I have been looking through my previous blogs and noticed that occassionally I will write about one particular film. Now when ever I do this it is due to me having just watched the film and am still excited by it that I feel I should write about it so other people know and can watch it as well. I do however have an issue about doing this. I will look back a few weeks later and just think to myself I write a film blog, not a film review blog. If I did do that then believe me I wouldn’t run out of stuff to write about, but I do think that people would get pretty bored quickly, especially as I don’t necessarily stay up to date with all the current releases. I therefore am trying to write this blog from a new angle, as it may come across as a film review.
So I recently went to see ‘The Avengers’ and have left the film thinking that it was fucking awesome. In fact I feel it was one of the best comic book films that I have seen. Some readers may now be thinking “what the hell, even better than (insert favourite comic book film here)”, and I stand by my statement. But first I must clarify what I mean by comic book. For simplicity I do not count graphic novel adaptations as comic book films here, so it pretty much boils down to Marvel and DC films. I do hold a lot of credit for ‘The Dark Knight’ and am greatly anticipating ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Likewise I believe that ‘X-Men’ (just to clarify I mean the first one) was done extremely well simply because the studios didn’t know how audiences would react to comic book films. Paramount played the ‘lets go for a science heavy theme of gene mutation’; of course this is what the X-Men are and it worked so well as it was ground with a sense of realism. ‘The Dark Knight’ I feel does this greatly as well. Gotham seems more of a real city within ‘The Dark Knight’ than any other Batman film, hence I rate it so highly. Either way, back to ‘The Avengers’. With the Marvel films, each location is one in actual existence, i.e. New York city etc. So the whole element of making a fictional city seem real is void here. The reason why I believe ‘The Avengers’ is one of the best comic book films so far is because it seems to avoid most of the standard comic book film formula which I often find quite annoying.
The standard comic book film formal runs a little like this. The film is introduced with the central character before they become a hero. Their strengths as normal people as well as weaknesses are shown. They become the hero (whether is be genetic modification or mutation). They then spend time coming to terms with the power that they have (or have been limited to in the case of ‘Thor’). Minor villains are faced during this whole coming to terms part of the film. Now during the whole film the big central bad guy looms in the background. He strikes and attacks the hero, almost defeating him. But of course the hero fights back in the last minute and saves the day and everything is good once again. This formula can pretty much be seen in most comic book films. Now ‘The Avengers’ can skip half of that formula which is why it is so great. All of the back stories for the central heroes has already been lay down in previous films: ‘Iron Man’, ‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’. But what about sequels I hear you say. Many comic book films have sequels (‘Spiderman’, ‘X-Men’ even ‘Iron Man’), how come they aren’t on this great level of comic book film? Well the answer to that is rather simple. Yes the hero is already introduced so they don’t have to go through the whole ‘this is me, this is how I got my power and this is what it does’. Instead a new villain has to be introduced, s/he has to show their potential and why they are a threat and a back and forth battle will commence until the final showdown, just look at ‘Iron Man 2′ for this with Whiplash.
Now within ‘The Avengers’ the central bad guy is Loki (that shouldn’t spoil it for anyone as he is within the trailer quite a bit). So not only are the heroes back stories readily supplied within the previous films, but the villain is as well. Marvel have actually been quite smart about what they have done here. They have grabbed bits and pieces from each film (or more so the more recent films). So elements of villainy are taken from ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’. Combining these elements makes one mean motherfucker which of course requires the Avengers to take down. Hence this comic book film works so well because it can ignore most of the formula as all the information is pre-laid. There of course are elements about team-work which the film goes through and I won’t divulge into incase anybody reading this hasn’t seen the film yet and wants to. The film really benefits from breaking away from the formula because it acts as a comic book film for readers of the comic book. They already have all the back knowledge and therefore don’t need to sit through an hour of back story and character development. I felt very frustrated at ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ (not only because they were shit films…. well not so much ‘Spiderman’) because it was simply “I KNOW ALL THIS GET ON THE FILM ALREADY!!!”
Now the film does have many parts where by it’s trying to please the mainstream audience, mainly through comedy. I admit I did laugh at these moments, however it does at times really feel quite forced which I did find annoying as the film could have been darker. I wasn’t expecting this though as of course by looking at the previous Marvel entries, they don’t go too dark (unlike DC films like ‘Batman’ and ‘Constantine’). I do feel that I have kept quite well away from a standard film review here as instead I have delved into the realm of comic book film and not only focused on the Avengers. So I will briefly mention some typical film review type info. The story was well paced and even though it suffers from the whole develop of the Avengers as a team it still works. The special effects were top notch but then you wouldn’t really expect less from Marvel, especially considering what they achieved with ‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘Iron Man’ and more notably ‘Thor’. The soundtrack kicks ass mainly because they have kept it within the realms of the ‘Iron Man’ fashion of rocky and edgy which is always great to see within a comic book film. The acting all round was good as well. Downey Jr.’s portryal of Tony Stark is as good as always. Hemsworth’s Thor I feel is a great adapation, even though I know many people disagree. From what I have gathered this has been because of his blunt, authority driven, pompous nature. These were the reasons however why I felt ‘Thor’ worked so well, simply because he’s a fucking demigod, of course he’s going to have these character traits. Evan’s Captain America was as good as the first film, however I do feel that this is character which hasn’t got as much depth to it; Thor’s a demigod, Stark is a loud mouth genuis, even Banner has a very very dark side to him. And finally Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner surprised me greatly. I wasn’t taken to Eric Banner’s portrayal within the first ‘Hulk’ film, where as Edward Norton’s portrayal within ‘The Incredible Hulk’ I did enjoy. I therefore was disappointed that Norton wasn’t signed onto this project. Having seen Ruffalo play Banner though and I can see why. Ruffalo’s Banner is the best I’ve seen so far and just hope that they don’t try and change it around again. It was also good seeing Jeremy Renner got more screen time and recognition, he is an actor who has been in the wings for some time and appears to have exploded out of nowhere (see what I did there relating back to my blog last week). So enough of comic book films. I will try and avoid writing about them anytime soon, especially as I wrote a blog about my excitement of ‘The Avengers’ not too long ago, though I can’t promise anything as I am pretty pumped for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.