Re-View | Marvel’s The Avengers
We take a second look at Joss Whedon’s summer spectacular.
Our first look “Whedon invests each set piece with a playfulness, a puckish slapstick frenzy, that feels ripped from the pages of his source material.”
Another view Box office–wise, Marvel’s The Avengers may have hit the sweet spot in the Venn diagram of comic-book fans and Joss Whedon–ogists, but it’s also an unfortunate symptom of a cultural climate in which summer movies have become giant, test-marketed parade floats, designed to be seen (and then forgotten) by the widest audience possible. Originality need not apply. Preceded by no fewer than five Marvel tentpoles that essentially functioned as feature-length trailers, the film caters to an audience of the ultra-initiated. Yes, Whedon directed it, and his waggish sensibility intermittently surfaces: Scarlett Johansson’s cooing Black Widow pulls off a dexterous escape from a chair-bound interrogation, and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man has fun attempting to coax the monster out of Mark Ruffalo’s nervous Bruce Banner. (The latter duo are the best things in the movie, full stop.) But as spectacle, The Avengers is overlong and incoherent, culminating in an endless action mush set against a backdrop that looks like an expensive digital compositing of New York. By now, after such deliberately troubling event pictures as Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, the post-9/11 moratorium on destroying cities for entertainment has probably been lifted. That said, any movie that smashes Grand Central for a quick laugh demonstrates a crassness entirely consistent with its reason for being. (Available on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray Tue 25.)