Avengers #4: The Avengers Defrost a Madman and Make Him Leader of Their Team

So we all know the story: Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, falls to his icy death during World War II. The last thing he sees before succumbing to the ocean's frigid grasp is the mid-air explosion that kills his teenage sidekick, Bucky. Two decades later, our hero's frozen body is discovered by The Avengers while they are searching for the Hulk in the Arctic. 

The story was first told in The Avengers #4. It's a classic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It's also hilarious.

It wasn't exactly the Avengers who found Cap's body first. It was actually a group of “Eskimos” who were worshipping the frozen man as a god, because comics were sensitive about other cultures in the sixties. Namor arrives on the scene and is unimpressed. He breaks up the party and just straight tosses Captain America back into the ocean.

Thankfully the Avengers happen to be bopping around the Arctic in their submarine, and someone (Iron Man?) tells Iron Man to throw the brakes on.

They quickly recognize the costume of Captain America. But is it Captain America? Could it possibly be?

"Let's not be hasty...it could be another man wearing Captain America's costume and holding his shield."

Then Captain America wakes up and flips the fuck out.

"I'll smash you all!"

This is seriously so sad. And it gets sadder.

"He is dead -- he is! And nothing on Earth can change that!" Just wait forty years or so, Cap. I think you are going to be unpleasantly surprised.

I love the quick shift from mourning Bucky to "Anyway, who are you guys?"

Cap, being Cap, is quick to gather himself together and let them know that he is indeed Captain America. And that he hates being Captain America.

He tells them, and the readers, his whole sad story. The Avengers listen, but decide that maybe there's a chance this guy isn't who he says he is. Maybe this guy is some sort of con artist who got himself a Captain America suit, froze himself in a block of ice, and bobbed around the Arctic Ocean waiting for the Avengers to pass by in their submarine! Only one way to make sure!

Is that how Wasp fights? She just stands in front of bad guys and is like "Fight's over, unless you want to hit a girl!" Nice strategy.

So anyway, Cap convinces them by being really good at fighting. If he wasn't awesome at fighting, do you think they would have decided immediately that he wasn't the real McCoy? Or do you think they would have taken into consideration that he was JUST DEFROSTED MINUTES AGO AFTER BEING FROZEN FOR TWO DECADES?!

Wait, wait, hold up. He knew the, ahem, Eskimos were worshipping him? What? How?

The Avengers drive their submarine back to New York City. They disembark first, because Cap is napping after the exhaustion of being defrosted and then forced to fight four Avengers for no reason, and are immediately turned into stone statues by some mysterious villain. Cap exits the sub minutes later, and sees 1960s NYC for the first time.

"And why am I bothering to wear my gloves right now? And how did my shield fit through this hatch? And could someone please take me to a hospital? I've had quite an ordeal."

He sees the Avengers as statues, and assumes they are just statues of the Avengers. Makes sense. Then he checks out some ladies.

The girls are still as lovely as ever. All of them. 

The people of New York start to recognize Captain America, because he's dressed like Captain America. One police officer is reduced to tears. It's pretty great.

Rather than go to a hospital, which he should definitely do, Captain America goes to a hotel that he certainly has no way of paying for. He falls in love with television before he even gets his boots off.

I like to think he spent like five straight days just watching television. We need to talk about the costume he's wearing, because he never takes it off in this comic, not even to sleep. It must be SO GROSS. He was found frozen in the damn ocean wearing it.

You might think he's just going to move forward and become an Avenger and become a well-adjusted citizen of the 1960s. This is not the case, because Lee and Kirby are great storytellers. Instead we get pathos and extremely sexy panels like this one:

That panel might be the best thing I have ever seen. It's certainly the sexiest thing.

Cap's lovesick pining for Bucky reaches extremely creepy levels when poor, unsuspecting Rick Jones enters the room.

Aaahh! Run, Rick! Run for you life!

For real, is this going to happen every time Steve sees a young man? Rick does not even look like Bucky. But try telling Cap that:

Seriously, Rick. Get the hell out of there.

"I don't know who the Hulk is, lad. Sounds like a cool guy, though."

Cap pulls himself together, sort of. Rick awesomely deflects Cap's insane ramblings, and Steve decides he needs to convince Rick that he is not crazy. He does this by becoming a commanding asshole.

"He thinks I'm some sort of madman! Well I'll prove to him that I'm not! By putting on this costume!"

They look at some photos from the docks, find one of their suspect, and Cap goes on the hunt. The next panel pretty much sums up Captain America's lot in life:

Cap eventually finds the menace who turned his new friends into statues, using the most inefficient method ever:

For real, he went around New York City carrying a photo and looking in windows.

Anyway, Captain America takes out some thugs and even gets some quips in while he's doing it.

This is where things get really weird. In a reverse Scooby-doo twist, Cap removes the villain's human mask to reveal a crazy-looking alien. My favourite part of this panel is the reaction of the hired goons:

A bunch of stuff happens. The Avengers stop being statues. They all end up back in the Arctic to fight Namor.

Stan Lee continues to not hide his crush on Captain America:

"If only there had been heroes like the Sub-Mariner in my day! And maybe a man who could fly and ignite himself! And a boy who could do the same! What invading we could have done!"

The Avengers move to attack Namor, but Namor has an "ace in the hole," as he says because that is a term that an Atlantean would probably be familiar with. Namor has captured Rick Jones, and he will kill him. Except Cap isn't going to sit back and let Bucky, er, Rick get killed.

"Make one move towards me, and the boy's life is--WHA?!!" is so funny.

Namor gets sick of this shit pretty quickly. He tosses Captain America aside like a bag of garbage.

Long story short, Cap does find a way to out-maneuver him. The Avengers win the day, and then pop the question to Captain America, who says yes without even hearing the offer.

"Like a man!" Wasp is like "I'm right here, guy!"

And that's the story of how a mentally unstable, severely traumatized Steve Rogers became an Avenger.

"Thanks, five different-shaped Buckys!"

He moves into the Avengers mansion, never receives any treatment of any kind, and a couple of issues later he slaps Rick Jones across the face when he dares to wear Bucky's costume. Because Rick thought that was what Cap wanted. And can you blame him?!

"Get out! GET OUUUUUUTTTT!!!!"

My point is, there's no way the movies could possibly be too heavy handed by comparison when it comes to having Steve Rogers obsessing over Bucky.

Age of Ultron!!!!!

As you may have guessed, Dave and I were more than a little excited for Age of Ultron. We wanted to take a little time after seeing it on the 30th to allow for everyone to see it before we take them to Spoiler City. Also, we both wanted to see it more than once before we recorded our thoughts. I am pleased to announce that we both LOVED IT.

This is the easiest game of MFK ever.*

This is the easiest game of MFK ever.*

There's a lot to unpack with this movie, so I thought it would be easiest to break it down by character, and then leave room for some general thoughts at the end. I could only use screencaps from the trailers for this post, obviously.

Iron Man

Still lovable!

Still lovable!

RG: We've said a number of times in our reviews of the Marvel movies that Tony Stark was a perfectly realized character pretty much from minute one of the first Iron Man movie. We also noted that Iron Man 3 did a lot to make him more human and more heroic. I was worried that this movie would start to shift Tony into a bit of a villain. That his arrogance would take over and he would do something irredeemable that would be built upon in the upcoming Civil War movie. We knew going into Age of Ultron that Stark is responsible for Ultron's existence, so it wouldn't be surprising to have him be at odds with his teammates for this entire movie. I can't tell you how happy I was that it wasn't the case.

DH: It’s one of my few beefs with this movie that, even though Tony seems to have quit being Iron Man at the end of his last movie, he’s still wearing the armour here with no explanation. I guess you could read the conclusion of that movie as more like, he doesn’t need the armour anymore, but is happy to pitch in if his pals need a hand.

RG: I think maybe he doesn’t do solo Iron Man gigs anymore. But he’s now filling his time building a custom Avengers tower for all his friends to hang out in. Because he’s totally sane.

I like that Tony got help from his science bro, Bruce Banner, creating Ultron. Yes, his teammates were rightfully pissed about those two secretly building an evil robot, but Tony admitted his mistake pretty much immediately. It was clear he knew he screwed up, and the fights and arguments between teammates that we saw in the trailers and preview clips turned out to be a lot less tense than they would lead you to believe. Yay!

Pre-coitus.  

Pre-coitus.  

DH: The ad campaign and the publicity leading up to this movie made me feel like it was going to go a lot darker, and probably end with the team splitting up and Tony and Steve hating each other’s guts or something. And that was not the case. I mean, who knows what the future (and Captain America: Civil War) holds, but I left the theater on a high note when I expected things to be much more bleak.

RG: And of course Banner and Stark’s tight friendship led to a truly awesome fight scene between Hulk and Hulkbuster Iron Man. It was not only fun to watch, but it was full of funny Tony quips. I liked that he was trying to chat with Hulk like he’s still Banner.

Pre-coitus.  

Pre-coitus.  

DH: That Hulkbuster fight is really something. There’s a bit where Iron Man is blasting Hulk with a laser from his hand, and it’s making a really cool laser sound, and...I dunno, it just reverts me to childhood somehow. I mean, Iron Man is inside another giant Iron Man armour and he’s blasting a mind-warped Hulk with a crazy hand laser! Who the hell ever thought we’d see stuff like this in a movie?

Also, this scene is one of many where even though a giant superhero battle is taking place, and entire city blocks are being flattened, the safety of innocent civilians is always priority number one for these guys (well, maybe not for the Hulk in this scene). For me, the primary function of superheroes isn’t just about fighting bad guys, or each other--it’s about saving lives, usually in a way that unfortunately isn’t realistic, but then again, that’s what makes it escapism. And I love that the Marvel movies are reclaiming that.

RG: Yes, that was huge. There was so much attention to protecting civilians.

I really loved Tony’s interactions with Steve Rogers in this movie, starting with him calling Captain America on his objection to Tony's swearing. You could tell that there is still a lot of tension between them, but definitely mutual respect as well. I LOVED the wood chopping scene, obviously. Not only because I loved the conversation between them, and I loved fantasizing about having those two men chop wood for me, but also because Tony Stark is not above pitching in and helping with chores. When would that guy have ever chopped wood before?

It made me really happy at the end when Tony, before driving off, asks Cap if he's alright. It was a really nice moment. Cap probably should have returned the question. But we’ve established in these movies that Cap is a bit of a rude, lying car thief.

Also, sort of obscure, but it made me happy when Cap retrieved his shield using some sort of magnet-based Stark technology. I like that Tony is helping his friend out, and that Cap is letting him.

DH: I was reading some Lee/Kirby Cap stories from Tales Of Suspense, and he totally has that magnetic-retrieval gizmo, so it’s canon! Of course, he ditches it almost immediately, saying it throws off his balance or something, but whatever.

RG: Nice!

Tony was very funny in this movie, as usual, and it would have been a great send-off for the character if RDJ had decided to make this his last Marvel movie. But, of course, we’ll be seeing him in at least one more (probably three more, right?).

I'm pretty into farm-casual Tony Stark.

I'm pretty into farm-casual Tony Stark.

DH: Depends on how many dumptrucks of money Marvel drives up to his door, I guess. But yeah, once again Whedon excels at Tony Stark dialogue. I really hope they don’t turn Tony into a monster dickweed in the next movie, like the one he turns into in the Civil War comic series.

RG: I really don’t think they will. No one wants that.

Quick final thought on Tony: His shitty chill lounge party music is inexcusable. Falcon should make him a mix tape.

 

Thor

Goddammit, Renner. Get out of the shot.

Goddammit, Renner. Get out of the shot.

RG: Thor was really delightful in this movie. As we have said before in these reviews, his chill, laid-back attitude works well in a group situation. He's so friendly! And he also looks very funny in any real world situation, which is why I would have loved to have seen a lot more of him at the farm. But he had to fly off to do something very confusing.

I know much has been said on this matter, but seriously what was that scene with the hot tub time machine? He grabs Selvig for...some reason...strips naked and gets into a pool in a cave for...some other reason that I don't need to know about because fine...and, I dunno, watches a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy? Whatever. 

DH: I think the filmmakers knew that a wet, shirtless Chris Hemsworth was something that a lot of moviegoers were hoping to see, and they didn’t care if how we got there made any sense or not. Just the frame or two of it that we saw in the trailer was probably responsible for at least half of the box office gross.

"Aaaah! 'Tis cold!"

"Aaaah! 'Tis cold!"

RG: Well, yes. I was personally more into the many scenes of Steve Rogers strutting around in ludicrously tight shirts. Under Armour is getting their money's worth from that sponsorship deal!

I couldn't even wait until the Captain America section of this thing to start posting pictures of him.  

I couldn't even wait until the Captain America section of this thing to start posting pictures of him.  

RG: As much as I did not care for that cave scene, I loved seeing undercover hoodie Thor on campus.

Thor leaving the farm so abruptly was kind of like “Farm chores, eh? I’m out!” He would have been so helpful! I guess he wouldn’t have been able to fit into clothes borrowed from Hawkeye. (Aside: were we to believe that Steve Rogers was wearing Clint’s borrowed jeans on the farm? Because they should have been very tight and capri-length on him if that were the case).

I'd believe that's Hawkeye's shirt though.

I'd believe that's Hawkeye's shirt though.

DH: It would have been really funny to see Thor trying to squeeze into Clint’s clothes.

RG: A musical montage of Thor trying to fit into Clint’s clothes!!!

Thor stepping on that Lego and then trying to hide the damage was great. I especially liked that scene because neither Thor nor Captain America would know what Lego is or that it's ok to break it.

I loved Thor at the party, especially trying to one-up Tony when they were talking about their (absent) girlfriends. He ends the conversation by saying “Jane is better,” and that’s just such a Thor thing to say. He doesn’t have much of a filter. Also loved that he brought hardcore Asgardian alcohol to the party so Captain America could get his drink on. I wish I wish I wish we could have seen drunk Steve. Although we saw plenty of drunk Chris Evans on that press tour, so I guess I can imagine how it would have gone.

Thor’s face when Captain America was almost able to lift Mjolnir was so great. And his relief when he couldn’t lift it! Thor actually had a lot of the great comedic moments in this movie.

Looks like Thor took his annual shower before this party. 

Looks like Thor took his annual shower before this party. 

RG: I loved all of Thor’s fight scenes. He and Captain America both had some really amazing fighting moves in this movie, and I loved it when they fought together, especially when he hits Cap's shield like a baseball with his hammer! They've been practicing!  I would love to see a lot more of Thor palling around with Captain America.

"So...Blackhat, huh?" 

"So...Blackhat, huh?" 

DH: “Look, they’re lining up!” “Well, they’re excited.” Holy crap, did I love that opening raid on the Hydra base. I think the way we just jumped right in mid-battle was great, especially how we were sort of following them, trying to keep up, when they were all introduced. The opening action scene really sets the James Bond tone of this thing, what with all the globe-trotting that follows as well.

RG: As you said to me, it makes you kind of sad when they allude to the other raids that we missed. I hate that we can’t see every second of their lives!

Thor bringing Vision to life, Frankenstein-style with lightning, and then vouching for him immediately was awesome. Thor was a pretty cool dude in this movie when he wasn’t abruptly leaving.

DH: I can’t remember if Vision has ever even tried to lift Mjolinir in the comics. But it made for a good storytelling shortcut here--we know we can trust this guy instantly--and it got a HUGE reaction on opening night with all the comic nerds in the audience. That whole scene is really cool, with the little mini-battle amongst the Avengers, then Thor coming in and you don’t know what side he’s on at first--is he trying to destroy the Vision, or bring him to life? We’ll get into it more below when we discuss Vision in greater detail, but he was one of my favourite parts of the movie.


Black Widow

The girl one!

The girl one!

RG: Black Widow was awesome in this movie and I won’t hear otherwise. I think Whedon went out of his way to give her a lot of great scenes, awesome action, and intriguing character elements to encourage Marvel to finally make a Black Widow movie. A lesser director would have reduced her role a lot in this movie, given that she was pregnant during filming.

DH: I remember after the first time we saw it, I was a bit disappointed that she, the only female team member at that point, got taken hostage by Ultron. But then someone we were with--you, maybe?--reminded me that Whedon had to rewrite parts of the script to accommodate her pregnancy, and that made me feel a lot better about it. Also, she was only held captive for, like, five minutes of screen time, and I never felt like she was helpless.

RG: She was never helpless. She didn't even seem worried. And then she did some cool spy shit to get Hawkeye's attention. She's got this.

She jumps out of a plane on a goddamn motorcycle, which rules, and she just generally kicked so much ass. She was funny, she was great with Hawkeye’s kids, she pushed Banner into a pit after kissing him to make him Hulk out...she’s the best.

Not action figure worthy!

Not action figure worthy!

RG: My only beef with Widow in this movie was that the blue glowing lights on her costume made no sense. Not very stealthy.

I liked the romance between her and Banner, but what I really liked was her very close friendship with Hawkeye. Clint's big reveal showed how close he and Natasha really are. So much more interesting than just a romantic or casual sex relationship between them! I liked when she referred to Clint as her best friend.

I also love her close friendship with Captain America. There were a few nice little moments in this movie to show that they have grown closer since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

DH: Black Widow is so good in these movies, and the fact that she has these non-sexual relationships with her teammates, like Cap and Hawkeye, is pretty awesome. As you said, way more interesting. And I think her and Bruce are a strange fit, one that has no comic precedent, but it works.

Bruce Banner: boyfriend material.

Bruce Banner: boyfriend material.

RG: I think Banner is one of the few characters Widow hasn't hooked up with in the comics. That may have been another reason Whedon wanted to make it happen.

There was something that bothered me about various characters in this movie teasing or commenting on Natasha and Bruce. I just feel like Natasha would be a little more discreet than to invite that much attention. She openly flirts with Bruce at the bar in the party scene, walks away, and instantly creepy Captain America is there to be all “Sooooooo...Natasha is pretty hot for you, huh?” Was he watching the whole thing? Someone should have invited Agent 13 to this party to keep him occupied.

I know people were reading all sorts of anti-feminist things into her reveal to Bruce Banner that she can’t have children, but I really think she was just letting him know that he needs to come up with a better reason than ‘we can never have children’ to deny himself a relationship with her. She almost said it with a shrug. It’s a bleak and upsetting thing that was done to her, but she’s aware that she is among people who all have lots of messed up stuff in their lives. She is reminding Bruce that he is not the only monster among them.

DH: There’s a really good podcast at Empire Online where Whedon talks about that scene in the first movie, where they first meet, when he pushes that crib and says “I don’t every time get what I want”, which of course was written and filmed at a time when they had no idea where their story would go. The crib being there wasn’t even scripted, it was just part of the set decoration. But that detail is going to make revisiting that movie, after the conversation the two of them have about children in this movie, pretty interesting. It sounds like Whedon developed this thread mostly based on the chemistry of the two actors, which was a good impulse to follow.

RG: Well they are the two who are slumming it in these movies.

The movie ends with Black Widow as one of the leaders of the Avengers! She rules!

 

Hulk

"Listen, Hulk thinks you're a great girl, but Hulk is not looking for a committed relationship right now!"

"Listen, Hulk thinks you're a great girl, but Hulk is not looking for a committed relationship right now!"

DH: Once again, these movies get the Hulk right in a way that his solo movies never quite did. Ruffalo is perfect as the haunted, tormented Banner, especially after the fight in Johannesburg. And the effects used to bring Hulk to life just get better and better. I wonder if we’ll ever get to see what Wanda showed him to make him go into an advanced state of Hulkamania (my girlfriend Hillary’s term for it)?

RG: She showed him the Batman vs Superman trailer. Zing!

DH: I also wonder where we’ll next see Hulk--along with Thor, he’s one of the only cast members who doesn’t seem to be popping up in Captain America: Civil War next year. My guess is he’ll get a big moment in Avengers: Infinity War Part II. But I do like the idea of him just flying off and seeing where that Quinjet takes him. Apparently Marvel doesn’t have the rights to do a solo Hulk movie--I imagine the deal is similar to what they have now with Sony and Spider-man--but he works best as a supporting character in these movies anyway.

RG: I’m kind of fine with not having a solo Hulk movie, even though I love Ruffalo as Hulk. I basically don’t want anyone else to get a solo movie until Black Widow gets one.

I’m a big fan of the Science Bros montage when they are working to create Ultron in this movie. I am actually pretty surprised we didn’t hear the words ‘science bros’ spoken at all. I figured they’d throw that shout-out to the fandom in there. I do really like Bruce and Tony’s friendship a lot. And I like that Banner is an expert in...all science?

DH: Was it “bio-organics” that Tony said Banner was a genius at? Just say “science," Tony. Stop making shit up.

"I'm a doctor, dammit! Not a bio-organicist!"

"I'm a doctor, dammit! Not a bio-organicist!"

RG: I thought the ‘lullaby’ thing with Widow was cool, and it establishes that they would have spent a lot of time together building trust while working on that. It adds more weight to the love story. Poor Bruce, though. He goes from ‘It’s fun to flirt with Natasha’ to ‘I can’t possibly be in a relationship with anyone’ to ‘Sure, what the hell? Let’s run away together’ to ‘Scratch that, I’m leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again’ in this movie.

That final jet plane scene with Hulk, by the way? Nice nod to the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.

DH: I didn’t even pick up on that! Good catch.

RG: One problem I did have with the Bruce/Natasha love story was how it ignores Betty Ross. I mean, if Banner could be in a relationship, wouldn’t it be with Betty? As I said in our review of The Incredible Hulk, I think the Bruce/Betty romance was the strongest of any two characters in any of these movies. She crazy loves him! Maybe Banner is going to check up on her in that plane.


 

Captain America

I mean, look at this guy. How am I supposed to write captions here?

I mean, look at this guy. How am I supposed to write captions here?

DH: Cap has really come into his own as the solid foundation for these movies--an unswerving leader, a moral center, and a kick-ass fighting machine. But he’s really funny, too! “I miss the days when the weirdest thing to come out of science was me”, etc.

RG: Cap can really come into MY own as a solid founda...sorry. Continue.

DH: I can’t believe I’m living in a world where I can go to the movies and see one of my favourite comic characters so perfectly realized as a big-screen action hero. It can’t have been easy to make this character not seem totally foolish to a moviegoing audience, but they’ve structured his arc so well. A lot of credit is due to Chris Evans, obviously. This might be my favourite movie translation of a comic hero since Christopher Reeve’s Superman.

Why haven't I seen this in IMAX yet, seriously?

Why haven't I seen this in IMAX yet, seriously?

RG: You know I agree with all of that. I just...I love him so much. I went into this movie like “Ohmygod, he’s going to say things I haven’t heard him say before!!!”

There was some pretty major character stuff for Cap in this movie. He is, as you said, established early on as the team’s fearless leader (loved the Captain America speeches in this movie, by the way), but also as someone who is still an outsider who doesn’t quite know what his place is in this world beyond being a hero. He seemed downright miserable at Hawkeye’s house. He actually looks angry when he sees Hawkeye’s kids. Cap has no poker face.

I love the weird parallel between Cap and Bruce in this shot.  

I love the weird parallel between Cap and Bruce in this shot.  

DH: Yep, great inspirational Cap speeches. “If ya get hurt, hurt ‘em back. If ya get killed...walk it off.” Sean Connery in The Untouchables wishes he had something that badass to say to Kevin Costner.

RG: When Cap angrily busts that log into smithereens during the WOOD CHOPPING SCENE, I’m guessing it probably caused audiences to shriek with delight and awe worldwide. It was a great moment.

Oscar clip.

Oscar clip.

RG: I like these hints of the deep frustration and sadness that Steve is carrying inside him. He never lets it  interfere with his job, but anytime he’s not fighting he is heartbreakingly forlorn.

Forlorn, but with really amazing eyelashes. I mean, really. Just extraordinary.  

Forlorn, but with really amazing eyelashes. I mean, really. Just extraordinary.  

RG: I do think he is happy with where he is at the end of the movie. I think he’s being sincere when he tells Tony that he isn’t the same person he used to be, and no longer dreams of a family and a house. Captain America’s destiny isn’t to get married and have kids. He’s a soldier and a leader and a hero and an icon and the Avengers are his family. He’ll probably get a lot more respect and less teasing from this new crop of Avengers. I think it’s a turning point for him. I hope so, anyway.

He would probably like to get laid, though. His virginity remains intact by the end of this movie, as far as I’m concerned. As far as Chris Evans is concerned, too.

Oh God, I totally predicted that we would see a Scarlet Witch-induced nightmare flashback scenario where Steve would finally have that dance with Peggy, and I also predicted that I would cry and cry and cry. I did not cry, because the flashback was short and weird, but still. Sad! I feel like Bucky should have been in that flashback too, since he’s probably on Steve’s mind a lot these days. I also just think we should slot Sebastian Stan into every movie.

DH: Cap’s costume in this movie is a nice combination of everything that worked about his other uniforms in the previous films And the running gag about his disapproval of Tony’s salty language is very funny.

RG: That was great. Would have loved it if Cap had let out a crazy string of profanity, but “son of a bitch” worked too. Either way, loved that we got to share in one of the Avengers’ inside jokes. I also like that Thor doesn’t make fun of him. Thor’s a good dude.

I love the costume. I feel like the stylists on these movies need to cool it with the sideburns, though. Like, are they trying to see how long they can make them before we object. I object! He looked perfect in the first movie! Has he been spending the past few years watching 90210 reruns?

As I mentioned before, Cap’s fighting moves were awesome in this movie. It’s pretty damn awesome when he throws his motorcycle at that jeep. I will say, though, that I think he has intentionally trashed a motorcycle in at least three of these movies. You’d think a guy who grew up during the Depression wouldn’t treat motorcycles as disposable objects.

 

Hawkeye

This fucking guy.

This fucking guy.

DH: My love of Hawkeye is pretty well-documented at this point, and I was happy to see him finally get a personality and a backstory (even if it isn’t from the comics--I guess it’s sort of from the Ultimate comics, but the less said about those, the better). I did feel like Jeremy Renner was a bit old to play this character, who is much more of a young punk in the comics. But now, with him being a secret family man, it has been back-engineered to make sense. He’s got some great fighting moves in this film, and I love his big inspirational speech to Wanda during the final battle. I’m really into the idea of Hawkeye as just this working-class dude. Everyone else is a hero for these deeply personal reasons, but he’s just a guy doing his job.

RG: I did not see the family man Hawkeye reveal coming at all. I was THRILLED! Somehow Hawkeye became the dreamiest Avenger! Fighting bad guys while making plans to remodel the dining room?! Forget about it!

I loved everything about those farmhouse scenes. I could have used another three hours of farmhouse.

DH: People love to crap on Hawkeye because he’s just a guy with a bow and arrow, but that’s one of the reasons I love him. He’s on a team with super-soldiers, mutants, monsters, and gods, and he is just a guy with a bow and arrow. So what does that tell you? Just how goddamn good does he have to be with a bow and arrow to stand amongst these guys? That, to me, is really cool. And he finally emerged as an interesting guy on the big screen as well.

Fine, here's another picture of Hawkeye.

Fine, here's another picture of Hawkeye.

RG: He deserves to be there every bit as much as Black Widow. She doesn’t have super powers either. Neither does Tony, really. Or Falcon, or War Machine...they all just have weapons that they are good at using. So what is the damn difference? I don’t think the question is whether Hawkeye deserves to be an Avenger, it’s if Jeremy Renner deserves to be an Avenger. And I think the answer to that question is NO. But he was good in this movie. Whatever.

His "family man" reveal makes his comments about Black Widow being a whore even more confusing! What is wrong with this idiot?!

I liked that Hawkeye was questioning his contribution to the team a bit in this movie, and that his wife pointed out how important he is to making them work as a team. All of this self-doubt kind of came together in that rousing speech to Scarlet Witch, which I really loved (“The city is flying...the city is flying”).

His costume was cool in this movie.

DH: Yes, but get that guy some headgear! Preferably with a big “H” on it.

 

And The Rest...

 

Vision

This guy is going to be fun at future Avengers parties.

This guy is going to be fun at future Avengers parties.

DH: I wasn’t really sure how Vision would work out here. His origin is a bit convoluted, and a real departure in some ways from the comic--yes, he’s a creation of Ultron, like in the comic, but he’s also J.A.R.V.I.S., and he’s got the Mind Gem...it’s a lot to take in, but it works incredibly well and I think a lot of the credit must go to Paul Bettany’s performance. He has just a cool, calm, serene attitude that is really interesting. It also helps that it’s Paul Bettany in costume onscreen, and not a CGI effect. I love his final scene with Ultron so much, where Ultron says, “They’re doomed (‘they’ being humanity)”, and Vision responds that yes, they are, but that a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts, and that he and Ultron are privileged to be among them. And, like everyone else, he has some really funny lines, like when Ultron calls him naive and he says, “Well, I was born yesterday”. I can’t wait to see what else they do with Vision in future movies.

RG: Vision was so, so great. I mean, really. I’m not gonna lie, when I first heard Vision was going to be introduced in this movie, I thought it was a weird choice. Vision is a great character that shouldn’t work at all in a movie like this, but man!

That conversation between Vision and Ultron at the end was THE BEST.

 

The Twins

Live fast, die young.

Live fast, die young.

RG: Loved what a badass Scarlet Witch is. Looking forward to seeing more of her. Loved Quicksilver more than I expected to. Really enjoyed his tracksuit Eurotrash look. Not too sad we won’t see more of him. He had a good death. As much as I dislike Renner, I’m glad Hawkeye wasn’t the one who died.

DH: I thought Quicksilver was well-used--I think I’m the only person on the planet who liked this iteration of him more than the one we saw in X-Men: Days Of Future Past--but his death here meant something, and I wouldn’t want them to cheapen it by bringing him back or saying that he somehow survived.

I also really dug Scarlet Witch. She’s kind of a problematic character in the comics because her powers are so poorly defined--or, at least, defined occasionally, then redefined by the next Avengers scripter--but here they basically just made her into another Phoenix, which is fine. I like her and Pietro’s fakey Russian (I guess?) accents, and I also like how creepy she was in the early scenes. She was sort of skittering around like Samara from The Ring or something, and it was pretty cool.

 

Ultron

Oddly sexy.

Oddly sexy.

RG: The trailers did a good job of concealing how funny Ultron is. Seriously, a lot of the big laughs are Ultron lines. My personal favourite: “I can’t physically throw up in my mouth…” after he describes Captain America. He’s a Whedon villain through and through.

Ultron also looks amazing. And James Spader is so great (and a little sexy? Am I wrong? Sexy Ultron?). When Ultron is first coming to “life,” his dialogue with J.A.R.V.I.S. is so great. Normally a robot villain is sort of meh for me, but he was awesome. The Lil’ Ultrons were super easy to kill, though. I probably could have taken a dozen or so out myself.

DH: Throughout the movie, I was not always feeling Ultron’s motivations. The whole “computer programmed to end war decides he needs to end humanity” idea is pretty played out, but that end scene with Vision really brought it full circle and redeemed it for me. Lots of hilarious one-liners. This wouldn’t be a Joss Whedon movie if he didn’t have a funny villain. My favourite was probably when he ripped off Ulysses Klaw’s arm and was like, “Oh, sorry! I’m sure that’ll be fine.”

Ultron’s lips were kinda weird, though. He looked a bit like Audrey Two from Little Shop Of Horrors.

 

Falcon

RG: We got a little taste of Falcon in this movie. I really can’t wait to see more of him. I was glad he was invited to the party (and that he mentioned Cap and his ‘missing person case’). I liked seeing Steve and Sam playing pool at the party. I just love superheroes hanging out doing friend things!

DH: I was pretty happy to see him on the team at the end, with a lot more red in his costume. I guess they probably had to distinguish his costume’s colour scheme from War Machine’s a bit more? And seeing it again this weekend (your second time, my third!), I noticed just how stoked he looks to be an Avenger. I don’t know if that’s Anthony Mackie or Sam Wilson who’s excited about it, but I suspect it’s a bit of both.

 

War Machine

RG: Don Cheadle stops by to steal every scene he’s in. I’m very excited to see him join the Avengers team. I loved him telling that same story to everyone at the party, and his look of satisfaction when people laughed at it. Also, his reaction to Vision phasing through robots in the final battle was hilarious.

DH: If Tony’s retired, shouldn’t Rhodey just be Iron Man now? I’d be fine with that. Cap is probably pretty happy to have some more army guys on his team now.

 

Nick Fury

I really like Fury's button-up sweater.

I really like Fury's button-up sweater.

RG: I don’t know why Laura Barton was so stealthy when she told Tony that their tractor needed fixing as a way to lure Tony into the barn for a secret Fury meeting. I mean, Cap knows Fury is alive. And then Fury was just hanging out with everyone in the farmhouse later. So why the secret ops? Eh, whatever. It was cute.

I was trying to figure out who would have known that Fury was even still alive. Maybe all of them? Thor probably didn’t even know that he died, or returned, or was on that helicarrier at the end. I don’t feel like Thor gets filled in on a lot of things. He’s probably also like “what’s Hydra?”

DH: “What’s a robot? What are nuclear codes?” Poor dope.

RG: Here’s a question: when did Fury decide to start wearing his eyepatch again? Didn’t he burn it at the end of Winter Soldier? I guess he and Stark had coffee sometime between this movie and that one and decided to go back to their eyepatch and Iron Man suit, respectively.

DH: He probably just realized that his crazy scars and dead eye are not really any less conspicuous than his eyepatch.

 

Agent Hill

RG: I just want to say that Agent Hill has been in three movies now. Time for some character development. I doubt we’ll see it in Civil War, since there are already about 97 heroes in that movie.

Say...Are Agent Hill and Rhodes dating? If so, I am pro THAT!

DH: Yeah, they were kinda hanging out at the party, weren’t they? I like that idea.

 

Random Thoughts:

RG: I was really happy to see our ‘Cap’s orders’ friend from Winter Soldier working for S.H.I.E.L.D. on the helicarrier at the end. He got promoted!

DH: I love that guy!

RG: I loved seeing the vintage Captain America war propaganda posters in the background on the wall in the Avengers Tower. Tony would have put those up to annoy Steve.

Loved the petty debate between Cap, Thor and Iron Man at the end about whether or not Vision being able to lift Thor’s hammer means he’s worthy. “You put the hammer in an elevator, the elevator’s not worthy.” Cap is comparing Vision to an elevator!

DH: It reminded me of the conversation in Gremlins 2 about the rules governing Mogwai/Gremlin transformations, and how the whole not feeding them after midnight would be affected by time-zone changes, etc. What I’m saying is that this and Gremlins 2 are basically the same movie.

RG: Kinda bummed that we didn’t get to see the sleeping arrangements at the Barton farm. Maybe in the director’s cut (which is hopefully nothing but extra farm footage). Did Fury spend the night too? Did they actually sleep there? I’m confused about the farm timeline.

I liked the scene at the party where Tony and Thor are explaining why Jane Foster and Pepper Potts aren’t there. But seriously I wish Jane was played by a lesser movie star so we could see more of that character.

Really excited about the new Avengers facility in upstate New York (away from civilians!). Looking forward to seeing more of it in Civil War.

DH: I love that the movie ends with a significant lineup change--pretty standard Avengers stuff, you gotta shake it up every few adventures. I also think it’s pretty cool that Captain America is now the sole white male Avenger, on the team with two women, two African-American guys, and a robot.

All your favourites! 

All your favourites! 

RG: This movie was a real gift to superhero fans. I have nothing but gratitude for everyone involved with the making of these Marvel movies. The anticipation for this movie kept me buzzing for months before its release, and I was ecstatic when I finally watched it. And they’ve already started filming Captain America: Civil War, which I seriously can’t wait for. As much as I love an Avengers movie, I really love a Cap-centric movie. And a Cap-centric movie that sees the return of Bucky, plus more Falcon and Black Widow? Yes, please.

In conclusion, more movie scenes with the Avengers sitting around drinking and eating Chinese take-out, please!!!

Cap drinks beer just for the taste. That's cute.

Cap drinks beer just for the taste. That's cute.

*Marry Cap, fuck Tony, kill Bruce (put him out of his misery). Alternate: Marry Ruffalo, fuck Evans, kill Downey (he's had a good run).

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!

You Got the Right Stuff, Richie.

In this crappy economic climate, I find it soothing to think back to a more fruitful era, like the 1980s. It seemed possible that we could all someday sleep on a pile of money, since even children like Richie Rich were ridiculously wealthy. Computers were going to solve all of our problems. Soon a pill would be developed to provide us with all our dietary needs. And we could be sure that a certain pop group's star would never stop rising.

Yes, I'm talking about the New Kids on the Block.

But, like a Hypercolor t-shirt, NKOTB did not age so well.

Except Jon. Lookin' fine, Jon. Lookin' eerily similar, in fact.

Anyway, at one point in this magical era, the New Kids on the Block, who were pretty wealthy themselves, met the richest kid around, Richie Rich.

.

Both Richie and the Kids have pretty sweet lives, so this was the crisis for the issue. The New Kids on the Block are lost in Richie's giant, luxorious mansion. What's next? A harrowing issue where Richie has too much ice cream and the New Kids have to help him eat it?

Yup.

Anyway, the gist of the story is that it's Richie's birthday and he wants to go see the New Kids in concert. (Me too, Richie. But the reunion tour isn't coming to Halifax.)  Richie's Dad decides to play a trick on him, and tell him the tickets were sold old, but surprise Richie with having the New Kids play at his party.

It's a "party to end all parties," which is a bit of a tragic title in retrospect, since some of the members of NKOTB almost snorted their way to the big party in the sky.

But at this point, the New Kids are just down to earth Boston boys. They arrive at Richie's place for the birthday party and lose their shit over the size of Richie's mansion. And I have to stress again, that these guys are not doing bad for themselves either. Richie is RICH!

The New Kids are a little slow, which is probably realistic, and can't figure out how to get in.

I'm going to assume that all the punning is also realistic.

From here, they just keep running into crazy crap all over the Rich residence. It's run-of-the-mill rich people's stuff—the Elephant Man's bones and whatnot—until they find one room that holds a fully functioning circus, made entirely of robots.

Weird. Why would the Rich family have these? Secret military weapons? Do they run a nightmare factory? The look on that clown's face is truly terrifying.

I think this is the kind of dark shit that lead to Donnie Wahlberg's role in the Sixth Sense. Remember?

Yeesh.

Luckily, just when things are getting dire, Donnie locates a room-finding computer. Good on ya, Donnie. You'll survive when the rest of the Kids perish. 

But the computer can't decipher their thick Bostonian accents and their rap-influenced dialect. Remember, computers were very literal in the 80s. You were like, "What up, computer?" and they were like, "2.65 meters above me is the ceiling, human."

So the computer sends them to the weather room!

Richie eventually finds the Kids by taking off the removable roof to the mansion and air-lifting them out by helicopter. Clearly using resources where they're needed. So, NKOTB make it to the party.

Well, sure. It's easy to say friendship is more important than money when you're crazy rich. That's the NKOTB manager, Maurice Starr, providing that little platitude by the way.

This moral is slightly cheapened by the ad on the next page.

I hope NKOTB's friendship costs less than $2.99 per minute these days. I'm not sure I can afford that.

Who Needs an MBA?

I can learn everything I need to know about business from World's Finest #99.

Financial Planning:

Strategic Investment:

Management:

IT Investment:

Basic Accounting:

Competition:

Executive Decisions:

Finance:

Conducting Meetings:

Asset Protection:

Middle Management:

And, finally, how to be a complete asshole to your subordinates:

PS - This comic can be found in its entirity in the fabulous Showcase Presents World's Finest, which, surely to God, you own by now.

World's Finest #71: Teaming Up To Confuse Lois

Showcase Presents: World's Finest finally came out last week. If you buy only one book in your life, make it this one.

I haven't done a page-by-page analysis of a comic for awhile. Re-reading this one in the Showcase book reminded me that it is AWESOME.

Behold the greatness that is World's Finest #71!

Well that was bad luck, Superman. But maybe you should be more careful about where you get changed. Well-lit hallways aren't the best hiding spots. And you should probably actually step back into that "convenient doorway," not just stand in front of it. Also...you can change at Super speed! Come on, man! How bad do you want this?

Superman saves Batman and Robin, of course. And Batman, being the full-time sweetheart that he is, only cares about Superman's problems. Mostly because, apparently, Superman was whining to him about Lois seeing him getting changed.

As always, Batman has a plan. A crazy plan!

I know you are probably thinking that, while Superman could plausibly pass as Batman, what with the mask and all, Bruce might have a tough job posing as the Man of Steel. For one thing, his entire head is exposed. For another...no powers. Because Batman is awesome, he lets none of these small details stop him.

Even though anyone would say that Superman has the easier job here, he fails miserably at being Batman. Behold the first couple of panels of Superman being Batman:

And there he stays for the remainder of the comic. (I love that second panel so much).

Bruce starts Operation: Confuse Lois by blatantly changing in front of her:

Lois can't be played like that. She's too smart. She sees Superman's crazy scheme and she raises one:

A date with Lois Lane is a SCARY date!

Let's see what happens on the Lion Picnic date:

A date with Bruce Wayne means a date where no less than three lions get punched in the mouth.

Bruce actually offers this explanation later:

That actually sounds pretty complicated, Bruce.

Lois has an even more insane plan up her sleeve. She goes on another date with Bruce, this time to the art gallery. Check out this slick move:

First of all, I love Bruce's art interpretation. Secondly, WHAT ARE YOU DOING, LOIS?! There is a line between sane and crazy that you crossed a loooong time ago.

And wait until you hear Bruce's explanation of this one:

Wow. When exactly did he do all that?

That's an excellent point that Robin is making. The same thing occurred to me.

Ok, this comic gets more excellent right now:

Yeah, I can't think of a single reason why Superman might not be able to help Lois move. Just make up anything! "Sorry, Lois, but I had to stop an Earthquake/visit another planet/stop a super villain/save people/I'm Superman and I don't really have to help you move."

But all Bruce can come up with is this:

By the way, Bruce does actually end up looking exactly like Superman when in costume. This is thanks to what has to be POUNDS of theatre make-up. He must look insane.

I love Bruce explaining that Superman patronizes local businessmen unnecessarily. I like the idea that Superman maintains a tight network of business contacts.

You think that Bruce can't lift that moving van, but look!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: HOW MUCH FREE TIME DOES BATMAN HAVE?!

I'll tell you: enough to construct a cardboard truck, a complicated balloon system to keep it afloat, and some sort of steering mechanism. AND paper mache replicas of ALL of Lois's possessions. That must have been a late night for the Dynamic Duo.

Let's take a moment to remember that, during all of this, Superman is slumped, unconscious, in a corner somewhere wearing a Batman costume.

Lois is more determined than ever to prove that Superman is out to trick her. In the process she almost gets run off the road by her own thought balloon:

She finally discovers poor Superman's nearly-dead body:

That is a very confusing set of panels. "It's Batman! It's Superman! It's Clark!" I mean, there's your answer right there. If you can look at Superman and say with certainty that it is Clark Kent, then clearly Superman = Clark.

These next panels are adorable:

I wonder if this is the point where it occurs to Bruce that his brilliant plan is actually pretty stupid. Just look what happened: Superman is almost dead, Bruce has to carry a very heavy man to safety, and EVERYONE is confused.

Oh, and now Lois thinks Bruce Wayne is Superman. Which isn't good for anyone.

But don't worry. They have a plan for that too:

Oh man I love it when Superman winks at me. I totally blush and start giggling every time. I can't even imagine how exciting it would have been for the kids this comic was written for.

I also love that Lois isn't buying any of this. She's just "Whatever, Superman. You and Bruce can play your stupid games all you want. I'm not dumb."

This is just a taste of the total and complete awesomeness that lives inside Showcase Presents: World's Finest. I mean, we haven't even started talking about the Caveman From Krypton yet.