Americans are incredibly savvy as informed viewers of films, making it difficult for film makers to exceed our expectations and live up to the hype publicity departments necessarily generate to get audiences to the theaters regardless of a film's quality. Joss Whedon's The Avengers, opening today and potentially setting the new record for biggest opening ever (currently held by last year's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2) has managed to accomplish--and surpass--all my hopes and expectations, and that's what makes a great director. (This post contains spoilers, so please see the film before reading!).
For Iron Man and Iron Man 2, I haven't posted, but there is an important trait Tony Stark reveals in Iron Man 2: he doesn't like to be handed things. Why? Tony Stark was "handed" Stark industries, he was "handed" over a billion dollars, he was "handed" an MIT education, he was "handed" the world on a silver platter, but Obadiah "handed" Tony over to the terrorists to be killed and then (what Tony did on his own by creating Iron Man) Tony was told to "hand over" to the government. It's a simple trait but one effectively deepening our understanding of Tony especially since he would represent the 1% Occupy Wall Street demonstrates against (those with the most money in America) and Tony not liking to be handed things reveals the inner-conflict of inherited wealth, responsibility and self-realization through individual achievement we wouldn't see otherwise.
In this scene, Tony and Loki are in Stark Tower; what's most important about this scene is what Tony doesn't say: anything about himself. He talks about the masterfulness of the others and the power of the Hulk, but refrains from laying out his impressive array of powers:
In this clip, Tony will then say, "There's one other person you managed to piss off. His name is Phil!" and Tony refrains again from mentioning himself because he's thinking about Agent Coulson dying and avenging Coulson is more important to Tony now than his own self. This is the real moment when Tony does become a hero because he's not only putting the others before himself and exhibiting true humility, but invoking Phil Coulson's death at Loki's hand establishes that team quality that Tony has lacked since the beginning of Iron Man. Why is this important? Because Tony, again, is that 1% vilified by Occupy Wall Street which Hollywood is rescuing (and we will probably see the same thing with Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Batman).
the 2006 protests in Budapest, Hungary, during which the Socialist government leaked a speech that was supposed to be private, in which the prime minister confessed that his party had lied to win the election and they had done nothing worthy of note the last four years of being in power and knew there was nothing they could do to win the election again. Well, for Republicans, this very much reflects what we feel has happened in the United States with Obama's administration, microphone left on and all.
Hungarian Revolution of 1956 which was against the Soviets and not the Hungarians' own government (i.e., an alien government like what Loki wants to do). These two revolts against bad leadership draws necessary boundaries for understanding how many Americans are upset with the government today, however, neither Black Widow nor Clint Barton are old enough to have been in the 1956 revolts, so they must be referring to Heroes' Square in Budapest where those who contributed to Hungarian history are honored; the reason why Clint might be referencing this is at the end of the film, many Manhattanians are complaining about the mess of the battle, instead of being grateful for the Avengers saving them (heroes).(For more on Hawkeye and the importance his role plays in the film, please see my post Men In Black III & the Victory Of the Cold War: until I saw MIB III and the character of the "Griffin," I didn't understand how Hawkeye was being used in The Avengers, but this makes much greater sense of it!).
|Captain America, Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans) realizing he's missed decades while asleep. In my post on Captain America, I made the point that the leadership assumed by America in World War II lead us to becoming a world power and the leadership role Captain America's "waking up" symbolizes is meant to fill the empty captain's chair on the ship he was manning. His leadership role becomes an issue in The Avengers as well, and one needing to be addressed. For my complete post, please see Captain America: A Movie Of Movies.|
|When Fury explains what happens to Hawkeye and Selvig being turned over to Loki's side, Fury says, "Loki has turned them into his flying monkeys," and Steve responds, "I get that, I understand that," because it comes from The Wizard of Oz, released in 1939, which Steve would have seen before he went under for 70 years. Why is this important? Again, Captain America symbolizes that leadership, super-power status America acquired during World War II which was prophesied in The Wizard of Oz (please see A Call To Arms: The Wizard Of Oz & World War II for more). Steve understands the importance of what has happened to them because he saw what happened to Nazi collaborators, what it did to them personally and all the people who died because of them.|
At the end, when the news stations are showing the devastation of New York City, one woman says, "Captain America saved my life, and I would like to tell him thank you." It's not just that Steve did that, but the history of leadership in the world that he represents for America. Agent Coulson told Steve that he had helped with Captain America's uniform; Steve said, "Don't you think the stars and stripes are a little old-fashioned?" and Coulson replies, "I think we need a little old-fashioned right now," and Coulson was right, we need that patriotic energy, that bond, that genuine hope and faith that can only come from being an American. Is it right that Marvel Comics has made a film like this? Absolutely, because the comics symbolize the American imagination and creativity, and how we get things done here. There have been too many references in films lately to America being at war for us to not be at war, and that war is being fought with every second of film.