Mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand there were some good moments and some great set pieces – the final half-hour long battle was pretty spectacular and must have been still more so in the cinema. On the other, I think one’s first feeling on looking at the poster is – wow, there sure is a lot going on in that film, might it all become a muddle? And, yeah, it did. Great cooking doesn’t necessarily involve every spice in the rack.
The central players were all decent enough, it’s just that there were too many vying for attention. Having had so many of their back stories set up in other Marvel films over the past few years certainly helped and leant a bit of depth, but there wasn’t much room for development within this film. One member we hadn’t seen before (I don’t think, anyway), was the only female member of the crew, Black Widow. I thought Scarlett Johansen was a bit of an odd casting choice there, not that I dislike her as an actor but they could have done with someone with, I don’t know, a bit more edge. She rather lacked oomph as a character too. No doubt she kicked a bit of ass, but amongst a bunch of mega powered men calling down the lightning, zooming about jet-powered and demolishing buildings, Black Widow’s significant contributions all seemed to consist of tricking men using her sexy/vulnerable feminine wiles.
There was a bit of a frustrating lack of consistency in places. I know I keep banging this drum and it matters less in some contexts than others, but even so, it always seems to me that it’s as easy to have things make sense in a script as to have them not make sense, and far preferable. The Hulk, for example. One moment he was an uncontrollable menace, deadly to friend and foe alike. The next he was quite capable of co-operating with others, taking instruction and, indeed, grinning at his cohorts like everyone’s loveable green best mate.
There was a slightly odd imbalance too in that, typically in these superhero movies, the hero faces a more powerful villain with greater resources and must use grit and ingenuity or the power of love or whatever to prevail against the odds, whereas here you had five or six really highly powered superheroes, backed up by the bottomless resources of the world’s combined governments facing, well, Loki on his own, really. You couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for Loki. Rooting for the underdog. He it was who had to come up with all the clever schemes, take the chances and stay on the offensive while the Avengers squabbled, dithered, and squandered their home advantage. Loki was – I dunno – sort of the hero of the film, wasn’t he? He certainly had more good lines than anyone else. The result was that the plot sputtered along for most of the considerable length, lots of time spent with the heroes rather bittily reacting to minor crises of their own making.
Hey, given the amount to juggle, it could have been a lot worse. It had it’s moments, and I’d probably watch another one. I remain to be convinced that our Superheroes aren’t better served up individually, though…
EDIT: I haven’t expressed my thoughts about Black Widow very well. There are some further ruminations on the representation of women in the film (or lack thereof) lower down the comments.