'Avengers' vindicates geek community
Chris Hemsworth, left, stars as Thor and Chris Evans stars as Captain America in "The Avengers."
May 8th, 2012
07:00 PM ET

'Avengers' vindicates geek community

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

So yeah, I loved “The Avengers.”

Let’s simmer on that word for a few: love. Love for a movie is a pretty significant emotion, and yet I stand by it. While not perfect (the gripes are ridiculously minor), the film was a pure joy. It delivered on the promise of a Marvel-ous adventure with Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and (finally) an awesome, Incredible Hulk.

But this isn’t a movie review.

Instead, it’s more of an “I told you so,” to Hollywood power brokers locked into the philosophy that audiences crave dark heroes and sober plot lines, and that the geeks who grew up loving the source material could not be trusted to make a blockbuster.

Nerd favorite writer and producer Joss Whedon assembled “The Avengers,” who stormed the box office last Friday. There was a sense by Sunday that everything had changed for superhero movies.

On Sunday night, Walt Disney Co., which owns the Marvel Comics characters, announced the new flick had debuted to $200.3 million (later updated to $207.4 million) – the largest all-time opening weekend for a movie (and yes, a sequel is coming). But for fanboys and comic geeks like me who had been tracking the super-group superhero movie, this was no big surprise.

OK, so it was a little bit of a surprise - a pleasant one - but we geeks had been waiting for this.

In fact, we’ve been debating, discussing and having fantasy casting sessions for the movie for years. Geeks have been so patient, waiting for a movie that could pit Earth's (and Asgard's) mightiest heroes against themselves before teaming them up to battle a common, villainous threat.

This goes for all superhero groups and coincidental team-ups. For comic book nerds, these ultimate match-ups are fueled by years of imagining what would happen if comic book universes faced off (Superman vs. Thor, Captain America vs. Batman, etc).

"The Avengers" is supergroup movie on an entirely new scale. Outside of animated features, the only time we've really seen team-ups has been in disappointing franchise films like "The Fantastic Four." Additionally, Marvel has taken its time by slowly building their universe through stinger scenes and Easter eggs in their other movies, beginning with 2008s "Iron Man."

Moreover,  there is this desire within the nerd community to share their love of these fantastic characters and the infinite possibilities of a team like the Avengers. Whedon's the one who has been able to help us communicate to all our friends and family, "See? This is what I have been talking about!"

I spent my comic book collecting youth wishing that a fellow nerd would create a movie for us. Be true to the material, we all thought, and others would fall in love as well. And now that it's here, it is as if the clouds parted and our new, four-color mythological gods of the funny books had sprung to life on the movie screen just as we’d always hoped.

"The Avengers" movie feels like an Avengers comic.

This isn't to say that comic books haven't spawned some truly visionary films.

As much as I’ve enjoyed Christopher Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader in “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” – and actively look forward to the conclusion of his series in “The Dark Knight Rises” – I never walked out of the new Batman movies feeling the elation I felt after "The Avengers."

“Dark Knight” was great and masterfully executed, and I remember chatting on the way out of the theater with others also impressed with the serious film, but my fanboy glee was absent.

Exiting “The Avengers” was another matter altogether.

It is a popcorn-movie, not a film, but people were excited, inspired, giddy, animated as they walked out of the theater. There even seemed to be a few newly-converted geeks. I have caught glimpses of this before in varying degrees – during moments of “Superman Returns,” “Spider-Man 2,” “X-Men 2,” “Iron Man” and the other Marvel precursors to “Avengers” – but never like this.

The joy I felt after watching "The Avengers" was enlightening: I think I’ve had my fill of “gritty realism” when it comes to comic book heroes. Nolan has done a great job at showing that a man can become a symbol in an ultra-realistic world, and he did it with an epic scope and without CGI effects, but I would still like to believe a man can fly.

Likewise, I think audiences would like to believe a demi-god alien can crash to Earth, a super soldier clad in stars-and-stripes can survive being frozen for 70 years and that a Hulk can smash. A little magic and a fantastical adventure is as good for the geek as it is for the muggle; perhaps it is no coincidence that the last biggest opening weekend record holder was another magical adventure: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.”

Hollywood should listen to the geeks more often - if only to ensure the superhero genre continues to go up, up and away in quality and box office receipts. 

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Filed under: Comic Longbox • Fandom
soundoff (33 Responses)
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  3. KajinPL

    I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this film. This is the only other movie I've seen twice in theaters. The last being Transfomers 2, but it did not hold a candle to "The Avengers". After waiting 4 years for this movie it lived up to every one of my expectations. I'm glad they were able to showcase each character individually then bringing them all together when they were needed the most. It had the same feeling as the comics and was just all-around fun. I honestly can't find any gripes about this movie.

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    May 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  6. Sanjay

    I've seen the movie 3 times now, and want to wholeheartedly agree with the author. This movie has raised the bar on how superhero movies should be done, and even sci-fantasy movies in general. It feels like some kind of pop-culture inflection point has occurred, where those who have seen this movie will no longer be satisfied with the old Michael Bay exploding crap. Things have now been taken to a new level. The cast and director absolutely hit this one out of the park. They were the real-life dream team counterpart to their onscreen fictional heroes.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Iucounu

    I'm surprised that movie caused "sheer joy" in anyone. In my opinion the Nolan movies and even the Jon Favreau Iron Man concept and direction are FAR superior to the Avengers, which came off as a bit plot-heavy and overlong, without any deep themes or really satisfying... well, anything. Yes, a lot like a passably written comic, but not a great one.

    May 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Frank

      There's always one.....

      May 9, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
      • emerdelac

        There's two. It was just alright with not much to it. Didn't come anywhere near Iron Man or even X-Men First Class.

        May 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Lynn

      I think that’s what makes both The Avengers and Nolan’s series great. The Avengers is a loose, fun comic book movie, and Dark Knight is, well, dark and serious. I love them all, and I think I would be disappointed if each comic book movie came across the same.

      May 9, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
      • Iucounu

        Iron Man and Iron Man 2 were both fun, and I personally think both had more hilarious bits overall than "The Avengers", but they also are more emotionally satisfying and the plot works better too. Without having the editorial chops to give a proper critique, "The Avengers" just feels more strung-together to me. It's exactly what I predicted from Joss Whedon. It's a shame that Jon Favreau did not sign on to do "The Avengers"; then again he may be better suited to doing movies based on a single character than an ensemble.

        May 10, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Lynn

      You bring up a good point. Making a movie based on an ensemble is much more technical, especially while trying to keep each character true to his comic origin. I wouldn’t mind watching a movie where Favreau masters such a film.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  8. missarachnid

    As a comic reading Marvel fan, I loved this movie. There is still a little piece of me that was sad that there was no Scarlet Witch. But Joss Whedon did make me scream "Yes" very loudly with what he revealed after the credits started. I left the theater in a geek frenzy!!

    May 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  9. goblinmoon

    I'll note something first off with a disclaimer... I adored the movie! No surprise there. While I admire the sentiment put forth here. I do kind of mind that is only focused on the concept of the Avengers. To me the vibe here is that only the Avengers could be this awesome.

    At this risk of being flamed, I don't agree.

    Joss Whedon wrote and directed, and was gifted with some excellent actors, ALL of whom surpassed their previous material, and some like Ruffalo, put to shame previous versions.

    Whedon wrote a story that hit the pitch perfect blend that we desperately needed in the superhero movie. A balance between comic and angst, between honor and cheese. This could have been the Xmen, or even dare I say it.. the Justice League... (yeah I know marvelies, you're going to laugh at that).

    The point is that a well written story, that knows how to TRULY utilize the strengths of its characters and concept is what made this movie AMAZING.

    I

    May 9, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • Aaron Sagers

      As the writer of the piece, I completely agree. Avengers got there first but I'd absolutely love to see it come together with the Justice League. I think my intent was that this kind of project can work with the right people – and now we have the proof. And really, not enough credit goes to Jon Favreau. The dude slipped in that Nick Fury scene at the end of a really awesome movie and that really launched the big plan (before it was even a big plan). But create something for nerds, by nerds and a studio just might have the biggest opening weekend ever. That's powerful stuff.

      May 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
      • goblinmoon

        Ah so Jon Favreau did that? I had thought it was the first decision to help build hype but that he picked out Jackson for Fury without consult.

        May 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
      • cynic

        Actually, it was Kevin Feige who got Sam Jackson in to play Nick Fury in the post-credits scene in Iron Man.

        May 10, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Frank

      Nothing flame worthy here. Good point.

      May 9, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
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  10. Lynn

    I can’t wait to show this to my little bro. He kept telling me that this is going to be the best comic book movie yet, and I’ll be honest, I doubted him. He shared with me several of The Avengers cartoons on Dishonline so that I could go into this movie knowing a little more about the characters than I did before, and they helped me to appreciate this wonderful film. There was action, comedy, and very touching moments that made me love these superheroes! I went to work the next day at Dish and raved about The Avengers. So far, all of my co-workers have seen it, and several of them are going to see it again!

    May 9, 2012 at 12:40 am |
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  11. samacwns

    Can't wait to see that movie! I never got into reading comic books, but it's still awesome for the uninitiated! ;)

    May 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
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