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Episode 150 - The Avengers (w/ Jenelle Riley)


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Poll: Episode 150 - The Avengers (w/ Jenelle Riley) (63 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "The Avengers" enter The Canon?

  1. Yes (38 votes [60.32%])

    Percentage of vote: 60.32%

  2. No (25 votes [39.68%])

    Percentage of vote: 39.68%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#21 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 01:01 PM

View PostNathan Roberson, on 17 April 2018 - 12:23 PM, said:

They're entirely predicated on a comic book geek going to the movie, recognizing things the movie references, and then feeling smug superiority in explaining these things to people who stopped listening five minutes ago. Congratulations! You got the reference!


I totally understand people not liking Marvel movies or superhero movies, but I don't get this criticism at all. Sure, I read comics growing up . . . but I never read much about Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor, and certainly not Ant-Man or the Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet I never had any trouble at all following the stories in those movies (some are better than others, but I'm never confused about what's happening). I don't think you need to have read the comics to understand these movies, and honestly if that were truly the case then I don't think they would be nearly so popular.

If your criticism is that we've now reached the point where you need to have seen the other movies to understand the new one, then that's valid.

#22 Dale Cooper Black®

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:47 PM

The Marvel cinematic universe has cranked out some very entertaining movies, and the studio deserves a lot of credit for figuring out how to scale Marvel's special brand of familial, secret-clubhouse vibe for a mass audience, but... The Avengers? Canon-worthy? Seriously?

I hear the word "epic" (a quintessential Marvel word if ever there was one) being thrown around a lot regarding these movies, and it makes me chuckle to realize that an entire generation of adults has so completely bought into Stan Lee's hyperbolic horseshit. The infantilization of the general moviegoing audience (which started, arguably, with Star Wars) seems to be more or less complete.

The Marvel movies, at best, comprise a loosely-connected soap opera, not an epic. It will be difficult to take seriously a Canon that includes an "epic" like the Avengers, but not a single film by Kurosawa, Fassbinder, David Lean, Sergio Leone, or DW Griffith.

And anyway, if we do need the MCU to be represented in the Canon, Iron Man is as good a place to start as any.

#23 Nathan Roberson

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:53 PM

Reference was the wrong tern to use. I wrote that furtively at work. Guess I just meant recognition. Look, there's Bowman. He didn't join the Avengers until the 19-whatever. Ah yes, Robert Downey, Jr. You see, there was a time when Tony Stark was an alcoholic and... Oh, Nick Fury? You see in Ultimate Marvel they based him on Samuel L. Jackson... Oh that guy from the credits? That's Thanos...

And so on. A 19+ film franchise based on having an idea of what happens next and giving you a tiny dopamine hit when you get it right. I'm 100% with Amy on this one. These movies are not special, and I think their success reveals a lot of problems with our society. That's a tangent from my original points, but yeah. Nostalgia is dangerous. Fantasies become dangerous when you project them onto reality. A combination of both? Yikes.

And yeah, you could make the argument that Hey, these are for kids. Except that now when one of these fuckers comes out there's a petition drive to release the NC-17 version with deleted scenes that actually feature a dog dying. OK, I'm exaggerating. And I know, that's more of the DC brand. Regardless, men unwilling to let go of their childhood are what drive these movies to billion dollar box office returns. I say this as a total hypocrite who saw The Last Jedi six times.

#24 JJ95

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 03:03 PM

While Iron Man and The Dark Knight reinvigorated the superhero genre, Marvel's The Avengers is maybe the more important milestone in superhero movies. Never before we thought a team up of superheroes like in the comics was possible on the big screen. Even Marvel was skeptical; the Iron Man post credits scene with Nick Fury talking about The Avengers Initiative was merely an afterthought when they heard about Jackson being interested in appearing. It was all a big gamble. And then in came The Avengers and changed the game forever. Hell yeah, it belongs in the canon.

#25 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 03:08 PM

View PostNathan Roberson, on 17 April 2018 - 02:53 PM, said:

I say this as a total hypocrite who saw The Last Jedi six times.


:D

Anyway, on the "nostalgia" criticism, I think this is better applied to the DC movies, which are trying very hard to lean on the pre-existing popularity of Superman and Batman to fuel a successful movie series. You can say similar things about the Spider-Man and X-Men series, perhaps to a lesser degree.

But with the Marvel Studios movies they took characters who were (frankly) not all that popular before they became movies. Iron Man and Captain America were not exactly household names before the movies came out. So that tells me that for THIS franchise there is a fresher kind of myth-making going on, one that is good for both kids and adults like Star Wars before it. (And yes, I know they have Spider-Man in there now, but I'm talking about the first two phases here.)

#26 Dale Cooper Black®

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 03:39 PM

View Postsycasey 2.0, on 17 April 2018 - 03:08 PM, said:

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.

#27 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 03:49 PM

View PostOfficial Super Bowl®, on 17 April 2018 - 03:39 PM, said:


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.

#28 Film Explorer

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 06:45 PM

View PostNathan Roberson, on 17 April 2018 - 12:23 PM, said:


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?

#29 uh_tom

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 05:04 AM

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.

#30 Susan*

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 04:10 PM

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

#31 MODOKbaby

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 09:07 PM

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.)

#32 LeeMarvin

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 08:16 AM

View PostMODOKbaby, on 18 April 2018 - 09:07 PM, said:


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.

#33 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 09:20 AM

View PostMODOKbaby, on 18 April 2018 - 09:07 PM, said:

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 Spielberg Oners or careful Fincher detail. 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.

#34 daustin

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:58 PM

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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#35 sleepy9

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 07:30 PM

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.

#36 FilmFanMan

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 06:56 AM

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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#37 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 08:34 AM

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.

#38 davidpatricklowery

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 02:58 PM

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.

#39 jjulius

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 04:40 PM

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.

#40 Riot71

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 02:01 AM

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!”