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May 5, 2012

Face front, true believers!
Posted by Avram Grumer at 05:40 PM * 158 comments

We (Chris and I, and a bunch of local friends) saw The Avengers last night. It was a lot better than I was expecting based on this trailer:

Seriously, if you see it, stay through the credits. Even the long, boring text credits where they list the key grips and secondary unit accountants. A dangling plot thread is resolved!

Feel free to rant and/or rave about the movie in this thread; avoid if you hate spoilers and haven’t seen it.

Comments on Face front, true believers!:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 05:49 PM:

It was kinda unrealistic. I mean, that shwarma place looked like something you'd find in the Village, not within a couple blocks of Grand Central.

#3 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 07:13 PM:

I am sure that I have seen the Bentley that John Steed was driving on Top Gear, and James May was right about it not being a Merlin engine.

#4 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 08:20 PM:

Doyle and I saw it this afternoon down at Lancaster (biggest screen north of the Notch!) and enjoyed it a great deal.

Particularly the flying liopleurodons.

#5 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 08:35 PM:

As I said on Facebook, I really want to see the medical studies on how superheroes deal with concussion trauma.

Also, I can see Tony Stark taking on the mission of rebuilding Midtown and putting his name on everything.

#6 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 08:36 PM:

Saw it this afternoon with my husband and middle daughter (youngest was at the Thursday midnight show with her college buddies; don't know if eldest has seen it yet). We all enjoyed it immensely.

I was struck by how much the Hulk looked like Bruce Banner. I mean, of course, he should; but I don't think any of the previous iterations did.

#7 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 08:37 PM:

Jim, I feel sure those were magical liopleurodons. But they weren't saying anything.

#8 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 09:49 PM:

I have to say, flying Flobberworms of Ultimate Despair and all, I haven't enjoyed a comic book movie so much since the '78 Superman.

#9 ::: Christopher Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 10:38 PM:

Don't get me wrong, the 2012 Avengers movie was absolutely brilliant, but who wouldn't jump at the chance to see Paul Linde as Loki???

#10 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 11:45 PM:

I saw it last night. I like how at the end, the A that was the only remaining letter of STARK on the tower looked like the A in Avengers. I liked it when Cap handed Nick a small rectangle of paper. I liked it when the Hulk and Loki did a credible recreation of the scene in the Warner Brothers cartoon where Sylvester tries to scare an elephant using a windup mouse, and the elephant picks him up and bashes the floor with him. I liked it when Cap got the movie reference.

I don't know if I look forward to the designated villain in the next one. No doubt Jim Starlin will say something at a convention about creating Thanos, and this will so enrage whoever's in charge of Marvel this week that they'll declare he never even worked for them.

Oh, and I particularly liked Natasha's interrogation skills. I thought they were better than her action scene skills. More impressive.

And my hat's off to Phil Coulson. The man was a fan.

#11 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 11:49 PM:

Also, as I remarked to the nice man who found the $20 on the floor, I felt like I was remembering why I used to read all those comic books in the first place.

#12 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:07 AM:

I usually watch to the end of credits. If there hadn't been ten kids and two other grownups already out in the lobby (including my daughter), I'd have done so. As it is, I felt I had to scrambooch after the first bonus scene. I might go see it in 2D, and then I'll stay around.

#13 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:31 AM:

Since they can make superhero movies this good now, I'd like to see them start a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents franchise. NoMan, Menthor, Dynamo, Weed, Kitten, Raven, Dynamite, and Lightning. Separately and together.

NoMan should always be lit from above so that his eyes are mostly shadows.

Dynamo will be lit from the side with a blue gel, and a yellow one on the other side for the highlight. Of course.

#14 ::: Liz Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:31 AM:

It was a lot of fun, even if it was occasionally ridiculous. (Flying aircraft carrier, huh?) It did reinforce my mild bitterness that Black Widow (and Hawkeye, too, but definitely the one lonely lady*) didn't get their own movies. Black Widow was relating her backstory, and I was all, "dangit, that would have made a good movie, Hollywood!" But nooo, they get to be lumped in with the Professor and Mary Anne under "and the rest." And I think I liked Black Widow best of the Avengers, since she was the one who actually got to show her humanity and quiver with fear. (I have a thing for Badass Normals who get to be awesome without the booster pack of superpowers.)


I was impressed with how they made everyone's individual character arc short and sweet, and made the main character development collective. They definitely didn't waste all the build-up they did with the earlier movies. I'm totally stoked that they basically made a mosaic novel out of a bunch of different movies.

*There was one moment when a bunch of the guys were all standing around, post-battle, fists clenched, and the testosterone radiating off the screen made my head spin. I shouldn't have been surprised. After all, what could I expect when they decided to take a bunch of the manliest man characters in Western culture and stick them in a room together to compare metaphorical dick sizes.**

**not that there's anything wrong with that. I thought it was hilarious.

#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:42 AM:

Now that they've got the Avengers going as a franchise, they can use it to introduce other Marvel heroes. I can totally see them doing one or two new heroes per movie, and then the popular ones get spin-off movies or TV shows.

Also, I totally want a Power Man/Iron Fist movie set during the '70s, done all retro-style. It'd be a tough sell for the studio, since you couldn't really use the current movies for a launchpad, with the 40-year time gap. It'd be a stand-alone project.

#16 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:57 AM:

I enjoyed it more than the other Marvel Avenger movies that I have seen. Iron Man was okay, I gave a pass to Iron Man 2, Captain America was all right, Thor had me laughing in many places where laughs were not intended, and I have not seen any of the Hulk movies. With The Avengers I was laughing with the movie rather than at it, save for a few product placement moments where I was nearly the only person laughing. Is it really an advantage for a car to have its logo front and center for the big battle scene? Also, government agents driving brand new shiny Acuras? Heh. Also Tony Stark in an Acura NSX? Heh again. The Dr. Pepper thing was more subtle, but as I dislike Dr. Pepper for its "manly" ads I notice it when the Dr. Pepper truck blew up. Really, is that useful to them? At least they did not have Captain America asking for one. Still, the product placement was only somewhat silly and did not distract me too much. Thanks for the unintentional laughs boys.

Right, too much about the product placement. I do not love any of these characters so I cannot say if they are spot on or not. I thought the villain was not having to carry the idiot ball with his evil plan, just be somewhat shortsighted. I did wonder why he did not use more of his secret weapon to assemble a bigger team. I did like that he was not all knowing and sometimes got it wrong when he was trying to manipulate people. The ensemble was good with just enough, "Who'd win" fights for the fanboys. The action had enough plot advancement and interesting dialogue going on where I was not checking my watch to see when it would end (I'm looking at you Peter Jackson). The aircraft carrier take off scene is silly, but I imagine that is straight from the comic books. A good popcorn movie.

On a personal note I am a little sad that I apparently left my hand saw in the yard when I packed up to go to the movie and thus it is now gone. I shall have to visit some yard sales and see if I can get another inexpensively.

#17 ::: Keith Edwards ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 01:24 AM:

The Hulk stole the show. And all around, the right balance of humor and seriousness. Tom Hiddelston's Loki was one of the more interesting villains I've seen in a while. He's motive is a mixture of under-appreciation, unrealized ambition, and fear of irrelevance. How great is that?

#18 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 01:35 AM:

Seriously, if you see it, stay through the credits. Even the long, boring text credits where they list the key grips and secondary unit accountants. A dangling plot thread is resolved!

We didn't get that in Australia, just the bonus scene in between the big name credits and the small print credits. I think I read somewhere it was added for the US release?

(I always stay to the end of the credits. Partly in case there's a bonus scene, partly to give the crowds time to disperse, and partly just because while there's still movement on the screen the movie isn't over yet.)

#19 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 03:17 AM:

Paul A. @18: I describe myself as a movie-credit dead-ender. I stay for the same reasons you do, and, out of respect for the people who made the movie.

There are very few movies I think of as a complete waste of time: Batman Forever, Dick Tracy, and the other Avengers movie (Uma Thurman had a lot to answer for — I'm glad she had a chance to be involved in the Kill Bill movies). Even the bad movies I'm glad I had a chance to see — otherwise, I'd never have believed how bad they were.

#20 ::: Mike W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 06:59 AM:

Mishalak @16: My favorite product placements:

  1. The shiny red Oracle/Sun mainframe-looking box in the background of the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility before it's destroyed. Seemed so blatant, yet such a weird thing to advertise. As a Java programmer, it particularly stood out to me.
  2. A scene in Manhattan with destroyed cars strewn about, and in the background a Farmers' Insurance branch. A nice looking and distinctive one, at that, looked very mid-century (probably in Cleveland). Seemed even more memorable after seeing the Avengers-themed Farmers' commercial.
  3. An HSBC branch--and as I remember it, undamaged--among the ruins of New York's financial district. Perhaps some sort of statement about it being a safe place to park your money?

I'm surprised that they didn't make the Galaga-playing crewman into an advertisement for XBox Live's Game Room, or a similar service; if you're already name-checking a copyrighted property, might as well get paid for it. Also, I don't think I'll ever get tired of the Tony Stark Black Sabbath references.

#21 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 07:11 AM:

KipW@10: I don't know if I look forward to the designated villain in the next one.

I wouldn't assume the post-credits teaser with Thanos was an indication of where a second movie might go since the reveal was all about telling you who the "he" referred to at several points was, the villain Loki was actually allied with, the Big Bad who the Chitauri troops belonged to. (It took me a second viewing and playing close attention to the dialogue to pick up on this, I admit.) It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to reveal who your movie's villain has been working with and have it be someone most of your audience won't recognize. That's an amazing piece of fan service.

#22 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 08:47 AM:

Was it me, or were the fleeing extras given faces in a way that most action movies don't bother to do?

Also, I loved the old man who was remarkably unfazed and helpful after Bruce fell out of the sky.

#23 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 10:00 AM:

Mike W @ 20:

The shiny red Oracle/Sun mainframe-looking box in the background of the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility before it's destroyed. Seemed so blatant, yet such a weird thing to advertise. As a Java programmer, it particularly stood out to me.

There have been quite a few issues of Oracle magazine with Iron Man-themed covers lately. Once upon a time, my collector self might have squirreled those away as oddities. This time, I just thought "Larry Ellison" and tossed them.

#24 ::: Ian Osmond ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 10:24 AM:

Sarah @22 -- fleeing extras given faces, the fact eighty agents died actually referenced, and people feeling bad about it -- and the memorial wall on the news with people putting flowers, and notes, and teddy bears up.

That last just GOT me. I've always felt bad about action movies where cities get blown up, because you KNOW innocent people died, but nobody CARES. In this one, they SHOW, at least by panning over news footage, that people died, and that other people care. And that it MATTERS that the heroes saved the city, because MORE people would have died otherwise.

#25 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 10:30 AM:

MikeW, #20 -- It's silly to be too literal-minded about it, but none of the New York City scenes appeared to be set anywhere near our "financial district." That's Wall Street, miles downtown. All the action appeared to be around 42nd Street and some blocks to the south.

Sarah, #22: The old man was in fact played by the great Harry Dean Stanton. Here's Whedon explaining how and why he cast him.

#26 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 10:37 AM:

Avram @1 gets the real point. Considering the fighting seems to range from 45th (where Iron Man out-corners the fliers) down to 38th-39th (the cordon is supposedly at 39th, but I'm pretty sure they get south of it) and not much east or west of Park, we can reasonably restrict "a few blocks" to, say, 2nd-7th/8th in proper midtown. If we want to be super crazy generous we can let them have everything from the flatiron to the park, river to river.

Let's go to Yelp.

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of shwarma places in midtown. Slightly surprisingly, many of them are fleishig kosher joints. Again, not surprisingly, you're right that the "look" is wrong -- midtown shwarma places, even midtown "joints", are far more sterile than depicted. The best meat-in-pita in midtown, of course, is to be found from carts.

This is, however, New York. So:
Troy Turkish Grill, 40th and 9th. Blackboard menu, brick walls, slightly too large.
Karam Restaurant II, 45th btwn 5th/6th. Slightly nicer decor as well.

So you're right that the interior depicted is more villagey, but it's easily within the realm of possibility that they just went to Hell's Kitchen.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 11:02 AM:

The area where most of the destruction takes place isn't far from Marvel's offices. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they have a favorite shawarma joint.

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 11:16 AM:

My bet would be Olympic Pita on 38th just east of Sixth Avenue: good reviews, large selection, glatt kosher, they deliver, they've got a lunch special, and they're open until 11:00 most nights. It may not look like that closing scene, but I can see it being a favorite of people who work there.

#29 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:39 PM:

Agent Phil Coulson, in addition to being a fan, is also a secret badass. (What else would you expect from one of Nick Fury's people?)

#30 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:42 PM:

Dave Bell@3: Aren't Merlins airplane engines, and rather large ones at that? Or am I missing something?

#31 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Various folks have put Merlin aircraft engines into automobiles.

Which reminds me of a joke.

An Old Russian and a New Russian find themselves lying side by side on stretchers in an emergency room. They start to talk about the accidents that brought them there.

"Here's what happened to me," says the Old Russian. "I took my war trophy Messerschmidt engine and put it into my Yugo. Things seemed to be going well, so I took it out on the highway. I drove faster and faster--I was about to overtake a Mercedes--when the steering could no longer handle the speed, the brakes burned out, and I crashed into a tree. What about you?"

"Well," says the New Russian. "I was on the highway in my Mercedes when I looked into the rear-view mirror and saw that I was about to be overtaken by a Yugo. I thought my car must have stalled so I got out to see what the problem was."

#32 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 01:27 PM:

TNH @28, if I remember correctly, there's a middle-eastern place that serves shwarma and pita right below Midtown Comics (the one a bit south of Times Square, at the Watchmen intersection). I wouldn't be surprised if it saw more than its fair share of comics pros. Doesn't look anything like the one in the movie, though.

#33 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 02:05 PM:

Thinking about it some more, I'd also really like a movie based on Nextwave: Agents of HATE. Maybe they could get Tarantino to direct.

#34 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 02:23 PM:

We got to see it last week. (We stay for the credits--we always stay for the credits, ex officio, and Danny has a credit for The Avengers which made me happy). The first ten minutes seemed a little slow, but then I found I was grinning all the way through.

Though we all of us moaned when Grand Central got trashed. I think the Marvel universe needs to establish a society for the preservation of historical landmarks from Wrong-Doers.

#35 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 02:35 PM:

I am not great at superhero movies because I too cringe at all the destruction. "No! Don't break that! Someone made that and someone will have to fix it!" I also critique evacuations (the one at the beginning: no. If you do not know how bad something is, then you are still open to blowing everything up as they did, and that means you do not pack up your stuff as you leave. Drills, people) and tactical decisions (why doesn't everyone get an Ironman suit?).

I didn't like the let's-punch-everyone fight scenes. Tactics, people. Hawkeye and Black Widow could take everyone except Hulk because they don't just bash their foes in the face and expect that to fix everything.

Best part? No torture. I was expecting that. I was sighing in anticipation. Then! Actual useful interrogation that's just talking and learning things and seriously, why did they not get their own movie.

#36 ::: becca ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 05:18 PM:

As an adoptive mom, am I being oversensitive to Thor's off-hand "he's adopted" as a way to disown Loki's behavior?

#37 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 05:50 PM:

I just want to say that, even without sound, that trailer is AWESOME.

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 06:44 PM:

I liked shwarma before it was cool.

#39 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 06:54 PM:

But seriously.

I saw the 12 noon showing.

That was sweet. That was masterful.

It was great in a vaguely frightening way. I sometimes wonder what the world would be like if the U.S. had someone other than Bush in charge, and whoever that was had decided to use cultural weaponry, minted by guys like Whedon.

I loved that the heroes were different. e.g., "Cap" was straight, dutiful, almost naive . . . but he had to be.

I'd heard that there was something at the very end of the credits. About 2/3 of the audience were filing out by the end of the "display" credits. Sensing that they were True Fans -- one of them knew who Stan Lee was -- I told them to hang on. I think they were appreciative.

#40 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 07:17 PM:

Madeleine Robins @34: I think the Marvel universe needs to establish a society for the preservation of historical landmarks from Wrong-Doers.

On the way out of the theater, I was saying that the next movie needs to feature Damage Control.

#41 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 07:22 PM:

My wife and I and a friend saw it today and loved it. I was momentarily worried that all the ecstatic reviews might have been caught up in a collective hype fever, but the movie delivered and then some.

Good for Joss Whedon and everyone else who poured their efforts into the movie. On occasion, the Hollywood machine produces outstanding entertainment.

Oh, and "Uhyx? FZNFU!" is my favorite line.

#42 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 08:22 PM:

Rob Rusick @19: I'm pretty much with you on Dick Tracy, but I did think that two very brief scenes with Dustin Hoffman were amusing. Even if they sort of contradicted one another.

Rob Hansen @21: That's a good thought. I figured since it was Thanos, he'd be back, because, you know, Thanos.

(Incidentally, when that lower lip came into view, I first sat there like an idiot thinking: Darkseid? Did they make a deal with... no... I know who that is.) The Skrulls actually have lower lips about like that, don't they?

#43 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 08:40 PM:

I was picking likely candidates based on decor: Olympic is way too spartan to be the referent. And Maoz, while fantastic, is kosher/vegetarian. When the BD/HD Netflix stream hits, we can freeze frame to see if there's yogurt sauce or not, which will let us determine if it's meant to be a kosher place.

I still say they should have gone to a cart. Those guys don't leave their spots for ANYTHING. An alien invasion as small-scale as that wouldn't shut them down.

#44 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 08:57 PM:

I was delighted to see the "trailer" here, which included my high school friend Eric Kramer - currently the dad in "Good Luck Charlie" on, I think, Disney - as Thor (from an Incredible Hulk TV movie). Eric's dad used to be a pro football player, and his child ended up very large as well.

I saw the movie today, and really liked it. But I wonder at the intelligence of an alien invader that shoots up streets and cars and rounds up people in a bank to blow up instead of, you know, knocking down a few buildings. But then I suppose that very aspect was what made the film more like a comic book; illogical carnage.

Also: Yay, Hulk. Some hilarious stuff with him during the final battle.

#45 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 09:33 PM:

Becca, I also noticed that.

I did my best not to count women and people of color, but once or twice I had to. The people I was with would say I was missing the point; in response, I say I am making another.

#46 ::: Sister Rail Gun ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 09:49 PM:

Becca @36: As an adoptee, no, you're not.

#47 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 10:53 PM:

Has anyone seen it who dislikes Joss Whedon? I ask because my sister's partner, despite being a fan and having watched all the other movies, refuses to see anything by Joss Whedon (he saw, I think, two things of his once and won't go anywhere near him now).

He won't listen to us say it's good, but we like Joss Whedon (and have to admit some of the quips from people not Iron Man, who it was in character for, were a little overboard.)

#48 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:30 AM:

Oh, for heaven's sake, leave him home if he's got that much of a Joss Whedon hate on.

#49 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 02:14 AM:

Avram @ 40: I remember Damage Control. But every time I see a film set in NYC that features wholesale destruction, I think of the difficulty our apartment building (which was not an historic building but was in a "designated historic block") had getting approval from Landmarks for the color of paint to be used on the exterior of the building. I hate to think what they'd do about trashing Grand Central or the Chrysler Building.

#50 ::: Narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 06:33 AM:

@ Ian Osmand - "they SHOW [...] that people died, and that other people care."

I remember one of the Austin Powers movies doing something like that. Normally in Bondian films the anonymous bodyguards, goons, redshirts and private army soldiers get offed en masse with no-one caring, but in this one you see a considerate human resources officer for the Bad Guy Corp ringing up the widows and families and regretfully passing on the news.

#51 ::: Julie Li ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Jim @ 31, lol! True story: Long ago, and far away, I owned both a Yugo and a Mercedes, back to back. As the owner/driver of the Yugo, I noted with interest that my trying to pass *anything* or *anyone* seemed to produce a jolt of testosterone in the other driver. I finally just gave up and drove the right lane. One year plus one day of the ownership, the day after all warranties ran out, the clutch crapped out. It capped a year of mechanical frustration, and we decided to get something *reliable* -- yep: A Mercedes. The first thing that was clear to me was no matter how fast or slow I drove, NO ONE wanted to pass me. . . .

The second thing? That I was going to *have* to watch the speedometer: the Yugo signaled very clearly (steering shudder) when I approached 60, and a wobble at 70. The Mercedes? Nothing. I was coming home from work night two, some Bozo was doing a rolling road block in the left lane, matched by his buddy in the middle. I scoped out the road ahead, saw a gap in the right, swung over, hit the gas, and pulled out in front of the traveling road show, and happened to glance at my speedometer: I was going 95MPH on the DC Beltway, during rush hour. . . . Sobering. Very sobering. No a shudder, shake, tremor or lurch to warn me. (Miscellaneous added bonus: speed bumps no longer registered at any speed.)

I'm not a particular speed demon, but curiosity finally got me: a few years later, same car, in Nevada, daylight, I finally made my peak land speed, 110MPH. I can die happy now.

As a good and committed Prole, I admit to years of embarrassment for not only *owning* her, but *loving* owning her. Gave her up for good when I arrived in WV: the sheer terror on the face of the local mechanics, and the impossibility of making 160 mile round trips for tuneups. . . .

#52 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:06 PM:

little pink beast @30
Jim Macdonald @31

The RR Merlin is a supercharged V12 27-litre aero engine. The prototype ran at 740hp while late-model Merlins were tested at 2600hp by Rolls Royce. It remains in RAF service today, almost three-quarters of a century after entering operational service.

The RR Meteor was a version of the Merlin used in tanks. No supercharger, and many components made of steel rather than light alloys, but it produced a reliable 600hp, and Meteor-engined tanks were used by the Royal Engineers in the 1991 Gulf War.

There is a Bentley re-engined with one of those brutes, and it isn't clear whether it is a Merlin or a Meteor. Photographs here

There was also the BMW Brutus, with a 46-litre engine, more info here.

And then you have four of the things in Just Jane.

#53 ::: becca ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:26 PM:

@45 and 46, Diatryma and Sister Rail Gun.

both my (adopted) kids thought the line hysterical - but then, they've grown up always knowing they were adopted and no big deal was made of it. And they don't hang around political blogs to see how the religious right and the Catholic Church is implying that adoptive families are somehow "less than" birth families.

#54 ::: becca ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:29 PM:

@45 and 46, Diatryma and Sister Rail Gun.

both my (adopted) kids thought the line hysterical - but then, they've grown up always knowing they were adopted and no big deal was made of it. And they don't hang around political blogs to see how the religious right and the Catholic Church is implying that adoptive families are somehow "less than" birth families.

#55 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:38 PM:

On a side note: Best Loki picture ever.

#56 ::: Lila got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 12:41 PM:

Post containing one URL, no words of power that I know of, but possibly the URL is from a domain that attracts gnomish notice?

#57 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 03:18 PM:

Does anyone else think Cobie Smulders would make a good Modesty Blaise?

(Saw the film this morning, need to go back and watch it again. I know there are things that got by me...)

#58 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 04:20 PM:

#45 and 46 and 53
both my (adopted) kids thought the line hysterical - but then, they've grown up always knowing they were adopted

Thinking it over, the lines does fit with Thor's characterization as well meaning but clueless; also Loki *didn't* know he was adopted and most of his villainy stems from finding out by accident and taking the news *really* badly.

#59 ::: Kelley Wegeng ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 05:15 PM:

I really enjoyed the movie. I've also really enjoyed hearing people talk about the movie. My favorite comment thus far: In the summer of 2012, kids, your Aunt Robin decided to join The Avengers...

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 05:22 PM:

Hawkeye: the world's worst "professional" archer?

Summary: An archery instructor analyzes Hawkeye's form in the movie, and it's rank-beginner-level execrable.

Side note 1: A lot of the things he says make sense to me just by virtue of having read the descriptions of archery, and teaching people to shoot, in the Changed World books.

Side note 2: KeithS shoots in this guy's club, the Pasadena Roving Archers. How cool is that?

#61 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Would someone who has approximately no acquaintance with superhero comic books enjoy the movie, do you think?

#62 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 06:26 PM:

Cally @ 61: I have little/no experience with the relevant comics (or indeed with superhero comics in their paper form) and enjoyed the hell out of Avengers. It was clear from the group I went with (and from this thread) that there are bits of fan service that you'll miss; these are compensated for by the "wow" moments where the fans know what's coming and you don't.

#63 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Cally, @61 and wrw @ 62.

Conversely, while I enjoyed the hell out of the movie (most of my knowledge of the characters comes from hazily remembered childhood cartoons and the first Iron Man film), my husband, who admitted it took him until they were on the flying fortress to work out who Bruce Banner actually was, did not enjoy it as much. He constantly felt things were going over his head, and the rest was noise and patchy special effects.

I could actually hear Nathan Fillion delivering a lot of Robert Downey Jrs lines. Not in a bad way :)

#64 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 07:18 PM:

Do you have experience with the previous movies? I'm not sure that someone who hasn't seen them will be able to figure out What the Foo is going on in this movie, because introductions and backstory are mostly missing. This is the last act, and if you walked in late it may not make a lot of sense.

#65 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 08:10 PM:

Seconded, Jim (@64): I went with someone who had seen most of the earlier movies but never opened a comic book; I'm a long-time comic fan who hadn't seen the movies--and neither of us had any problems enjoying ourselves. How someone with neither background would react, I've no idea. But (FWIW), I suspect it would be relatively easy to rent a DVD or two. As opposed to locating and reading 40 or 50 years worth of comics . . .

#66 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 08:43 PM:

Wow. Those cars remind me a little of that motorcycle some German shop built around a T55 engine.

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 09:18 PM:

That arm must hurt from the string-slap he's getting with his elbow not rotated. (I swear - it's something you should learn by the second lesson. Been there, done that, and more than 30 years later I can still keep my arm out of the way.)

#68 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 10:47 PM:

Intuitive eating... can anyone identify the science fiction novel where this was a theme? It came out circa 1968, probably by a British author. Colonists on a new planet had to let themselves go into a trance and let their subconscious selves and archetypes tell them which plants in the new world were good to eat. Everyone had visions from the mythologies of their respective ancestors. Growing up in lily-white* South Dakota, this was my first exposure to people with names like Parvati, or to many of the mythological traditions in the book.

* Away from the reservations, that is.

#69 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 10:56 PM:

I went in having read a lot of Avengers in the 1970s, and having seen "Iron Man" and "Thor". One reference I missed (my daughter informs me) is to a combo attack in the Avengers video game--but there were clearly fans in the audience who recognized and appreciated it. (I heard them cheer and figured it must be a reference to something.)

#70 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 11:21 PM:

Jim @64

Umm, which are the previous movies? I've seen Iron Man (if there were two or more of them, I saw #1), and some Spiderman movies, and some Batman movies (not all of either of them) and I don't remember seeing any other superhero movies. Well, there was some blacksploitation super something movie back in the late '70s, but I walked out of that.

Oh, right, and I saw the first Hellboy movie.

#71 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 11:56 PM:

Iron Man 1/2 and Thor are the ones I've seen. There's also a Hulk movie in there somewhere, but I saw the other one when there were two of them. And Captain America. But having seen only Iron Man and Thor, I think you'll get enough out of the Avengers. You might be able to get by with just Iron Man and reading a synopsis of Thor to figure out who Loki is, and even then, Iron Man is mostly because I think it's useful to have an idea of who has superpowers and who does not.

Really, the synopsis of Thor might be the most important part of the prequel movies.

#72 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 11:58 PM:

Cally, #70: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are the most recent ones. Go back a couple of years, and you get The Hulk. I don't think Hawkeye or Black Widow have had movies; I'm not sure about Nick Fury.

#73 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 12:01 AM:

Do I need to read a Thor plot synopsis if I know the Norse myths? OK, silly me, I suppose I probably do; they're likely to have changed things a lot.

I've not seen the Hulk but I have a faint memory of seeing an episode or two of the TV show back in the '70s or '80s.

#74 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 12:13 AM:

Hawkeye and Black Widow have been minor characters in a couple of the other movies; they haven't had films of their own. Nick Fury has been in all of the movies; he's the one continuing character in all of them.

They're building a mosaic/braided sixteen-hour-long film.

BTW, aside from the names, the actual Norse material has little to do with the Marvel-Norse stories.

#75 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 12:27 AM:

Thor actively annoys me because it is not really like the mythology at all, plus it neatly shoves our universe in the 'utterly meaningless' pile, at least in its movie. Read the synopsis so you know where it departs and who this random hammer dude is. Otherwise he comes even more out of nowhere.

#76 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 12:47 AM:

Thank you, everyone, for the advice. The good thing is that, as a blockbuster, it'll certainly be out for quite some time, so I've plenty of time to do my homework!

#77 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 02:14 AM:

Lee @60

That piece about Hawkeye's archery was interesting.

I've never had a lesson, and I'm sure I make mistakes, but I once shot a 60-lb longbow without hurting myself, and hit the target, so I must have seen enough Robin Hood stuff to have been doing something right.

Remember, Robin Hood is the guy who splits the arrow. He's the original.

And, looking at the photographs of Richard Greene as Robin Hood, he looks to be a lot closer to being the best archer in England. Hawkeye is just a pale imitation.

#78 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:42 AM:

Cally Soukup @70: Umm, which are the previous movies?

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008, not the 2003 Ang Lee one)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Wikipedia entry on the Marvel Cinematic Universe says that there's a TV series in development that's also part of it, based on Bendis's Alias series (called AKA Jessica Jones, presumably because there's already been a recent TV series called Alias).

And an Ant-Man film by Edgar Wright!

Spider-Man is a Marvel property, but a different studio owns the film right, due to a contract from before the current Marvel Cinematic project. Batman is a DC property, and Hellboy is published by Dark Horse.

#79 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 11:43 AM:

What if all the Avengers posed like Black Widow?

#80 ::: Sister Rail Gun ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 01:30 PM:

Of the previous movies, I think Thor and Captain America are most necessary to follow the plot. Thor gives us Loki's backstory, and Captain America introduces the tesseract/cosmic cube. Also, the friction between Rogers and Tony Stark makes more sense if you've seen Rogers and Howard Stark (Tony's father) bounce off each other in CA.

@53 Becca

both my (adopted) kids thought the line hysterical - but then, they've grown up always knowing they were adopted and no big deal was made of it. And they don't hang around political blogs to see how the religious right and the Catholic Church is implying that adoptive families are somehow "less than" birth families

I've always known, but I grew up knowing that the only people who really considered me part of the family were my parents. My immediate reaction was to want to slap whichever writer was responsible for that line.

After mulling it over for a few days, I've come to agree with Sarah @58. It's in character for Thor, and it says quite a bit about why Loki took learning about his birth parents so hard. All set up in Thor's movie, of course, and a huge part of why Loki is such a sympathetic villain.

#81 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 02:12 PM:

Avram @78

Just goes to show how clueless I am about superheros {grin}. Thanks for the further information!

#82 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 02:51 PM:

My favorite line from 1988's "The Incredible Hulk Returns" is when Hulk-hunting journalist Jack McGee shows up at Banner's place but runs into Thor, who proudly shoos him away with "...narry a blow struck..."

#83 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:07 PM:

Chris Quinones @ 5... I really want to see the medical studies on how superheroes deal with concussion trauma

A few years ago, there was a "Doctor Strange" miniseries that featured the Night Nurse. She was a doctor who ran a clinic where superheroes with a secret identity went to get patched up rather than trying to explain things to their normal health organization. She was a doctor, but she dressed like Florence Nightingale because that was the only way she could justify to herself the wearing of a cape.

#84 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:17 PM:

Well, how disappointing. I was thinking I'd probably see The Avengers, and looking forward to liking it (because Joss Whedon, hello). But it sounds like I have to watch at least two other movies to "get" The Avengers, one of which will annoy the fracking frell out of me (and only partly because Thor is an actual deity who friends of mine worship...the old mock TV commercial about "Moses-Jesus hour! One OT, one NT: they fight crime with their boy companion Tad and his dog Spot" comes to mind).

Oh well. $10 buys a lot of onions.

#85 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Xopher: I feel sure you've seen this already, but it bears repeating.

#86 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:52 PM:

Xopher, I enjoyed Thor but my take is that the inhabitants from the so-called "Asgard" are from an alternate universe where everyone has powers of some sort.

I know, I know -- handwaving, probably of the worse sort. But then I really enjoyed Natalie Portman's character, enough that I was hoping she'd be in Avengers.

#87 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 04:04 PM:

Xopher @ 84: Nah, thinking it over, I don't believe you actually need to WATCH the movies OR read the comics to "get" The Avengers, so to speak. If you know that Loki is Thor's crazy-evil kid brother and that Captain America just woke up from a 70 year nap (and both facts are clear in the movie, just relatively quickly reviewed), then you're probably fine. You might miss some of the "nuances," as us comic geeks like to say, but I'm fairly sure that most of the fun shiny stuff is up there on the screen. Which, I think, is one of the reasons that the movie is a success, frankly.

For example, and this is probably the biggest thing, knowing where the Tesseract comes from might be helpful, but do we really need to know much more than "mystical power-McGuffin that everyone wants"? Think "tiny square Ark of the Covenant," and you're golden, I'd say.

#88 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 04:05 PM:

Can anybody tell in which live-action movie Thor and the Hulk first teamed up? Hint... It was before Ferrigno's 1988 affair, and before his appearance in 2008's "The Incredible Hulk".

#89 ::: Sister Rail Gun ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 04:16 PM:

Xopher, I'd recommend anyone see Thor just for Tom Hiddleston's performance. But my point was that someone who knows neither the comics nor the other movies doesn't need to do a marathon of all five films or risk being lost.

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 04:34 PM:

Frighteningly, I knew about all these characters (well, except for Black Widow and Hawkeye) going back to my wee* childhood, thanks to the very first Marvel non-comic-book media venture, the limited-animation "cartoons" of the mid 60s.

The Thor movie was dumb as a bag of hammers, but still entertaining.

Captain America and especially the first Iron Man movie were terrifically entertaining and handsomely produced, and seeing them should in no way be seen as a chore.

* As in, I still went "wee" unpredictably.

#91 ::: Sister Rail Gun ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 04:52 PM:

@84 & 87: Being aware of who the characters are and willing to accept a macguffin with minimal explanation should be enough to see you through the movie, yes. The people I've advised to see CA are the ones likely to trip over that. Likewise, the earnest conversation between Thor and Loki that refers back to the ending of Thor.

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 05:01 PM:

I was never much of a follower of any of the associated series, but I knew enough about them to be righteously indignant when they renamed Bruce Banner to David Banner for the Hulk TV series, because "a guy named Bruce might be perceived as gay". Ptui.

If they really had to change his name, they could have at least preserved the alliteration! Or they could have gone with Robert Bruce Banner, which would have had the advantage of being funny for other reasons.

#93 ::: Narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 07:45 PM:

"a guy named Bruce might be perceived as gay"

ObMontyPython: to my mind the name suggests a member of the Philosophy Department at the University of Woolamaloo, "all named Bruce, with a common fondness for beer and a hatred of 'poofters'", and liable to break into The Philosophers Song.

#94 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 07:58 PM:

#68 ::: Allan Beatty

That's probably Bedlam Planet by John Brunner.

I just saw The Avengers, and enjoyed it, even though only having a sketchy knowledge of the characters.

Yes, it was refreshing to have the only torture be done by the bad guys.

There were some good emotional moments-- Captain America protecting the man who stood up to Loki, the bit where the Avengers are in a circle back to back, Captain America pleased that there was a reference he could explain, plenty more that I'm not remembering at the moment.

Oh... best use of 3D was seeing the alien ships going into the screen, as though they were coming from behind me.

And things to complain about-- the Bruce Banner's character was excellent, but the Hulk generally looked blurry and/or toy-like most of the time to me.

I think I would have been happier with a Loki who was more of a spirit of chaos-- perhaps someone who knew any authoritarian system he set up would break down messily.

#95 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 08:17 PM:

Lila @ 85:

Also, this.

#96 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 08:45 PM:

Where do I know Tom Hiddleston from? Or does he look like another actor? Because through the whole movie, every time he'd grin, my brain fired off a face-recognition neuron, and I couldn't figure out where from. I looked him up on IMDB and hadn't seen anything else he'd been in. (I haven't seen Thor, so it's not leftover face-recognition from that.)

I tend to be very bad at recognizing actors in general, but my first two thoughts were that he looks like Cillian Murphy or Orlando Bloom. I'm not totally sure he does, though. Hmmm.

#97 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:05 PM:

Stefan Jones @90: The Thor movie was dumb as a bag of hammers

Well, if ever there was a movie that oughta resemble hammers...

#98 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:38 PM:

"Cap" was one stand-up guy.

As was the guy who stood up to Loki.

I was hoping the entire crowd would stand up right then. I mean . . . New Yorkers letting someone get away with shit-talk like that?

#99 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Stefan, #98: Wrong movie. :-)

#100 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 10:51 PM:

Sarah @ #95, YES!

#101 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 11:29 PM:

Oh . . . duh! The old guy standing up to Loki was in Germany, right?

#102 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 11:52 PM:

Xopher @84: You will probably enjoy greatly this sporking of the Thor movie (by a folklore lover who is also majorly into theology -- of all stripes and pantheons; they also write the 'Spot the Saint' quickie guides for medieval iconography).

Let's start with in the Marvel universe, Loki is Odin's adoptive son, not his blood-brother … and then it starts getting very non-Norse and very comic-booky.

#103 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 04:11 AM:

I gather Thor and Loki were true enough to the comics, but I wanted something with a smidge more intensity.

#104 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 06:52 AM:

Caroline @96: Where do I know Tom Hiddleston from? Or does he look like another actor?

I seen a resemblance to Michael Sheen and Steve Valentine.

#105 ::: Narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 09:40 AM:

@79 Niall McAuley - there is a poster on the IMDB page for the movie which has Black Widow facing forwards normally and The Hulk posing in the awkward see-the-bum-and-boobs-at-the-same-time pose (though in this case his bum is obscured by Iron Man's head.

#106 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:10 AM:

Caroline #96:

I was convinced (in a previous sighting of Hiddleston as the younger Buxton in "Cranford Revisited") that he was the photographer in the Sally Lockhart mysteries on PBS several years back starring Billie Piper (the one where Matt Smith plays the hyperactive dogsbody), but that turns out to have been someone else. So either actual Cranford sighting or imagined Sally Lockhart.

#107 ::: Nonentity ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 12:00 PM:

I'm not entirely sure how much of a basis there is for it, but Loki's grin always reminds me very strongly of Brent Spiner playing Lore.

#108 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 08:02 PM:

Xopher, I saw Iron Man, and about the only thing I can think of that might be useful to know going into The Avengers is that the chestplate I remember from the comics is now a sort of round glowing device that goes back in a bit, where it keeps him alive. I've seen The Incredible Hulk on TV in bits and starts (probably enough to have seen it all) and can't really think of anything needful to know from that. Everything else, I picked up as they went along.

#109 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 10:50 PM:

There were points where Loki had a Christopher Walken look to me.

I'm terrible at identifying actors, as well as identifying people I should know from their roles in my real life.

#110 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:17 PM:

This is better done than it has any right to be:

"My Little Avengers"

My Little Pony has many more monsters than I'd supposed it had.

#111 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 01:45 AM:

Just saw the film with someone who had only seen the Iron Man movies (she's a Robert Downey Jr. fan and hasn't read the comics) -- she enjoyed it immensely (and appreciated that they used real NYC geography). She's also very sharp, and hip to a lot of SF tropes and Whedon's other work, though.

Whedon's got an amazing sense of timing. I'm glad he's doing well off it.

I liked the eliding of the last word in the dying words: "They needed something to...". That's typical Whedon understatement, and I think it's great.

#112 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 02:58 PM:

becca @ 54

both my (adopted) kids thought the line hysterical - but then, they've grown up always knowing they were adopted and no big deal was made of it. And they don't hang around political blogs to see how the religious right and the Catholic Church is implying that adoptive families are somehow "less than" birth families.

Sorry, coming late to this party, but fwiw: unless you've seen something I haven't, it's not the church which is trashing adoptive families. It's the thoroughly regrettable Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, which is an organization consisting of Bill Donohue, a handful of PAs with titles, some wingnut supporters with fast checkbooks, and a knack for sending inflammatory blast e-mails on slow news days (those last two have earned him some prominent friends in robes, but not as many as he likes to claim).

He says he speaks for Catholics. He really, really doesn't.

The irony is that adoption, which the Church supports as the moral alternative to abortion, was collateral damage in this one. The key word in his infamous tweet was "lesbian" (if you go by his twitter, Bill thinks about lesbians a lot. My working theory is that his hits spike when he uses the word).

He's since moved on to hating on Jon Stewart and survivors of sexual abuse by priests (and yes, shamefully, that, at least a certain faction of the Church - generally in dioceses which stand to take the biggest financial hit from victims, and apparently many of them Donohue supporters - appears to be involved in).

Again, fwiw.

#113 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:01 PM:

More on topic: the Avengers movie was awesome, I liked the Hulk for the first time, and judging from the size, the general location, and the lack of glamor, I'm going to guess that the shawarma place was in the mid-thirties on Lexington.

#114 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 10:31 PM:

Wheeeee! I just saw it. Wheeee!!! And Xopher, I never did get around to seeing the Thor movie, and I didn't feel like I missed anything.

#115 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 10:47 PM:

I've seen data points from people who missed both Thor and Captain America, and they're all positive, so I think we can say that the movie does its job of standing alone.

#116 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 11:34 PM:

Andrew wanted to see The Avengers again.

I noticed this time that the shwarma place is spotted by Tony during the Act III battle - it's in the background of an exterior shot, just below the Farmers' Insurance sign.

#117 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 08:00 PM:

Julia @112: At least in Minneapolis it is the Archdiocese doing it, according to the Star-Tribune's reports on what went down at DeLaSalle High School recently. I posted about it recently in another topic, I think. The kids stood up to them; go, kids. Adopted kids and kids of single parents were drive-by insults on the way to trashing gay marriage, is what it sounds like to me. (I am putting it uncharitably. I am not in a charitable mood towards the Archdiocese at the moment.) So it's not just the Catholic League people, alas.

#118 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 08:36 PM:

Superman was adopted, too.

#119 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 08:50 PM:

elise, from the news of it I saw (multiple sources), you are not putting it uncharitably; you are putting it truthfully. There's no way to be less blunt about that incident without sugar-coating it.

#120 ::: Jordin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 09:22 PM:

Julie Li @ 51 -- Indeed. From, oh, '99 to '07 I drove a secondhand, rather beat up 1989 Jaguar XJ-S, with a V-12 engine.

Most fast cars are designed for sprints: high acceleration, high speed for a short time. The XJ-S, on the other hand, was designed to *cruise* at 120 MPH, for hours on end if you wanted it to, and felt perfectly comfortable to drive at that speed. It really wanted to go that fast, too, and would happily accelerate rapidly upwards past 90 MPH if you didn't pay careful attention to the speedometer and your foot pressure.

Alas, while '89 was some years after the nadir of Jaguar reliability, that car cost roughly a major limb per year to keep running, and finally did itself irrepairable engine damage. My current car is perfectly nice, and far more reliable. But I do miss that V-12 purrrrrr.

#121 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 10:27 PM:

As usual with those Marvel movies, I stayed thru the end credits.
So THAT is who the Big Bad Guy will be next?
Should be interesting.

#122 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 11:03 PM:

Just got Thor from Netflix and watched it yesterday. Argh. I agree that it was dumb as a bag of hammers, but I can't honestly say it was still enjoyable. We really only enjoyed it by sporking it:

THOR: This was to be my day of triumph!

Me: I was going to make a note here -- "HUGE SUCCESS!"

I felt like the dialogue timing was off in every scene -- way too fast. This killed comedy and drama alike for me. Furthermore, I found the writing atrocious; just a stack of empty clichés, one after another.

Avengers did not suffer from either of those problems.

(However, Thor does have Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off. Yum.)

#123 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 11:09 PM:

I liked that to a certain degree Bruce Banner was channeling a combination of Ivanova and Dr. Peter Venkmann.

Oh, and the film reinforced my opinion on Thor. When you get sucker-punched by The Hulk? That's a sad reflection on how fast you are on the uptake...

#124 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 03:22 AM:

I never read any of the comics, and the only related movie that I'd seen was Iron Man and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did know how the Hulk works -- I guess from the old TV show?

The snarky patter is great fun. Is it crass of me to love this one: Better clench up, Legolas.

I sat through all of the credits, and giggled at the pitch-perfect shwarma scene. My goodness, how many people worked on this movie!

#125 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 03:25 AM:

Oh, and I saw it in 2D, and found it perfectly gorgeous. I did not miss trying to balance a second pair of glasses in front of my regular glasses one bit.

#126 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 07:41 PM:

The "how it happened" story behind the picture of the cute kid on Loki's shoulders:

#127 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 08:35 PM:

Stefan: amazing story! Thanks! I had been wondering.

#128 ::: Lila has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 08:36 PM:

Probably for an overly-generic comment with too many exclamation points. But I really meant it!

#129 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 10:35 PM:

My geeky teen took her nerdy mom to The Avengers for Mother's Day. Judging from many of my contemporaries' Fb statuses, this was a common Mother's Day outing for the geek-mom set.

My teen further informs me that Tom Hiddleston earned even more geek-cred by role-playing with a fan on Twitter for more than an hour yesterday.

And while I was home sick last week I saw RDJ and Scarlet Johansen on Ellen. Downey was wearing a vintage West Coast Avengers t-shirt. The interview was funny, especially the competition the two actors played with Ellen. But the sweetest moment was RDJ talking not about parenting (which he is really enjoying) but about the two kittens his family recently adopted. He was emphatically not a cat person before but says he looked at the kittens, and they at him, and it was a "where have you been all my life" moment. He's now a helpless mush over his kittens.

#130 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2012, 10:51 PM:

Lila@127: As mentioned on the "Breaking Rings" thread, apparently the gnomes don't like it when people are emphatic about their gratitude.

#131 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2012, 03:37 PM:

I was talking about the movie and various aspects of it with a friend today; he said he was afraid Tom Hiddleston had become typecast as Loki for him, now and forever. For those who may be wondering if they'll have the same problem, a clip of the new BBC production of Henry V is available.

#132 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2012, 03:52 PM:

Hiddleston also was in Branagh's "Wallander" mystery movies.

#133 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2012, 04:07 PM:

I saw it, because it finally made it to the less-than-two-hours-on-the-bus theater with captions. YAY! Juan and I made the trek downtown and caught the show last Saturday. It was a lot of fun, and the snark was amusing. I've been away from superhero comics from, um, well, since Watchmen and all that, but the movie still worked for me, though I did miss some of the nuances between characters with certain shared histories. And the Netflix queue might have just gotten longer, so that I can go back, catch up on a few things, and then re-watch this one when it comes out on disc.

Melissa @129: Aww for mush over kittens.

#134 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2012, 10:52 PM:

I can't imagine Hiddleston being typecast; he's done so many different things . . . period, non-period, serious, non-serious . . . .

#135 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2012, 11:06 PM:

I just saw this. I was impressed.

#136 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 05:41 AM:

Fidelio @131

They're running a series, Richard II to Henry V, so there is Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal in the two parts of Henry IV.

All in June, though I couldn't find scheduling info. Richard II I last saw as a live broadcast from The Globe, a long time ago.

I still find it hard to put Lawrence Olivier out of my mind: his film gave me my first clear image of how most of Shakespeare's plays were first performed. The Branagh version makes King Harry into something a bit more thuggish, and includes a scene which reinforces the dynastic-struggle thread that runs all the way from Richard II to the end of Richard III.

#137 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 10:10 AM:

I just saw thirty-four minutes of it. Then I left. Enough said.

#138 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 11:27 AM:

"Ma'am, there's only one God, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that."

I'm an atheist and *I* thought that Cap's saying that was hilarious.
Speaking of Loki, I was quite amused when his encounter with the Hulk made me think of Wile E. Coyote.

#139 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 05:03 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 137: I'm curious. Why did you leave?

#140 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 03:30 AM:

Now that I've finally seen it, I can make some substantive comments. :-)

The very first scene of Iron Man, when he's underwater doing the final check on the power source for Stark Tower, is extremely comic-book-art in feel. I was wondering if they'd gotten one of the regular Marvel artists to do the sketches!

Lila, #6: I noticed that too. I think we can credit improvements in CGI tech for that, and perhaps a little influence from Andy Serkis/Gollum.

Mishalak, #16: I didn't catch any product placement at all, but then, that's the sort of thing that tends to slide right past me. A car is a car is a car, especially in the middle of a fight scene, and a drink is something the character is drinking. I'm focused on the people, not so much the background.

Sarah, #22: That sort of scene, with the person who just takes everything in stride, is one of Whedon's stylistic points. And yes, it was very well done here. The other good thing about the scene, of course, was nearly-naked Mark Ruffalo. Not my usual type at all, but... whoa.

Xopher, #84: I haven't seen any of the precursor movies (except for the last 15 minutes or so of the first Iron Man, which seriously put me off wanting to see either the rest of it or the second one), and I didn't have any problems following it. The Tesseract is really just a macguffin, and they talk enough about it to bring you up to speed. And while I was a comics fan back in the day, I wasn't especially an Avengers fan; I know who the characters are and that's about it.

janetl, #125: We also saw it in 2D, because 3D gives my partner massive headaches and I don't care one way or the other. I don't feel as if I missed anything.

There were a lot of great snappy one-liners, as is to be expected in any Whedon piece. But my hands-down favorite: "Puny god."

#141 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 07:02 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #139.

Sorry. I didn't look on this thread for weeks.

I'm afraid that anything I say about my reactions to this movie will not be useful or helpful to others, and I am aware that they are strongly rooted in my own resistance to its premises, ideation, discourse, presentation and staging, construction of narrative and character, and much else, and that this is no doubt quirky and unreasonable, based on a visceral refusal to accept the premises of a genre rather than any reasoned objection.

I have walked out on two movies in my life: this one and Jane Campion's "The Piano". In both cases I form a minority of one, it appears. Oh, well.

#142 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 09:28 AM:

Dave Luckett: I didn't walk out of The Piano, because I was with friends, but I wanted to. So, so badly.

I haven't cared for any number of movies others have praised to the skies. Titanic, for instance. Dark Shadows, most recently (again, I was with other people and couldn't leave.)

#143 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 12:31 PM:

Dark Shadows I didn't bother to go see because Burton turned it into a comedy. I am getting DAMN tired of Hollywood's tendency to turn dramas I loved into stinking comedies.

I would like to have seen a serious update of Starsky and Hutch, say a reboot like the newest Hawai'i Five-O or Star Trek. I've reached the point where I'm now praying no one decides to do "Man from U.N.C.L.E." because I know they won't get the touch of humor the TV series had -- they'll have to lay it on with a trowel...sigh.

As for Titanic, the only good thing in Cameron's movie is the diamond. None of the folks in the damn film can act and the camera dwells too much on the dying passengers. I know about hypothermia, I do not need to see it portrayed in loving detail. Give me "A Night to Remember" instead.

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 12:46 PM:

Lori, #143: This is one of the reasons that I don't go to many movies, and especially to reboots. But lately I've been wondering how a reboot of The Six Million Dollar Man would do, now that we have the effects skills to make it really believable. And even more than that, the spinoff starring a female character, which was horribly mishandled in the 70s, but now we're accustomed to female leads who can kick ass.

#145 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 02:10 PM:

Speaking of Titanic, I'm convinced that had William Bligh been captain rather than Edward Smith (with equal time in steam ships) he wouldn't have lost a single life on that transit.

But their arrival in New York would have been marked by several divorces among the first-class passengers and the splitting up of business partnerships. Bligh would have spent his retirement writing bitter letters to the White Star Line trying to get his pension.

#146 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 02:16 PM:

Lee, my movie going has dwindled down to a handful of films each year. I can remember a time when every weekend would have seen me in line at a more.

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying the Marvel films, as I was never a comic book fan. The only ones I ever collected were Dracula in the late 1960s-1970s and Elfquest.

I think a reboot of Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman would work now. But it would need to be in the hands of someone who wouldn't treat it like an outing for that idiot Will Farrell and I don't want to see Will Smith in the leading role either.

Can you guess I didn't go to see the reboot of Wild Wild West? There isn't any actor out there fit to polish Ross Martin's boots, much less play Artemus Gordon.

#147 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 02:40 PM:

Lee @144, there was a short-lived Bionic Woman series in 2007. I didn't see any of it, but the Wikipedia entry tells me that the protagonist's technological upgrades included nanomachines called "anthrocytes", so I don't know if I'd've been able to keep a straight face through an episode.

#148 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 01:01 AM:

In fact, thinking about it, and talking it over with Evan, my son, who loved it and has seen it three times, I am wondering at my own reaction.

What's the tesseract got that the One Ring doesn't have? And yet the former seemed to me to come with flashing neon signs on it reading "gratuituous pointless maguffin" and the Ring didn't.

Why did the idea of that flying invisible aircraft carrier cause me to fall out of the movie with a thud that was heard across the Universes? What was it about Downey and Paltrow trying to channel Tracy and Hepburn in that New York penthouse apartment that set my teeth on edge?

Yes, yes, I can argue that the dialogue was less than sparkling. But why did I not reflect, as my son remarked, "For chrissake, it's an action movie, dad!" Sure, the look of prurient glee on Downey's character's face when Pepper Potts (!) promises him the use of her fair white body was unfunny and silly, but why did it come close to making me puke? Why was I constrained to look away with a grimace of disgust?

The Russian rogue General or whoever he was, simply handed the phone to the Black Widow when asked, simply because a voice told him there was a Raptor somewhere. Why did that strike me as so far out of character as to make him a Plot Device muppet? Why did I just know what was about to happen, which was a very long-drawn-out version of "with one spring, Jack was free!"

Why did Black Widow's condescending remark to Captain America when they arrived on that flight deck make my knuckles itch? What was she saying, "World War Two was a walk in the park"? "We're so much better at it now"? Why did his mild reply make me despise him? That was in character, for Pete's sake.

Loki? He was above all things arrogant, so not using the staff to take out the one-eyed cove at the start, which would have saved him a lot of trouble, didn't occur to him. It's classic hubris, a tragic antiheroic flaw. Uh, no, I don't see that. And the guys with the red dentures. Sort of Alien and orc combined. I thought either were good on their own. Both together made me do a mental "Oh, come on!" And they're evil because they're eeeeevil. So is Sauron, essentially. What's not to like?

Evan also remarked that it wasn't particularly loud or flashy, as these things go. I came out with a headache after a half-hour or so. I hate to think where I would have been after the full whatever it was. I remember thinking, one more rising turbine whine, one more ninety-five decibel fizz of white noise, one more strobe flash or cascade of sparks, one more heart-rhythmed whub-whub-whub and I'll lose it completely.

Lose it I promptly did.

Look, I don't expect anybody to agree with this. I'm only venting, and I daresay most of this - probably all of it - is quite unjustified and illegitimate. Nevertheless, that's how it went, for me. I said I didn't think this would be useful or helpful to anyone else, either, so I am probably wrong to post it. But it is useful to me to get it out, so I will.

Please be patient with me. There is much I don't understand about how movies are made - or narrative, for that matter. I can only use my own lights, and this is according to them.

#149 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 01:42 AM:

Dave Luckett @ 141: Count me as another who walked out of 'The Piano'. The only other film I've done that with is 'Leaving Las Vegas'.

#150 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 09:17 AM:

Dave Luckett @148--Some days it is easier to tolerate Hollywood Nonsense than others. I'd say this was a high grade of Hollywood Nonsense, but sometimes that's not enough.

#151 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 09:28 AM:

Those who know have already seen these (spoiler-heavy) analyses of Thor and The Avengers. Tongue very definitely in cheek.

Not in those posts, but elsewhere on the same site, are insightful discussions of gelato standards.

#152 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Obsidian Wings has two excellent posts about the different ways that Black Widow was perceived by reviewers. At first it looks like a fairly straightforward gender breakdown -- women saw how much of a role she was given, while men looked right past her (or saw only the skin-tight costume). But it turns out to be more subtle; men can see her too, as long as they're already genre fans. I love the "420" rating, which means "what the hell was this guy smoking, because that sure wasn't what was on the screen!"

#153 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 01:41 PM:

Here, have some cake balls. I got them at First Saturday Arts Market yesterday, and they're very good!

#154 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 07:16 PM:

It's interesting to note that despite the large role given to the Black Widow, the movie does not pass the Bechdel Test. It would have been easy enough to have the Widow say something to Agent Hill....

#155 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 10:44 AM:

A little animation I learned about from my teen:

a brief bit of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video as performed by the Avengers and Loki (watch to the end):

#156 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2012, 12:38 PM:

Another interesting post about Black Widow and the way reviewers tended to see her. Hawkeye gets some discussion too, and I thought the following excerpt was telling:

If anything, Hawkeye was the weaker link of the team. Not because he's a "normal human" or because he got taken down by Loki (an event that was integral to the plot) but because he gets far, far less screentime in his own right than the other Avengers. For the bulk of the movie he's either under mind control or in the midst of an action scene, and the only real moment of Clint Barton time is his scene with Black Widow just after he's woken up. I'd actually classify him as filling something akin to the girlfriend/damsel role in Black Widow's character arc -- a person she cares about and feels she has to save, allowing the audience to learn about her Dark Past in the process. Like the love-interest or bus of innocent children that Batman or Superman has to wrest from the clutches of their villain of the week, Clint is the person who reveals Black Widow's emotional frailties and strengths.

Knowing Whedon, I'm quite sure that was a deliberate trope inversion.

#157 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2012, 03:29 PM:

for your entertainment:

Coulson Lives

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