Last night I attended the midnight premier of The Avengers. I have attended many midnight openings in the past. The last one was Captain America while I was in L.A. This time I’m in Atlanta, GA for two weeks and let me just say there was a world of difference. For starters I was super surprised to see how many black people where there. Many times I feel alone and isolated as a nerd of color, yet here I was surrounded by others, and they had friends and went to movies with them. This was unusual. I hadn’t had a friend to go to the movies with since Iron Man 2! Secondly there were a lot of rowdy people which reminded me why I don’t go to every midnight premier. People are often drunk or hopped up on Red Bull to stay awake for that long. Not to mention at this particular theatre they served beer, wine and even sake. I was not drunk but slightly high and in a considerably mellower mood than 90% of the people there. That of course is not what annoyed me. Most of the people yelling were seated away from me, but the woman behind me talked through the entire film. And not just talked but constantly turned to her date asking questions about every single solitary scene. I’m going to have to see the whole thing again to truly enjoy it.
The Avengers is first big summer blockbuster and Marvels biggest franchise kick off to date. It was a risky move taking four characters that already had successful franchises of their own. Well three out of four were successful. Some would have argued that Thor and Captain America should have had a sequel under their belt before jumping straight into an all-star movie like this. Some would say that the general non-comic book reading public would need more of a history and reason to care for these characters. I was among those, and I am pleased to say that I was wrong. In the Avengers film we are given more than enough to understand and relate to these heroes. They are more than just men in tights; in fact they spend nearly twice as much time outside their colorful costumes in the film. Though with this being a summer blockbuster, there is plenty of action an tons of explosions and special effects. At times I felt they laid on a bit thick with all the snarky comments and witty back and forth banter, but it was all very well within the established parameters of the characters they established in the individual films.
I suspect the reason for pulling the trigger this early with Captain America having just debut on the screen last summer, is that the actors are all relatively the same age as they were in their own films. Robert Downey Jr. of course showing a few visible grays the rest of the cast looks the exact same. Even Samuel L. Jackson remains untouched by the passage of just a few years. I guess also they had to strike while the iron was hot. No time the present for an all out superhero smash fest. Although most of the smashing doesn’t get started until the third act, there is plenty of it when does come. In true Marvel fashion our heroes are focused on saving the planet, things like excessive property damage and civilian casualties don’t really come into play much. Stop the bad guys at all cost you can always rebuild a building. My main concern going into the film however was that all of the best parts had already been revealed to me through the countless clips and trailers I had seen both on television and the internet. I was worried that too much had been given away. I was wrong on that as well. There was more than enough in between all that I had already seen. There were more snarky comments from Iron Man, and way more smashing from the Hulk (my personal favorite).
Also remaining true to the Marvel way was the hero on hero clashes. What makes Stan Lees characters so relevant and ahead of their time is that they are all flawed. It has taken DC many years to put this together. Batman is dark and brooding but he’s a rich guy who wants to clean up his city by beating on the poor. He’s noble and doesn’t use a gun; he won’t kill and always does what is right. Superman is the big blue Boy Scout whose very name is synonymous with truth, justice and the American way. The Flash is a super fast cop, Green Lantern is a space cop, and Wonder-Woman is from a proud race of warrior lesbians who cannot tell lies. They are not misunderstood, tortured, alcoholic, time displaced, arrogant gods. They show few cracks in their armor. If Superman has a flaw, it’s that he cares too much for his adopted world and country. That’s why I have always been a Marvel fan-boy. Sure I read some DC books (before the reboot), mainly to catch my favorite writer Grant Morrison, over all I don’t really jibe well with the DC pantheon of super-do-gooders. Marvels heroes are more grounded in reality. Even when they are gods, they display a humanism that has always been lacking in the other capes and tights of the world. The Avengers lays that all on the table. We are shown nearly all of the demons that haunt our heroes, before they finally overcome their issues and in the case of much of the film, their egos to work together and smash the shit out of some alien space whales and Skeletor clones.
In what has become a grand and excitable tradition amongst the current crop of Marvel franchise films, we are treated to a tasty morsel at the end of the film, after the credits begin to roll. I want ruin the surprise but if you are unfamiliar with the Marvel comics history it will be lost on you. Please wait until you have exited the theatre to have someone explain it to you, the constant exposition I was treated to by the couple behind me almost made me turn around and scream “Read a book bitch! They have pictures in them! They’re easy!”As much as I would love to chastise everyone of the people who come to these films with no knowledge of the characters or any of the deep rooted mythology, I bite my tongue so that they can keep shelling out the dough and we can keep seeing our childhood heroes smash again and again!