Saturday, May 4, 2013

Where have all the Avengers go-o-ooone?

Yes, you are supposed to be thinking of that Paula Cole song right now.

The following may be about the most obvious and unoriginal criticism that has been levied against Iron Man 3, but I came to it independently (some months ago), so I figured I might as well wheel it out here on the day the third Iron Man movie opens. It'll definitely be a lot more stale by the time Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier come out, I can tell you that, so today's the day.

One of the biggest problems about splintering the Avengers back off into their own movies, after they came together in last summer's phenomenally successful The Avengers, is that it creates an immediate need to explain where all the rest of them are.

If Tony Stark is going to be facing a crisis that could result in the end of the world -- and he damn well better be, or the stakes for this movie won't be as high as this type of movie demands -- then why aren't all his Avengers buddies helping him out on that?

I've heard the argument from comic book fans, whose hair-trigger defensiveness knows no bounds, that they are all "off doing their own things." That sounds like comic book rationale if I've ever heard it.

So what, we're supposed to believe we live in a world where not only is there one impending threat to our way of living, but as many as five or six -- at one time?

Even if Captain America or the Hulk or even frigging Black Widow have other things they're dealing with at the same time that Tony Stark is fighting off the Mandarin, what are the chances that those other things are reaching a crisis point at the exact same time Tony's issue is reaching a crisis point? Even if Captain A. is fighting off the so-called Winter Soldier -- and I have no idea if that character is actually that movie's villain -- then couldn't he put one of his interns on the issue for maybe 12 hours while he goes off and tries to prevent Tony's Malibu house from falling into the ocean?

It's one of those areas where we are supposed to suspend disbelief, and that's fine. I'm sure that whatever criticisms people ultimately have about Iron Man 3, the absence of Hawkeye and Thor won't be one of them. I've cast the comic book nerds as the ones who err on the side of forgiveness in matters like this, anyway. You'd be right to ask me who the comic book nerd is now if I do the blog equivalent of pushing my glasses up higher on the bridge of my nose and asking William Shatner about the physics of Star Trek's beaming technology.

But I do think there should be some cake/eat it too backlash on Marvel for its relentless ambition about squeezing as many movies as possible out of these characters. We are bound to be scratching our heads over it eventually. Because it's not just Tony Stark who will be left to fend for himself in Iron Man 3. As I've mentioned earlier, in movies that will both hit theaters by next summer, Thor and Captain America are also going to be left by their lonesome to face equally apocalyptic challenges.

And then there's going to be the challenge of bringing them all back together again in The Avengers 2. "Okay, so all your previous end-of-the-world crises weren't really that bad ... but this end-of-the-world crisis? Let's get the band back together again."

Marvel also finds itself limited by the all-or-nothing approach. Like, let's say that only the Hulk were available. After all, what could the Hulk be doing? Every movie about the Hulk has been about his origins, not about his "ongoing projects." The very nature of the Hulk means he is not advising any national security councils or trying to ferret out terrorists from holes in the ground. He's a volcano trapped in a human shell. Can't the Hulk just come and help Tony? Maybe he could stop and get Nick Fury on the way.

So it's one of those situations where "movie reality" doesn't align with "reality reality." And really, that's probably okay.

I actually had an opportunity to see Iron Man 3 last night -- I mean, of course I had an opportunity, since it midnight-screened everywhere from here to East Bumchunk, Iowa. So I should say I had an easy opportunity to see Iron Man 3, one that didn't require me to stay up until 2:30 a.m.

See, the midnight screening time is really only a restriction on the east coast. Out here in California, they can start showing that movie as early as 9 p.m., since 9 p.m. is midnight in New York. And so it was that I came out of a 7:35 showing of Pain & Gain (liked it) and had the chance to choose IM3 as the second movie in my double feature rather than Oblivion (wish I had). In fact, IM3 was playing in the theater directly across from Pain & Gain -- the theater where Oblivion had been showing all day. Since I had to leave P & G as soon as the credits started just to be sure I'd make it to the start of Oblivion, I had no time for dilly-dallying, and when Oblivion wasn't there, I could have just seated myself for Iron Man. There were only a half-dozen other people in the theater.

Instead, I ventured into the theater's other wing and found the spot where Oblivion had been moved to accommodate the "midnight" screening.

And it probably was some amount of anti-Iron Man bias that caused me to pass up this easy opportunity. I liked but didn't love the first movie, and I guess I'm pretty much alone there. I didn't really like the second movie, though in that case I have more company.

And now three with these missing Avengers?

I'm not saying I might wait until DVD, but ... I might wait until DVD.

No comments: