Countdown to Age of Ultron: The Avengers Revisited

Hey, put down that Daredevil, it's Avengers time! 

Dave and I assembled at his house to watch The Avengers for what was probably the trillionth time for each of us. There are still things I notice for the first time, though, because this movie is GREAT.

Going back to 2012, the excitement for this movie was obviously high. I would say it had reached a fever pitch after the perfection of Captain America: The First Avenger. I remember sitting in the theatre and each time one of the heroes was introduced I would think "oh yeah, he's in this too!!!" 

This movie was a real gift to super hero fans. Here's what we have to say about it three years later.

I hope you like way too many screen caps of Chris Evans!

 All the guys!

All the guys!

DH: I’m always still a little baffled that this movie exists. Avengers comics were some of the first comic books I ever owned, and I read them until they fell apart. I don’t think I ever really thought much about the possibility of a movie, because the only way for it to work would be a bunch of solo movies that led to a team movie. And that really did not seem like a realistic prospect, even ten years ago. Yet here we are. And the fact that it’s really, really good isn’t bad either. I sometimes wish these movies had come out when I was much younger, but if they had, I don’t know that I would have appreciated them the way I do now.

RG: It’s surreal. Everything is surreal. I still can’t believe there is a Winter Soldier movie, or that there is a Daredevil series on Netflix. This Avengers movie is now three years old and I still get giddy whenever Iron Man and Captain America are on screen together.

First thoughts: Loki looks horrible in this movie.

 Heartthrob.

Heartthrob.

DH: A lot of people look very gross in this movie. Loki is super sweaty and greasy-looking when he first arrives on Earth, and when he mind-controls Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig, they get progressively more disgusting. They get bags under their eyes, they stop shaving, and we can only assume they stop showering and brushing their teeth. I bet they smell terrible.

 Worse than usual.

Worse than usual.

RG: Oh my God. Hawkeye and Selvig look SO TERRIBLE. It makes me laugh every time. Like, what special effects person did they piss off?

I should note that I think Loki is fantastic in this movie, he just looks rough. It’s some pretty terrible hair.

But there are plenty of people in this movie who look anything but terrible. Pour example:

 I swear I will post some pics that aren't of Chris Evans.

I swear I will post some pics that aren't of Chris Evans.

DH: I was pretty psyched to see “Project Pegasus” name-checked on the outside of the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. That run of Marvel Two-In-One is an old favourite of mine.

RG: I love Agent Hill. I was really excited to see her included in these movies. Looking forward to more of her in Age of Ultron.

DH: It’s nice that they included at least one more prominent female character. More still would be nice.

RG: Yes, always. Black Widow's first scene is the best. Very Buffy.

 I will never be even 1% as cool as this character.

I will never be even 1% as cool as this character.

DH: Like I was saying about Iron Man 2, ScarJo really sells it. I mean, she beats up three dudes while tied to a chair! In a cocktail dress! She really needs her own movie.

RG: There are two Black Widow-centric movies I would love to see: A Black Widow & Hawkeye backstory movie (he was sent to kill her and instead saved her?! I want to see THAT!), and I would love a Winter Soldier sequel where she goes looking for Bucky. I am VERY concerned that this upcoming Civil War movie isn’t going to devote enough time to that story. Also, I love Black Widow and Bucky as a couple.

I love how they establish Black Widow as being tough as shit, but then completely terrified of The Hulk.

 Resisting a Jeremy Renner joke.

Resisting a Jeremy Renner joke.

DH: Ruffalo makes the Banner role his own very quickly, which couldn’t have been easy after the musical chairs of casting that preceded him. I like how easygoing he is, but how he’s always kind of fidgeting with his hands. Did you know Joaquin Phoenix almost got this part? I can’t imagine that at all.

RG: Weird. Wasn’t he also rumoured to be Dr. Strange? Maybe he’ll be Spider-Man.

 Banner took some time between The Incredible Hulk and this movie to improve his mind, body, face and personality.

Banner took some time between The Incredible Hulk and this movie to improve his mind, body, face and personality.

I basically based my character entirely on my 10-year-old boy, who has all of the force of nature screaming out of his body while at the same time having everyone around him telling him to fucking control himself.
— Mark Ruffalo, Collider, 2012
I have a question: How come it’s only Harry Dean Stanton that got to see Mark Ruffalo naked?
— Robert Downey Jr., Collider, 2012

RG: Mark Ruffalo is everything I want in a Bruce Banner. And in a life partner. Oddly, he is the only hero we get to see shirtless in this movie. OH my GOD. Something just occurred to me: we haven’t seen Captain America or Thor shirtless in any movies after their first ones, have we? That is just a travesty. I don’t expect you to weigh in on this, Dave, so I’ll move on.

DH: I feel like there was a very gratuitous shirtless Thor in The Dark World, but I’ll guess we’ll know when we revisit that.

RG: Ooo! There's something to look forward to!

I was actually kind of over Iron Man at this point and wasn't looking forward to him in this movie, but he completely won me back. So great in this. When he shows up in Germany, blasting “Shoot to Thrill”, to help Cap stop Loki, I was like “Alright. I love this guy.” And when Iron Man and Captain America are standing next to each other at the end of that scene...so great!

 "Thanks for saving my life, Mr Stark. You are human garbage and I hate you."

"Thanks for saving my life, Mr Stark. You are human garbage and I hate you."

DH: It’s one of the things Joss Whedon does very well here--introducing all the characters in scenes that feel like their own individual movies, then bringing them together and it starts to feel like its own thing. The Tony and Pepper scene is very banter-heavy, with kind of a His Girl Friday back-and-forth, the Banner scene has him on the run playing good samaritan in an exotic locale like it’s an episode of the old TV show, Thor and Loki have super Shakespeare-by-way-of-Lee-and-Kirby conversation when they’re on screen together...balancing all of these conflicting tones was the key.

RG: Yes, totally. It was really smart the way they gave us a little bit of each of their solo films before mixing things up. I am really looking forward to more character interactions in Age of Ultron. And, again, it wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying to see these characters brought together if they weren’t so well established already. There is so much love and respect for these characters in these movies. So much attention to detail. For example, I love Steve Rogers' old man with a cool jacket wardrobe in this movie.

 Dad's going to Red Lobster for his birthday!

Dad's going to Red Lobster for his birthday!

DH: And the fact that he calls Black Widow “ma’am”!

RG: I just love him so much. When he’s like “There’s only one God, ma’am.” Yup, that’s Captain America.

Just want to say real quick: the gym scene with Steve Rogers and Nick Fury at the beginning is one of my favourites. And not just because of the gratuitous Chris Evans ass shots. I mean, Steve’s situation in this movie is extremely messed up, and I like that the movie took as much time as it could afford with that. And we also see a quick shot of Cap being defrosted that really makes me sad.

 Sob!

Sob!

Speaking of Chris Evans ass shots, Captain America is almost exclusively shot from behind for this entire movie. Thumbs up, movie!

 Doesn't this break, like, the first rule of acting?

Doesn't this break, like, the first rule of acting?

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, right. Characterization. The glaring exception to the perfect characterization is Hawkeye. Hawkeye should be a lot more fun than this character. Also, Renner looks so gross when Loki is controlling him. Like, worse than usual.

DH: I really hope Joss Whedon can make you like him in Age Of Ultron! Because, man, you really have it in for him.

RG: I will never agree with that casting choice, but I love Hawkeye as a character in the comics so I will try hard to see past it.

 Get in that sandwich, Widow!

Get in that sandwich, Widow!

DH: For whatever reason, the first time I saw this, the scene on the Helicarrier where Black Widow introduces Steve Rogers to Bruce Banner was when it finally sunk in that this movie was happening. All I could think of was those old Hostess Fruit Pie ads with the Marvel heroes, and that those guys were all in a movie together now. It was a weird thing to be thinking about, but I guess my brain was just trying to process that through-line of these characters I had been reading about my whole life all colliding in one awesome movie.

RG: They should have had a scene where they ate fruit pies. It should have been one of the snacks Tony is offering around.

I love everything about that first Helicarrier scene. Bruce being all fidgety and Cap extending a hand to him in a completely non-judgemental and fearless way. And then Cap being all impressed by the fancy tech inside the ship.

 Adorable!

Adorable!

DH: We got together to watch this the other night, and you kept remarking that Cap is a real dick to Tony in this movie. I was trying to defend Cap, but not doing a very good job at the time. Now I’ve had a chance to think on it for a bit, and my takeaway is that, for Cap, World War II was probably only like, what, a month ago from his perspective? He comes from a time when he had no reason not to trust his army and his government, so the fact that Tony is instantly mistrustful of them and starts hacking their computers is just unthinkable to him. We know from his first scene that he’s aware that the country has sort of lost its way, but they don’t really go into it. But Tony plants that seed of doubt, and it makes him crazy--especially when he does some digging and sees that Tony was right. In a sense, this movie is kind of about Captain America’s loss of innocence (although maybe not in the way that you were hoping for, Rachelle).

 Cap has such a visible wig line in this movie. It's super distracting.

Cap has such a visible wig line in this movie. It's super distracting.

RG: Ha. Yeah, I agree with all of that. It was also pointed out to me that Loki’s sceptre is in the room for most of the arguments, and it seems to have the power to make people angry and paranoid, so that explains some of Cap’s dickishness.

I do think Cap shoots first in this ongoing fight with Iron Man. All Tony did was show up in Germany, save Cap’s ass, and then show everyone that he has a lot of interest and knowledge about what’s going on with the Tesseract. In response Cap is basically just like “You’re a punk who is nothing without your fancy suit.” Fancy suit that he BUILT, Steve. And, again, just saved your ass with. I’m just saying Steve should have done a bit of research into Tony Stark before being such an asshole to him.

 Get in that sandwich, Banner!

Get in that sandwich, Banner!

DH: Cap vs. Tony is just one of the great hero vs. hero scenes in this movie, even if it’s the only one that doesn’t turn physical (sorry, Rachelle).

RG: That’s ok. I’m more of a Cap/Bucky shipper.

You don’t get these people together and then have a little duke-‘em-out. You get these people together and then you put them through hell.
— Joss Whedon, GQ, 2012

DH: A classic trope of superhero team-ups in comics is that they fight first, through some wacky misunderstanding or other. And everybody gets to fight everyone else before they team up! Thor vs. Iron Man, Thor vs. Hulk, Black Widow vs. (well, gets chased by) Hulk, Black Widow vs. Hawkeye...and all for good reason, none of the usual “I just wanted to make sure you are who you claim to be” stuff that was often the reason in the comics.

RG: I could watch ScarJo smash Renner’s face in all day.

The fight between Thor, Iron Man and Captain America is one of the greatest things I have ever seen on film. It’s just, so, so exciting to see those characters together on screen. And they all are very much themselves in that fight. I live for that moment at when Cap shows up standing on that tree after hitting both Thor and Iron Man with his shield to stop them from fighting.

 I'm Canadian and even I get a little patriotic looking at this.

I'm Canadian and even I get a little patriotic looking at this.

There was a script. There just wasn’t a script I was going to film a word of.
— Joss Whedon, GQ, 2012
What impressed me the most about Joss initially was the incredible screenplay we had to work with on Marvel’s The Avengers . Directing this film was a feat in itself, but his screenplay was phenomenal. I’m sure none of us really knew what to expect, but I take my hat off to Joss for that.
— Tom Hiddleston, GamesRadar, 2012
The biggest thing I worried about was making shitty fucking movies. I don’t want to make shitty movies and be contractually obligated to make garbage.
— Chris Evans, The Huffington Post, 2012

DH: Whedon’s script is so tight, He has such a good handle on the characters. I once read a review of an early episode of Community that praised the character writing, and said that you could read any isolated line of dialogue without it being attributed to any one character, and even by that early point in the series, you would know instantly who was speaking. The characters were so clearly defined already that you would never mistake any one character’s dialogue for another. And I feel like that holds true for this movie as well. Whedon is known for quippy dialogue, and this could have easily turned into a bunch of characters cracking the same kinds of jokes for the whole movie, and it would have been excruciating. But they’re all very different, so it makes sense that it takes a while for them to start pulling together. And it’s that much more satisfying when they do.

 You know who else is probably sweating like crazy throughout this movie? Samuel L Jackson.

You know who else is probably sweating like crazy throughout this movie? Samuel L Jackson.

RG: I would love to read the original Zak Penn script for this movie. I'll bet it was just awful. Fun fact: Penn is buddies with Jeremy Renner and is the reason he was cast as Hawkeye! Thanks, Zak!

The most satisfying thing about this movie (and pretty much all of the movies in the series, really) is how much respect the scripts have for the characters. Each character individually is perfectly realized (except Hawkeye) and the way they interact with each other in this movie is perfect. I love skittish, schlubby Bruce Banner. I love cocky, quippy, but good-hearted Tony Stark. I love ice cold, but fiercely protective Black Widow. I love Thor, who is clearly devastated about his brother, but is still remarkably fun and friendly. I love Captain America effortlessly taking on the leadership role, despite trying not to have a complete break-down over the fact that he just woke up 70 years in the future. And even this weird-ass version of Hawkeye has some intriguing elements. He at least hints at an interesting backstory.

At the end of the day, 90% of the movie, I’m not the character I signed on to play. I’m literally in there for two minutes, and then all of a sudden… All I could really work on was the physical part of it all, because that didn’t change. That was just the biggest challenge to overcome in playing the guy.
— Jeremy Renner, LA Times, 2012
 She's just ridiculously out of his league.

She's just ridiculously out of his league.

DH: On a related note, the story ties them all together so well, using the individual mythologies from their own movies in the larger story of this movie. They need Banner to track the gamma signature from the Tesseract, which Cap is familiar with from his movie, which Loki is after so Thor is in hot pursuit...and Iron Man’s movies made the most money, so him too. I actually can’t remember why they need him other than the fact that he’s a brainiac.

RG: It is a little unclear why they recruit Tony for this since they also mention that he was rejected for the Avengers Initiative. But he is very smart, and maybe they figured Banner could use a friend.

 I would watch a whole movie about these two.

I would watch a whole movie about these two.

I think without Tony, we don’t work. He really is the glue in the family. He is the fire, the thing that keeps you coming back. I think, at least for this movie, Cap’s struggling with finding his footing in this modern day – he’s a fish out of water. He’s a little more uncomfortable in his own skin than he normally might be, and he’s not hitting the ground running without the charisma and the leadership and the character that Tony Stark is.
— Chris Evans, Collider, 2012

DH: I can’t get enough of the Thor/Hulk fight. I love how Hulk is such a dummy, especially when he grabs that pilot’s ejection seat, and then he doesn’t know what to do with it so he just throws it away.

RG: That is one of my favourite parts of the whole movie. That poor pilot!

 This pilot probably tells this story a lot.

This pilot probably tells this story a lot.

DH: Watching this time, though, it occurred to me--does anyone ever tell Thor that Banner and Hulk are one and the same? He calls him Banner, but they have no prior familiarity. Other than that stupid TV movie from the 1980s!

RG: That is an excellent point. I feel like Thor doesn’t know anything about anything, but he’s so good-natured he just goes with the flow. Really the only person Thor met before is Agent Coulson.

I like the visceral gut instinct that Thor has. There’s a bit of a childlike quality, in the sense that, if he believes something and wants to do something, he does it and says it.
— Chris Hemsworth, Collider, 2012

Let’s talk costumes! I do not like Thor’s costume in this except the choice to go sleeveless. Excellent move.

 A+

A+

I actually like Captain America’s costume. I like that they went with bright colours. I can live with his ears being covered, even if it doesn’t really make sense. I like that it has a zipper up the front with some sort of velcro(?) panel. I will say this: that costume looks uncomfortably warm. In this scene all I can think about is how hot Chris Evans is, and for once I am not talking about his good looks:

 Somebody please get him a glass of water.

Somebody please get him a glass of water.

My theory is that the costume being very warm is why we get to see my favourite look in the whole movie later: casual Cap:

 I would like a movie where Tony takes Steve shopping for clothes.

I would like a movie where Tony takes Steve shopping for clothes.

Under Armour and ridiculous boots! I love it!

Everybody looks incredibly uncomfortable until the cameras are rolling and then we all look f#@king badass. Then “Cut!” and we’re all like, ‘Aarrrgh… God, this thing, get it off me, it’s awful!!’
— Scarlett Johansson, IGN, 2012
 Baller.

Baller.

Iron Man looks perfect, and I like Tony’s designer Black Sabbath shirt. Black Widow’s costume is excellent, and never unzipped too far. I love Bruce Banner’s loose-fitting linen clothes, and The Hulk finally looks the way he should on screen.  

 He also looks like Mark Ruffalo!!!

He also looks like Mark Ruffalo!!!

One part of this movie that always makes me laugh is when Captain America asks Hawkeye if he has a suit before they head to NYC. It’s funny because Clint’s “suit” is really not that different from what he’s wearing in the scene. Also, Captain America assumes everyone has a fancy fighting outfit.

DH: I really do wish Hawkeye had some kind of headgear, a helmet or something, to make him look at least a bit more like his comic-book counterpart. It would makes sense after all, what with being just a regular human.

RG: It would also hide his face! Zing!

DH: Remember all the hysteria and speculation about the alien invaders in this movie? How everyone thought they were going to be Skrulls, or the Sons of Muspelheim from Simonson’s Thor run, or the Kree? And then they just end up being the Chitauri from The Ultimates, in name only, really. It didn’t really matter in the end, they just needed a faceless army to beat up on.

RG: Yeah, I had no idea who those aliens were supposed to be. I do not read Ultimates comics.

 Too much handsome in one screen

Too much handsome in one screen

DH: The final battle in New York is very satisfying. It could have been a confusing fiasco to watch, like a Transformers movie, but it has a very sensible geography to it. You can actually follow the action, and everything everybody does in it makes sense. All of the various fighting styles of the heroes, and how they all start to work together...I love it. Age Of Ultron really does have a lot to live up to. But I feel like most of this climactic battle was kept out of the advertising, and I also feel that we probably haven’t seen much of the sequel’s climactic battle yet either.

 As badass as a person can possibly look.

As badass as a person can possibly look.

RG: The New York battle is amazing. There are so many great parts, and actually Hawkeye has some great moments during it. They definitely try to make up for him being a mindless puppet for the first half of the movie. He’s still not everything I want to see in a Hawkeye, but he has some very cool moves.

 It takes guts to go sleeveless when you are in a movie with Chris Hemsworth.

It takes guts to go sleeveless when you are in a movie with Chris Hemsworth.

I laughed forever after Thor and Hulk took out that giant monster and Thor looked at Hulk like “Well done, partner!” then Hulk just punches him so hard! And of course Hulk going to town on Loki. I think my favourite part of the New York battle is when Black Widow gets Cap to give her a boost so she can hijack one of the alien speeder things. I think it’s a great character moment for her, showing her as fearless but also kind of fun. And I think Cap becomes at least a little sexually interested in her at that moment. He’d have to, right?

DH: I assume so! As he says in Winter Soldier, “I’m 95, I’m not dead.”

 "How do you feel about 90-year-old virgins?"

"How do you feel about 90-year-old virgins?"

RG: Oh, and Tony sacrificing himself to save everyone? Gets me every time. Especially when everyone is so sad around his lifeless body after he falls back to Earth. When Hulk yells in his face to wake him up, and Tony says “What the hell?”...that is solid gold.

 Who's the asshole now, Cap?

Who's the asshole now, Cap?

I also love the scene where they are all parting ways. Tony and Steve shaking hands, Tony and Bruce leaving together to go be science bros, Hawkeye looking terrible, Steve taking off on his motorcycle in his dad clothes, Thor and Loki beaming up to Asgard.

 Captain America is  supposed  to be dressed like a dork. What's this guy's excuse?

Captain America is supposed to be dressed like a dork. What's this guy's excuse?

I feel like Bruce Banner should have been in Iron Man 3. That would have made sense, right?

DH:  Well, spoiler alert I guess, but he is, isn’t he? After the credits? Does that count?

RG: No, that's true. And it's probably my favourite end-of-credits scene of all of them.

DH: I can’t believe I didn’t see that Thanos reveal coming. They really do hint heavily that some cosmic baddie is behind everything earlier in the movie (“You would question him? He who put the sceptre in your hand?”), but I was still caught off guard by that mid-credits scene. That reveal was hugely confusing to non-comics fans--my girlfriend Hillary turned to me and asked, “Is that Hellboy?” I thought there would be some vague tease of something, a name we recognized, or a familiar symbol or something...nope, Thanos himself. A pretty big gauntlet to throw down, if you will.

RG: Yeah, that was hard to explain to non-comic fans. It was ballsy for sure. For the normals they included the very excellent shawarma scene at the end of the credits, which is hilarious and perfect. I had my doubt that a shawarma place in midtown Manhattan would still be open after that fight, but you proved me wrong, movie! Shawarma is an excellent food that we have an abundance of here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, so it was nice to see it get a little recognition.

I would watch a whole movie where the Avengers are just hanging out doing stuff together. I guess that’s what fanfic is for.

 I hope they tipped well.

I hope they tipped well.

Whoosh! That was a lot, and we didn't even get into fun details like Agent Coulson being such a Captain America fanboy, or Nick Fury doing anything! Anyway, we are going to take a few days to watch and digest this new Daredevil series and then we'll be back with our thoughts on Iron Man 3!