.

  • Stéphane Dumas

    Talk about a blast from the blast when I saw the classic 1966 Marvel super-heroes cartoon. :-)

    For those who are curious, you can hear the Marvel Super-heroes in French
    When the Avengers comic books series was sold in Quebec, Canada during the 1970s-1980s, it was renamed “Les Vengeurs”.

    And I won’t confuse it with the 1960s British spy tv series also named…The Avengers. I guess it might give some ideas about crossover fanfictions of the Marvel Avengers meeting the British Avengers of the tv series. ;-)

  • Taco Wiz

    I like some Whedon stuff, especially Dr. Horrible, which is quite possibly my favorite movie ever. I want to see The Avengers, but to understand it and/or appreciate it I’d probably have to sit through the other Marvel films, and I generally don’t like superheroes.

  • And I’m excited to see it too, but please let me say two words: Phantom Menace.

    I’m going in with low expectations for this one. I sense the same kind of “second coming” mass hype over something that everyone has waited their whole lives to see.

    I like a lot of people were on the biggest non-narcotic high after coming out from seeing Star Wars The Phantom Menace so many years ago…….only to really crash with severe disillusionment once the high wore off a few weeks later.

    I’m sure the movie will be fun. That’s the most important thing.

  • Albert

    God Lord stop the awful singing please. I have endured some ill conceived songs for older cartoons but these people don’t even sound like they are singing on key

  • I saw THE AVENGERS on the 6th, and a week later in Philadelphia (in 3D). I was absolutely blown away! This is the best American comic-book superhero movie ever made, and goes right with INFRAMAN and THE INCREDIBLES (my choices for the best superhero movies in general).

    This is pretty much the Marvel Superhero movie I was wishing for. This film is a Jack Kirby Marvel comic literally brought to life, style and all, and even with all the sophisticated drama and tongue-in-cheek humor, they managed to keep what made these characters so great in the first place, rather than pander to the “Dark Knight” Batman trend, or pay attention to every single historical fanboy detail. This movie is not made strictly for fanboys, this is made for people who have never read a Marvel comic!

    The cast did a wonderful job all around. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) is as great as ever. I really love the suit worn by Captain America (which some people criticized for being “campy and colorful” – screw them! I’ll take “campy and colorful” over dark and realistic any day), even better than his previous one; he looks much better and more recognizable. (I still thought Chris Evans, as Cap, looked a lot like Nick Adams, but as Adams is one of my favorite actors, that’s a compliment!) Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was also great, and I was able to get over the frustration of his not wearing his winged helmet. But the Hulk, my favorite of the bunch, definitely steals the show! I loved Ed Norton’s Hulk, but Mark Ruffalo totally nailed it, and is worthy of the acclaim he’s gotten. I also liked Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and can accept the toning-down of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Loki, the villain, is also very praiseworthy! Even with his delightfully wicked demeanor, you actually feel some sympathy for him, especially in the scenes where Thor tries to reason with him.

    The battle scenes and SPFX are top-notch, and the climactic all-out battle in New York City (one of the few movie climaxes set in the DAYTIME, as opposed to strictly night, which gets very old!) is the major highlight. Alan Silvestri’s music score has really stuck to me. Not just a bunch of generic chords, but actual themes for each character (especially the Avengers’ heroic theme, and the ominous theme for Loki)! The extra endings during the credits, especially for anyone who stayed, got not one, not two, but THREE rounds of applause (especially from me) when I first went to see it! (I also cheered when I saw Jack Kirby’s name in the credits!)

    I urge those who haven’t seen this film to do so! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and you don’t need to see the other films to appreciate it. :)

  • JSG

    Ahh The Avengers,such a tit for tat movie in my book.First off Joss Whedon gets praised for his handling of these characters, even though I felt Thor got the short end of the stick.As far as fan-service goes this film rocks,Justice League and all other superhero movies need to take notes in the future.As far as a good film the poor plot doesn’t give the characters anything actually to avenge.