Two rules of war. Never start one. Never lose one. It’s one of many gems I picked up while watching “The Avengers” — the Marvel movie based on a comic book series first published when I was three years old. It took several decades for the darn thing to get on my radar. It’s only there now because I have a daughter who digs it and respect for a critic who panned it. Take note, theater folk. There’s actually some truth to that whole “no publicity is bad publicity” mantra.
I took my 22-year-old son Christopher along for a Saturday afternoon screening. Seated to our left was a young father with his son, who looked like kindergarten might be in his future come fall. I saw “Jaws” as a teen, and spent half the movie covering my eyes. All the little guy two seats over needed during “The Avengers” was a few brief plot points and a little lap time during the final battle scene.
I wasn’t a fan of letting my kids see all that shoot ’em up bang bang stuff before their teens, but I’m even less inclined to tell other parents how to make such choices assuming there’s no real danger involved. Just be sure any kids you take along know that Hulk-esque moves won’t be tolerated on the playground. And remember that it’s rated PG-13 for a reason.
There’s a single scene in the film that’ll stick with me for some time. It features a lone elderly gentleman standing up amidst a crowd of people who’ve obeyed villain Loki’s “kneel before me” command. The setting is a street in Stuttgart, Germany — and the Holocaust reference is clear. The choice costs him dearly, but it was the right thing to do.
There’s plenty of philosophical fodder in “The Avengers.” Freedom is life’s great lie. The world is growing ever stranger. Sometimes people need a hero. The world is full of people we can’t control. We all follow our true nature. Failure stems from lack of conviction. It’s best to pay one’s debts. Seems superheroes also have their politics. Think nuclear proliferation as a lousy deterrent.
I give the action much higher marks than the acting in this baby, but it’s the writing that really rocks. Lizabeth told me as much after seeing a midnight premiere of “The Avengers” in NYC with some friends. She’s a longtime fan of Joss Whedon, who directs the film and wrote the screenplay.
At one point Loki tells Iron Man he’s got no idea what he’s dealing with. Iron Man responds with, “Shakespeare in the Park?” (Seems Iron Man feels Loki is a “full tilt diva.”) When Loki plays the “I’m a god” card, Hulk give him a jab and a “puny god” quip. When someone marvels over the differences between brothers Thor and Loki, Thor retorts with “He’s adopted.” There’s even a nifty reference to flying monkeys.
I don’t speak “Marvel,” but still enjoyed the film in novice mode. It’s funny enough that nodding off is a luxury rather than a necessity. I suppose I’ll have to delve deeper into “The Avengers” backstory now, though Lizabeth will likely advise against it. She’s already explained that only the true geeks really get it. But that won’t stop me from trying — because now I know just enough to be dangerous.
Note: Click here to learn more about “The Avengers,” and here for the scoop on Phoenix Comicon (coming to the Phoenix Convention Center May 24-27). Guests include Ed Asner, longtime friend of Arizona Jewish Theatre Company (whose Curtain Call youth theater performs “Annie” next weekend), and author Tom Leveen (known to Valley theater geeks for all those years at Chyro Arts in Scottsdale).
Coming up: Art meets Mother’s Day, Memoir tales