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May 11, 2015


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All you can do with these movies is enjoy them for what they are (and the two directed by Joss Whedon have been funny and entertaining). I can't join the critics who see the rise of the superhero movie as the death of cinema. I grew up as a Marvel geek, and I was reading those same '70s comic books you were reading, Glenn. So part of me is thrilled to see these characters on the screen.

But, as you said, some people would like to toss out RULES OF THE GAME (and CITIZEN KANE and VERTIGO and THE SEVENTH SEAL and so on). Who needs 'em, now that we have AGE OF ULTRON and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES? A lot of superhero fans -- particularly the ones over 40 who are still going to the comic shop every week -- desperately want respect for their favorite genre. It's not enough that these movies make billions; they also want rave reviews and Oscars. As we've learned, any criticism of a superhero movie can make them go berserk.

Screw 'em. The 20 years I spent immersed in the Marvel Universe (and the Essentials reprints of old Marvel comics on my shelves) gives me the right to criticize superhero movies that fall short. Since Whedon won't be back for the third Avengers movie, I just might skip it. But that's 3 years off, so who knows?

Josh Z

I think Godzilla would qualify as Elizabeth Olsen's intro to high-revenue moviemaking.

Glenn Kenny

I would respectfully disagree, splitting the admittedly slight difference between "entree" and "intro;" Olsen's part in "Godzilla" was an almost insulting afterthought—not "sustainable!—while in "Age of Ultron" she's a significant recurring character in a huge franchise.


I have a couple thousand superhero comics in the attic myself, but I once said I wouldn't pay to see a Marvel movie until they got round to making one starring Razorback (ideally, shot on Super-16 and in Arkansas). The thing is, I'm not joking.


Oliver C: Why no Moon Knight movie? That's what's bugging me.

Glenn and Josh Z: Elizabeth Olsen said in an interview that ULTRON felt like her first blockbuster. Most of her GODZILLA scenes were filmed in a house, so it seemed like a small indie drama to her.

And, yes, she was sadly wasted in GODZILLA. The millions of people who saw her for the first time in that movie probably wondered why she was considered such a promising actress.


So...two thumbs up?

I've surprisingly not seen a Marvel movie since the 2005 Fantastic Four film. But call me when we get to the multi-verse stuff and the zombie versions of the Avengers.

But (said presumptuously on my part) if doing some of these films seemingly pushes Chris Evans into doing Snowpiercer, Chris Hemsworth into Cabin In The Woods or Blackhat, or Scarlett Johansson into Under The Skin (or apparently the live action version of Ghost In The Shell) in a desperate attempt to find some balance, I'll be relatively OK with that. Maybe Elizabeth Olson will end up in another Martha Marcy May Marlene-type film soon.


I've never been knocked out by Evans and Hemsworth, but lucrative employment for great talent is the one saving grace of franchises. The Harry Potter movies were a much better example of this.

Mike Nichols once said that so many of the best actors he had worked with were living from check to check, even as they were being lauded for their work. It wasn't until they did a "rocket ship movie" (his endearing description for it) that they were finally able to relax.

Clayton Sutherland

Glenn, I enjoyed the Avengers sequel well enough (more for Whedon's playfulness than the action barrage), but I think most of us are waiting for your write-up on Mad Max: Fury Road. Whether you get paid for it or not, you know it's gotta be worth it.


This is the best thing I've read this week. Thank you.


So are there really these people who are big boosters of Avengers movies and who want to be acknowledged as being just as smart as people who write about Renoir? Who are they? I guess I read the wrong (or the right) film blogs.


Asher: there are people who think the Avengers movies are superior to anything Renoir ever did. I've met such people, unfortunately.


Hey, better David Geffen than David Koch!

Jesus Lepe

This may sound like a petty complaint, but why can't anyone make a decent 3D movie? Maybe it's me, or the theaters I go to... but I haven't seen 3D utilized well in some time (maybe since Krull).


I mean, I'm sure that a majority of Americans would rather watch the Avengers than any of Renoir's films, and would even find his work fairly dull, if they ever saw any of it. What I haven't encountered, though, is someone who has that sort of view and wants to be "acknowledged as being just as smart as people" who prefer Renoir to the Avengers. People like that, in my experience, aren't interested in being acknowledged as smart. Now, on the other hand, I think there are lots of people who would seriously argue that Mad Men is better than Sirk (which isn't much less ridiculous), and people like that do tend to want to be taken very seriously.


I had more fondness for "nerd culture" when it was a cultish thing. Forty years ago, being a fan of sci-fi, fantasy or superheroes was like belonging to a secret society. It was NOT mainstream and NOT considered cool by most people, and certainly not by most adults.

But now that nerd culture is THE mainstream pop culture of the United States, it has become very tiresome.

Or as Simon Pegg put it: Nerd culture won, and it's dumbing us down.



To paraphrase the elderly Pauline Kael: if I'd known pulp was all we were going to end up with, I wouldn't have championed it so much.

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