Anyone who follows this blog long enough knows I'm not a fan of Avatar. In fact, I hate it. I think it's cheesy, sloppy, poorly written, poorly researched, and cliched. The only things it has going for it are the visuals, which I admit are impressive, but not enough to save the movie for me. I know that I'm in the minority, which is why Marvel's Avengers has caught me by surprise.

I was listening to a podcast of some guys reviewing Marvel's Avengers and only one out of the four didn't love it. What struck me was that the critic made some good points. Avengers has a pretty weak story - aliens invade New York, Avengers fight them. The characterization is pretty thin - beyond one-liners, there's not much development of any of the characters. The critic pointed out Captain America is the biggest failing in this regard, considering he just woke up after fifty years, and seems completely at home in the future. No disagreement there. The aliens themselves are not very logical in their appearance or behavior. True.

Yet I love Avengers.

So, I asked myself, why am I so against the poor writing in Avatar, and don't mind the poor writing in Avengers? I think it's a matter of expectations.

With Avengers, what we wanted to see was all these classic superheroes fighting side-by-side. We got that. The reason behind it was almost beside the point. I think the simple story works in its favor, because with everything going on to bring these heroes together, a more complex story would have been overwhelming.

As for the characterization, I saw enough to get the flavor. I'm okay with that. This wasn't a normal movie that had to stand on its own. Most of the heroes had their own movies to flesh them out. The ones that didn't, like Black Widow, will probably get their own movies soon. I thought of Avengers more as a series of guest appearances than full-fledged roles.

Now let's look at Avatar. It's a movie that has to stand on its own and marketed itself as a bold new vision, one that compared itself to Star Trek and Star Wars as an epic science-fiction journey. But it wasn't. It was a rehashed story with gaping plot holes on an alien world that wasn't really that alien, along with stereotypes trying to pass for characters, but wow, look at that 3-D.

Avengers didn't claim to re-invent the wheel. It said, "We'll take Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man, and put them all in the same movie." As long as it did that for me, it would be satisfying. The fact that it was actually pretty good was almost icing on the cake. So maybe it's a matter of low expectations. Maybe it's because Avengers didn't try to go beyond its reach. Or maybe I just love comics.

Do you think Avengers overcomes its shortcomings? Or do you think Avengers is over-hyped? Let us know in the comments.

[Image Source: Darkmatters]

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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I still say it's the best movie of the year so far. Some areas were thin, but thanks to the genius that is Whedon, the movie worked. And worked well. Besides, seeing all of the characters together was awesome.

Pat Dilloway said...

The weak story bothered me when I wrote my review. As I said about the only meaning I could glean from it was the importance of teamwork. It was a nice action movie, some good popcorn entertainment, and that was it. As you said they didn't really flesh out the characters much because they needed to go from one big action scene to the next. Oh well, I got my money's worth I suppose.

sqt said...

I didn't write a traditional review of "The Avengers," I just summed up why I thought it worked. The beauty of comic book movies is that they don't have to be deep to be good. I'm not in the camp that thinks a movie has to have complex characterizations and flawless writing to be considered worthy of my money. Sometimes just being entertaining is enough. I think "Avengers" works because it gives each character time to shine and the simple good vs. evil story is very satisfying on an emotional level.

I didn't like "Avatar" either. Couldn't sit through it- and I can't fathom that it has enough juice to make the two sequels already scheduled worth watching.

Jessica Stank said...

Was it that you had low expectations for Avengers or was it that you knew what to expect? I agree with your opinion of Avatar wholeheartedly. It definitely didn't live up to the hype. Remember the whole thing where they tried to say there was actually a condition where people were depressed after seeing the movie because their lives couldn't live up to the awesomeness that was Avatar? Seriously? I thought it was just okay. The story was so been there, done that. But, honestly, I totally dug the Avengers movie. It surpassed my expectations.

Arlee Bird said...

I haven't seen Avengers yet so I can't say too much. I think we can forgive a lot of these superhero films with silly story lines because they're comic book fare and silliness meets our expectations.

Like you I disliked much about Avatar. Besides a kind of silly story line, I think that film tried to be too socially relevant and make a political statement and that was overly distracting. And I didn't agree with the statement they were making anyway--another reason for me to dislike it.


A Faraway View

Liesel Hill said...

I agree with this assessment! Avatar had only it's 3D and other effects to hold it up. Despite our obsession with the newest toys, most people need more story than that. Avengers had already been established, so we got them together and kind of got all the juiciest bits of them. And for whatever reason...it just worked. :D Great post!

Tony Laplume said...

It was a very far from perfect movie, but I guess the Avengers was still entertaining. However, I say Avatar is a vastly superior movie, a truly event experience rather than a novelty. The way you know this is that if the next one isn't great, people care. If the next Avengers isn't great, people won't. It reputation has less to do with the product and more to do with what people want it to be. Avatar needs to impress. This is exactly what happened to the Matrix films, and why the Lord of the Rings trilogy was able to coast and a descending line of quality and everyone still loved it, because they were invested in a whole franchise from the start.

Jro said...

Yea. Totally agree. In Avatar, the humans don't learn a lesson. It's only a matter of time before they return and wipe out the blue dudes. The Avengers ending is cliched, but the movie has some humor, which sorta makes it up.

remo4711 said...

I skipped Avatar because I could smell those problems you mentioned in the trailers and pre-release buzz. I like a lot of Cameron's stuff - but this was so self important - I think he really is at the point in his head that everybody THOUGHT he was at when he said "I'm King of the World!" at the Oscars. (Of course, he just meant he was as happy as Leo's character was at that moment - but everybody seemed to think he was saying he was the Earth's monarch. Now I kinda think he thinks he's the Earth's monarch.

I loved The Avengers - it's all those guys - played by the original guys - and it is entertaining. As Stan the Man once intoned - 'nuff said!

Nigel Mitchell said...

Yeah, I took that "king of the world" comment the wrong way, too. But 'nuff said, indeed

Nigel Mitchell said...

Funny, that's one of the 1001 problems with the movie - the ending isn't as pat as it should be,

Nigel Mitchell said...

Well, I care if the next Avengers isn't good. But I agree that Avengers was mainly a novelty. But I disagree that Avatar was an event - it was supposed to be, but failed to deliver if it wasn't in 3-D.

Nigel Mitchell said...

I guess it was more that I knew what to expect - just having Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk on-screen at the same time was all I wanted. So it might have been low expectations.

But yeah, that nonsense about the suicidal Avatar fans, I think was more about PR than reality.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Yeah, I was surprised so many people agreed with me about Avatar. It was terrible.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Agreed with you on both counts. Too preachy, and not preaching the right message.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Maybe we do give comic book movies a break in terms of drama, but I will say comic fans are more rabid in terms of accuracy, so the makers have a harder time meeting their expectations.

I agree about the Avatar sequels. So what is there next to talk about? The corporation coming back to Pandora and carpet-bombing the whole planet with nukes?

Nigel Mitchell said...

No real moral, agreed. But money well-spent.

Nigel Mitchell said...

That one circling shot of the heroes all together was half the movie for me.

jeremy [retro-zombie] said...

okay without reading any comments below... to be swayed, I didn't like Avatar either... it looked good and the score enjoyed. the reason I loved the Avengers is simple... it's like a giant on the screen comic book with characters i grew up on and loved and played them as a child/boy/teen/man... i was cheezy, i was nerdy... i was the movie was one liners and with good versus evil... it was touching to see my towel cape with a trash can lid shield... come to life. it lets me step back into the child mode, a time not wrapped around reviews... nope just a stupid kid seeing something that was a good memory.

Steve Goble said...

When a great movie is over, it leaves me wanting to watch sequels of the same greatness.

The Avengers satisfied this for me. Avatar wasn't a sequel, so to win me over it had to start over and work harder.

Avatar never managed to get me on board. But I loved almost everything about The Avengers! :)


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