MovieBob - Intermission
Should The Avengers Be at the Oscars?

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 8 Jun 2012 16:00
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I won't bore you with the tiresome rant about genre film being "ghettoized" by Hollywood tastemakers, as I have a feeling most of my readers are already "there." But the fact is, the source or subject-matter of these things shouldn't matter - it's unfair (to say nothing of intellectually discordant) to judge wholly disparate styles and genres against one another, so the only fair measure to my mind is to ask whether or not the film in question is exceptional in regards to its own aims.

The Avengers isn't a movie that recreates a meaningful period of history, or tells a controversial/shocking story, or carries a deep/specific message. It's an entertainment spectacle - a grandly-mounted pageant/morality-play staged in the reigning popular genre/tropes of the day. But it's also a film-production of exceptional difficulty, tasked with unifying the storylines of five disparate previous films across multiple genres and styles at the screenplay level and balancing five leads in more-or-less equal time at the direction level.

It accomplishes these tasks with tremendous skill, but also manages the most difficult trick of all: making an action-heavy blockbuster work as a tightly-scripted character piece. This, more than anything, is the secret to it's success. Spectacle and pyrotechnics are nice, but The Avengers would not be sitting on top of $600 Million and counting if all it had was fight scenes and explosions - the reason people are seeing it multiple times and dropping it's dialogue at the water cooler is because the story and it's characters are connecting with the audience in a very real way. Yes, Hulk sucker-punching Thor makes a great animated gif, but because of what a great character moment it is for the both of them after all their earlier buildup. Everyone will still remember Loki hissing "You mewling quim!" a year from now not simply because it's a funny-sounding olde English slur, but because it's part of a terrific scene.

Taken on its own merits, The Avengers is a nearly-perfect example of exactly what it aims to be, and it has the culturally and economically-measurable support of movie-lovers worldwide to back it up. I don't know if I'll say it ultimately deserves a Best Picture nomination - that depends on whether or not I see ten better movies this year. But it deserves to be considered, regardless of whether or not superheroes are "serious enough" for The Academy's tastes.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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