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The Avengers script in detail
January 11, 2013 9:06 AM   Subscribe

"The screenplay keeps so many balls in the air that everything feels lively and inventive and fun, even when the plot isn’t being forwarded, or especially when the plot isn’t being forwarded. " Todd Alcott, director, actor and screenwriter, is known for his exhaustive analysis of screenplays (previously, previously) turns his eye to the modern Superhero Genre with a complete break down of Marvel's The Avengers Part 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17
posted by The Whelk (60 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is as good a place as any: ILM released a pretty neat reel of their effects work in The Avengers. It seems like a lot of the shots I assumed were based on live action background plates (particularly in the Manhattan sequence) were actually totally CG.
posted by brundlefly at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


These are great. Part 8 is there, though. You need to get rid of the hash tag and everything that follows it in your URLs.
posted by yoink at 9:16 AM on January 11, 2013


[fixed the links and added the #8]
posted by mathowie at 9:23 AM on January 11, 2013


Todd's superpower is not knowing what "forwarded" means.
posted by w0mbat at 9:24 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems like a lot of the shots I assumed were based on live action background plates (particularly in the Manhattan sequence) were actually totally CG.

I saw an effects reel a few years back (can't find it from here) that detailed how you can do essentially any location scene via CGI these days. In particular, it showed how a short walk down a typical San Francisco block in an episode of "Monk" -- something you'd think would be far easier to do "real," since it was just two actors talking as they stroll down a street -- was done on a soundstage with green screen and a wind machine.

If you've got the money, there's almost no reason to leave a soundstage anymore.
posted by Etrigan at 9:30 AM on January 11, 2013


I haven't read all of these yet (Is it down for everyone, or just me?), but I can only conclude that this guy watched a completely different movie than I did.

The one I watched was an incoherent mess that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be high-minded allegory or a wise-cracking blow-em-up.
posted by madajb at 9:31 AM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, they certainly did film in Manhattan. My daughter spied on Chris Evans from a bridge overpass or some such.
posted by Windopaene at 9:33 AM on January 11, 2013



Well, they certainly did film in Manhattan. My daughter spied on Chris Evans from a bridge overpass or some such.


There are a number of fairly adorable on-set photos from Central Park too.
posted by The Whelk at 9:39 AM on January 11, 2013


I love Alcott's in depth script analyses -- I don't always agree with him in terms of what makes a movie enjoyable but his expertise in what makes a script work -- or not -- is, well, expert. Many of the subtle character motivations he spotted in Inglorious Basterds went right over my head the first time I watched the movie; rewatching it after reading his analysis was a great experience.
posted by ook at 9:42 AM on January 11, 2013


The one I watched was an incoherent mess that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be high-minded allegory or a wise-cracking blow-em-up.

I'm not sure it's good for your career as an "actor/director/screenwriter," to shit on very popular money-making films.

People liked it so it must be good, right?

I thought it was a mess too... some of the scenes worked, many of them didn't. It didn't really hold up all together and the grand finale was dissappointing both visually and dramatically: geiger aliens on hovercrafts and the ridiculous Jesus Iron Man.
The action of the scene is simple: Black Widow wants Bruce to come with her and Bruce doesn’t want to go. Yet the scene is comparatively leisurely, and, since we already know that Black Widow is a master manipulator of men’s desires, her skill in the negotiations isn’t new. What is left is character work, a “getting to know Bruce Banner” scene. The performances are warm, detailed and canny, and it’s almost a love scene, where the lovers dance around not the subject of attraction but the subject of Bruce’s gigantic green alter ego. They dance around it so much that Bruce finally threatens to let it out, just as a tease, just “to see what you’d do.” What Black Widow would do is instantly pull a gun, the love scene over, the dance done. The Avengers is, in many ways, a cautious love story with multiple partners, the question being, can our love outlive our conflicts, can it outlive our flaws?
This seems like fellatio to me rather than a serious analysis...
posted by ennui.bz at 9:43 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Etrigan: is this the video?
posted by mediated self at 9:52 AM on January 11, 2013


The one I watched was an incoherent mess that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be high-minded allegory or a wise-cracking blow-em-up.

I'm giggling, because this pretty much describes all of Whedon's work from the original Buffy movie to Cabin in the Woods... that cacophonic thematic mess helps make his stuff so surprising and fun.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:57 AM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I thought these two paragraphs were insightful:

(Technically, the true protagonist of The Avengers, is, of course, whoever is on the other end of the celestial jukebox that Mr. Bigrobe is talking to. This turns out, eventually, to be a guy named Thanos, and Mr. Bigrobe turns out to be a guy named, er, “The Other.” The “protagonist” of a story, the way the Greeks used the term anyway, was the guy who set events into motion. Thanos wants The Tesseract, The Other sends Loki [the "ally"] and The Chitauri to get the Tesseract, and it falls to Nick Fury to stop those guys from doing that. This, technically, makes Nick Fury the antagonist of The Avengers. To make this distinction seems picayune, but, in fact, this protagonist problem is why so many superhero movies suck — it is inherent in the genre that the protagonist of the narrative is the bad guy. The moment you have a main character whose job it is to run around stopping things from happening, you have a reactive protagonist, which means a weaker narrative. When you have a weaker narrative, you end up throwing all kinds of nonsense at the screen, hoping that no one will notice that you have a reactive protagonist. This is, incidentally, why Batman barely even shows up in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies — he understood that the protagonist of his Batman movies had to be Bruce Wayne, not Batman, and that, for his narratives to succeed, the bad guys had to be reacting to the actions of Bruce Wayne, not Batman reacting to the actions of the bad guys.)

* * *

Who is Coulson, anyway, in the context of this drama? He wields enoromous power, he clearly outranks the individual heroes involved, and yet he doesn’t merely defer to them, he loves them, they mean the world to him. Coulson, in short, is the audience. If Fury is the writer/director, Coulson is the audience. But not just any member of the audience, he is the way all comics readers imagine themselves on an adventure with one of their heroes: the coolest sidekick ever. He’s blase, unassuming, patient, unflappable and openly adoring, as we see in a moment, when he gushes at Steve Rogers as they head out to the SHIELD carrier.

posted by johnasdf at 10:07 AM on January 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am usually hesitant to embrace critiques or meta analysis unless the vitae of the critic makes him/her worthy in my eyes to perform the analysis. This is petty, conceitful, and selfish of me -- but on I go; refusing to review earlier links after checking his IMDB.

Well, having said that, I am definitely an ass. There are some great evaluations made in this series and I have enjoyed perusing them. Thanks!
posted by cavalier at 10:13 AM on January 11, 2013


He also wrote the latest episode in this excellent podcast
posted by The Whelk at 10:23 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading Alcott makes me feel smarter when I watch movies.

He's doing "X-Men: First Class" now, and it's also an excellent analysis.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2013


The “protagonist” of a story, the way the Greeks used the term anyway, was the guy who set events into motion.

That definition A) can be applied to more than one character in many, if not most, stories, and B) does not apply to what I think of as the protagonist of the vast majority of stories I can think of. The whole point of most protagonists is that they're sitting around when BOOM someone does something villainesque.

This is, incidentally, why Batman barely even shows up in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies — he understood that the protagonist of his Batman movies had to be Bruce Wayne, not Batman, and that, for his narratives to succeed, the bad guys had to be reacting to the actions of Bruce Wayne, not Batman reacting to the actions of the bad guys.

I honestly do not know how anyone can think of anyone but the Joker setting events into motion in The Dark Knight or Bane setting events into motion in The Dark Knight Rises. As I say, the whole point of TDKR was that Bruce Wayne and Batman were both sitting around when BOOM Bane hits Gotham.

If you want to call Thanos the "protagonist," fine, but you might as well call him the "fried kitten" of the movie, because you're using words that most people won't recognize as meaning the same thing you do.
posted by Etrigan at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joker in The Dark Knight does what he does largely (if not entirely) because Batman exists. He's waging a war against Batman the same way Batman was waging a war against capital-C Crime in Year One (and Begins, to a lesser extent).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on January 11, 2013


Right, Holy Zarquon has it. As Polybius noted two millennia ago, there is a difference between the causes of a war and its pretext, e.g. between the US and Japanese struggle for hegemony over the Pacific and Pearl Harbor. If you take the villains out of the context of the Batman universe, yes their actions seem disassociated from it, but in that context they are reactors. Thus are the Nolan storylines elevated above "comic book" level -- whoopsie, here's a bad guy, and hey, here comes the good guy to despatch him -- and become treatises on how a world is changed by the intervention of a (super-)vigilante, and secondarily about the personal hell that Bruce Wayne makes for himself by becoming Batman.
posted by dhartung at 10:54 AM on January 11, 2013


Joker in The Dark Knight does what he does largely (if not entirely) because Batman exists.

That still doesn't make him the protagonist. I disagree with Etrigan. Maybe a lot of people use "protagonist" to just mean "main character," but I don't know about most I use it like Alcott uses it.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:55 AM on January 11, 2013


If you want to call Thanos the "protagonist," fine, but you might as well call him the "fried kitten" of the movie, because you're using words that most people won't recognize as meaning the same thing you do.

I had a bit of problem with this as well, but I think he has a good point. The reactive nature of the superhero is a problem, although it's a problem in a lot of other genres as well. Crime stories are almost all reactive (this is where superheroes get it from), as are most thrillers. The well written ones have a sort of give-and-take -- we usually open with the hero doing something (in reaction to some off-screen action), then the villain's plot begins to unfold, the hero reacts (usually badly), the villain counters, the hero is defeated, the hero rallies and acts, the villain is defeated (or reacts and the hero counters).

If you play table top RPGs, reactivity is a serious problem, as the players tend to hunker heir characters down, waiting for something to happen. Which often makes for bad drama. And more work for the GM.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:57 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, they certainly did film in Manhattan.

Also in & around Albuquerque & Cleveland.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:06 AM on January 11, 2013


Who is Coulson, anyway, in the context of this drama? He wields enoromous power, he clearly outranks the individual heroes involved, and yet he doesn’t merely defer to them, he loves them, they mean the world to him. Coulson, in short, is the audience.

Coulson is a Joss Whedon proxy, same as Xander, Wesley, and Wash.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:06 AM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Joker in The Dark Knight does what he does largely (if not entirely) because Batman exists. He's waging a war against Batman the same way Batman was waging a war against capital-C Crime in Year One (and Begins, to a lesser extent).

And Batman does what he does largely (if not entirely) because his parents were killed in Crime Alley. Is Joe Chill the protagonist of all the Batman movies, even the ones he doesn't actually appear in?
posted by Etrigan at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is not The Avengers.

The only real Avengers was with John Steed and Emma Peel.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:11 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Coulson is a Joss Whedon proxy, same as Xander, Wesley, and Wash.


Also Sitterson (supported in director commentary!)
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on January 11, 2013


By Alcott's definition, the protagonists of the Nolan movies would be:

Begins: Ra's al Ghul. Created the reign of Crime in Gotham that Batman is responding to in the movie's first and second acts, and directly instigates the third act's conflict with his microwave of doom.

TDK: Batman, as above.

TDKR: Either Talia or Ra's, depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:20 AM on January 11, 2013


The only real Avengers was with John Steed and Emma Peel.

Pish posh, those Avengers were just copycats of these guys.
posted by kmz at 11:20 AM on January 11, 2013


I believe that Topher Brink (Dollhouse) was also a proxy. And man, does Whedon treat his proxies cruelly.
posted by Ber at 11:26 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The “protagonist” of a story, the way the Greeks used the term anyway

Protagonist, or πρωταγωνιστής protagonistes. Proto=first, agon=debator/actor/combatant. Just as deuteragonist is the "second actor" and the tritagonist is the "third actor". In Greek Drama, the audience was meant to identify with the protagonist, while the tritagonist typically took the role of the antagonist.

The original greek plays had an actor -- the protagonist -- and a chorus. Aschuleys introduces the deuteragonist and the tritagonist.

Antagonist is "opposite actor/combatant". The modern sense of protagonist comes from the fact that the antagonist would always be either the tritagonist or the deuteragonist, never the protagonist, so since the antagonists were the bad guy, the protagonists must be the good guys.

Greek theatre very much wanted the audience to sympathize with and take the viewpoint of the protagonist -- so, they always played the "anti-antagoinst", which is how we came to associate the protagonist with the hero, rather than just the "first actor."

So, yeah, I can't agree with the protagonist being "the one who sets events in motion." In the modern sense, the protagonists in this movie are the Avengers. Coulson and Fury are clearly deuteragonists, as is the scientist dude and arguably Hawkeye, and Loki, Thanos and the robots of doom are the antagonists. You can't really declare them the protagonists in the true sense the Greeks used, because there would always only be *one* protagonist.
posted by eriko at 11:31 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I actually love reading things like this, but I've never searched for a "single page" link so hard in my life before.
posted by sawdustbear at 11:32 AM on January 11, 2013


I'm giggling, because this pretty much describes all of Whedon's work from the original Buffy movie to Cabin in the Woods... that cacophonic thematic mess helps make his stuff so surprising and fun.

Maybe it works better in TV sized doses?

I haven't seen Cabin in the woods, though.
posted by madajb at 11:52 AM on January 11, 2013


It was funny and clever and had great characters and action sequences you could actually follow, but good lord is the Avengers universe a chaotic mess of incoherently mashed-together comic book randomness. There is simply no way the movie can possibly convince you that it makes sense to have norse gods fighting giant radiation-monsters on the back of flying space-centipedes while a modern-day Robin Hood takes pot shots at them with exploding arrows, I mean I feel silly just writing this stuff out. One mash-up is interesting, but this movie was so many layers of mash-ups all bolted together that I couldn't tell where the foundation was supposed to be anymore. It seemed to be the kind of universe were handwavium practically rains from the sky, and how are you supposed to care about the characters and their predicaments when magical randomness can apparently happen at any time for any reason?
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:22 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I honestly do not know how anyone can think of anyone but the Joker setting events into motion in The Dark Knight or Bane setting events into motion in The Dark Knight Rises.

OK, let's back it up. Bruce leaves Ra's Al Ghul to return to Gotham. Gotham is therefore corrupt and must be destroyed for robbing Ra's protege from him. Bruce becomes Batman to stop this, and hence becomes larger than a vigilante - a superhero.

Because Bruce has become the Batman, he invites the Joker into existence. The Joker is a response to Batman adopting the guise of superhero. He is defeated because while he can oppose a superhero as an equal, he cannot inspire like one.

Bruce has become a hero, defeated Ra's and decides to go into exile as a villain to preserve the legacy of his friend. Bane BECAUSE OF REASONS (no spoilers here) has a problem with Bruce, protoge of Ra's al Ghul, being seen as a villain or a hero. Batman is an enemy because he is misguided, and it's the city that's responsible. He and the city must both be shown this. So, they break the credibility of the Batman to show he's not a villain, he's weak, and their phony heroes, Gordon and Dent, are corrupt and worthless villains.

In every event, the Big Baddies are reacting to the decisions of Bruce Wayne, and utterly dependent on them for their motivation... it also makes them vulnerable to him in ways they don't understand until too late.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:23 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seemed to be the kind of universe were handwavium practically rains from the sky,

have you ...read any Marvel comics? Esp form the Kirby era that the movie takes its tone from?

This is actually the most internal consistent and logical the Marvel Universe has been in forever.
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on January 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


Not to be pedantic, but he's not analyzing the screenplay, he's analyzing the finished movie. It's likely he hasn't even read the screenplay. This might seem like a trivial distinction, but it's not uncommon for the finished movie to vary significantly from the shooting script. A lot of stuff changes in editing, in particular, pieces are dropped, things are shortened, sometimes the order of things changes, etc.

I've even worked on a couple of movies where the story was significantly altered in editing. You can often do that, if you're willing to work around the continuity problems.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2013


In every event, the Big Baddies are reacting to the decisions of Bruce Wayne, and utterly dependent on them for their motivation...

Which makes Joe Chill the "protagonist," being the one who set Bruce Wayne on his path in the first place. Or is it Thomas Wayne, who chose to walk down that alley? Or the theater scheduler, or the urban planner, or or or...

My point remains that trying to pin down "protagonist" as "the person who sets off the events of the story" is a foolish rabbit-warren to go down, and it makes Alcott's thesis (that most superhero movies suffer from having the villain as the "protagonist") fairly threadbare, given how many stories in non-superhero genres have similar issues.

Who's the "protagonist" in Casablanca? Rick doesn't set events in motion.

Gone With the Wind? Not Scarlett O'Hara.

Godfather? Arguably Vito Corleone, but he misses the whole last third of the story (if you consider III canonical), and even the first two movies are really about Michael.

The Shawshank Redemption? The "protagonist" never shows up in the actual story.
posted by Etrigan at 12:45 PM on January 11, 2013


I'm guessing I should probably break-down and actually, finally see the movie before reading the links?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:48 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having watched Avengers for the third time recently, it's seams started to show. I still enjoyed the heck out of it, but having seen it twice before, I was able to more closely pay attention to the scenes rather than being swept up and carried along. And it's seriously cheesy with some very silly plot holes.

Having said that, I almost think that's what makes it work. Things happen so fast that in a slower paced movie, you'd groan. But here, amidst the action, you need to be hit over the head with the dialogue or it wouldn't have the same impact. The cheesiness of the dialogue works precisely because it is so over the top. Anything subtler would have been lost.

I was worried about the Avengers before it came out; to many strong characters in a feature film, I was sure it was doomed to fail. I'm not a comic book fan but I genuinely enjoyed the movies running up to it. I was even more worried with Joss at the helm. I loved firefly and Dr. Horrible. But Dollhouse was a disaster and I couldn't get into Buffy.

But boy was I wrong. If there is any one person who could pull off an ensemble cast of strong characters, it's Joss. And I'm so glad I was wrong. Because it had not one but two of my new favorite movie moments; surpassing even the elevator scene in The Losers.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:49 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


have you ...read any Marvel comics?

No, not at all. Thus my complaint: the movie was obviously made with a great deal of care and effort, but it concedes too much to its comic-book background. The movie's universe simply doesn't make any sense, within itself, and that detracts greatly from what is otherwise a very well made action movie.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:50 PM on January 11, 2013


The only real Avengers was with John Steed and Emma Peel.

Oh man, it was so lame that someone had the Avengers IP and all they could do with it was make a TV series about Jarvis and the Black Widow.
posted by straight at 1:48 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because Bruce has become the Batman, he invites the Joker into existence. The Joker is a response to Batman adopting the guise of superhero. He is defeated because while he can oppose a superhero as an equal, he cannot inspire like one.

My (similar) summary of the movie is that Batman tries to fight crime with intimidation but discovers that it only works until someone comes along who is willing to do even more horrible things to intimidate people. And then the Joker discovers that even if you're willing to commit atrocities, there's a limit to how far you can control people through intimidation.
posted by straight at 1:58 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


NO!!! COULSON!!!!

I want to see the entire movie redone this way.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:58 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hawkeye and Maria Hill get great action moments, and we begin to understand another of the great narrative ideas of the movie: it’s fun to see superheroes fight supervillains, but it’s even more fun to see superheroes fight each other.

On a slightly more serious note, one thing I love to obsess on is that there are (6 choose 2) = 15 possible combinations of Avenger fighting Avenger, and we get to see 5 by my count: Iron Man vs. Thor (result: tie), Thor vs. Captain America (result: tie), Hulk vs. Black Widow (result: tie but Black Widow ended up cowering against a wall), Hulk vs. Thor (result: tie but Thor was looking pretty tired), Black Widow vs. Hawkeye (result: Black Widow wins, bringing Hawkeye back to himself). It *is* fun to watch these guys fight each other.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:14 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was a fun popcorn movie. I see no reason to gaze into a spandex-suited plate of beans over it.

But we can all agree that the Nola Batmans were staggeringly pretentious piles of incoherent shit.
posted by bardic at 9:27 PM on January 11, 2013


I thought both Avengers and DKR were a bit hollow. Avengers' villains were the issue. Loki's plans were vague and he didn't seem to pose much threat while the aliens were generic Gears of War types. Black Widow was a Standard Whedon Hero.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:53 PM on January 11, 2013


At the end of the last post I mentioned “stakes.”  An important thing to understand about stakes is that they are directly related to the success of a cinematic narrative.  When the stakes are low, the movie feels “small,” and the narrative decreases audience involvement.  A movie about a guy who loses his keys is going to be less involving, to most people, than a movie about the end of the world.  On a macro scale, less audience involvement generally means less audience.  When the stakes are life-or-death, audience involvement increases.  So The Avengers takes care to mention, right up front, that nothing less than the fate of all humanity, and the universe, is at stake.  Not the planet, not the solar system or even the galaxy, but the universe.  Obviously, this movie is playing for keeps.

I'm starting to disagree with this bit of Robert McKee wisdom. If the characters and film are engaging the audience will accept any stakes that are important to the characters. Always raising the stakes leads to abstracted, Saturday morning 80s cartoon style plotting.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:08 PM on January 11, 2013


The movie's universe simply doesn't make any sense, within itself

Whaaaa?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:19 AM on January 12, 2013


A movie about a guy who loses his keys is going to be less involving, to most people, than a movie about the end of the world.

That's just flat-out wrong. Or rather, it depends on the movie. For at least thirty years the stakes have been "Oh Noes! We must defeat $bad-guy or the world will end!"*, such that it really doesn't mean anything any more. Even I can think of any number of more entertaining directions to take "guy loses keys and locks himself out of his apartment" and I'm totally unimagininative.

Another thing - what struck me about the film was that here you have a group of people and the only way they can engage socially is by trying to beat the crap out of each other, and no one seems to think they're especially emotionally disturbed. "Hmm, it's a new guy - let me beat him with this rock and see if he wants to be friends!"

*It was already a lazy, mindless cliche when Howard the Duck came out, I remember that.
posted by Grangousier at 3:21 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


They pretty much all but stop short of saying everyone on this team is basically an emotional basket case who. If the world was not about to end, wouldnt be in the same room together, which is the lynchpin of loki's " bring out thier basic conflicts and make em fight each other" plan.

Black Widow's superpower is Not Having A Major Personality Disorder.
posted by The Whelk at 4:31 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are you sure about that? Isn't there that scene where she's like "Hey Loki, I realise you're evil and shit but can you take time out to be my therapist, please?"
posted by Grangousier at 7:33 AM on January 12, 2013


She's a realist. "Regimes fall every day, whatever."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 AM on January 12, 2013


"Hey Loki, I realise you're evil and shit but can you take time out to be my therapist, please?"

You mean where she fiens vulnerability in order to extract information from his prisoner?
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


her.

damn edit window
posted by The Whelk at 7:43 AM on January 12, 2013


Black Widow had my eternal love with the chair-drop maneover. That's just cool.

One of the thing which strikes me with the Avengers is that the conflict they get into can be the result of very different, equally strong willed people interacting. Thinking about the Hulk's story arc and how he was clearly very friendly with Iron Man but more in conflict with everyone else and comparing that with how Banner and Stark interact was intreiging to me. Someone somewhere mentioned that Hulk and Black Widow were supposed to be on the same, and that's true from a "They're called the Avengers so they must get along" mindset, but not from the actual plot of the movie - Banner may have cooperated with Romanov, but she tricked him and lied to him and was clearly afraid of him, and those were all things that piss him off; the Hulk had every reason to want to crush her for the indignity of tricking him into coming with her as anything else. He does apologize later, but that struck me at the time as more of an acknowledgement that he understood her motivations and his response was disproportionant than anything like a "we're friends now."

Usually in group dynamics there is someone in charge, and other people who follow along, and inter-group conflict with end up reinforcing the hierarchy of power in various ways. In the Avengers, they're all pretty much equal to each other, and most of them have strong opinions and the chops to enforce them in other circumstances, so negotiating the co-operation is a lot more piecemeal and finicky. I actually really like that because it gets into finding commonalities without demanding dominance or submission within a group - that is, Captain gives orders, but not because his name is Captain but rather because he's good at identifying strengths and putting people into the places necessary to exercise those strengths, and the others listen not because Captain is in charge but because they agree with him (and each will take unilateral action when they feel they need too, as is shown over and over again). It's being played out with explosions and dynamic violent confrontations because those capture the visceral sensation of strong-willed people interacting, but the dynamics can show up in much less violent situations as well.

As for Black Widow and her interogation of Loki... my interpretation of her actions was that her reactions were true (Loki's words were deeply disturbing to her, and she did have red in her leger according to later lines to not-Lokis) but the quick shift to purposeful all business is one of her ways of coping with what she puts herself through.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alcott's recapping X-Men: First Class now and I'm interested in seeing how that movie worked as well as it did.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:56 PM on January 12, 2013


Almost entirely on the charisma between MacAvoy and Fassbender, it seems slight but damn they carried that movie up six miles in the snow backward both ways.

That, and as Alcott points out, the novelty of placing a superhero not just in the past but the recent, historical event reality past.
posted by The Whelk at 5:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


He seems to read the movie as a love story between Charles and Erik, which is almost text in a few scenes.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:14 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about having them fight each other is that this establishes them as equals. That they can go toe to toe within one another. The three way fight with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor puts Thor on the team as a team member. If they didn't test his mettle there, it wouldn't be a team-with-Thor(!)-as-a-member. It would instead be, at best, Thor giving instructions to a bunch of lackeys.
posted by BurnChao at 10:12 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The second time I saw "The Avengers," my head nearly exploded. The amount of information Whedon compresses into that bastard, the way he folds so much into it in so short a time (relatively speaking)...it's amazing. Watch it again and see how many scenes convey information you need. It's all of them. Yet it seldom, if ever, felt info-dumpy.

"The Avengers" is a masterpiece of exposition. For reals, yo.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2013


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