Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews The Avengers


Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews The Avengers, this summer's Marvel superhero crossover extravanganza from writer-director Joss Whedon, in The Washington Times:

There's a lot riding on "The Avengers," a megabudget follow-up to four years' worth of summer superhero films. A continuation of the stories started in the Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man movies, it's comic book publisher Marvel's attempt at a superhero supergroup.

As the culmination of those cinematic legacies, "The Avengers'" mission is to be fair to each of those characters, building on their respective franchises, but combining their successes into something even more super. The movie's box office expectations are — as the villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) declares himself when he first appears — "burdened with glorious purpose."

It's a lot to ask of a bunch of burly dudes in brightly colored spandex and shiny armor who first made their names as cheap newsprint sketches. But "The Avengers" rises to the occasion by embodying the best aspects of its big-name characters: This is a movie with the planet-shattering strength of the Hulk, the genius and wit of Iron Man, the epic nobility of Thor, and the earnestness and dedication of Captain America.

Add to that the crazy ambition of a major comic-book publisher. For decades, Marvel's comics have featured a whole universe of heroes and villains who would team up and throw down on a regular basis. For many comic fans, the appeal was in the world — the community of heroes and intersecting stories — as much as in any individual character.

With "The Avengers," Marvel gives moviegoers a world. The plot is built around a powerful cosmic cube that serves as an energy source and a portal to another dimension. But the movie is best understood as a portal to the Marvel Comics mindset.

Indeed, the purity with which the movie accesses the imaginative fantasy life of a twelve-year-old boy who is perhaps overly concerned with the fictional lives of various tights-wearing super-people is rather breathtaking. As a former childhood comic book fan, I found myself suppressing squeals of adolescent glee throughout: Without descending into impenetrable nerd-service, the movie triggers a sense of exuberant youthful escape that many summer blockbusters aspire to but few achieve.

Whole thing here


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  1. This review makes me happy. Happier still will I be after Liberty on the Rocks tonight when we catch the midnight show!

  2. Just what, pray tell, do the Avengers wish to avenge? I’ve never been clear on that.

    1. Originally? The Wasp just thought it sounded “dramatic”. Seriously.

      In general, though, I suppose they are avenging acts of injustice.

      1. So they’re judge, jury, and executioner, then? I didn’t vote for them.

        1. Nobody wants to see “The Apologists”

          1. How about “The Polemicists”?

          2. An “Isolationists” comic could be good if done right.

        2. I didn’t vote for Obama either, and look what that got us.

          1. He’s an Avenger? I guess he must be, seeing how he personally dispatched bin Laden.

        3. “Well how do you become judge, jury, and executioner then?”

          1. He’s not Judge Judy and executioner!

        4. They were given the sword Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake!

          1. Yes, I was going there.

            1. Yeah, I think you were a bit too subtle for the rest of that subthread.

      2. No, it was Ant-Man.

        1. Oops, misread that, it was Wasp.

    2. the Wasp names the group “the Avengers” because it sounded “dramatic”

    3. Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state must be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such are John Steed, trained professional, and Emma Peel, talented amateur, otherwise known as — The Avengers.

      Oops. It looks like I walked into the wrong bar, here.

      1. That’s what I keep thinking every time I read of this new Avengers movie. Then comes the disappointment.

    4. There is a line in a trailer something like: “If we can’t protect the Earth, we damn will Avenge it.”

  3. Much of the credit goes to writer and director Joss Whedon.

    Nothing can stop me from hating Whedon…if only because he brought Buffy fans into the world.

    1. You Buffy hater, you. Next thing I know you’ll be railing against Twilight.

      1. Eh the show was alright. It is the fans that I detest.

    2. What? Firefly alone demands forgiveness for all perceived and actual slights and sins.

      1. My hatred of Buffy Fans stems from Firefly.

        Firefly forced me to mingle on the internet with Buffy fans who followed Joss into Firefly.

        Firefly to me is the jewel used to lure me in to be knifed by Buffy fandom.

        If there was no Firefly I would never have suffered under their cruel dull stupidity.

        There can be no forgiveness.

        1. Oh, I see. They taint the purity of your Firefly fandom.

          Haven’t watched much Buffy, so no opinion.

          1. No purity.

            I loved Firefly and I wanted to talk about it. The good and the bad.

            So i ran to the internet and found a site. Little did I know it was a hive mind consisting of Buffy fans hell bent on destroying any critique on a work by Whedon that in anyway could be perceived as negative.

            I was ridiculed as impure, my posts were deleted I was accused of being a fox executive spreading disinformation in an attempt to kill the show…it was horrible.

            1. I wasn’t mocking. I understand.

              1. No.

                It is not a taint. If trekkies came and talked about firefly good or bad i would not mind or fans of any show. My complaint is about specific zealot like characteristics of Buffy fans that are deplorable.

    3. You’re retarded. But we already knew that.

    4. But Buffy brought Angel into being, which being heroic with a strong comedic element was a good show.

      1. I still wish they hadn’t killed Doyle. Or Cordelia.

        1. On the other hand, since Doyle’s actor OD’d on heroin around Season 3 or 4, they’d have had to write him out some way or another.

          1. Maybe if he wasn’t written out, he wouldn’t have ended up OD’ing, hmmm?

    5. Of all the goofy girly stuff to rail on, Buffy is the least bad.

    6. I didn’t really watch it much on its original run, but I went on a Buffy/Angel binge on Netflix recently. Not too bad, though he murdered the only two characters I really liked before everything was said and done. Unlike some shows, it actually got better in later seasons, if only because they had less time to dedicate to preachy PSA/Lifetime channel shit, or at least got slightly more subtle with it.

      I did think it was weird that Mal and Zoe were the big bads (on Buffy and Angel, respectively) in the last year of Buffy.

  4. Normally, I see “Joss Whedon” and I go “I will see this”, but he burned me with The Cabin in the Woods. Admittedly, his name was only as “co-writer”, and not “writer-director”, but I’m pissed now.

    1. Take the script. Read every other word. It turns out that it was actually the second Firefly movie.

      1. You’re retarded too. But we already knew that.

        1. I should note a lone Buffy fan is tolerable…but in concentration they are legion and entirely destructive to all that is good.

          1. This applies to all fans of everything. Especially Trekkies.

            1. Don’t be a pill.

              1. Especially Trekkies.

                1. Dude. Borgecue. A Borg-themed barbecue restaurant.

                2. “Dude, I’d drive all year for a chance to pimp slap some trekkies.”*

                  *1,000 nerd-points for anyone who actually knows the movie I’m referenceing without using google.

            2. No it does not.

              A trekkie can rate each episode and talk about what is good and bad about it, debate plot elements as plausible or not plausible. For a Buffy fan every episode is 10/10 and any flaw exposed is heresy….and their mentality crosses over to all works of Whedon.

              My complaint about Buffy Fans is not a complaint about nerds in general. It is specific to their mindless devotion.

              1. Borgecue. Slogan is, of course, “Resistance is futile.” Jeri Ryan as the only possible spokesman. Employees dressed as Borg, take orders like Borg, treated by management as drones.

                I’m thinking Alabama-style barbecue. And a very aggressive M&A strategy, involving hostile acquisition of other barbecue restaurants whose best traits will be assimilated by Borgecue, Inc.

              2. Everything you have said here and above about Buffy fans could also be said about Ron Paul supporters. Right? How has no one else pointed this out already?

                1. You come here to say that? What about Borgecue? You can have the Chicago franchise.

                  1. hey, I wanted the Chicago franchise and I’m not talking Derek Rose.

                    1. Well, I was going to give it to my long-time co-commenter and former blogging colleague, but since he doesn’t want it, it’s all yours.

              3. I think in your heart that you know Buffy fans are not even one tenth as bad as Grey’s Anatomy fans.

                1. I’m appalled at the lack of interest in Borgecue. Fine, I’ll just let others profit from this brilliant concept.

                2. There are Grey’s Anatomy fans?

                  1. Borgecue, Borgecue, BORGECUE!!

                    [Stomps feet in frustration.]

        2. Resisting my cunning plans is futile.

  5. I see Joss Whedon’s name and I get tunnel vision. I see Firefly, and now The Avengers, but that’s it. I’m quite happy to stay ignorant of his other works

  6. Damnit – I’m too late for

    “DORK ALERT!!!!”

    Run! Go tell the others! Save yourselves!

  7. I hope it’s good.

  8. it’s comic book publisher Marvel’s attempt at a superhero supergroup

    nobody’s tried that before, certainly not Marvel…

    1. Nice catch.

    2. I think it is different then say Fantastic Four which individually never existed as superheroes before they became a supergroup.

      Avengers was made as direct competition against Justice League in which they took established individual superheroes and allied them into a supergroup.

      1. There’s also that other group. The Mex-Men?

        1. Also never existed individually before The X-Men #1.

          1. Also X-Men #1 and Avengers #1 were both released in September 1963.

            1. Hah! Nerd Fail! X-Men #1 wasn’t until 1991! The original series was “The X-Men!”

  9. So when does DC get its act together, retake creative control of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc., and produce a good Justice League movie?

    1. Given Superman’s and the Green Lantern’s powers, why do they need the others? I mean, it’s like two tanks and a group of butterflies.

      1. Because they can’t be in two places at once. Unless that power were necessary for some convoluted plot, anyway, at which point Superman would probably get it.

  10. Pff, who cares about this crap -where’s my review of “Battleship”?

    1. Take your dog out for a long walk. When he squats and leaves something in the grass, there’s your review of “Battleship.”

  11. Dude is like totally rocking it. Wow.

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