But it was when Weatherdude and I moved to Seattle that we really indulged in movies. At that time, pre-Starbucks, it was a Seattle thing to do. For two years, we saw movies several times a week. (I saw The Stunt Man on the big screen, original run.) We continued to be movie goers wherever we lived. I saw all kinds of movies, good, bad, and mediocre. The flaws in the bad and mediocre ones could generate some really deep conversations. And that continued until almost 13 years ago, when Miss E was born. Since that time, I've mostly seen movies on DVD and, in general, thought the quality was poor enough that it wasn't worth my time. Now that Miss E is older, I see the occasional G rated flick.
All is a lead in to wanting to see The Avengers. For one thing, I was curious about how well Black Widow would be portrayed. I'm not a huge Whedon fan (gasp!), though I was a fan of Firefly. No, I wanted to see how the women would fare in characterization and dialogue. And I was disappointed. Black Widow seems to expect her gun will stop a badass supernatural being at long distance. Right. She squeals and squeaks a fair amount, looks scared when she shouldn't. For example, when The Hulk first appears and he's trying to smash her like the arachnid she is, she constantly makes little sounds as she tries to get away and looks frightened. This might be justified, but her male Avenger colleagues didn't have the same reaction to The Hulk. She looks, alas, as if she's afraid The Hulk will rape her. I wish they wouldn't do this, and no, I don't know where to lay the blame.
By contrast, I would like to point up "Agent Maria Hill" played by Cobie Smulders. Looking at her Marvel backstory, she was seriously underutilized in this film. She would seem to have tremendous power in the Marvel universe at some point, a former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. That's not at all clear in this film, where she's Nick Fury's second. But what is clear is how coolly competent she is. Blood on her face, she comes up fighting, WITHOUT the squeals and squeaks. I asked Weatherdude and he was more or less unaware of her, never focused on her, though he knew the part was a woman (with the requisite butt shots). This is what I want to see in a role. The part could have been played by either a man or a woman. And played by a woman, it was still played with competence. She never needed to be saved, never squeaked. I was afraid she would end up 'stuffed in a refrigerator,' but that never happened. Nor did it happen to Black Widow, I might add.
But all that aside, this was definitely the best action film I've seen in a very long time. The ensemble was well-developed and today I'm thinking of "The Dirty Dozen" for a comparison. Maybe. It's just what sprang to mind, but maybe because it was just on TV again. I'd like to give a nod to the dialogue, really well done, as someone has already blogged (so I was looking for it). Everyone speaks in language appropriate to their background. Captain America set my teeth on edge. Thor and Loki speak god-speak. Stark is full of snark, a nice contrast to Bruce Banner who is somewhat boring in tone. Black Widow and Hawkeye clearly have a shared language. It worked. And it's not easy to do in a way that doesn't seem like pure camp. Seeing an entire movie with just one of these voices? Too much. Seeing them play against each other? Pretty darn good writing, Whedon.
And my favorite moment? The Hulk punching Thor on the top floor of The Stark Building after successfully battling the bad guys. Just POW! It kind of summed things up for me.