Student Review: Why Iron Man Was Better Than The Avengers
(little to no spoilers)
“You’re going to lose. It’s in your nature.”
Halfway through The Avengers, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is pointing a giant gun at the villainous Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Coulson, the only ordinary man in this film filled with spies, assassins, demi-gods, super heroes and aliens, is also the only one who knows how this film is going to end. He states it very clearly to the antagonist, seemingly offering Loki a cop out before this movie drags out to its intended two and a half hour run time. As any conventional super hero movie would have it, Loki ignores the agent and continues in his attempts to take over the world.
This situation pops up in almost every good vs. evil movie ever made. However, the difference between those movies, and The Avengers is that The Avengers is entirely circumstantial. Here is an example in the same vein of the movie universe. Iron Man is an exceptionally well crafted super hero movie.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man perfected the balance of being a bad ass and a charismatic and likeable protagonist in an inexplicable fashion. The fight scenes were cool and there was enough humor to keep the tone fun without being too dark.
The Avengers was all of those things and more as the expanded team proved to be a fanboy’s dream come true. So why is Iron Man better?
The events that transpire in Iron Man actually matter in the real world, while The Avengers carries no relevance in our culture aside from its entertainment value.
Granted, most people gauge a film’s quality on how entertaining it is and pass the judgment on whether it is “good” or not. On the contrary, the quality of a film cannot be determined by how much fun you have while watching it. It comprises of a balance of many different aspects, one of which is entertainment value. However, one aspect that cannot be ignored is social and communal impact. Iron Man provided many social commentaries, cleverly mixed in to the film. As you were watching Tony Stark live a wealthy lifestyle and fight crime as Iron Man, you were also actively digesting strong opinions on terrorism, weapons trading, the mixing of man with technology, and the need for clean energy. Think of this film experience like taking your vitamins, but the cool flavored Flintstone kind that you used to take when you were little. They tasted good and were from your favorite cartoon, and yet they still provided you with all of the important nutritional values that growing boys and girls need. Iron Man delivers quality filmmaking in many aspects, blending relevance with entertainment.
But what does The Avengers mean to the viewers? What kind of impact will the film leave on the people leaving the theater when the last scene plays after the credits? Absolutely nothing.
As soon as you walk out of the theater, you may excitedly remember that one really funny line, or that cool fighting sequence. But eventually, as your memory of the film fades, so will the relevance of how cool it was when you were there.
I cannot deny that when you are in the theater, actively watching the film unfold before you on that giant screen, the movie seems perfect.
However, upon departure, it leaves you with a hollow feeling reminiscent of a dementor gliding past and sucking the fun out of your very soul.
Besides the fact that the film essentially stood for nothing, there was also no weight in the exciting or tense parts of the story.
When Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) was about to transform in to the Hulk and threaten everyone on board the ship, or when the aliens were storming New York City, I felt no sense of peril for our heroes. This sad fact is a result of my biggest apprehension on going in to this film: the inability to create one movie with so many super heroes and have it work as a believable narrative. I was never convinced that this was a real team, working together to save the human race. I felt concern for the individual hero when he was in an immediate sense of danger. But knowing that it is in the nature of the bad guys to lose, my fears were instantly alleviated.
This gathering of individuals, not group, spends most of the movie bickering between each other. When they do come together to fight as a team, at least in terms of vicinity, they end up separating to fight different battles of the same war. There is one brief shot (which is done to death in the trailer) that shows them all standing together waiting to fight.
Despite this attempt at visual unity, since interpersonal unity was never reached, they all end up having their backs to one another further proving that they are not one in many.
If the team can’t come together for the sake of the story, then what is the point of making a team film?
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and even Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk were all better stand alone films than The Avengers. Some people complain that these types of origin stories get redundant and boring after a while, but at least they have a narrative purpose for their actions. In this way, The Avengers has become cinema’s high-end prostitute. You pay an outrageous amount of money for some entertainment that will only last you one night. Sure the prostitute is pretty to look at and you have one hell of a good time during. But after you pay, and the fun is done, what have you really gained?
Title: The Avengers
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date: May 4th, 2012
Run Time: 142 mins.
Obviously, there will be people who don’t agree with this review. If you’re one of those people, raise your hand and tell us what you think by posting a comment below.
Alex Dodson: Bright Futura