[Editor’s note: Unlike Nate & Rosko, I have yet so see The Avengers. As such, in an effort to avoid ginormous spoilers, they’ve used the codename “Swayze” to refer to major plot point without actually giving it away. Beyond that, I would hardly call anything in this Quibble an actual spoiler, but they have highlighted a couple of points where they feel some might complain.]
As we wrap up our Earth’s Mightiest Decade series, Rosko and I finally sit down to discuss what we see as ten years worth of work. Is The Avengers truly the culmination of everything that has come before it? In the film, Nick Fury finally gathers earth’s mightiest heroes together to form the Avengers and fight Loki’s army. Is it the apex of an era or the next stage in the evolution of comic book adaptation? Rosko and I will try to breakdown the future of Joss Whedon, Walt Disney Pictures, and the ending that will have every geek talking for the next two years
NATHAN: Welcome to The Trouble with Quibbles Avengers Edition! We have Adam Rosko, creative director of Atomic Arts and director of Trek in the Park and Nathan Ayling who showers with his pants on. Welcome sir!
ROSKO: And Nate also plays Scotty in Trek in the Park! We also volunteer at Excalibur Comics here in Portland, Oregon! We are of the key demographic for this motion picture show.
NATHAN: First lets thank Adam-Scott and Bryan Parrill for letting us hijack their amazing site this week.
ROSKO: Yes! It’s been great writing for them and giving Bryan a break from writing about the Academy Awards.
NATHAN: Crazy coverage.
NATHAN: So, lets start with initial thoughts. Did it live up to the hype?
ROSKO: It was everything you could have expected from the movie. Ever since the tease at the end of Iron Man. I’m so glad they spent time on the script because, really, they could have shit it out and it still would have made a ton of money.
NATHAN: It amazed me in way I didn’t imagine.
ROSKO: It’s a homecoming of sorts. Not only does it wrap up the build up Marvel has created for themselves, it was a culmination of the decade we’ve been discussing this week.
NATHAN: Fully. This is the apex. Everything really has been for this moment.
ROSKO: Yeah, it seems (producer) Kevin Feige and (director) Joss Whedon knew that expectations were high. Here’s a chance to really deliver and they seized it with an alarming amount of confidence.
NATHAN: I want to bring up something that’s been on my mind all day. Much Ado About Nothing. Why did Whedon feel compelled to make that movie immediately?
ROSKO: He loves big, bold ensemble pieces, for one. He’s an expert on them. And this time he doesn’t have to write the dialogue.
NATHAN: To me it felt like Much Ado with 200 million dollars behind it. Replace an Italian villa with a hellicarrier and it’s the same thing. If Don Pedro is Thor, then Don John is Loki?
ROSKO: Well, the great thing about it is, in pieces like Shakespeare’s and something like The Avengers, they are rewarding for both the audience and the creators. Everyone. Here in The Avengers, there’s a HUGE ensemble of lead characters, with major actors behind each one. They all get to shine too. It’s also a chance for the talented director, writers, producers to pull something like that off. It’s a great accomplishment. And they got a hell of budget to work with. In the end, you know who really wins? US! It complimented all the previous movies too. It makes Thor, a movie I didn’t much care for, better.
NATHAN: I want to know how much Shakespeare’s text influenced the script. Not just the banter but how to have these characters interact.
ROSKO: Shakespeare, to Stan, to Joss in this case. NOTE: I do not think either men are as good as Shakes. Tis not a direct line! Just an example.
NATHAN: Much Ado is a ballet of personalities, The Avengers is too but with steroids, which is funny because they actually put Branagh behind Thor and that didn’t feel Shakespearean at all.
ROSKO: RIGHT?!?! Huge missed opportunity.
NATHAN: Right idea, wrong play.
ROSKO: Well, before we go back to waxing poetic about The Avengers. Anything you didn’t like?
NATHAN: It is a slowish build, but I think the payoff is well worth it. If you have to push the ball to get it rolling, this is how you do it.
ROSKO: Yeah, I thought the 1st act dragged on too. It’s one thing if you have to introduce everyone, but that wasn’t the problem; I think it just could have been cut a little tighter. However, the 2nd and 3rd acts just blew me away.
NATHAN: Well, **SPOILER** it begins with a large action sequence, but it doesn’t pop. It felt like Whedon was getting his bearings on shooting large scale action.
ROSKO: Yeah, there’s fat that could have been trimmed. The bummer to me was it was the first time we see SHIELD by itself in action. Still cool, but I thought it was the weakest part of the movie.
NATHAN: I have another major question for you. Is The Avengers the reason the head of Walt Disney Pictures was fired?
ROSKO: Perhaps. I mean Marvel just showed Disney How. It’s. Done.
NATHAN: I have a theory that (Head of Disney) Bob Iger saw The Avengers and realized that he has a guy from the Disney Channel calling the shots when the obvious future is Marvel.
ROSKO: Marvel has been in the business of telling great stories with colorful characters, while Disney’s live action has been falling flat on its face on for way too many years.
NATHAN: What stood out the most?
ROSKO: Seeing all of them together in costume, thinking “this is mental.” There is such a gleeful passion behind every bit of story, characters and design, I just started laughing to myself in a VERY good way.
NATHAN: To me it was the Black Widow, not only reaffirming her role on that team but in ScarJo playing that character. She has a number of really amazing scenes. My favorite being **SPOILERS** when she mind fucks the God of mind fucking!
ROSKO: Yeah, I think Ruffalo’s Hulk was my favorite. But my favorite character moment was **SPOILER** Captain America giving orders. He had the best line in the whole movie, and that’s in a movie where Robert Downey Jr. is getting most of the “Whedon wit.” It’s a very giving movie, and it keeps on giving. Not many blockbusters can say that.
NATHAN: He calls Thor Point Break! Nobody but Whedon could have written that.
ROSKO: Yup. And to go for it and just call Hawkeye, Legolas.
NATHAN: Oh, that’s right! Actually, I do have one gripe. Hawkeye whipping out the bow never looked cool. Not once. He also doesn’t hit a thing for the first 30-min of the movie, which is maybe why i didn’t care for the opening.
ROSKO: I thought they introduced Hawkeye very well. They gave him a problem and purpose right away. It quickly answered my worries that he wasn’t even necessary in the movie. But, don’t tell me that the way he fought Black Widow with his bow didn’t make up for the fact that he didn’t look cool taking it out a couple times!
NATHAN: Nope. It looks dumb.
ROSKO: Jeremy Renner: always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
NATHAN: So true.
ROSKO: So, how do you think the general audience is going to respond to the movie? Many haven’t seen all of the Marvel movies. I think good or bad, Thor is required viewing for Avengers.
NATHAN: Don’t think you have to, but it helps a lot.
ROSKO: If I could forget Iron Man 2, I would, because Black Widow is handled SOOOOOO much better in The Avengers and you already know Tony Stark.
NATHAN: Which is funny because I’ve had my girlfriend on this superhero diet for two weeks and I kinda wish she walked in as a blank slate.
ROSKO: One other thing I loved about the movie is that the characters have all kept on living their lives though after their movies. The Tony/Pepper relationship has evolved even more. I liked those little touches. It really rewards those who have seen all of them.
NATHAN: Yet like any good comic series, especially say, Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men,” knowing the characters helps but it’s not essential.
ROSKO: Exactly. Loki was the best part about Thor, so it’s worth seeing just to get a sense of where he comes from. And Stellan Skarsgard is back in Avengers too!
NATHAN: It is funny that Thor, the worst of the Marvel movies, is possibly the most essential.
ROSKO: Yeah, I totally agree. There’s a lot of set-up in it, but I can’t blame Whedon or anyone. Thor’s world is by far the most complicated of all the movie heroes.
NATHAN: Okay, I have another question.
ROSKO: Hit me.
NATHAN: As a comic book fan since being a child, did you ever think you would ever see an Avengers movie, let alone an Avengers movie where they fight Swayze?
ROSKO: No. Not since X-Men in 2000 did I ever consider the possibility. The good, bad, and ugly of the “comic book decade” of movies has led right here, where something like Swayze in a major motion picture fighting the actual Avengers could even be possible.
NATHAN: Even after all these movies I still thought Swayze was impossible. They’d never do Swayze! Kang? Sure. Fucking Swayze? Never.
ROSKO: I was thinking a lot about this this morning. It’s very natural. At the end of Iron Man, they made a bold statement saying, “We’re gonna make movies of all the heroes, then do a crossover film in The Avengers.” Well, they have now done that, where else in the Marvel Universe can they go? In 2008, Avengers was a major risk. They are making one again with Swayze, because as they say, “no risk- no reward.” It’s another big moment where Marvel is announcing they’re going to keep challenging themselves and not get stale as they still work within their universe.
NATHAN: It’s a great way to expand the Marvel Universe, because the Avengers cannot beat Swayze alone. It simply states that The Avengers 2 will not be Iron Man 2.
ROSKO: That’s right. And see, we’re playing the speculation game once again. We’ll all be thinking, “What else are we gonna get? Who’s going to join?”
NATHAN: Final question. Will we see Disney buying properties from other studios in the future? X-Men are at Fox, so are the Fantastic Four. Spidey is at Sony.
ROSKO: I think there’s an iron grip on X-Men at Fox. Disney might get FF or Daredevil from them though. Spidey, however, is interesting, 3 of the 10 biggest openings ever belong to Spider-Man. The new, one on the other hand, is getting terrible early word and Sony is not making as big a push on it as they could. I think they know it sucks. They are already getting totally new writers, top writers at that, to pen a sequel. It depends how The Amazing Spider-Man does at the box office and just how negative the reaction is. Spider-Man 3 made a shit load of money, but everyone hated it, so now we have this remake. I think I need to hold off on my final answer until we see The Amazing Spider-Man.
NATHAN: I think it’s essential. You can throw Galactus, or Kang, or Swayze at us all you want. The natural progression in comic book movies is the universe-wide crossover. It has to happen, too much money at stake. Alright, your grade?
ROSKO: Spectacle and smarts, great summer flick. Grade: A
NATHAN: A ballet on steroids. Grade: A-