I enjoy superheroes. I adored Batman the Animated Series as a child, really got into the X-Men and Spiderman films, and have watched on odd spattering of others: Superman, Batman, the first Hulk (which I have been told was not the best rendition of Hulk), and Daredevil, though I have not seen either Iron Man, Captain America, Thor or the second Hulk film. Despite this, I never read comic books and barely even knew they existed until high school when most of my friends were male and geek and talked about them all the time. You can learn some interesting things when eavesdropping.
However, I’d overheard or been told so much over the years that it was impossible to keep straight. I knew the names Captain America, Iron Man, and The Hulk. I had a vague idea about who they were. Captain America: sort of like Superman but wore an American flag suit. Iron Man: wore some sort of armor. The Hulk: got big, tough, and uncontrolled when angry. You get the idea. For true fans, this is deplorable knowledge.
So, Wednesday night, I suggested The Avengers for two reasons: 1) I’d heard excellent things about it. 2) I knew my husband would be in heaven watching it. However, I honestly went to the theater expected to be lost half the time. I was blissfully surprised.
Among the many great things Joss Whedon did with the film was make it accessible to a huge range of audience members. My husband, who’s a big Avengers fan, giggled at all the references I never got and geeked out over this or that, but I didn’t need to. Joss brilliantly included enough references to the characters’ pasts that played an important role in the present story and wrote the characters with such depth, even among the high action and ever increasing on-the-edge-of-your-seat stakes, that not once did I feel lost or like I didn’t know the heroes. By the end of the movie, I was enamored and had already declared Captain America my favorite and Thor a close second. As soon as I get the time, I’m looking forward to watching the movies that preceded The Avengers and focus on each of the main characters individually.
It takes great skill to portray characters that vibrantly exist in a story’s present while conveying their past and endearing themselves to the reader or viewer. Hats off to Joss Whedon for a terrific movie.