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The Avengers [movie]

We finally saw this! Helluva movie, innit? I am not going to do much of a plot + critique writeup because it seems that everyone all over the Intarwebs has already done so, week ago.

In a nutshell, Loki (yes, that Loki) steals a strange, powerful McGuffin artifact from a secret lab on Earth and plans to trade it for an invasion force of aggressive aliens. Nick Fury of the spy organization SHIELD assembles a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits response team consisting of the Black Widow, Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye (eventually), and Thor (who is, as you may recall, Loki's brother, or half-brother, or adopted brother). Major mayhem and hundreds of explosions ensue.

One striking thing that many have noted is the lack of classic intrusive male gaze in the movie. There are a number of fan service-y, shots, but the men get them as often as the women. And among the women, the usual camera target is Fury's deputy, Agent Maria Hill, rather than the Black Widow, who gets to play as one of the team to a degree that made me very happy. No, it's not perfect in that regard (as has been noted, despite several named female characters, the movie does not pass the Bechdel Test), but what is?

  • Have I somehow missed the discussion of how Natasha (Black Widow) hijacks one of the alien sky-scooters in the huge fight at the end? I really loved that: as many have noted, she is just an "ordinary" human with special training, and she gets to play just as hard as the guys. Also, shades of Revy in Black Lagoon, her pistols seem to have bottomless magazines.
     
  • I've got super-duper slash goggles (and have been dinged for it, too), but none of the potential slash pairings are really doing it for me. The only ship that's starting to dock at my place is Natasha and Clint (Hawkeye). But this may just be the difference between being an old married person and a young free agent on the field of love. (More below ... )
     
  • Specifically, the Tony Stark (Iron Man)/Bruce Banner (the Hulk) lab scenes did not strike me as sexual chemistry. I wanted to pop Tony several times, because he was being a jerk (which is what he does), and I felt tired and aggravated on Bruce's behalf. Snarky stuff does not always equal Kiss Kiss Slap, folks. Finally, Tony has a canon SO, and it works for me.
     
  • I really, really liked Mark Ruffalo's Bruce. I think Ruffalo did the best job as a pure actor in the film. Johansson's Natasha was pretty awesome too.
     
  • I hated the alien destroyer ships, with their primitive fish form and motion (the way their fins casually chopped holes out of buildings) and their boney exoskeletons. They really freaked me out: well, done, effects folks and designers! Some of my sensitivity may be due to my mental pictures of the possible consequences of Friday's tornado watch at my office building: we have a 10-story-high wall of glass on the front, opening onto an atrium that extends upward for the full height of the structure.
     
  • Random bits I really liked: Natasha pwning Loki at his own mind-fuck game; Hulk punching Thor into the middle of next week, just because; Steve taking charge tactically, first with the cops, then with the Avengers themselves; Clint's cool and calm during the climax; Tony intercepting the missile and taking what should have been a one-way trip with it; virtually everything Nick does.
     

Main thing I didn't like:

  • Women and minority invisibiity among non-victim extras. There were a few female and non-white crew on the SHIELD sky carrier, but I would have liked to see more among the police, the security personnel doing the evacuation at the beginning (instead of being herded away like vulnerable sheep), and the National Guard unit that shows up near the end.

There's probably more, but that's enough for now.

This entry is also posted at Dreamwidth. Comment at either location, as you prefer.

Comments

( 58 comments — Leave a comment )
james_nicoll
Jun. 3rd, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
minority invisibiity among non-victim extras

Welcome to the wonderful world of Joss Whedon.
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)

Actually, I have heard of this a number of times, but I believe this is the first work of his I've seen. I watched bits and scraps of Buffy, but I don't think I ever sat through an entire episode.

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(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 3rd, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 3rd, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - james_nicoll - Jun. 3rd, 2012 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 3rd, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 4th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC) - Expand
7veilsphaedra
Jun. 3rd, 2012 07:41 pm (UTC)
Hmm, 'dinging' people for 'wearing slash goggles'? Seriously? If a writer sees a pairing, they see it. Period. That's just the way it works for them. People seem to keep expecting our ids to work like Match.com. In real life, sudden attraction between people who seem to be completely inappropriate for each other happens all the time.

That said, if you don't see a slash-pairing in a group, why should you force it? Like you, I wanted to sucker-punch Tony in the nose. His character seriously lessened the experience of the movie for me ... along with 'mewling quim' which was just 11-year-old fanfiction to me.
carmarthen
Jun. 4th, 2012 04:53 am (UTC)
along with 'mewling quim' which was just 11-year-old fanfiction to me.

I'm not sure most 11-year-olds know what that means.

It drove me up the wall, though, because a) it's a trashy jerk way of getting around movie ratings, and b) I think it's wildly out of character for Loki, who canonically switches genders in both myth and comics. I'm pretty sure he despises all humans equally, gender irrelevant.
chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)

Eh, I felt that if Loki believed his target was vulnerable to words, he'd use whatever damn words he thought it would take. It's not particularly a matter of whathe despises so much as what he thought would get through to her. And she had just out-acted him in convincing him that she was vulnerable in a stereotypical female way.

I do agree about its use as a tactic for getting around the ratings.

Interesting discussion about that at author Jim C. Hines' LJ: Black Widow and Power. I don't necessarily with all of his analysis, but there is some fascinating back-and-forth in the comments, too.



Edited at 2012-06-04 12:09 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - carmarthen - Jun. 4th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
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7veilsphaedra
Jun. 4th, 2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
Okay, okay, extremely bright 11-year-olds then ... who tend to be the worst when it comes to writing fanfiction, because they are so terribly earnest.

I think it's out of character for Loki, too, not because I can't believe he isn't pissy and petty when his ego's bruised — nor because it's inconceivable for him to use the c-word if he thought it would destabilize a female opponent from a tactical standpoint (and in the Viking pantheon, he probably came across his share of them), but because his presence in that cell was entirely of his own choosing and he believed he was in utter control of the situation. So, if anything, he would secretly gloat and bide his time. The appropriate response would be sly and deeply septic little jabs, not clunky sledgehammers ... which is more like Thor's style.
(no subject) - carmarthen - Jun. 4th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 7veilsphaedra - Jun. 4th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
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chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)

I've had some mild run-ins with het Saiyuki fans. It seems silly to argue about gay pairings in that, given Minekura's slash doujinshi background, but if a woman just isn't into m/m and falls passionately for one or more of our boys, these things happen.

And no, I'm not trying to force one ... but the amount of slashy stuff I'm seeing for Tony/Bruce is making me go bzuh?

7veilsphaedra
Jun. 4th, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
Saiyuki Minekura-style is designed for slash and, as metarudogu would say (from her viewpoint as a Chinese Buddhist), Chinese Buddhists consider her version heretical and blasphemous anyway, and wouldn't take kindly to fanfiction of any sort involving those characters except maybe the pious sort that agrees with their beliefs, so getting squiffy about slashing the characters for whatever reason does seem to be putting too fine a point on it all. Some folk just don't like anything which corrals another breed of horse behind the same fence. *shrugs*

Okay, now I've got it. You aren't in the Tony/Bruce corral. Actually, neither am I. Personally, the only person I can see impressing Tony is his own hand and reflection in the mirror, but you know ... whatever gets people off.

Who do you like to see as a pairing?

(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 5th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 5th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 5th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
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smillaraaq
Jun. 4th, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
I'm a little startled that you've run across so much Tony/Bruce out there, because just going by what little Avengers-fannish squee I've seen secondhand/via osmosis, I would have assumed Tony/Steve was the biggest Iron Man slash pairing and Tony/Bruce was almost nonexistent. How curious!

(I don't really ship anybody here because I'm just not sufficiently invested in any of the characters, although I can absolutely see where some of the Hawkeye/Black Widow, Thor/Loki, or Steve/Tony shippers are seeing their subtext, or even the Natasha/Loki hatesex folks. But I cannot seem to figure out what the obvious slash-bait hook is for the Tony/Bruce folks! Although in all fairness, I must confess I found Bruce the most uniniteresting character of the whole lot, so I just may not have been paying enough attention during any of his scenes.)
(no subject) - carmarthen - Jun. 4th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 5th, 2012 02:05 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 5th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 5th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC) - Expand
fmanalyst
Jun. 3rd, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
I bought myself a Black Widow action figure that I intend to put in my office. She and Barton were my favorite characters and favorite pairing as well. The phrase that popped into my head in relation to her: She stoops to conquer.
lady_ganesh
Jun. 4th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
She was fantastic. Not the typical Whedon Action Girl I was afraid she'd be, too.
chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)

She stoops to conquer ... yes indeed!

Now I want a Natasha action figure!

fmanalyst
Jun. 4th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
I found her at the Disney Store.
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 5th, 2012 02:01 am (UTC) - Expand
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chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2012 11:54 am (UTC)

Meh, I'd have to see the Firefly scenes in question myself. There's other ways of being a strong women besides literally kicking ass. And smillaraaq and The Young Lady were both of the opinion that the threat regarding being shut up in the hold was a joke between that male and female characters.

lady_ganesh
Jun. 5th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
The shut up in the hold thing nevver bothered me, but I was never particularly happy with how they treated Inara both IC and in the show's construction. Having Mal be a 'cute maverick' who called the girl he was interested a 'whore' multiple times meant in the end I never got that fannish about it. The other two characters got off better, but one suffered from Joss's 'tiny women kicking ass' fetish.
chomiji
Jun. 5th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)

Hmmm, that does sound unpromising.

(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 5th, 2012 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2012 12:03 pm (UTC)

Oh, and the fish thing? Movement through air is similar to movement through water (the thickness of the liquid is just at different orders of magnitude), so the thought of things "swimming" through the air is not much of a stretch. Looks at the Japanese carp kites/wind socks. So that was a logical pick for showing how the alien technology was at a different place than ours.

lady_ganesh
Jun. 4th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
I came out shipping Clint/Natasha and Tony/Pepper, and then to a lesser degree everyone/everyone. I found it super fun, and it basically capitalized on all of Joss Whedon's strengths without falling victim to most of his weaknesses.
chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2012 11:59 am (UTC)

It was a lot of fun, and I was genuinely on edge during the action scenes. The Hulk's "Shut up, Hannibal" scene with Loki was awesome. There were also a couple of Moments with Thor and Cap - Looks of Understanding - that I thought, that should have been sufficient to launch a thousand ships, but I guess Tony's cool hipster billionaire scientist act is more relatable for a bunch of the fans than Cap's earnest Lawful Good schtick.

smillaraaq
Jun. 4th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC)
I suspect a lot of the Thor fangirls were already shipping Thor/Loki from the last movie; this one barely even scratched the surface of how melodramatic those two get around each other, plus you've mostly only seen Loki in his nastiest Arrogant Bastard mode with relatively lower amounts of his Wounded Woobie teary-eyed scenes. And you know how fandom loves its woobies! He's just ~misunderstood~ and lashing out because he's hurting, and can be redeemed if he's made to see the error of his ways by the ~power of brotherly love~! Etc. etc. etc.
carmarthen
Jun. 4th, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
Man, I am about to bang my head on a wall trying to find Loki fic that is sympathetic but not too sympathetic (woobie!Loki, ugh). It is darn near nonexistent, near as I can tell, especially if one doesn't want to read Thor/Loki.

(I'm also having a little trouble getting from Thor!Loki to Avengers!Loki, characterization-wise.)
lady_ganesh
Jun. 5th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
The other moment of total hilarity was when Thor gave his 'comrades!' grin to the Hulk and the Hulk clocked him.

I think if a slash ship hit me in the face out of the gate, it probably would've been Steve/Clint or Steve/Thor, simply because Steve seems drawn to that type (see: Bucky). So instead I'm writing gen. Because why not. (I am a sucker for reluctant leaders. People who want to be in charge? Meh. People who realize someone has to give orders and rise to the occasion? Yes, please.)

Tony/Iron Man also had two huge movies -- Cap did well but the take was more modest -- and while I love Chris Evans a lot, Robert Downey, Jr. is clearly the Biggest Movie Star of All. Or at least of the franchise.
chomiji
Jun. 5th, 2012 01:53 am (UTC)

> Steve/Thor <

Yes! They both seem to come from the same place in terms of "people are good; people need to be defended." Only (and I haven't seen any of the other movies), Thor reads Neutral Good to me, and Steve Lawful Good. (Or maybe it's just that Thor is an extrovert and Steve is reading like an introvert.)

(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 5th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
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( 58 comments — Leave a comment )

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