Writing this late in the game---Avengers is now something like number three on the list of all time moneymaking flicks--but whatever.
When I saw it, the theater was packed and there was a definite excitement coming from the audience before the lights went down. This energy carried throughout the first third of the movie or so, when the audience laughed at every goddamn thing that was said by any character on the screen, as if they were watching a comedy. It's very annoying when I am more aware of the audience than I am of the events on the screen. I guess that should have been a good indicator of the flick's financial destiny. The Avengers really speaks to the American hive mind.
Being irritated in this way sucks me out of a story and prevents me from developing a clear opinion of a movie. I'm not altogether sure how much I liked the Avengers. There are parts I found entertaining--it has two really good performances, Iron Man and the Hulk, respectively played by Bob Downey and Mark Ruffalo, the guy who had sex with Julianne Moore in that lesbian movie from a couple years ago. Bob Downey is a fast talking smartass and Ruffalo gives, uhh, a nuanced performance as Bruce Banner (the Hulk when he's just a guy). Then you got Thor and Capt America, both of whom are played by modern beefcake actors who, in some other movies, have acquitted themselves pretty well. In the Avengers, they just need to flex some biceps and glutes and that's all that is required. Then there are the mortals played by Hurt Locker and hot piece of ass Scarlette Johanson. Sorry to be sexualist, but that's pretty much why she's there. Check out the scene where, in full 3-D, there is an extended shot of her ass right in the foreground, full focus. They give her some sort of bullshit back story, but nobody cares--there's her ass in 3-D. Her ASS...in THREE DEE. Honest, someone made that comment to me a couple weeks ago.
The ensemble of actors does well enough together. Their evolving relationships are the real heart of the movie, which I will ascribe to nerd auteur extraordinaire Joss Whedon, who I believe wrote the thing. Too bad the movie is overloaded with extended action sequences, though. Here's the deal--movies didn't used to feature action scenes that lasted 20 minutes at a stretch. The last 40 minutes of this one consist of one long, long part where aliens fuck shit up in NYC while the Avengers whoop ass on an endless stream of generic alien bad guys. Evidently Hollywood has learned from the extreme success of those Transformer movies that excessive mayhem is what audiences want. Hey, maybe it is, but that doesn't stop the action from becoming totally meaningless. It loses narrative context and causes me to cease giving a shit. This kind of makes me a hypocrite because one thing I've always wanted to do was create a lengthy DVD by harvesting all the best action/explosion/destruction scenes from various movies without the "story" parts, calling it "Explosion Porn." Movies like Avengers, though, try to have the cake and eat it too.
Still, that giddy, fidgeting, giggling audience prevented me from getting a real feel for it. It was a couple years ago that I saw the movie, Kick Ass, and the audience consisted of fanboys slavering over it, laughing at almost nothing, just high on the fact their movie got made. I didn't think much of the movie, but understood I had some antipathy for it just because of the audience. I watched it again on Netflix and liked it even less. I'll give the Avengers another chance too.