Saturday, May 21, 2011

Marvellous Marvel: What's so good about Thor and why am I so excited about The Avengers?

A rather long review, that turned into my life story/love letter to Joss Whedon. 

I'm a geek, there's no doubt about it. Even if geek wasn't chic I wouldn't be able to deny it. So it's not in any way shocking that I would await the latest Marvel movie realise with baited breath. Yet it wasn't always so... I didn't grow up a comic book fan. In fact, when I was young I was possibly the worst geek ever. It was like I was a geek, but I hadn't quite figured what that meant yet. Long story short – I didn't read comic books. So I was introduced to the Marvel world through the filmic interpretations.

I always loved superhero movies but I can safely say it was X-Men that made me a Marvel girl (see what I did there). After this introduction, I read and researched so much that sometimes even I believe I grew up with these characters. Yet my love for X-Men was not enough to indoctrinate myself into the entire Marvel universe. The lack of female characters in other titles was a major turn off for me. I'm selfish, I grew up with Buffy and I expected female representation in everything. If this wasn't enough to turn me off then Ang Lee's horrendous attempt at the superhero genre certainly did. (Eric Bana, really?)

Robert Downy Jr as Tony Stark
Therefore whenThe Incredible Hulk, hit the screens I didn't exactly jump at the chance to see it and I probably wouldn't have seen Iron Man either if it hadn't have been boys choice for the movie that week. Fate works in mysterious ways sometimes.

I wasn't expecting much. I thought at the very least I could perve on Robert Downy Jr. for a couple of hours. But I was blown away, it was one of my favourite films of the year. It's funny and endearing and even Gwyneth Paltrow didn't ruin it. It was so good my dad even enjoyed it, and he doesn't like anyway. Basically, I was totally hooked on all things Marvel.

I broadened my comic books horizon beyond the X-men (and women), and soon I became obsessed with the idea of an Avengers movie. The tantalising teaser at the end of Iron Man helped to fuel my fascination... who was this mysterious Nick Fury and why was he so concerned with my beloved Tony Stark.

Cue the research and the reading – followed by the obsessing. I know I have a problem, I have come to terms with the fact that I am never going to be able to simply 'like' something, I must always fall madly and passionately in love with it. Just let me be, it's my only vice... apart from alcohol and caffeine oh and well... let's just say it's my only cultural vice, shall we.

Anyway, I liked Iron Man II, although this is a point on contention for many of my friends, I found it an enjoyable continuation of Tony Stark's storyline. It wasn't as good as Iron Man, of course, but as a sequel it holds up pretty well (bonus points for the introduction of War Machine). The end credit teaser, while not quite as intriguing as the first one, leads very nicely into the latest Marvel screen adventure, Thor.

I was hesitant about this one, more so even then The Incredible Hulk, and not just because I now had expectations. Try as I might I just couldn't imagine that anyone could possibly integrate the mystical powers of a Norse god into the science based world that Iron Man had created. There are plenty of other Avengers they could have focused on and the fact that Kenneth Branagh was directing did nothing to dampen my doubts.

Kenneth Branagh, directing a comic book movie... it's absurd! It couldn't possibly work.

Yet somehow, it does.

I was so sure it wasn't going to work, but after watching it I have to take back every negative comment I ever thought. Thor rocked my world and ate it, and I cannot wait to see how he interacts with the other Avengers, especially the dry witted Tony Stark.

I can't work out if I prefer, Thor or Iron Man just yet, but the fact that it's even in the running is a really good sign (what can I say, I really liked Iron Man).

Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings
in Thor
The performances are great, Natalie Portman is even somewhat believable as a physicist. A shout out to indie fav Kat Dennings, who steals the show with her taser skills. And let's face it, even if this film had sucked it would be well worth a look purely because of the amount of fan-service, Chris Hemsworth's Thor creates (wrestling in the mud, Branagh I salute you).

The integration between the world of the 'gods' and the Marvel 'earth' is almost flawless. The introduction sequence on Asgard (that's Thor's world) goes on for about ten minutes too long, but once you get past that the fil moves so quickly that you won't believe you've been sitting there for almost two hours. The special effects are epic, as is to be expected in a film like this, but they do not distract from the story.

Because the film is caught between two worlds, some of the character development appears rushed... Tidlewine found and issue with the believability of the romance, I on the other had can't understand how anyone could not fall in love with this:

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Yet despite Thor's short comings, I found enough in this film to keep me engrossed as well as leave me enthusiastic for a probable sequel. As usual, don't forget to stay until the end of the excessively long credits to receive a tantalising hint towards the next instalment. Which brings me to the final part of our lesson for the day, the squee educing phenomenon that is The Avengers.

It's only just started shoot, so we have a while to wait yet, but I am already sure that The Avengers is going to be either the most loved or the most hated of the Marvel movies. Not only is it the ultimate superhero movie, it's also being written and directed by the god of contemporary geekdom, Joss Whedon... expect something dark, witty and filled to the brim with pop culture references.

We all know Joss has been burned before, (X-Men anyone?) so he's not going to loosen the creative reigns if he can help it. Which means that if this film fails it's all on him. That's an awful lot of pressure to place on one man, even if he is part god. I just hope he doesn't choke.

The Avengers with Joss Whedon
Still, I shall have faith and I no matter what I will be one of the first in line to see this film.

Yes, I do realise that Captain America is released first but you will just have to forgive me for ignoring it or else this post would go forever. Anyway I kind of see it as a two hour long trailer for The Avengers. Go on hit me, I dare you. I'm going to see it, and I am probably going to enjoy it, but really i'll just be waiting for the end of the credits to see what appetite wetting teaser Joss has left for us.

Well there you have it, a very long and entirely pointless post about the Marvel comic book movies. If you have made it this far, I salute you. I also worry about you, do you not have some sort of job? I'm sorry, that was rude, I'm really trying to work on that.

I hope that I have spread some of my excitement and that you all (all 3 of you) are now jumping up and down in anticipation of Joss's latest filmic endeavour. And of course rushing out to see Thor at the cinema this weekend.

I will now leave you with this as consolation for my ramblings...

Chris Hemsworth - Servicing the lady's since 2011

Enjoy, xx