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.