A couple years ago I was at a poker game with a guy who claimed to work for Marvel Studios. I immediately peppered him with questions about the movie based on the comic book, The Avengers. “Who’s going to be the villain? Kang the Conqueror? Ultron? The Masters of Evil?”
He offered me nothing more than a smug smile and the promise that “It’s going to be good.”
I now understand why the guy was lousy at poker. He could not read me at all. If you can sense my incredible disappointment by the new Avengers movie, you sir, would make a much more formidable opponent at the poker table.
My love affair with superhero comic books began with the Avengers. The first issue I read our eclectic assortment of heroes were trapped throughout time. Some in ancient Egypt where they had to deal with the evil Rama Tut, others in the Wild West. I was hooked and I saved my newspaper delivery money to blow at the local drug store every Tuesday. The best comics were filled with creative plots, interesting characters. and inventive twists you couldn’t see coming.
I find it hard to believe that with almost fifty years of Avengers comics the screenwriters couldn’t find a more interesting story to base the screenplay on. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, George Perez and countless other comic book creators developed a colorful world with imaginative characters, none of which are utilized in this cynical two and a half hour advertisement for an Avengers video game which is undoubtedly available on Playstation.
To be fair the movie isn’t without any merits. There are a couple funny gags. The special effects are amazing and the first time we see Captain America in battle with Loki, the Norse God of mischief, my jaw did drop in excitement. But it could have been so much better if they bothered to develop a plot. This lack of a story is even more surprising because the movie’s writer/director Joss Whedon wrote a terrific X-Men comic book himself a few years ago.
One of the cool things about the previous Marvel movies for comic book fans were all the cameos by peripheral characters. The Avengers avoids even this simple charm. Hell, they couldn’t even give us a clever cameo for Stan Lee. You have to wait until after the closing credits to witness a character not seen in previous Marvel movies.
At the tail end of the credits we finally get an interesting scene where we see all the heroes eating at a dive New York Middle Eastern restaurant. Now that could have made a good movie. Iron Man talking about the time he thwarted Count Nefaria from taking over the world between bites of falafel. Captain America scooping hummus with his shield as he recounts the battle against the Serpent Society. But that is only a thirty second snippet.
The previous 150 minutes we are punished with a generic alien race transported into Earth by a device which should be called the cosmic cube, but is instead called the Teseract.
I know I sound like a nerd nitpicking about all the things they got wrong. I am. And I know I’m in the minority with my disgust for this movie as it’s breaking every box office record. That’s alright, all you cool dudes can have this stinker. I’ll continue my exile in the comic book shop where the product has a geeky quality not found in this big budget extravaganza, imagination.