Thursday, May 10, 2012

Favorite Spoiler Moments from The Avengers

I was good.

I held it together and wrote a review of the new Avengers movie without specifically referring to any spoilers that couldn’t be figured out from the trailers.

However, doing that has made me darn near ready to explode into an uncontrolled, nerdly rave filled, “HOLY GUACAMOLE, DID YOU SEE THE PART WHEN…” without being able to stop myself for weeks on end because the film was simply way too much fun.

Therefore, in no particular order, here are ten moments I wouldn’t have wanted given away before I saw it, but I really need to geek out over before I burst.

Top Secret Beyond This Point!


Based on previous movie appearances, I’d believed that SHIELD could be the center of an impressive movie on its own.  This basically was that movie, with the Avengers thrown in for double the fun.
From the Buffy mold.
Nick Fury (“...given that its a stupid-ass decision, I've elected to ignore it.” Hee Hee) and the agent’s we’d already seen were awesome enough, but add in Maria Hill, (for another competent, tough female role model for my daughter - thanks, Joss), their bases and environments and the whole organizational structure and it got even better.  There was even a throwaway line about Life Model Decoys.

When the heroes first arrived on an aircraft carrier, I was disappointed, believing they were going with a more realistic SHIELD base than in the comics. Then the engines cranked up and the Helicarrier took off in a burst of pure insane magnificence…and in case that wasn’t awesomely crazy enough, it turned invisible for good measure.
That's what I'm talkin' about!


I loved how distinct all the sound effects were.  Thor’s hammer, Cap’s shield and Iron Man’s armor are all metal, yet they all made very specific noises when they hit things and even more so in combination when they hit each other.  Similarly, the whirling of Thor’s hammer had a more mystical twang to it than the Helicarrier's turbines spinning.  When Iron Man had to fly inside one of those turbines to get it started there was a synthesis of the engine sounds with the repulsor jets that added to the suspense and excitement.

Sound effects are a large part of the world of comic books, and the attention to detail in creating the sounds in this film helped to bring that comic book world to life. 


We comic book fans love a superhero fight. Most of the big event miniseries these days are about factions of good guys clobbering each other.  I’ve played TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes game with several generations of kids. None of them wanted to go on an adventure against the bad guys. They wanted to each pick a hero, and pummel each other around New York.  It isn’t only Marvel fans that have this mentality.  Arguably the most memorable part of one of DC’s most famous publications, The Dark Knight Returns has nothing to do with villains, but is a knock down drag out street fight between an armored up Batman and Superman.

There were many great examples of these hero battles in the Avengers:  

Hawkeye and Black Widow’s skill based conflict

Iron Man and Thor’s forest leveling exchange

Steve and Tony’s Civil War like arguments
I know you are, but what am I?
The cream of the crop, and one of the great examples of a granddaddy of comic book “Who’s Stronger?” type slugfests, was Hulk versus Thor.  Everything about it appeared as if it sprung directly from the comics page.  From blow’s that shook the theater’s subwoofers, to subtle nuances like Thor’s thrill filled little grin after taking the Hulk’s first punch; and realizing he’s found a worthy opponent. 

Oh...its on!
This fight paid off spectacularly later on in the film after they take down a giant alien craft together.  As the two exhausted Avengers walk off of the downed ship, Hulk causally belts Thor clean off the edge of the screen.  My wife said it looked like they pulled it right out of a comic and she could see the big “POW!” that should have been there.

Wait for it...


Hulk crashed to Earth at the lowest point of the film for the team.  This was the moment akin to where the Magnificent Seven have given up their guns and ridden out of town with all their weaknesses exposed.

Then Harry Dean Stanton, seemingly wandering in from an entirely different movie, discovered the lost and defeated Bruce Banner.  Displaying wit and charm in his short scene,  with minimal dialogue the actor convinced the audience (through his character’s convincing of Doctor Banner himself) that the Hulk is not a mindless monster that needs to be buried by Bruce or defeated by the military.  He is the catalyst that converts the destructive force of nature Hulk from the previous movie appearances into a true super hero.

Facing a god...
There is no hero in any comic book company who is better at leading groups into combat. This was even acknowledged by Superman and his team mates in Busiek and Perez’s awesome JLA/Avengers. (The mere mention of which means I’ll have to read it again.) 

...and then leading one.
Cap was excessively heroic and level headed throughout the majority of the film, at one point breaking up the aforementioned Iron Man – Thor battle.  He took point of the team during the invasion and started ordering each hero to a position and task that best suited their abilities and powers.  That’s where the character is at his best, and that side of him was showcased perfectly throughout the entire battle scene. 

“HULK … smash”

I’m sorry, he gets several of these, because I loved seeing the Hulk revel in his power against a horde of bad guys, the way the inner eight year old in all of us comic book fans know we’d love to.  From the little smirk he greeted Captain America’s low key command to “smash” with, Hulk was a dynamo of destructive energy.
May I?
The peak of that explosive power was when he confronted Loki in Stark Tower. Loki delivers a speech that demeans, belittles and tries to undermine the confidence of the green goliath. Instead of being cowed or wavering in his mission, Hulk proves his worthiness to be an Avenger by grabbing Loki in mid sentence and bashing him repeatedly into the floor like a man trying to kill a spider with a rolled up newspaper. That got such a huge cheer from the opening night crowd we had to check on line to find out that the Hulk said, “Puny god,” as he left the puny god embedded in the concrete.


To reference a different Avengers: similar to some of her appearances in old issues of Daredevil, there is a great deal of Emma Peel in the Black Widow.  Her introduction scene showed off the high levels of both her mental and physical abilities.  While bound and surrounded, she manages to extricate all the information she needs from her captors.  Once the call to Assemble arrives, she quickly demonstrates that she has been in complete control of the situation, and also that the butt kickings she laid down in Iron Man 2 were just the tip of the iceberg.
Someone's in trouble. Hint: They're not sitting down.
Her espionage abilities shined even further during the later interaction with Loki. In many a lesser action movie, the scene would have been about the crafty and manipulative villain breaking down the weak emotional female member of the team.  We all should know better than to expect that from Joss Whedon, however.  Black Widow turns the God of Lies own game against him, and fakes him out into gloating over her “breakdown” and revealing his true plans.
When she gets that look, you're lucky if you only get beat up.


How subtle.
Loki’s plan works anyway, because his staff is slowly increasing everyone in the area’s uneasiness, impatience, and intolerance.  The best part about this scene was that at no point was it ever explicitly stated what was occurring.  It was done with sledgehammer levels of hint dropping, by constantly cutting to the staff as tempers began to flare.  I was very happy, though, that the movie gave the audience enough credit that it didn’t waste any time or dialogue by having one hero or another state out loud their brilliant deduction about the staff’s emotional control.

Who needs powers when you're packing that much awesome.
To use a version of an overused geek statement:
I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and tell my thirteen year old self that, one day, he would be able to see a fully realized scene of his favorite Avenger, Hawkeye, at his most awesome in a major motion picture.

Even though his SHIELD agent/assassin background doesn’t match the normal Marvel universe. (I still haven’t read Ultimates… I know, “Bad geek! No Mountain Dew for you!”) His personality and skills were the real thing.  It did take a while for him to break free of mind control, but once he did, the guy who never misses came out to play.

During the final battle he was on top of a building keeping watch on the entire conflict, while effortlessly nocking and firing arrows unerringly on target, sometimes without looking directly at the enemies, all the while letting fly with banter as fast as his projectiles.  The high tech modular arrowheads in the specially designed quiver were yet another of many items that came straight off of the comic book page.  With Hawkeye, it always comes down to the last arrowhead on the last shaft used for a last minute crazy ass plan to pull his fat out of the fryer. 
More perfect than his swing line escape, though, was the shot at Loki shortly before.  Directed absolutely flawlessly, it would have nailed any mortal target, but is caught out of mid air by the Trickster God. A moment later, as he looks with disdain at the lowly weapon he holds - the arrow explodes in his face, knocking Loki off his craft and onto a nearby building for his aforementioned Hulk smashing.  That scene vividly illustrated that Hawkeye is an Avenger because he is the ultimate specialist, not only having an unparalleled skill, but having complete and total knowledge of the application of that skill for maximum results.
Sorry, I'll stop geeking out now.


It seems like only yesterday...sniff.
He died well, with a vital purpose, a calm reserve and a final humorous quip.

I can’t say it any better than that.  I’m usually a big opponent of deaths of extremely likable characters in movies, because normally it’s only to ratchet up the levels of angst and moodiness in an effort to make the subject matter “mature”.

First of all, Agent Coulson died standing up to a mad god when no heroes were left, the quintessential everyman refusing to back down or give up his individuality or convictions.

Second, his death, augmented by some efforts (and outright lies) by master manipulator Nick Fury, was the final push to get the bickering, unsure of themselves and each other heroes to unite together and have something to “Avenge.”

Finally, his death had real emotional meaning to the audience.  He has appeared, and been an entertaining and relatable figure, in almost all the previous Marvel Universe movies. 

We’ve come to know him.
We like him.
We’ll miss seeing him. 

Because of this, the audience feels his loss in the movie the same way the heroes do. It’s something very tangible that allows us to relate to the need the heroes feel to avenge him.

Now I’ll end with a guess.  If I’m right, it may be the biggest spoiler of all.
(If it wasn't something that every other comic book reader on the planet will also think of.)

The information of Agent Coulson’s death came over a speaker, not on screen, from Nick Fury.

The same Nick Fury who subsequently lied about Coulson having his mint Captain America trading cards in his jacket pocket when they were really in his locker in order to inspire the Avengers further to Assemble.

Maybe that line about Life Model Decoys wasn't a throwaway line after all.

This movie was a perfect representation of a comic book…

Rule 1 of comic books: If you don’t see a body, they ain’t dead.

Rule 2 of comic books, If you do see a body, they probably ain’t dead forever, anyway.

Betcha Phil’s back in business for Iron Man 3.

And if not, that’s all right.

He died well.


longbow said...

So Loki's plan in getting captured was... poisoning their minds with the staff? Something about getting the Hulk? I wasn't clear on this point. Maybe whedon gave me too much credit.
I very much liked the Stark-rodgers dynamic and the stark-banner relationship.

In the comics did he ever get to the point where he could change at will (not stop a change but just do like he did)

The movie did very well fitting everything in but I'd have still liked more of the "freedom from freedom" shtick versus how all the Avengers were ultimate volunteers bound only by a shared goal of the moment.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for posting, and asking. Loki's plan was to get taken to where all those who could stop him were gathered, then enrage the Hulk to take them all out at once.

The interactions between all the heroes was spot on and a joy to watch.

Pretty much any question of "did he ever" with the Hulk can be answered "Yes". Controlled transformations, Hulk with Banner's mind, Banner with Hulk's mind, Banner and Hulk two people...whatever.

The first outing is a shared goal of the moment, I think, so they can go back and do more solo movies wihtout explaining where the rest of the team is for a while.

Jeff McGinley said...

OK, saw it again, and am more awake this time. Loki's plan was to unleash the Hulk and damage and weaken the Avengers and SHIELD and attract their attention, so he could kill them in NY during the invasion on a grand stage.