The Avengers

There are two scenes I remember from "The Avengers", and that's because I was trying to for the purpose of this blog.

Aliens are in the process of blowing up Manhattan. Captain America, in his regalia, jumps on top of a car and begins giving rapid-fire orders to two policemen. They look at him, a little perplexed (and why not, there's a man literally covered in stars and stripes--perhaps he is some sort of street performer). "Why should we take orders from you?" one asks. A few invading aliens are then upon Mr. America, and he dispatches them quickly with a flourish. The fight ends with him holding one of their severed cocks. I mean guns. Without another word, the policemen immediately get on the radio to relay his orders. Might makes right. The audience laughs.

Some of those in the way of salvation are a bit more prickly. Namely, the villain, a sickly-pale Tom Hiddleston. When the Hulk threatens him with smash, Loki has a hissy fit. The Hulk may be the "monster," but it's Loki who is feminized, who will lose because he "lacks conviction." Joss Whedon milks the moment for slapstick comedy. Loki stands there ranting that he's a god, and won't be pushed around by puny green creatures. But he gets what's coming to him. Watch the Hulk swatting him repeatedly into the ground like a cat breaking a mouse's neck. Force is so hilarious. The audience is in stitches.

They howl, they cheer, they clap at the end. It's like being at a party--loud, offensive, and full of the grotesque squeals of public pleasure. It's my worst nightmare, except, thankfully, I am not expected to participate. And the movie, well, what is it but dancing? Bloody, brutal, noisy dancing. Bumping and grinding escalated to coreographed hate sex. Which by the way is apparently all Whedon can imagine when faced with a female super hero. Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson in skin-tight black) has "too much red on her record." When asked "what did he [Loki] do to you?" (there's a leading question if I ever heard one), she says that she has been "compromised" and must make up for it. Her whole strategy as a spy hinges on manipulating people with her vulnerability. Original.

I found myself wondering at the perversity of me paying to watch this, something I didn't even want to enjoy. (Though I had hoped that it would be more of a distraction than it was.) There must be something sick about paying eleven dollars to stew in my own loathing and alienation--precisely what I wanted to do. What I didn't bargain for was a headache. I had never seen a movie in 3D before, and now I want never to do so again. The image has a niggling, pixelated, out-of-focus quality even with the glasses on. And for what? So that the film can look like a diorama? It's not a breathtaking addition of another dimension, but a transformation into cardboard cutouts. It's also a distancing irritant. Rather than immersed, I kept having to ask myself "what am I looking at?" Then again, this is not a film from which I should expect immersion.

9 May 2012