Avengers Assemble – no really, they built this movie from a kit.

From the moment I saw The Ultimates graphic novel, in which Nick Fury was re-imagined as Samuel L. Jackson, I have been waiting for this film to arrive. I have loyally trekked to the local multiplex to watch just about every superhero movie from Batman to Wolverine, Marvel and DC. Okay, so I watched Darkman and Spawn on video. But I sat through Daredevil in the cinema. I even went to see Elektra (obviously I committed some terrible sin in a previous life). So I think it’s fair to say that I’m a fan.

What a disappointment. This is a superhero movie for children with a script channelled through the spirit of Enid Blyton. During the entire film, in which there is incredible property damage and the centre of New York is virtually destroyed, there are zero civillian casualties. The good guys and the bad guys exchange fire and blows,  toss buses and cars about with abandon, never considering the potential for collateral damage. Why? Because it’s a movie, you dope, and nobody gets hurt. Except the kinda-roboty aliens. Buildings are smashed and cars fly through the streets of New York. Explosions wreak havok to steel and concrete. But not a single bystander gets killed on film. Despite the apocalyptic destruction not a single dead body is to be seen in the streets and no nasty smears that used to be human decorate the set. This is a movie for children. This is like the the old A Team TV show – thousands of bullets ecxpended but no-one (human) ever gets hit or killed. Things get blown up but not people. In the entire movie one guy dies on screen. That’s it.

Now, I have to say I’m not particularly bloodthirsty and I can go all week quite happily without setting eyes on a dead body. But for me, context is everything. With so much shit going down, people gotta die. Or else I don’t believe a word. And that’s the problem. I found that after a while I simply could no longer suspend my disbelief. Because the characters in the movie failed to believe in themselves or one another with sufficient emotion(?). They didn’t care about themselves or one another. They failed to act in a manner consistent with saving the world or defeating the bad guys.

So Thor and Iron Man kick the living shit (technical terminology) out of one another while Loki, the bad guy who they’ve captured, sits and watches.Why doesn’t he run away when he has the chance? Maybe it’s because he wants to be captured for his own evil reasons. Well I’m no superhero, or genius (like Iron Man apparently – see the ads) but I was immediately suspicious. But not our heroes – geniuses or not.

And the World’s Greatest Heroes dish out violence both willy and nilly without anyone ever considering what might happen to the not-so-super humans standing around. And why should they – it’s only a movie – there were no dead body in the script – blaze away boys – who cares.

Well, I care. Enough so that less than half way through, I ceased to care. And began to question every move the Avengers made. Like why does the Hulk, hulk out and attack the nearest hero, first time he turns green? But when the aliens invade he only attacks aliens and actually helps out the Avengers. Where’s the logic?

It’s a comic book, I hear you say. But shouldn’t comic books have internal logic? Why is Iron Man popular? I always thought that his personality was important, his weaknesses, the things that make him human. He used to be an alcoholic fer ****sake. Something he had to overcome on a daily basis, along with the heart-thingy. And Captain America is a man out of time, his past and his friends all lost. And in their own movies their stories, the human part of them, were told. In Avengers Assemble, there’s no room for back story. Which makes it really, really hard to care about who lives and who dies. Though, as it’s all cartoon violence we know that NOBODY dies – they’ve got to be around for the sequel.

And that’s it. All I’ve got left is don’t care. Plenty of it. I won’t be going to see Avengers Reassembled or whatever the hell they call it. Even if they come up with a really cool title like Avengers II, I’ll sit it out. Even if it gets five stars from every single critic I’ll be staying at home.

Go to Avengers Assemble if you really have to, but check your brain at the door.


About Bob Neilson

Bob Neilson lives in Dublin with his wife, two daughters, son, two dogs, one cat and a growing feeling of claustrophobia. In partnership with his wife he runs a successful retail business in Dublin city. His short fiction has appeared extensively in professional and small press markets and he has had two plays performed on RTE and one on Anna Livia FM. He also presented a radio show on Anna Livia for a year. He has had two short story collections published, Without Honour (1997, Aeon Press) and That’s Entertainment (2007, Elastic Press) as well as several comics and a graphic novel. His non-fiction book on the properties of crystals is a best-seller in the UK and Ireland.
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