With a movie as big and anticipated as The Avengers, it's hard to imagine it being anything other than a disappointment. After all, the hype has been building since the Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk movies in 2008 and has grown even louder and more frenzied with Iron Man 2 and the success of the Thor and Captain America movies in 2011. With so much at stake -- including maintaining current franchises, setting up new ones, and recouping a budget and marketing campaign costing hundreds of millions -- the studio instinct would be to make The Avengers as big, stupid, and loud as possible. This is called "broadening the appeal," which is a polite term for dumbing a movie down so it won't confuse or offend small children, stupid people, and foreign audiences who will be following the dialogue in subtitles. It's a cynical perspective that claims that good acting, developed characters, logic, and smart writing matter less -- much less -- than bludgeoning viewers into a stupor with deafening, deadening special effects. It's the approach taken by Michael Bay with his Transformers films, and the results (and their box office success) are both infuriating and disheartening.
But The Avengers and its talented writer/director Joss Whedon didn't do that. As a result, The Avengers is so good, clever, funny, and satisfying that it not only surpassed all my expectations, but it left me with a deep, unexpected feeling of pride. Not because I was in any way involved with The Avengers, but because it's a movie that reminded me that despite the many faults and sins of America and its film industry, they're still capable of accomplishing big and amazing things. And when they're at their best, they remain the places where the world goes to see their dreams take flight.
Watch my ReThink Review of The Avengers below.
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