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Super heroes and low ceilings (The Avengers)

When you make a movie about comic book characters your ceiling is only so high.  It’s kind of like the second season of The Killing.  Using thirteen shows in the first season to solve one murder was bad enough, but then when it turned out that it really hadn't been solved and has now dragged on through thirteen more episodes --- well, it stretches the credibility of the storylines paper thin and lowers the ceiling of how good it can be.  If everything would have been wrapped up in six to eight episodes, it probably would have become a classic mini-series like Lonesome Dove or Band of Brothers.  Now it’s become something much less.

That said, The Avengers is not a bad movie by any means.  It’s just there are only so many places to go when you have a film that features six super heroes.  As a result, there’s a lot of action and not much of anything else.  Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark (Iron Man), spends a fair amount of the movie sporting a Black Sabbath tee shirt in homage (or product placement) to the group whose song, Iron Man, was used in the closing credits of the IM movie.  He also has most of the good lines and delivers them at the expense of the other super heroes.  He refers Captain America (recently awakened from being frozen for seventy years), as “Capsicle.” He asks Thor, “does mother know you weareth her drapes?”  And he tells Dr. Bruce Banner “. . . your work is unparalleled and I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.” 

Then there is a God/gods mini-theme that comes up a few times.  The movie's antagonist is Loki (Thor’s adopted brother).  Of course, he is bent on universal domination (aren’t all comic book villains?).  The difference is that he fancies himself a god.  Natasha Romanoff says something about him being god like and Captain America replies, “Ma’am, there’s only one God and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”  It’s probably a statement that says as much about what Loki's wearing as it does about monotheism --- but in a film with six super heroes, wardrobe may have run out of costumes. An even better moment occurs when Loki tells the Hulk, Enough! You are, all of you are, beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I shall not be bullied.”  In response, Hulk takes him and swings him back and forth like a rag doll and utters his only words in the movie, “Puny god.”

In the end, the movie’s weakness (low ceiling), is its strength.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously or promise what it can’t deliver.  What it does deliver is fun, that is family friendly (if you don’t take the violence seriously), and a chance to cheer the good guys on to victory.
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