I t’s already got geek boy nation in a frothy uproar. In fact, outside of the announcement (and then eventual cancellation) of George Miller’s Justice League film, few in the comic-book nerd universe have thought of little except the teaming of The Avengers — and it’s just about here.
Now, granted, this isn’t the most complete of pictures — there is no Ant-Man, Wasp, or a number of noted names — and has been carefully constructed on a foundation of (sometimes flawed) origin films, but with the summer season about to start in full swing, Marvel’s mammoth undertaking is the first picture pimping for the almighty popcorn dollar. And it appears destined to make a mint. Already earning heavy praise and heated buzz, it looks to be one of the leaders once Labor Day rolls around.
Even better, writer/director Joss Whedon has done something remarkable, something unheard of in the echelons of superhero movies — he’s managed to make something that just might capture the female demographic. For the most part, the genre is considered the domain of male members of AA — no, not Alcoholics Anonymous; a far more lethal organization: the arrested adolescent. Symbolizing the subjugation of cinema to the whims of trolls and comment page obsessives, the kowtowing by and to Marvel and DC has routinely been blamed on “the guys,” while gals get to share the blame for making Nicholas Sparks, Stephanie Meyer, and any number of actresses box-office gold.
But with “The Avengers,” Whedon does what he did so brilliantly in his seminal work of any medium, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” There, he took a female protagonist and kept the gender bias, working in male interest by investing the genre necessities with some broad bravado. Approach and angle were always about the lack of a Y chromosome
The film is made up of five fascinating and attractive male leads. They run the gamut from pure stud muffin-ry (Thor) to a more recognizable, and ripped, human ideal (Captain America). There’s the brainy dude with a dark secret (Hulk), a jet setting entrepreneur with wealth, power, looks, and a way with the smarmy small talk (Iron Man), and pumped up military marvel with deadly aim (Hawkeye). All of these men and their various superpower permutations are viewed through the prism of our presumptive guide, Natasha Romanoff, also known as the assassin/ spy Black Widow. She begins the assembly of The Avengers by answering S.H.I.E.L.D.’s call, kicking some Russian butt, and then recruiting Bruce Banner to bring his big green ogre to the mix.
The assembly of the Avengers is all about touchy feely things like discovering what makes a radioactive rage creature tick, or how to topple the gargantuan ego of a man who doesn’t need combat to conquer the world. In Whedon’s world, each of the members come in with some personal chink in their armor — Captain America is a man unstuck in time, Thor is an unseated king, Banner is haunted by his Hulk alter ego, etc. — all of which adds an aura of tragedy to their presumed winner personalities. They become complex, emotional, sentimental– the kind of stuff that resonates amongst a certain percentage of the female moviegoing public.