'Marvel's The Avengers' Does Not Live Up To The Hype; Or Does It? (DEBATE)

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"Marvel's The Avengers" has arrived in theaters with a bang.

Joss Whedon's superhero supergroup mash-up has already earned over $300 million around the globe and is poised for near-record grosses in U.S. theaters over the next few days. Everyone you know will probably see "The Avengers," which raises the obvious question: does the film live up to its advance hype?

To get to the bottom of this, HuffPost Entertainment drafted executive entertainment editor Michael Hogan (who says the hype is justified) and editor Christopher Rosen (who says it isn't) to debate the merits of "Marvel's The Avengers." While they arm-wrestle to see which one gets to be Iron Man, check out their arguments below. Then cast your vote and keep the conversation going in the comments section.


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'The Avengers' Does NOT Live Up To The Hype

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Who makes the better argument?

Christopher Rosen Managing entertainment editor, The Huffington Post

"Marvel's The Avengers" is the cinematic equivalent of a Chipotle burrito.

It's made up of a lot of ingredients you love (Robert Downey Jr., Joss Whedon's snarky wit, massive visual effects, explosions), some you don't (a third dimension, roughly 20 minutes of unnecessary and dragged-out exposition, what feels like the entire third act of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"), and winds up being perfectly acceptable as summer entertainment. You can enjoy "The Avengers" without feeling too guilty or gross afterward; it's not like going to McDonald's.

Which is why Marvel's latest blockbuster doesn't come close to living up to the hype.

Make no mistake: "The Avengers" is good. It's not "sick." It's not "awesome." It's not "epic" (except in length). If you're a comic book guy or gal (or even a wannabe comic book guy or gal), you'll love it; if you don't know the Tesseract from Burt Bacharach, you'll sit there twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the next big set piece to happen. (Have I mentioned that this thing is long?)

Because, however, of the overwhelming marketing campaign, the chipper tweets of those lucky enough to have seen "The Avengers" already, and the high critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, you might go into the film expecting something like "The Dark Knight." Or, perhaps more appropriately, "Iron Man." The problem is that "The Avengers" isn't like those films, because it's not a fresh take on the comic-book genre. Whedon doesn't reinvent the wheel with "The Avengers" -- despite what the hype might have you expecting -- he just continues the yeomanly work done previously by Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston and Louis Leterrier in the previous Marvel burritos "Thor," "Captain America" and "The Incredible Hulk." As such, headlines like "Five Best Movie Summers Ever--Where Will 'The Avengers' Rank?" might be a little much. After all, how "best" could a movie be when it has such an uninteresting villain? No offense to Tom Hiddleston (swoon and all), but does anyone actually think Loki is diabolical enough to defeat the "Avengers" superhero super-team? This guy got beat up by Thor alone in "Thor"; even with an army of alien robot-things picked up off Michael Bay's "Transformers" cutting room floor, Loki is less than imposing. Because of that, there are no stakes in "The Avengers." Because there are no stakes, Whedon's film becomes a waiting game for all that third-act stuff Marvel has already given away in the trailers. After a while, that waiting wears on you.

(Speaking of stakes, it's difficult to get really invested in something where nearly every character is immortal and/or invincible. Just sayin'.)

Not to sound too preachy (too late), but hype is a dangerous weapon. In the wrong hands, it can spiral out of control, create unreasonable expectations and result in a swift backlash. Unfortunately for the Avengers, defeating "Avengers" hype proves a lot more difficult than defeating Loki.

Michael Hogan Digital Director, Vanity Fair


"The Avengers" is two and a half hours of pure, unadulterated fun -- the cinematic equivalent not just of a roller coaster ride but of the whole damn amusement park. Drop tower, log flume, Tilt-A-Whirl, Gravitron -- you name it, it's in there.

No, it's not a dark, moody critique of our fallen social order in the mold of Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" series, but it's not mindless either. As Mark Ruffalo recently acknowledged, the endlessly bickering Avengers -- Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk -- serve as a pretty good metaphor for today's ultra-partisan America, where we're all too busy taking cheap shots across the aisle to even think about tackling any global threats.

But unlike Nolan, director Joss Whedon doesn't want you to walk out of the theater pondering a political message. He wants you flying like Iron Man, propelled by a twin jet pack of smart comedy and face-melting action.

And make no mistake: the action is epic. There's an obvious comparison to the city-smashing mayhem of "Transformers 3," but the difference is that it's actually possible to follow what's happening in "The Avengers." There is a crispness, despite the high-octane velocity. It's not a blur.

My opponent in this debate complains that there are no stakes in this story because the good guys can't lose. And he has a point: we learn early on that Thor and The Hulk are effectively immortal, and Tom Hiddleston's Loki isn't the most threatening villain we've ever seen. But when's the last time you faced death in the course of a week, or a month, or a year? Does that mean you're living a pointless existence with no "stakes"?

If you ask me, their invincibility makes these superheroes more relatable: like you and me, they are preoccupied not with survival but with such all-too-human matters as pride, vanity and comfort (Bruce Banner's main complaint about his Hulk alter ego is that it really hurts). Only after they've made a mess of everything by pursuing their own selfish interests are they finally able to stand together and fight for what's right.

Look, I won't try to convince you to care about the tesseract or Loki's pact with evil aliens or any of the rest of it. I don't think even Whedon thinks that's possible, which is part of why this movie is so much fun. The point is to spend time with the characters, whom we know not just from the previous films in the series but from comic books and assorted childhood memories.

There must have been times when Whedon felt like Nick Fury as he tried to manage all the movie-star egos in this mix, but the results are really extraordinary. Everyone from Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. to Tom Hiddleston and Gwyneth Paltrow is in fine form, and by now you've heard how Mark Ruffalo quietly steals the show. That said, I probably had the most fun watching Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth -- two guys who weren't really movie stars until Marvel cast them in these roles. For that reason, it was possible to suspend disbelief and pretend that I was flying along not with two increasingly well-paid actors but with Captain America and Thor, defenders of the universe. (And no, I wasn't able to sit through "Thor" either.)

All I ask when I plunk down for a superhero movie is to be delighted, transported, not bored. So maybe the best thing I can say about this 150-minute extravaganza is that I laughed, cheered, gasped and clapped, and never once looked at my watch.



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'The Avengers' Does NOT Live Up To The Hype


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