Saturday, 12 May 2012

Avengers Assemble (The Avengers) Film Classic

It is clear that writer-director Joss Whedon knew he was making an American film classic when he wrote The Avengers (2012), if only because Captain America recognises the reference to The Wizard of Oz, on which it is partly based.  Then again, Whedon's brilliant film mind has assembled a half-dozen other canonical film templates, including Citizen Kane, the Magnificent Seven, and Hidden Fortress/Star Wars.  The assembling of the reluctant heroes to save a beleaguered community (New York/Earth) is pure Western; the screwball comedy of the eccentric playboy millionaire is all Kane before the downfall; and Nick Fury is Dorothy, trying to make heroes of his motley crew - or is Natasha Dorothy, lost in a world of monsters and magic, seeking a redemptive home?

But this is mainly comedy as art.  Indeed, there is as much Bringing Up Baby here as there is The Wrath of Khan.  What has to be said is that Whedon has written and directed the most intelligent, dramatic, and purely entertaining family action film since he worked on Toy Story - but probably the best since Indiana Jones outran the big boulder.  I actually thing The Avengers is an instant great film.  The pure cinema moments of hilarity (normally caused by The Hulk), balanced by Shakespearean issues relating to kings, family, and the gods, derive partly from Stan Lee and the Marvel mythos, but are here enhanced in a way that other film versions of Marvel comics have not achieved.  The attention to the NYC cops, and the citizens on the ground in peril, is very touching.  The best lines belong, oddly, to Captain America, whose Christian virtue plays well off of Stark's Casablanca go-it-aloneness.  Of course, as with Rick, Stark chooses sacrifice over the woman (Pepper).  That this film holds up to these greats is what this post is about.  See this one on the big screen.
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