Before going to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I watched Marvel’s The Avengers again. Twice. The second time I listened to Joss Whedon’s commentary. Some reviewers had said that AoU wasn’t as good as the original, so I wanted to refresh my memory before heading to the theatre.
This was my fourth and fifth time watch The Avengers; once in the theatre, the rest on blu-ray. The first two times I saw it on BD, I felt a bit… I don’t know if “underwhelmed” is the correct word, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t quite the same experience.
When you see a film in a packed theatre, the audience feeds of one another; jokes are funnier, and the emotional moments have more impact. But the lack of others wasn’t what I was missing. It wasn’t until this go around that I realized what it was.
I had the suspicion that maybe, just maybe, The Avengers was a case of the sum not being equal to the whole of the parts. I loved most of the movies leading up to The Avengers. Yeah, Iron Man 2 had its problems, but The Incredible Hulk, while not the best of the bunch, was very enjoyable. Upon seeing The Avengers on the big screen, I thought it was one of the most entertaining times I had at the cinema in quite a while. I loved how the various characters played of one another with the infighting and ego clashes.
Team ups and crossovers are a common occurance in comic books. Maybe too common. It’s not easy to write team stories, since you need a villain or threat that is so troublesome that no single hero can handle the mission alone. The writer(s) and artists have to know how to service the story while making sure that the various heroes and villains don’t do anything out of character, or contradict what has gone before.
Who am I kidding? They’re comic books. Stuff is retconned all the time. Hopefully that won’t happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well.
Joss Whedon was did a remarkable job of taking all these characters from the previous films and making a cohesive story. It sounds good on paper to combine popular characters from disparate films and put them all in one movie, but for it to be both financially and critically successful is not a given.
To add to the complications, Whedon and Marvel had to cast a new actor to play Bruce Banner/The Hulk, and I for one think that Mark Ruffalo was the correct choice. Nothing against Edward Norton, I thought he was great in The Incredible Hulk. He was the perfect Banner for the story that was told in that particular movie. It’s that I feel Ruffalo is a better fit for the Avengers universe going forward.
Whedon was also the first writer and director to get a crack at Captain America post-war and post-thaw. Both Whedon and actor Chris Evans brought Steve Rogers into the Twenty-first Century with such humanity.
I guess I was in a bad mood the last time I watched The Avengers on blu-ray. Or maybe I was in a great mood this time around, since I was a few days away from experiencing Age of Ultron. Either way, I am glad for the rewatch because I learned something new. Or maybe I remembered it.
More to come….