It’s incredibly difficult to assign a grade to SHIELD’s inaugural season. I’m sold on the show now, but I’d given up halfway through until I’d heard it improved and Captain America 2 confirmed something had to be happening. The first half is fairly awful, with boring characters and weak stand-alone plots, like rejected X-Files episodes. Then Winter Soldier forced a change (though clearly in the works all along), and the show becomes episodic and suspenseful, full of great reveals and red herrings. The characters found their places, and the actors meshed. Even the fight choreography got notably better. It attempts Whedon-esque wit throughout, and the quips evoke more chuckles than groans. The addition of some fantastic actors, including Bill Paxton and cameos from Sam Jackson, Patton Oswalt, and Cobie Smulders, also did much to improve the show.
Sometimes I forget how good Shakespearian dialog is. But then Whedon assembled an amazing cast to remind me. I concede that it’s basically just a romantic comedy, with all the usual silliness that entails. But all the Elizabethan dialog and black and whiteness, (though probably pretentious) give it enough feux-sophistication that I give it a pass.
Avengers represents everything that is great about the summer blockbuster. It was witty, entertaining, and full of memorable moments. The characters were portrayed exactly as I’d hoped, with a surprising amount of depth given the limited amount of screen time available that comes from having such a large cast. My only real complaint was that the enemy aliens were fairly bland, though to counter that, their big snake ship things were fairly awesome.
I watched this movie with conflicting biases. On one hand, I’ve enjoyed all the Avengers set-up films so far and devour Norse mythology like it’s ambrosia. On the other hand, the trailers lowered my expectations so far that I almost considered not seeing it opening weekend (shocking!) It seems those biases balanced each other out; I enjoyed, but didn’t love the film. I didn’t exactly relish the sci-fi-ifying of the mythology but understand that’s probably the best way to believably incorporate Thor into the Marvel movie universe. Thor’s sudden character change was also a little abrupt for my tastes. But I liked the battles with Destroyer and against the Frost Giants. I just wish the Asgardians didn’t look like Power Rangers Space Force.