Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Yesterday I finally got around to watch the Avengers movie (yup, late, I know). And, yes, I admit Loki was a main reason for me watching the movie (not just because Tom Hiddleston is a cutie, but also because Loki makes a damn interesting villain). However, I was positively surprised and think I’ve definitely found a keeper for my DVD collection.

Technically, it started with Thor, which was on TV this Sunday (currently also known as the day before yesterday). As there wasn’t anything interesting on TV apart from it, I decided to give Thor a chance, arguing with myself that, even if the story were bad (which is wasn’t), I’d at least get to see a few good-looking guys. I have to admit that the trio of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) makes for very good family dynamics. And there is this to keep in mind, too:

But back to Avengers. Joss Whedon and the script writers have done an amazing job with the story, which I greatly appreciate. I like action sequences (I like them, perhaps, even more than quite some women), but I don’t want a movie which is just made up of them. I have to add here that I haven’t seen the other Marvel movies (apart from the X-Men ones and the Spiderman ones … the first series I enjoy, the second annoys me). Ironman, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, therefore, aren’t exactly that familiar for me (well, I know the 80s version of the Hulk, that is). Neither do I know a lot about S.H.I.E.L.D. or Nick Fury. I could look them up, but my Marvel Encyclopaedia is buried beneath heaps of other books.
They bring the group together in this movie, which means a lot of play with the dynamics, which I enjoy a lot. Seeing the different characters with their different world views act and react is a lot of fun. The action sequences fuse with that, allowing each fight to be more than just a spectacle (they are spectacular, no mistake about that).

My eyes, though, usually are more on the villain than on the heroes, as the villain has to be a lot more interesting. Among the heroes, we have the usual mixture, basically. People who are good by nature (Captain America, Thor), people who want to atone for past mistakes (Black Widow, Hawkeye, Bruce Banner … though he atones for Hulk’s mistakes), people who are in it for fame (Ironman). And a hero who isn’t a hero, strictly speaking (goes both for Nick Fury and for Phil, I guess) So let’s start the unavoidable litany about the villain, shall we? Here we go, take a deep breath.
I just love Loki! There, now it’s out. It’s not just the actor, even though his way of portraying Loki has quite some influence on it. The character of a villain these days has to have depth, otherwise the whole ‘I will rule the world’ business (the standard goal of every villain) will be boring. And Loki is a prime example of a motif-driven villain. At the base of his plans is a feeling. The feeling of always being overshadowed by Odin’s true son, Thor. Right on top of it is his memory of the last time, when he was ruler of Asgard for a short time. He had reached his goal, only to lose everything. Put a certain dose of delusions de grandeur on top of it, add his view of humans as a weak race that needs to be dominated, and top it off with his cesspit of a mind. This is a villain I just love to watch doing his thing, even though I agree with Phil that he’s destined to fail. Loki dominates every room he’s in, even if it’s a cell. He has the self-assurance of a true god of Asgard, even though he’s not technically one of them (in the Marvel universe, at least). He can be charming, but can turn around and become harsh and abusive in the span of a short conversation. He knows no scruples, yet he’s not ‘bad to the bone,’ either. He might lack conviction, but he surely isn’t going to let that stop him.

What else has Avengers got?
Humour. Another thing I want from a movie, especially one with a lot of action. There are loads of great one-liners and funny conversations in it. The script writers have shown a great instinct for timing and punch lines in the movie. (I personally love the scene where Thor tells Loki to listen before being tackles by Ironman and Loki watches them move away and says “I’m listening.” … bad timing for an attack, but great timing for a gag.)
Good effects. The movie is balancing out the ‘futuristic to sci-fi’ with the ‘realistic’ quite well. The Helicarrier looks almost plausible (the sort that might be plausible in 10 or 20 or 50 years). The weapons aren’t over the top, even though they are that step ahead of ‘what we’ve got.’
Better looks. Compared to former versions of the main characters, the current ones have a lot more style. Not as close to the comics in some cases, maybe, but much better for the big screen.
Effects and looks together make the movie more believable, which is important for movies based on comics. Comics never survive a 1:1 conversion. What works when drawn on paper doesn’t necessarily work on the screen as well. Take your usual superhero outfits, without some alterations, only very few of them work. Or take technology, it needs to look realistic, even if it’s not. 2D to 3D (even if the movie isn’t 3D, every prop in it is) does have its problems.

Overall, I enjoyed Avengers a lot. I liked the story, the well-choreographed action, the looks. It’s a keeper for my collection, that much is for sure.