I don’t often go to the movies. I think the last film that Kevin and I went to was V for Vendetta, which was in 2005. These days we can’t go to the movies together unless we both buy the DVD and chat about it over Skype. It’s not the same. I saw Watchmen on my own in the London IMAX, but the town where I live now doesn’t even have a movie theatre. However, many of the people I follow on Twitter had been enthusing about how good Avengers was. Then my friend Marjorie mentioned that she was thinking of going to see it (and she’s someone who always prefers live theatre over movies). So we concocted a plan.

Last night we ended up in a delightful old cinema in Frome which looks pretty much unchanged since the days of Bogart and Bacall. It even has a little kiosk next to the screen at which the girl from the ticket desk sells ice creams during the intermission. It is the cutest movie theatre I have been to since Kevin and I saw an old John Ford flick at the Silent Film Museum in Niles.

I’d been interested in what Marvel was doing with their movies for some time. The Iron Man films seemed to have gone down well, and I had bought the Thor DVD because lots of my female friends had enthused about what great eye candy Chris Hemsworth was. They were right, but the film itself was dreadful. Even Anthony Hopkins was dreadful. The only thing that saved it was the presence of Nick Fury and Hawkeye, and the suggestion that this was just a part of a much larger story.

I’ve not seen Iron Man 1 or 2, or Captain America, but now I want to see them because I’m assuming that they also do set-up for Avengers. (The various Hulk movies are not part of the same storyline, and have someone else playing Bruce Banner.) Doing connected storytelling like that over a series of movies (as opposed to a genuine trilogy like Lord of the Rings) is interesting, and possibly innovative.

None of this would have mattered, however, if the script for Avengers were as bad as that for Thor. Thankfully it wasn’t, it was spot on. It made sense, and just as importantly it felt exactly like an Avengers comic story. Whedon even managed to make use of the classic page transition trick that Alan Moore used to such great effect in Watchmen, where a character comment at the end of one page prefigures what’s going to happen elsewhere in the story on the next page. That works in movie scene transitions too.

The characters have to be right, of course. Bear in mind here that I discovered the Marvel UK comics when they first started, and read The Avengers through most of my teens. These are not just comic book characters we are talking about, they are old friends. I didn’t relate as closely to them as I did to the X-Men, but I knew them well. How did they come over in the film?

I’m not sure whether the Tony Stark portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. is the Tony Stark I remember, but honestly it doesn’t matter. He’s made the role his own. Downey is such a perfect Stark that the comics would probably seem wrong if they did him differently. I also love the relationship between Tony and Pepper, which certainly isn’t how I remember it but works really well.

Chris Hemsworth looks exactly like I expect Thor to look. He was very awkward in the solo movie, but Whedon’s script manages to have him speak in the rather pompous style for which the character is famous, without ever tripping over into the ridiculous faux mediaeval that Paul Cornell loves to parody. I also suspect the tech team does something to his voice to make it more godly.

Loki’s story arc was badly handled in Thor, but we know where his head got to and that now works. Also Whedon uses Loki’s powers brilliantly. Not the zapping and stuff, but the trickster god thing.

The idea of Steve Rogers being a man out of time didn’t work so well in the 1960s because he was basically just a bit like your dad. Fifty years later he really is a man out of time, and there are a couple of brief scenes in the movie that make good use of this. Hopefully the solo movie does it too. Whedon also manages to make him a credible leader, not just someone who has to be the leader because he’s Captain America. The costume is dreadful, but somehow appropriately dorky.

Using Hulk in the Avengers is a bit of a risk. It never worked well in the comics because it is so hard to reconcile the supposed blind fury of Hulk as a character with the need for him to work as part of a team. I thought Whedon did reasonably well, and Hulk did provide a few moments of pure comedy gold that made the whole thing worthwhile.

Scarlett Johansson does a decent job as Black Widow, and I’m delighted that she’s portrayed as exceptionally competent in many ways, not as a damsel in distress. (Agent Hill is a good female character too.) However, she’s very clearly not Russian, and therefore not really Natasha. I wish they could have found someone who could at least try.

I note also that Johansson doesn’t have the enormous boobs that are mandatory for all comic superheroines. I was surprised to find that this makes her look wrong. I’m still processing that.

And that leaves us with Clint Barton. Hawkeye has always been a bit of an enigma in Marvel. His only super power is that he’s a great archer. That’s not very impressive compared to, say, Iron Man. These days I guess the trick arrows come from the SHIELD labs, which is a good move. (I remember the days when Clint was a villain, so I’m very new to this whole agent of SHIELD persona.)

The movie version of Hawkeye has him as a strong, silent type: very cool, very efficient, mostly un-showy. He and Natasha are modern security industry professionals, which makes an interesting contrast to the old-time soldier, Rogers, and the rich playboys, Thor and Stark. Jeremy Renner looks quite nice too. So I ended up as #TeamHawkeye, especially after the arrow he shot at Loki.

So much for that movie. Even if they hadn’t planned sequels (which they clearly had), the number of box office records that it has broken would ensure one. What do we get next? I have seen rumors that Wanda and Pietro (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) might feature in a later film. That would be cool, and opens up the possibility of an X-Men cross-over. (Are they still supposed to be Magneto’s children or not? I have lost track.) There is, however, one character that Avengers was sorely missing.


The original Wasp character was a bit useless, partly because she was created at a time when superheroines were supposed to be invisible like Sue Storm, and partly because she came with the baggage of the hapless Hank Pym. Janet van Dyne, however, is the perfect superheroine for modern movies.

Let’s dispose of the Hank issue first. He’d actually be good comedy material. Unlike the others, he’d only be truly happy when in his lab talking to his insect friends. I’d ignore the Giant Man persona because we already have Hulk, and while Ant Man might stretch the CGI guys a little, I’m sure they are up to it. There’s a role for him.

Janet, on the other hand, would be awesome. She’s smart and sexy, filthy rich, and oozes glamour. She’d have a different, stunning outfit for every scene in civvies, and a different costume for every movie. Possibly several different costumes per movie. I’d also write her as very media savvy. Wikipedia tells me that Janet actually invented the name “Avengers”, which I had forgotten. And someone who is in the fashion business ought to be media savvy.

I desperately want to write the scene in which Janet briefs the team for their first press conference. That, of course, would finish with Tony whining, “what about me”, and Janet telling him with a smile, “oh, just be yourself”.

I also want to write the scene in which Janet and Pepper discuss issues with the team’s finances, and decide that most of the boys can’t be trusted with a credit card, let alone running a business. (Clint can doubtless be trusted to file expenses claims accurately, but Steve’s out of his depth with modern finance, Hulk can’t count, and Thor and Tony prefer to be too rich to have to worry about such things.)

So please, Mr. Whedon, given Janet a try. I know you like strong female characters, and this one would go down well with your masters in Hollywood. Let’s do this.

20 thoughts on “Avengers

  1. Thanks, Cheryl.

    After seeing Iron Man 1, I thought that Downey had put a lot of himself into the role of Tony Stark, and Iron Man 2 reinforced that. I am glad to see that the Avengers movie worked on that level for you, even if you had not seen the previous IM films.

    (And if you are tempted, Iron Man 1 is much better than 2, but 2 is worthwhile)

  2. That’s actually untrue: The Incredible Hulk is part of the current movie Avengers film set, despite the fact that Norton plays Banner, as opposed to Ruffalo.

      1. Not quite. They change the origin. The Ang Lee version uses the comic book origin (gets blasted rescuing twit of a lab assistant). The Norton movie uses the TV show origin (experiments on himself).

  3. Yes to Janet! I long to see her in the next one. And I like this version of Hulk far better than any of the other movies; he feels more real, and also more comic book, which is odd but ok. I would happily have him back for the deeply necessary SHE-HULK movie!

    Also I do hope we will get X-Men vs. Avengers at some point. Just because. As a friend of mine pointed out, the only thing (apart from more women) missing from this movie was a suitably rude Wolverine cameo.

    I did enjoy it very much though 😀 Kind of sad for the boys to have to go back to their own individual non-Whedon-scripted movie franchises now. But sadder of course for Black Widow not having her own yet… I loved her friendship with Hawkeye so much! So very rare for a woman in a movie like this to be given deep emotional material that isn’t tied in with a romance.

    The Iron Man movies are great fun, exactly what you’d expect from RDJ’s take on the character here. Worth tracking down. The Captain America movie is very good, though you won’t get the man out of time aspect you hope for as the majority of it is about his wartime life. Hopefully some more of that in a sequel?

    1. I love the idea of Martha Kent making Kara a bunch of different costumes, though I thought they were made out of Kryptonian fabric so she probably wouldn’t be able to get a needle into it.

      Also, Streaky the Super Cat! 🙂

    2. Wow, that took me back. And the younger me could never decide if Firestar was “supposed to be” the love interest of Spidey or Iceman.

      The anarchic adult in me wonders if they secretly had a polyamorous relationship between the three of them.

      But, um, I think I am veering off subject…

      1. Some of us are so old that we had to Google Firestar to find out who she was.

        It’s nice to know that Bobby has grown old enough to be deemed worthy of a girlfriend.

  4. “Loki’s story arc was badly handled in Thor, but we know where his head got to and that now works”

    I thought that Loki was bland in Thor and would be outshined by The Avengers which would make for a crappy movie. But Tom Hiddleston stepped it up a few notches in The Avengers that it worked out well.

  5. I loved Avengers. Mostly because – like you – I used to read the comics as a teenager, and the movie just felt so right. But also I think it was a very good action adventure movie. And the most epic thing I’ve seen in a good while – just as an Avengers movie is supposed to be.

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised over these movies about how well the roles have been cast. All of the main actors seem to fit their roles perfectly. And when they’ve given a decent script they perform quite well. The Avengers script had a right blend of epic adventure and comic moments for my tastes, and an alien invasion is only proper as a world-class threat that need the Earth’s mightiest heroes to come together despite their personal misgivings.

    Even though Black Widow was the only female Avenger, there were quite a few women officers on the S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier (including some in clearly positions of command). And I liked how Black Widow was portrayed as an extremely capable spy, and not a sex object (of course she was eye candy as much as the men). The movie version didn’t look wrong to me: Black Widow has quite often been portrayed – more than most other super heroines – as curvy but still slender in the comics as well, so no huge boobs at least in all the comics versions either.

    And even though the character looks and feels very American, at least I’m very happy they didn’t do the annoying Hollywood thing and make her speak English with a Russian accent!

    I thought Hawkeye was used reasonably well here – in addition to being a master archer, he clearly was a guy with exceptional eyesight, but also very great power of perception, so he was a perfect lookout and tactical help. The “super spy” aspect also helps make him feel more deserving a place among the super powerful beings (as is the case with Black Widow). Maybe his “enchantment” was a nod to his days as a villain? (I was also wondering if he was going to run out of arrows – no disappointment there.) I choose to ignore the cries about his form from just about anybody who knows anything about archery…

    Joss Whedon has said in an interview that Wasp was part of his script for quite a long time, but he just couldn’t make this many characters work in one movie. Dropping the character people haven’t already seen seems logical, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect her to make an appearance in the sequel. They’re going to need everyone they can get to go against Thanos after all.

    Of the earlier films, I think Thor was by far the worst (although I haven’t seen The Increcible Hulk, so that may be a contender), but still watchable in some strange denial-of-a-fanboy-hey-I’m-seeing-Thor-on-the-screen way. But the script and the dialog did suck, and to make Natalie Portman boring is a sin of almost lucasian proportion.

    I’m not a big fan of the Iron Man movies, but they are watchable, mildly entertaining, and build on the mythos. I also like how Tony and Pepper’s relationship was developed over the three movies. But too much “two guys in metal suits hitting each other” in both movies in my opinion. (In Avengers, the variety of people hitting each other was bigger, and the movie therefore more entertaining.)

    The Captain America movie I did like a lot. I think it managed to tell the Cap story and avoid all the elements that would bee too comic-booky extremely well. And the evolution of the Cap costume in his own movie and now Avengers was done believably, realistically (as far as that word can be applied here), and with delightful nods to the comic book history. (Basically all of the Captain America movie is his story during the war, so the man out of time–aspect is left for this movie to handle – and for Captain America 2, I guess.)

    One of the strengths of the Avengers film was that it didn’t need to use half of the movie introducing the cast – all of the main characters were featured in the earlier ones. So the Avengers movie could concentrate on bringing the team together and kicking ass. And for that, I’m willing to forgive the “prequels” their flaws. Even Thor.

  6. I’d LOVE to see Wanda & Pietro included – I also grew up reading Avengers in my teens (and X-men) – but for some reason it was Scarlet Witch that resonated with me most strongly and Quicksilver was always a fave too ;>.

    Going to see the movie tomorrow morning – looking forward to it!

    1. The Wanda/Pietro/Magneto family dynamics are rich storytelling, and with a female character that is potentially one of the most powerful in the entire universe.

      Of course, the cynic in me points out what they did with Jean Grey/Phoenix in X Men 3. She was a mutant strong enough to be a goddess…

      But, then, that entire movie was FUBAR.

  7. I saw Avengers Assemble last night, at a Somerset cinema I hadn’t used before: The Ritz at Burnham on Sea. Digital projectors, only available in 3D there, and only £5.50 per ticket for an adult (on Monday, a promo night, otherwise £6.80). Compare that with Cribbs Causeway Vue (Bristol) at £11.35.

    Some trad elements: they had one of the staff go through the theatre with a tray of ice creams round her neck in the “INTERMISSION”, which had the requisite bouncy, cheesy music accompaniment but wasn’t a real intermission, being between the ads and the trailers. And we could park on the street right in front of the entrance. From that point of view it was fun, despite being a rainy Bank Holiday Monday at a down-at-heel seaside resort (I wasn’t there on holiday, btw – it’s the next nearest cinema for me to the 3-screen “muliplex” in an old scout HQ that is The Wells Film Centre).

    But the space is odd. Both the 115-seat theatres are upstairs from the Social Club, , ours at least had a small off-set screen, and the spaces are obviously all carved out of a bigger space. Here’s the original one-room cinema opening in 1936.

    I guess the 3D imagery would have been more immersive in a much bigger space with a bigger screen, but here the 3D occasionally had the effect of making the characters look tiny and just in front of you. One wide scene of them all fighting along the bridge/walkway looked like it was something on a tabletop. Once or twice the Hulk looked about a centimetre tall. Sometimes crashing planes coming towards me looked impressive up to a certain point, and then collapsed into something small and insubstantial. Most odd. Though I’ve had that sort of thing before, even at an IMAX, with a 3D scene shot live in the ISS of an astronaut floating full length across the vast screen looking to me like a foot-long animated model floating just above my lap.

    But as a movie it was good fun. I hardly read any of the relevant comics when I was a kid but I have seen a couple of the buildup movies and it mostly made sense, though I didn’t know who the grinning guy was after the main credits. Some daft bits too, of course – seems remarkably easy to threaten an aircraft carrier, for instance. (Also, I can’t help having a niggling sense that Doctor Who should show up during the final fight).

  8. I did something I hadn’t done in about 30 years. I went to a movie marathon. Specifically, this was the Avengers Movie Marathon. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers, with generous intermissions between them. I had not seen the Hulk or Cap movies, so at $20 for all six this seemed like a deal. I still skipped both Iron Man movies because 15 hours of movie watching all at once is a bit beyond me these days. Nevertheless, I was able to see how all six films fit together into one storyline in ways that I otherwise might have missed. It was ’60s Marvel comes to life!

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