The Avengers; What is Schwarma Anyway?

Mini-Spoiler alert:  there are two bonus scenes in the credits of The Avengers.  The first one is half-way through the credits, and opens the door for a future movie. The second one is at the very end.

(And, by the way, a bonus for me! Last Monday I went to the Sebastopol Cinema to see Cabin in the Woods. Today I went to the same theater to find out — it’s the Rialto! The old Rialto, Ky’s Rialto, the one that closed in Santa Rosa about two years ago. In addition to first run movies, they’ll show indies, classics and international films just like they used to when they were on Summerfield Drive.)

Back to Marvel’s The Avengers. This is a very long movie, running nearly 2 1/2 hours. Lots of things blow up and get crunched. And I have to say that while I have seen Ironman and Thor, I don’t remember reading The Avengers when it was a comic book — although I did read Thor — and I’ve never seen Scarlett Johansson in anything before today. So those are my credentials, or lack thereof.

I whole-heartedly enjoyed this movie. I’m still trying to figure out how writer/director Joss Whedon managed to pack so much story and so many relationships into a movie where everything is also blowing up and people are punching each other. Or, in the case of the Hulk, hurling each other about.

Basically, there are six Avengers plus Nick Fury. And they are:

Ironman — Arrogant, irreverent genius Tony Stark in a suit of his own devising.

Captain America –a WWII science experiment who got frozen in the ice somewhere, but has super strength and a giant metal Frisbee weapon that doubles as a shield.

Thor — an Aesir, or a god from Asgard, with awesome blond hair and a hammer.

Black Widow — Natasha Romanoff. In addition to probably being a descendent of the Czar, she is an accomplished spy and an assassin. That last occupation got downplayed in this movie.

Hawkeye — Clint Barton. He is a solar-system-class archer.

Hulk — David Banner is a scientist almost as smart as Tony Stark, with some major anger management issues.

They are arrayed against Thor’s adopted brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. He is perfectly cast for this role and a superb performer. You will love to hate him.

When Loki breaks into a top secret laboratory in New Mexico and steals SHIELD’s tesseract (a really pretty glowing blue cube), the lab implodes and Nick Fury puts out a call for the six extraordinary individuals he had started to pull together for the Avengers Initiative. A few of these players are reluctant, and one, David Banner/the Hulk, doesn’t even know he’s on the team.  Hawkeye is  not very interested in working for them  for at least the first half of the movie.

When they do get together, there’s quite a bit of tension. Captain America is a soldier, used to following orders, big on duty and sacrifice. Stark is an irreverent loner. Thor knows that Loki is evil, but he still bristles at the thought that mere humans might dare to attack him. He also still has brother issues with Loki. David Banner mistrusts himself, fearing that the Hulk will break out. The beauty of these conflicts is that they happen  while the action is happening.

It takes a shocking event to cohere this group of eccentrics into a fighting force and when they do, they have their work cut out for them. New York City is under attack from the mercenary army Loki is bringing through  a portal created by the tesseract.

Scarlett Johansson was great as Natasha, even if her accent doesn’t make sense. Is she American? Russian, but raised as a spy from a very young age so that her accent was erased? I don’t know. Her best scene is with Loki. Her second-best scene is with David Banner, but her opening is pretty good too. Robert Downey is almost old-shoe comfortable as Tony Stark, but the surprise here for me was Mark Ruffalo,  completely convincing as Banner.

The story melds cataclysmic special effects with powerful characters and convincing dialogue. This is what super-hero movies should be like.

Another mini-spoiler. If you don’t already know what schwarma is, Google it before you see the movie, just for the fun of it.

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2 Responses to The Avengers; What is Schwarma Anyway?

  1. Chad Hull says:

    You’ve been a regular movie junkie lately!

  2. Marion says:

    Two in one week, I know!

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