Since Rachel started posting her Movies with Mia segment I've started to be more aware of well-behaved children at the movies. I used to only notice the terrible kids, but now I see the good ones too. However, going to see The Avengers, even during a matinee, I was honestly really surprised to see a theater FULL of kids under 8. Particularly for a PG-13 movie. There were more than a dozen kids under 5. I spoke to a grandfather who said his grandkids with him love superhero movies - and the little boys were 3 & 4!!! So there was A LOT of talking during the film. While the violence was particularly stylized and not particularly scary, there was much more action and violence and just loud noises that I don't think I'd want to show to my 3 year old. You may think I'm just underestimating their ages - but there were pacifiers people. These kids were young.
Now on to the movie. I love the other back stories to The Avengers. In order, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk (Edward Norton), Iron Man 2, The Hulk (Eric Bana). And other than the Bana Hulk, I've seen them all in theaters, gleefully. So I was really looking forward to this - and throw in a little Joss Whedon, and I was all set to love it. The story was pretty great - taking place after each of the origin films it draws pieces of each: there's an explanation of why Natalie Portman isn't there to greet Thor, we know why Bruce Banner has buried himself in India, Captain America has just been thawed, and Iron Man has a triangle on his suit instead of a circle (watch the origins to actually understand these references, I'm just proving they exist). S.H.I.E.L.D. has been trying to perfect a power source, but our evildoer and Thor's half-brother Loki, has arrived to undo it all and steal the cube. This brings our Avengers together as the group of human/demigods with the set of skills to defeat Loki (a much much better Tom Hiddleston than in Thor, in my opinion). Of course Loki unleashes his hell in a creative and difficult to fight kind of way.
However, even with a great story, it was hard to tell if particularly wooden acting or over the top dialogue from a few characters just left me annoyed from time to time. Some of the dialogue was terrifically funny - the Hulk fighting Loki was priceless and had me shrieking with laughter. Most of Tony Stark's dialogue went WAY over the kids' heads and was really clever. However, sometimes there was so much filler dialogue that I started disliking the movie - Nick Fury is asked "What do we do?", and he replies "We get ready". These three to four word one-liners fell flat over and over. I do think this was a problem of expectations - with Joss Whedon, I did expect better dialogue. However, he brought a story worth watching and for a sequel of a sequel of a franchise, that's a seriously impressive feat. The overall balance between characters was really good, with no one getting too much of the story and no one getting too little. And thankfully, Black Widow (ScarJo) was MUCH more bad-ass than that scene from the trailers where she has an itty bitty gun implies. Thankfully.
Over the last four years my anticipation for The Avengers has taken an odd shift. After Iron Man, I was excited at the prospect of this massive superhero undertaking. The Incredible Hulk wasn't terribly impressive, but I mainly blame poor CGI. Then Iron Man 2 was just pathetic, and despite my early acceptance, a recent rewatch has shown me the light. And since that sequel was a big precursor to The Avengers, I started to get uncomfortable with the idea. And I became even more exhausted when I had to face a summer of Thor and Captain America, liking the former, but not as impressed with the latter. So by the end of 2011, when I made my "Most Anticipated for 2012" list, I put The Avengers at the #5 spot because I just wanted all the build up to be over. I was convinced there was very little chance that four superheroes, each from their own origin stories, written and directed by different people could never make one genuinely good film together. However that small chance came through.
I wasn't entirely convinced in the beginning that the film was headed in the right direction. The story felt very scattered, but I'm assuming it's to catch up anyone who didn't bother watching the first five films. But at one point specifically, when Iron Man and Captain America are capturing the villain Loki in Germany, I was entranced by their presence together on screen and I realized this might all just work splendidly. And as Thor, then the Hulk, joined the pack, I relaxed, knowing it wasn't going to be a power struggle of who gets the most screen time or who really comes out on top as the hero of the conflict, as each one served a particular purpose within the Avengers Initiative, be it brains, strength, bravery or Loki's big brother coming to Earth to lay down the law.
Though it sports some genuinely funny moments and much better than expected cast chemistry, The Avengers isn't perfect. It takes a little while getting started and there is perhaps a little too much "movie science" dialogue than necessary, but the massive climactic battle with the aliens on the streets of Manhattan ends the film on a wonderful note of badassery that kicks off the 2012 summer movie season with a bang. And it dares the other films due in the following months to provide this much fun.