The Avengers is now but 2 Fridays away, after 4 years of buildup through 5 other superhero movies. One of the most unique and challenging attempts in history at a cinematic merger is complete. That fact alone makes this a really big deal. Nothing like this has been attempted before in the hundred-plus years people have been making movies. I always had serious doubts this movie would even happen, let alone come together this smoothly. Now that it’s here, despite my excitement and trust in the talented people involved, I’m still a little hesitant to believe it will work. Or at least work the way I want it to (that’s a big caveat there).
Whether anyone is hesitant or not, the movie is done. Finished. Ready to be sent across the globe to crazed audiences everywhere. They’ve had their big premieres. They’ve shown the film to some preview audiences. They’ve shown the film to almost all the popular fanboy blog writers to mostly positive reactions. That doesn’t necessarily convince me, because I find many of those guys are easy to persuade with geek projects like this. Some of them want to curry favor with the studios down the road; some just lack the ability to be objective because they want to like it so much. It is what it is. Are their standards too low? Are mine too strict? It doesn’t really matter. I don’t trust the fanboy community’s reaction by itself. Once some real critics weigh in with equally positive reviews, then I’ll be more inclined to believe the hype (the positive reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety help).
If I had finished my Most Anticipated Films of 2012 list (I wasn’t even close to finishing as we got into March, so I gave it up), The Avengers was #4 on that list, behind only The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit and Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. I’ll still be going to a midnight show (in glorious 2D!). However, as pumped as I am to see if they’ve pulled this off, I’m keeping my expectations in check, because there are too many things that can mess this up. I’ve stopped watching trailers and I haven’t watched any of the random clips they’ve released. I find that stuff to be poor marketing. It’s pretty pathetic really, that Marvel feels they need to convince people to see this, as if it isn’t already one of the most highly anticipated summer movies ever (which it is). The pre-release tracking says it’ll gross around $125 million on its opening 3-day weekend. These guys need to take their foot off the pedal and relax a little. When has your marketing gone too far? When you’ve shown the entire fucking movie to people in bits and pieces weeks before release. Go on YouTube and you can find at least 7 different extended clips and 10 different TV spots, in addition to the 3 or 4 official trailers that have been released. They’re showing us too much, plain and simple.
Am I a little worried? I’d be lying if I said no. I’m not one of those fanboys who’s gonna say, “No worries” just because Joss Whedon is directing. This would be an extremely difficult project to get right no matter who was writing or directing it. I really liked Serenity, but the guy also co-wrote The Cabin in the Woods, which I was less than enamored with (yeah, I went there). But again, the reviews I have glanced at (I don’t read entire reviews because I want to remain spoiler free) are praising many of things I want to see go right.
Without further ado though, here are my 5 biggest fears with 2 weeks to go before Marvel’s superhero orgy is unleashed upon the masses:
1. I don’t want it to be Iron Man and The Avengers. The Iron Man movies were by far the most successful of all the tie-in movies leading up to this, so while I understand why the braindead studio suits would take that to mean “Iron Man needs to have all the best moments in The Avengers“, I hope the creative people knew better. Iron Man 3 comes out next summer, so we’re gonna spend plenty of time with this character soon enough, and the studio will no doubt have another smash hit to fill their coffers. The Avengers doesn’t need Robert Downey Jr.‘s star power for Avengers to be a box office success. I really hope these guys understood that, but it seems like Iron Man gets a lot more screen time than the other characters. We’ll see. [Likelihood of this being a problem: 7/10, if only because Downey is so great in the role that it’ll be tough to get upset if he has a lot of great material]
2. Marvel isn’t exactly going into this with momentum. Let’s face it, the last two solo Marvel Studios efforts, Captain America and Thor, were both okay at best. In fact, of the 5 movies that all tie in to The Avengers in one way or another (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor), only two of those (the first Iron Man and the Edward Norton Incredible Hulk) were above average. Is anyone debating this? It’s bad enough that they recast Bruce Banner (though I’m confident Mark Ruffalo will do a great job, it is somewhat distracting), so basically all continuity with The Incredible Hulk is shot and you almost have to pretend it never happened. My point is…can The Avengers be great when the audience is going in loving just one of the characters (Tony Stark)? Doesn’t that temper the excitement by default? One character has been recast, two of the others were in movies that were meh overall (how excited are people gonna be to see Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth back in their roles?), another (Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow) was a secondary character in a subpar sequel, and the last one (Jeremy Renner‘s Hawkeye) has only appeared to this point as a throw-in cameo. People love Robert Downey’s Tony Stark. I’m wagering most of us don’t really feel strongly one way or the other about Evans and Hemsworth, and we haven’t seen enough of Black Widow and Hawkeye to have an opinion. In fact, other than Iron Man, I’m most excited to see Sam Jackson and Clark Gregg finally get into the action as Nick Fury and Agent Coulson. All this being said, I’m willing to bet Joss Whedon is a better writer than the guys who wrote the first Thor and Captain America, so that alone can make a world of difference. Or so I hope. [Likelihood of this being a problem: 7/10]
3. I’m still not convinced Loki will make a good villain, because it didn’t work the first time in Thor. And don’t get me wrong…I think Tom Hiddleston is a good actor. I just haven’t been impressed thus far with the Loki character, and he doesn’t appear to be very menacing in this film. The audience has to buy that this guy presents such a threat that a half dozen superheroes must unite to beat him and his army. I haven’t been sold on that yet. In truth, Hiddleston, and not any of the actors playing the heroes, has the biggest burden to carry in this film. He’s gotta have some really cool lines and strong “villain moments” for this movie to work. This is probably my biggest concern. [Likelihood of this being a problem: 9/10]
4. I’ve come down with a serious bout of AIFS (Alien Invasion Fatigue Syndrome). What used to be my favorite subgenre has now been abused to the point where I don’t want to see another alien invasion flick for about a decade. In 2011 alone, there were no fewer than 5 mainstream movies that featured alien attacks of some kind; Attack the Block, Battle Los Angeles, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Cowboys & Aliens, and The Darkest Hour. And if you go back to November, 2010, Skyline makes 6. The concept is officially played out until someone finds a new way to approach it. I wish they’d found some other kind of threat, but I guess this is the easiest way to go, because it allows the movie to be grander in scale, and it gives all the heroes the chance to get their money shots killing random faceless aliens. Again, this was the easy route to go, but it isn’t the best from a dramatic standpoint. If the villains aren’t as powerful as the heroes, it’s less impressive when the heroes are kicking ass. There’s a counterpoint to this in theaters right now if you go see The Raid, which features one badass motherfucker who almost singlehandedly takes out that film’s 2 lead good guys.
But guess what? Just two weeks after Avengers hits, we get ANOTHER $200 million alien invasion blockbuster in Aliens vs. Sailors! I mean Battleship! YAY! *puts gun in mouth* [Likelihood of this being a problem: 8.5/10]
5. The imbalance of powers. I’m just curious what Black Widow and Hawkeye are gonna be doing while Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk are jumping and flying around in the sky fighting aliens. That last shot of the final trailer [THIS ONE] is hilarious to me. You’ve got the whole group in their hero poses; Iron Man in his suit which can fire missiles and lasers, The indestructible Hulk roaring, Thor and his godlike hammer, then you’ve got Captain America with his shield up, Black Widow readying a pistol (Oh no! Look out, aliens!) and Hawkeye drawing his bow (which must fire nuclear arrows). Some of these things are not like the others. It’ll be interesting to see how the lesser-powered heroes fend for themselves. [Likelihood of this being a problem: 6/10]
There you have it. These are some of the many questions I have going into the film. There are of course others. Is there a cool titles sequence? How does it set itself up for an Avengers 2? How is Alan Silvestri‘s score? There better be a memorable Avengers theme! Sadly, the only thing not in doubt is whether any of the heroes dies, since everyone but The Hulk is already scheduled to appear in Iron Man 3, Thor 2 or Captain America 2. Hawkeye may or may not get his own movie, but Jeremy Renner is already signed up for a potential Avengers sequel, so he ain’t dyin. Again, we’ve removed more potential for great drama. If this movie is all fun and games and mindless CGI action, it won’t be what I’d hoped it would be. Think about this for comparison…there’s a very real chance Christian Bale‘s Batman might get killed or seriously maimed in The Dark Knight Rises, because those movies aren’t afraid of gravitas. I doubt anyone in The Avengers will so much as roll an ankle.
The Avengers could be an epic failure or the coolest comic book movie ever made (note I said coolest, not best- it ain’t gonna be better than the Nolan Batflicks). If everything goes right, this could be one of my top 50 favorite movies of all-time. That would be awesome, but I’m not counting on it. Like I said, this is one of those rare times we can actually say this is something Hollywood has never really attempted before. I’m glad it’s being attempted, but on the degree of difficulty here in pulling it off just right, it’s almost off the charts “extremely difficult”, so I feel justified going in with a bit of skepticism (which will also help me cope if the movie disappoints). You can sort of compare it to the X-Men movies, and maybe even The Expendables as far as big hero ensembles coming together, but the X-Men movies were primarily about Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto, and none of the old guy action heroes of The Expendables are playing the hero characters that made them famous.
I want to love The Avengers, but if it’s a giant turd of a mess, we’ll deal with it together, friends. My Spidey Sense tells me that I’m going to like the movie a lot for individual moments, but on the whole I’m gonna be able to nitpick the shit out of it with small issues that prevented it from being great. And that’s the problem. I don’t want this to just be a fun ride. I want it to be great. Regardless, one thing you can count on is that the movie is going to be a huge hit, and the Marvel inbreeding will likely continue. If all goes well with The Avengers, we have a Shane Black-directed Iron Man 3 to look forward to next May, the Thor sequel (to be helmed by 6-time Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor) on track for November, 2013 and a Captain America sequel for summer, 2014. When I do my Avengers review, I’ll come back to this post and be sure to mention which of my concerns were alleviated, and which came to fruition. Until then, everybody have fun at your midnight screenings. This one should be a blast no matter where you see it.
just for the hell of it…