How Much You Should Pay to See: ‘The Avengers’
by Ester Bloom and Adam Freelander
Adam: Ester, I have Battleship fever this morning. It’s all I can think about.
Ester: Ha! 15-F. Let’s just play Battleship for a while instead of doing this review.
Adam: Yes, great, thank you. E-6.
Ester: Clearly I have forgotten how to play Battleship. In my defense, it has been, um, like 20 years? G-21.
Adam: No you’re doing fine. Then I say “hit” or “miss”, and then there is Rihanna somehow.
Ester: At some point, one of us gets to say, “Damn! You got my Destroyer!” A Destroyer is a ship, right?
Adam: You have to say, “You SUNK my destroyer,” otherwise I believe it does not count?
Adam: Alright, neither of us are necessarily bringing our A-game on this Battleship material, maybe we should do the actual thing.
Ester: I am as ignorant about Battleship as I am about comic books and comic book movies.
Adam: A good entry point! NEITHER of us have seen more than one of the associated films in the Avengers series.
Ester: And the only one either of us has seen is the first Iron Man. So we went in without much background.
Adam: Also, according to some googling I did this morning, Iron Man 2, Captain America and Thor are the only ones that really directly tie into this movie. So having seen the first Iron Man barely counts. BUT. Were we confused at all? We were not.
Ester: No, we were not. And we discussed this going in — we felt reasonably confident we could follow the plot of a bunch of superheroes defending the world against F. Scott Fitzgerald gone rogue.
Adam: Yeah. You made fun of me a little beforehand for being concerned that I wouldn’t know what was going on.
Ester: Perhaps we should mention that two separate 2D showings we tried to see were sold out? On a THURSDAY. And then our 3D showing, which cost ordinary mortals $17 each, was like half full. I think it would have been just as enjoyable in regular-D.
Adam: Yeah absolutely. This movie was post-converted, aka not actually shot in 3D, which is always a red flag. Also, having figured that out, I think we should be exempted from having to see any more post-converted 3D movies. Always just go see the 2D version.
Ester: Absolutely. That said, we both enjoyed this film, silly (expensive) glasses and all.
Adam: We did. I was a little nervous that I would be more on-board for this one than you would. But after laughing through some of the bad dialogue in the first 20 minutes, you got pretty into it!
Ester: I was into it even while I was laughing! (Plus when I laugh the baby shakes around and that makes me laugh more.) I loved the part where, after Thor and Loki where having their brotherly confrontation in the woods, Iron Man showed up and said, “What is this, Shakespeare in the Park?” Cuz they were being so formal and stuffy! It was perfect.
Adam: Yes. This movie was FUNNY. It was my favorite thing about it! And we of course know who we have to thank for that.
Ester: JOSS! Joss I love you, and I always wanted to see what you’d do with an actual special FX budget, since Buffy was made for a buffalo nickel.
Adam: I mean really. Just the fact that this movie is not offensively stupid, and that it actually surprises you and makes you laugh at points, is such an accomplishment. Because a hundred billion people would have gone to see it anyway.
Ester: Joss Whedon did a good job directing. This movie made me yearn for his version of The Hunger Games.
Adam: His version of everything, really. This is where I show you the picture of me and Joss Whedon from when I ran into him at a dance party at Wesleyan many years ago.
Ester: Wow. Hey, speaking of which, can we dig into the beefcake buffet now and take about the Avengers themselves?
Adam: You should feel free to do so, and I will watch.
Ester: They were like the Spice Girls! There was Posh Spice (Iron Man), Sporty Spice (Captain America) …
Um. Who were the other Spice Girls? Never mind, I’ll improvise: 2nd-Rate Brad Pitt Spice (Thor), Adorably Rumpled Intellectual Spice (Hulk, in his Dr. Bruce Banner guise).
Adam: I know who the other Spice Girls were but I am not going to say.
Ester: Not fair!
Adam: Ginger Baby Scary. Just forget it leave me alone.
Ester: Hahahahahaha. Ginger Spice! That’s easy: Black Widow. And then Jeremy Renner is Baby-Faced Spice (Hawk). Or maybe poor Agent Phil Colson, previously known as Agent Casper from The West Wing. He’s just so convincing at wearing a suit and saying “Sir”!
Adam: Yeah, the guy from New Adventures of Old Christine was great.
Ester: It would have been amazing if they had broken into song. And very Whedon, since he loves his musicals.
Adam: I put the odds at 50/50 that this was actually shot and it’s a feature on the blu-ray.
Ester: I would pay for that! Especially if it included a kick line. But okay. So. This movie has made unthinkable amounts of money. Here are some fun facts from Box Office Mojo. It is the #6 highest grossing movie ever ALREADY after less than three weeks.
Adam: Wow. “The 2nd-highest-grossing movie in which someone eats a banana ever!” Thanks Box Office Mojo.
Ester: Yes, that site is a never-ending treasure trove.
Adam: It’s true though. I want to reiterate: We saw this movie last night, after it had been out for TWO WEEKS, and we failed to get into TWO SEPARATE SCREENINGS.
Ester: Since we’re writing for a money site, I should say that I used these very special vouchers that I bought eight years ago for $5.50 and they let us into a 3D screening for only a $2 surcharge per voucher. So we saw this movie in 3D for only $7.50 each (plus the stress of dealing with the geniuses who work at movie theaters these days). At that price, this movie was TOTALLY worth it. I would even have paid $12-$13. What about you?
Adam: I agree. I almost wish this came out a little later, becuase it’s so good at being a summer blockbuster. I made a joke last time about how we failed as Americans in not seeing this movie two weeks ago, and last night I definitely felt one with the all-American rite of the summer movie. Were you surprised at how much you liked it?
Ester: Yes, it was so very all-American! And yes, I had very low expectations. I did laugh inappropriately at several points but I was honestly caught up in the story from the start.
Adam: So, this might be obvious, but I think we should note that neither you nor I regularly go see movies like this. Like, I had a great time last night, but part of me also wonders whether we were just marveling at all the shiny turning gears. “Well shucks would you look at that!” This movie is definitely not universally loved by my Facebook friends, some of whom have posted things like “AVENGERS IS THE MOST OVERRATED MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!!”
Ester: Eh. Like I said, I only read middling / mixed reviews beforehand, so I wasn’t expecting much. But the story was not convoluted: It made sense (even though I can’t hear “tesseract” without thinking of A Wrinkle in Time); it had good characters and used them to advantage; the battle scenes were well-shot and clear; there was stuff at stake (the fate of earth!); and the script was funny. I’m not sure what more can be asked from a movie like this. (Except that it didn’t pass the Ms. / Bechdel test, which is too bad, but we will let it go this once, Joss Whedon, because of Buffy.)
Adam: I don’t even think our movie theater passed the Bechdel test, but whatever.
Ester: There were at least three significant female characters, which was nice.
Adam: Three? Cobie Smulders, Scarlett Johanssen, who else?
Ester: Pepper Potts!
Adam: Oh right. Well there you go.
Ester: Whose banter with Iron Man I enjoyed.
Adam: Yeah, she’s only in it early on, but it’s a good scene.
Ester: I thought that was too bad, too, cuz I wanted more. But I’m glad they didn’t make her a hostage and have the Avengers / Iron Man save her, a la Spiderman.
Adam: True — it’s worth noting that there’s no romantic clinch at the heart of this movie, which sounds stupid to say but is actually pretty significant.
Ester: True! Even Scar Jo doesn’t get laid. Though those looks she exchanges with Hawkeye are pretty expressive.
Adam: You’re right, that may count as sex.
Ester: In the 40s, anyway. And this movie was kind of adorably retro. So wholesome!
Adam: They Learn To Work Together.
Ester: There’s excellent chemistry among all the cast members, I should say, not just the two assassins. Which makes it more fun to watch them Learn to Work Together (and also squabble, when they do squabble).
Adam: Yeah. Even though I was never really into comic books as a kid, this movie really reactivated those childhood fantasy feelings of wishing that all my favorite cartoon and Nintendo characters would get together.
Adam: I was definitely like “Thor and the Hulk are MEETING!! Eeeeee!!!” But wait a minute, I don’t actually care about Thor or the Hulk.
Ester: It was confusing to me who was supposed to be strongest. You couldn’t just judge by musculature, which made it difficult! Also I have a sneaking suspicion the hierarchy of strength of these Avengers wasn’t terribly well thought-out and adhered to.
Adam: Haha. You definitely expressed some confusion about how Thor’s hammer worked. I explained that only Thor can pick it up! You were not convinced.
Ester: I just don’t understand! These other guys are very beefy. Also, how does his hammer always return to his hand?
Adam: ESTER IT’S A MAGIC HAMMER.
Ester: So you’re saying it’s magnets?
Adam: Thor comes from a magical world!!! I can’t believe I am saying these things.
Ester: Don’t give me that shit. He comes from Scandinavia. Although why he can’t wash his hair or speak using contractions …
Adam: Thor comes from a magical world and so he is the only Avenger who is magic-based. The others were all created from science.
Ester: OH SCIENCE.
Adam: Please god don’t let any Billfold commenters know anything about comic books. ANYWAY. Maybe we should sum up.
Adam: Neither of us are huge superhero movie fans, but that did not lessen our enjoyment of this movie as a good summer action-y time. ON TOP OF THAT, it is funny and kind of smart.
Ester: We laughed a lot! And the baby started kicking. I don’t know what that means exactly but I think it’s good.
Adam: Box Office Mojo does say that this is the most successful movie ever with fetuses.
Adam: So that makes total sense.
All right, hot shot. So. How much do you think it was worth paying to see it
Adam: Don’t do the 3D. Pay 12 bucks for this. And buy your ticket online, since this movie is still selling out for some reason.
Ester: I agree. $12-$13 is totally sufficiently to pay to see this, but it will be worth your while.
Adam: Oh wait!! We never talked about Ruffalo! Ruffalo is the best thing in this movie by miles.
Ester: He is so very very good. So adorably disheveled and trying to control himself. But if I were
only going to do it with one Avenger, he would not be my choice. Jeremy Renner had weirdly strong sex appeal in this movie. I cannot explain why. Maybe even stronger than Robert Downey Jr’s.
Ester: Do you disagree or are you just waiting patiently for me to stop thinking along these lines?
Adam: No don’t worry about it, I think it’s very important that we establish who in this movie you’d most like to have sex with.
Ester: Well I had so many more choices than you did!
Adam: True. I definitely felt marginalized by this movie.
CONSENSUS: You should pay $12–13 to see The Avengers.
Previously: Titanic 3-D
Adam Freelander would never name a file “joss and me.jpg.” Follow him @adamplease.