Monday, April 16, 2012

Nick Fury's ex machina and Scarlett Johansson's tits (Or why the Avengers is going to blow)

i gave up on comic books a few years ago, for the most part. i can't stand cannon, i don't enjoy universes, i want characters that used smartly in intelligent stories, i don't want world building. To me, the X-Men existing in the same world as Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four, takes away all of the importance of the X-men, there's all this prejudice against the mutants, for being different, for being freaks, for being better. The otherness of the X-men is ruined when you live in a world where a malfunctioning x-ray machine can give someone superpowers. Metropolis and Gotham existing on the same continent has never been a thrilling idea to me, if i read a Batman story, i want a Batman story, not the excess baggage of the DC multiverse. i don't want to comic to be an entry in the encyclopedia of a fake world.
The Marvel films have been bringing the comic book concept of shared universes and world building to the silver screen, and the movies have been subpar as a result. Let us take the Iron Man films for example.

Iron Man is very conservative film, both in it's ideology and it's presentation of the world building. Iron Man is a conservative wetdream in the same way, say Death Wish, or Die Hard are, the proper authorities aren't doing their job, so to hell with them, i'll be the judge, jury, and executioner. Tony Stark himself is an ideal politician, he's white, rich, pro-killing terrists, loves fast food, and despite being a total ass, he's completely loveable. The film isn't about him realizing the evil of war or manufacturing weapons, it's him realizing the weapons can fall into the wrong hands, which becomes anyone's but his. Iron Man is the embodiment of American exceptionalism. Iron Man succeeds in his endeavours. He bootsraps himself out of a cave, kills some terrorists, defeats the corrupt bureaucracy, and wins the hearts of Americans everywhere. The movie of course ignores all the sacrifices made for Tony (RIP guy that saved Tony Stark's life, he'll never think about you again) and that Iron Man is actually creating more terrorists, because like I said, it's a conservative film, they don't think about those things either. But it's still a damn entertaining and enjoyable film.
Now the film introduces the character Agent Coulson, who works for SHIELD:

Get it, he's shielding Mr. Jackson!

He's a bit of comic relief, the straight man that keeps getting blown off by Tony. He exists organically, it doesn't matter SHIELD is a thing from the comics, it's just played that he's a government agent that wants to question Stark about his escape. It's later shown he's competent, and is perhaps used to dealing with these super things, having the cover story ready for Tony. And that's the extent of the world building, i mean sure, Nick Fury shows up after the credits, and just reinforces that Tony isn't the only super being out there, but there's a reason the scene isn't actually part of the film. It doesn't belong. Of course after this film, Marvel dropped those pretenses, and well, we ended up with Iron Man 2.

At its heart, Iron Man 2 could have been an interesting film, all about the sins of the father. Tony has daddy issues, and his electronic heart was something his father stole. Vanko is just out to get recognition for his father, while failing to realize his own greatness, even going as far as allowing himself to be used for ideas.
Of course all of this is thrown to the side to make way for the Avengers.
Tony's powersource starts to give him a digital disease that causes him to act like an asshole and burn all the bridges he nearly burned in the first film.  Now the proper wrap-up for this story would be Tony getting the cure from Vanko, and maybe Tony absolving the sins of his father, getting Vanko recognition, and so on. But Iron Man can't be in the wrong, no he's America! So out of nowhere Nick Fury shows up with a cure for Tony, and that's that, no explanation, he's just there, "Here you go, now join the Avengers already." He also brings Scarlett Johansson with him, who only exists to take her clothes off:


Apparently she's supposed to be some awesome Russian spy, but why does she exist, why is she needed for this story? How is this relevant to Vanko at all?
It's just frustrating, it's still sexist if a female character only exists to look hot, even if she does kick a lot of ass.
Iron Man 2 is just a mess of a movie where nothing gets solved, and only exists as an advertisement for a movie that was still two years away.

Joss Whedon is directing this mess, which is a shame, i generally like Whedon, he can be a clever writer (or a godawful one if he's not being careful), though he does have an odd idea of what a feminism is...

At least Ms. Johansson's character will be right at home.

But generally he's good at writing large groups of characters, and giving them all something to do. And like i said, he can be really clever, he knows his quips. As a director though, he suffers from growing up on television, so it seems he just gets the shot that's in the script and moves on, nothing i've seen in any of the trailers has any weight to it, no meaning, it's just shot, next shot, snarky line, and punch. At best the entire movie looks like an episode of Firefly (and really nerds, you need to get over that show.)

Just to show that Whedon is the wrong guy, look at this clip:

That swelling music, the slow motion, it's hard to believe this isn't a joke. One of our heroes takes a gutshot and there's absolutely no sense that they're ever in peril, they just effortlessly fling faceless goons over cars, or cars into goons. i mean, this isn't Spider-Man capturing a bank robber, this is the Avengers™ fighting for the fate of mankind.
It's especially funny, because he seems to be cribbing from Battle: Los Angeles, but hitting all the wrong notes.

Mostly i'm just offended by the prospect that sitting through four completely mediocre and disjointed films will somehow have a "pay-off" in an unrelated film, where mostly the same actors play the same characters. Couldn't we have had four competent films, with maybe just hints of a connected world in the background. (Tony finding a prototype Captain America shield was fine, Nick Fury and Johansson were not.) The trailer i posted showed that at least part of the Avengers is going around, introducing and assembling the team, so why did they waste so much time introducing the idea of the Avengers in the other films? Fucking comicbooks.

Well, at least there's always the Dark Knight Rises to look forward to...

Oh. :(

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