The Avengers

I’ve always hated crossovers, and the headlong rush of movies towards the Avengers movie had me extremely nervous. Years back, people were referring to it as an “impending on-screen abortion” and so on, with the cynical certainty of the commentariat. Fortunately The Avengers is far from a disaster, may turn Joss Whedon into a big-time mainstream director, and indeed has achieved a very high rating, though personally I’m a little dissatisfied.

First the good: the personalities of most of the characters are well-depicted and actually matter; they don’t fight for screentime, crowd each other out, or revert to repetitive distillations. One of the best scenes is an argument among the team when you see their different attitudes and agendas come to the fore, and indeed conflict among the Avengers allows the movie to work. There was a good dose of humour (Stark in particular), though Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Black Widow remain fairly shallow. I wanted to like Scarlett Johansson, but her character was too impassive – a Whedon weakness.

The main disappointment of the film is a lack of threat or menace. It’s a fun film, Loki (who apparently has a huge fangirl following) sneers and disparages the good guys, and there are spectacular fight. However a scene between Loki and the Hulk sums it up: Whedon plays it for laughs rather than weight or drama. The enemies are extras rather than opposition, and the I’m-a-bad-guy posing is heavy-handed.

I enjoyed the movie, but it’s squarely entertainment.

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