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DaltonMaltz

Episode 150 - The Avengers (w/ Jenelle Riley)

Episode 150 - The Avengers (w/ Jenelle Riley)  

63 members have voted

  1. 1. Should "The Avengers" enter The Canon?

    • Yes
      38
    • No
      25


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But with the Marvel Studios movies they took characters who were (frankly) not all that popular before they became movies.

 

It's probably worth noting that this was largely by necessity. Thanks to the truly epic shortsightedness of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman in the 1960s, the company still didn't have the film rights to its most notable characters when Marvel started their great cinematic experiment decades later. With the exception of Captain America (who was indeed a household name prior to the MCU), the company mostly had second- and third-tier characters to work with. (Most of their best characters were completely off-limits, and even the Hulk couldn't star in his own film without making a complicated deal with Universal.)

 

But, yeah, it's true that the Marvel movies (unlike the comics) aren't 100% dependent on nostalgic 50-year-old boys. The MCU has managed to tap into the youth market in the same way that the Marvel Comics Group did during its heyday.

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It's probably worth noting that this was largely by necessity. Thanks to the truly epic shortsightedness of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman in the 1960s, the company still didn't have the film rights to its most notable characters when Marvel started their great cinematic experiment decades later. With the exception of Captain America (who was indeed a household name prior to the MCU), the company mostly had second- and third-tier characters to work with. (Most of their best characters were completely off-limits, and even the Hulk couldn't star in his own film without making a complicated deal with Universal.)

 

But, yeah, it's true that the Marvel movies (unlike the comics) aren't 100% dependent on nostalgic 50-year-old boys. The MCU has managed to tap into the youth market in the same way that the Marvel Comics Group did during its heyday.

 

All true. Though I'd argue that while people knew who Captain America was, the popular opinion was that he was too square and too uncomfortably linked to war propaganda to work as a popular modern character. Then the movies came out.

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The Canon is about cinema, and Marvel movies are anti-cinema. They're all about satisfying expectations and playing it safe. A hard and firm no from me. Keep this dreck out.

 

So you’re one of those types of people? Someone who doesn’t think something is cinema because it doesn’t appeal to what they like? Last I time I checked cinema is pretty much anything recordered or filmed on a camera. But what do I know?

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I call hard pass on canonization of The Avengers. I can tell you that I have not seen all of the supporting material to relish in the Easter eggs of this movie, yet I understand what I've seen just fine. From the supporting points in the podcast discussion I think each could also be leveled at this film as a criticism. For instance, the point that this film finally brings all of the characters together as a team that will be important is easily countered with the comment it takes over an hour to assemble the team and deliver exposition required to begin a perilously thin plot advancement for a movie. To this criticism is my larger gripe that this movie does advance a narrative but the narrative being advanced is larger than this film, so in isolation this movie is unimpressive. Here nothing really happens besides an HR exercise in team building. Literally, the boss assembles them and they learn to appreciate each other's strengths, then they get a little light work in before some future project. To me that's not a problem if we're talking tone and cadence like Jarmusch or something, but lets be honest, we are not talking Jarmusch.

 

If I was to add a superhero film to the Canon because of the dominance of the form in the era I would submit Iron Man, which was prototypical and whose success was not assured. I have to say a requirement to canonize something because of the temporal prominence of a form is a bad argument for canonization. Until the superheroes really star in a film that touches a part of our souls, let's reconsider whether or not they're canonical movies. To that point, one could argue for Black Panther or Wonder Woman in terms of the obvious and wonderful sense of empowerment they stirred in so may people who've always seen themselves portrayed as second fiddle. That said, I still think it's best if we let the future paleontologists and anthropologists discover and ponder the superhero era.

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So is there going to be a break before new podcasts?

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I was surprised that the conversation in the episode was mostly limited to discussing the film within the context of the Marvel franchise -- basically "the Marvel movies are big and popular, and this is the most notable one of those" -- without ever quite hitting on what Marvel as a whole and this film in particular brought to the larger movie landscape. They pioneered an interconnectivity between seemingly disparate films, essentially figuring out how to use every movie they make to sell all their other movies, on an unprecedented level. It's something virtually every major studio and some smaller ones have bent themselves out of shape trying to chase ever since, to (so far) uniformly mediocre, disastrous results.

 

What Marvel did is evidently quite hard to do well, and the magic of The Avengers is that it makes it look so easy that everyone else thought they could do it too overnight. It's easy to forget how easily this movie could have felt jumbled, too naked a money grab, or downright laborious. That it goes down so smoothly, integrating the various tones and concepts so seamlessly as to retroactively make it feel like a foregone conclusion, is the only reason we're talking about Marvel the way we are today.

 

The Joss Whedon touch is not just that every character is serviced and gets their moments; I've seen plenty of movies where all the characters get a moment, but it feels like perfunctorily working down a checklist. The moments where The Avengers stops for one character to have the spotlight are relatively few and far between, and while those are good (Cap with the police officers' "why should I take orders from you?", Banner with Harry Dean Stanton, etc.) everything is so thoroughly derived from character that the 'moments' are usually shared by every character in a given scene. No one is there to be a sounding board for someone else's characterization. Whedon had only ~140 minutes to spend with this sprawling cast who could all be the star of their own movie, and he takes full advantage of it by baking characterization into every ounce of the film. Almost no line is purely functional; if someone is delivering exposition, they're doing it in a way that simultaneously lets you get to know them as a person.

 

Mileage seems to vary on the cacophonous third act, but I'm in the camp that thinks it's a pretty incredible achievement, action wise. That the crazy tracking shot is achieved through "just CGI" takes away nothing for me -- a long take where the most interesting thing is the camera logistics doesn't say much for what's in front of the camera, and what's on screen here, be it captured by a camera or designed on a computer, is a joy in concept and execution.

 

And speaking of that third act, my god is Whedon a master of setting up dominos throughout a whole movie (or episode or season, going back his TV work!) so knocking them over makes for a climax of nonstop payoffs. Rewatching it this time I noticed for the first time quick glimpses of the "St" and "rk" getting knocked off of Stark Tower during the melee; Whedon had to be so satisfied knowing he had that reveal of the remaining "A" in his pocket for the end. (Yeah, it might feel cute and cheap, but it's also kind of brilliant in how simply it stands for how Stark and the others have swallowed their egos for the greater good.)

 

Yeah, pretty good movie. And so far the *only* good example of a thing so many others have tried to follow. (Unless you want to count the Jacques Demy cinematic universe. I think Avengers needs to be in there with Cherbourg.)

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It's easy to forget how easily this movie could have felt jumbled, too naked a money grab, or downright laborious.

 

 

Avengers and most marvel movies are generally all of these things to me. Hard no, I'd rather watch paint dry. Calling these films a "cinematic" universe is a kind euphemism in my opinion.

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Mileage seems to vary on the cacophonous third act, but I'm in the camp that thinks it's a pretty incredible achievement, action wise. That the crazy tracking shot is achieved through "just CGI" takes away nothing for me -- a long take where the most interesting thing is the camera logistics doesn't say much for what's in front of the camera, and what's on screen here, be it captured by a camera or designed on a computer, is a joy in concept and execution.

 

Agreed with a lot of what you wrote, but especially this. People accuse Whedon of being an "uncinematic" director, but I'm not sure they're actually looking closely at what he does, because it's more complicated than that. His action scenes tend to be VERY cinematic, in the sense that he commits to telling a story visually (not with dialogue). The New York battle scene in The Avengers is a terrific example of how to stage a big action scene with great cause-and-effect flow, making sure each beat tells us something about the characters (how they fight, what their intentions are, etc.), and maintaining a consistent geography.

 

I'd say he's been consistently good about directing action. The space battles in Serenity are also very good, and certain select Buffy episodes that Whedon directed are also great examples of visual storytelling (Hush and The Body, for example). What he's generally not is flashy. There's not much quick cutting, dramatic lighting, or bravura, attention-grabbing shots (the long single take in the Avengers New York battle is probably the closest thing). He's trying to make it something you don't actively notice, so of course people get an idea in their heads that Whedon isn't doing anything "cinematic."

 

That said, there's another side of the coin. When Whedon knows he has to tell a visual action sequence he's great at it, but he doesn't always carry his "visual storytelling" strengths into scenes where there's a lot of dialogue and people have to stand around and talk to each other. In those scenes he tends to just go with flat setups that put everyone in the shot, or mid-range close-ups and editing that just cuts to whoever is talking. You're not going to see any

or
. So IMO it's really more that Whedon is very bifurcated as a filmmaker, like he sees some scenes as "visual" and some as "aural," and has a different focus on each.
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Easy no for me. It's an entertaining enough movie, and decently rewatchable, but not even close to Canon-worthy. It's far from the best MCU film - hell, I'd say Ragnarok, Black Panther, Spider-Man and Winter Soldier are all substantially better, and maybe Dr. Strange and GOTG 1 also. It's not even of historical importance, because it's not the movie that kicked off the MCU - Iron Man is. I doubt it would even make my list of top 10 superhero films, let alone the Canon. I'm not sure the MCU has produced a Canon-worthy film yet (though I'd at least entertain Ragnarok for really capturing the comic book feel), but they are certainly getting better and better on the whole.

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Not a big super hero fan, but Thor Ragnarok was hilarious so I decided to give the Avengers a shot. Unfortunately The Avengers isn't a movie for anyone but a die hard fans, like Star Wars episodes 1,2, and 3.

 

Hulk smashing and Loki are the film's only redeeming factors, personally I think Loki would have made a great king. At the very least as king Loki would have prevented any sequels to The Avengers.

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Definite yes! I would only be echoing many of the "Marvel"ous pro-Avengers comments already made above. The scope and impact of the MCU on cinema should be represented in the Canon.

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This vote and comment thread has kind of confirmed what I have long suspected: the anti-Marvel backlash tends to be very vocal on social media (check the Twitter responses to Amy's announcement of this episode), but it is the minority. Most people really like these movies.

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The first Iron Man isn't perfect but it's still a ton of fun and - with its limited scope and complete lack of Chitauri - a more successful movie as a whole. Also, as mentioned a few times above, it is a better fit for Canonization simply on the grounds of its significant historical context (something that only Black Panther has matched since). If it must be an actual Avengers movie that goes down in history, I'd argue that Captain America: Civil War should be counted, since it is basically Avengers-minus-Thor (but plus a bunch of other dudes) and is more successful than the rest of them - but actually, it doesn't really matter all that much. Marvel Movies are cinematic synechoches; each one is a part that is almost interchangeably representative of the whole.

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Voting no. One thing that barely came up in the conversation was the matter of action scenes. I don't think The Avengers has a single good action scene -- the one memorable shot is the long take of The Avengers assembled, which has no reason to be a long take other than showing off, and it's not even that impressive as it's mostly computer generated (and obviously a fake long take that's really full of cuts). And, okay, Hulk smashing Loki.

 

There's nothing in the entire current Marvel universe that can match the train scene from Spider-Man 2. Now that's a 21st century superhero movie that I'd vote yes on. Raimi's first two Spider-Man films were the blueprint for most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe we're living in now, and their combination of action, adventure, comedy and soapy drama still works better than pretty much all of the MCU's output. (Same goes for The Incredibles, which might be the best superhero movie ever made.)

 

If there's ever going to be a Raimi Spider-Man episode, it's probably less likely to go in if The Avengers is already in there. Which I guess is a bad reason to vote no, but it's a secondary reason; I would have voted no anyways.

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I’m a little late to this party. But I voted yes. Only because I figured we would never get another super hero movie up for vote inThe Canon and The Avengers was a triumph in what Marvel started w/ Iron Man In 2008 by creating an extended universe and bringing those elements together. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time we get this since imo super hero action is a genre of cinema like romantic comedy or crime drama. We wouldn’t pick “just one” of those. So we shouldn’t limit super hero movies. They’re based on literature and most have cultural significance. As Stan Lee would say, “excelsior!”

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I’m a little late to this party. But I voted yes. Only because I figured we would never get another super hero movie up for vote inThe Canon and The Avengers was a triumph in what Marvel started w/ Iron Man In 2008 by creating an extended universe and bringing those elements together. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time we get this since imo super hero action is a genre of cinema like romantic comedy or crime drama. We wouldn’t pick “just one” of those. So we shouldn’t limit super hero movies. They’re based on literature and most have cultural significance. As Stan Lee would say, “excelsior!”

 

Superman is in the Canon, so this wouldn't be the first superhero movie to be inducted.

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Do I need to actually watch this movie to enjoy this conversation? Or is "The Avengers" actually just a proxy for them to talk about Marvel movies generally? Really don't want to sit down and watch this shit.

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Do I need to actually watch this movie to enjoy this conversation? Or is "The Avengers" actually just a proxy for them to talk about Marvel movies generally? Really don't want to sit down and watch this shit.

 

Probably best to skip this episode then. They do talk about the movie for almost the entire time.

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