If you pay any attention to entertainment news, you’ve no doubt heard that the opening weekend of the latest comic book movie, “The Avengers,” was the highest grossing weekend in movie history. In its first two weeks, “The Avengers” has made over $300 million dollars. After seeing “The Avengers,” its huge success seems a sad commentary on the state of movies today.
“The Avengers” is big and loud with a few neat special effects. But it’s entirely derivative. There’s nothing original about it. It’s not even much fun. No one goes to movies like this for intellectual stimulation. But I did expect it to be entertaining. At least the final 30 minutes, when we get to the climactic action sequence, picks up a bit. Mostly “The Avengers” is rather dull. I was thankful for Robert Downey, Jr.’s, Iron Man, who brought some humor and personality to the otherwise deadly serious movie. When Gwynneth Paltrow shows up for a few brief scenes as Iron Man’s assistant Pepper Potts, there is a hint of some chemistry between two characters. Alas, their scenes are too few and far between.
The plot of “The Avengers” involves Loki, a villain from outer space and brother of Thor, who comes to earth seeking to dominate it. The earthly powers feel that their only chance of survival against Loki and his forces is to bring together all the Superheroes to join forces and battle the bad guys. So Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow and the Hawk (I’d never heard of these last two), come together to take on Loki. First, however, they have to learn to work together and not fight among themselves, arguing over who is the greatest. As expected, they finally put their differences aside and work together to dispatch evil.
The movies have brought us some good comic book superheroes. “Spiderman II” is arguably the best. It’s fun, has an element of romance, but also delves into the character. Spiderman has to wrestle with his own sense of power and responsibility, his desire to be a geeky kid or a man blessed (or cursed) with a great talent he never desired. If he tells his girlfriend his secret, would she think he was great or bizarre? These one-dimensional superheroes don’t worry about existential questions. They just want to fight the bad guys in 3-D.
If you don’t get your fill of comic book superheroes with “The Avengers,” this summer will bring a new version of Spiderman, called “The Amazing Spider Man.” Christian Bale also returns as Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises.” I’m sure these will be big and noisy with lots of 3-D special effects. It would be good if, unlike “The Avengers,” they also had some plot, suspense, imagination, humor, and character development.
Tom Condon, OP