Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of Disbelief: The Avengers

Last summer Thor came out and we got our first peak at the Avengers movie. Superb marketing kept our interests up all year long. Finally, last Friday, it came out. I was excited and nervous. This is Whedon’s first really big mainstream movie that he could screw up really fast and be blamed for ruining what should have been one of the best superhero movies of all time. You’ll be glad to hear – he didn’t do that. In fact, he nailed it.

Title: The Avengers
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, ScarJo, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner

 The overall plot line of the movie is fairly straightforward. Loki declares war on Earth and Nick Fury invokes the Avengers Initiative to save the world. It gets slightly more complicated than that, and obviously it’s the complication that make it interesting (but I won’t get into it too much). Many of the heroes don’t get along, and that makes it even more entertaining.

I think this movie would have been really awesome regardless of who was directing. The cast is epic, the build up was intense, superhero movies rarely go wrong and …well there was Thor. In my opinion Joss is what pushed this movie beyond what was expected and made it fantastic…


Joss Whedon

I’m a Joss fan girl. Firefly is my favorite show of all time. Serenity is in my top 5 movies. I loved Dollhouse and plan on watching all of Buffy this summer. The more I think about Cabin in the Woods the higher it climbs on my fav movie list. I just love his style and his creativity. It was nice to be in this secret (but large…) Joss fan club during Avengers because there were so many tell-tail signs of Joss in the movie. For example, there is a fight scene that is semi-intense happening while classical music plays as the theme (very reminiscent of a scene from Firefly where Mal, Jayne and Book are in a gun fight with cheery Irish dance music playing), close ups on Scar Jo and Jeremy Renner’s faces when they are in a sort of emotional moment to show this subtle softness and emotion (again – reminiscent of the same technique used in Firefly with Mal and Anara) and the serious focus on character development – very Joss. Also, in pure Joss style…someone the group likes dies to push the group forward … (must like the situations with Willow and her girlfriend and Mal with Book)


I laughed… a lot. And again – even the humor hinted toward how Joss does things. Like a guy playing video games on the bridge and the Hulk spontaneously punching Thor. We also were amused with the expected Tony fast-talking/insulting humor. And there was a lot of subtle humor around referencing (ie: Captain America is from a different time and Thor is from a different world – so there is humor around what they get/don’t get).

Focus on Characters

The plot of the movie wasn’t one where you just chase the bad guy. The movie was designed to have an overarching story, but for us to learn more about each character as the show went on. We saw people grow, learned how they cope and saw them change. Sure it made it longer – but it was worth it. I think there were very few dull moments.


There were lots of explosions, kick ass fight scenes (especially those between the heroes themselves) and just really great special effects. Joss surprised his doubters by pulling out some really amazing action choreography. Seriously – that fight you keep seeing in previews between Iron Man and Thor is just as awesome as it looks.

What was wrong with it?

After the movie my fiance and I were walking home and we kept trying to think of things that were wrong with the movie. The best I could come up with is “I guess it could have been more kid friendly…” but I hardly even meant it. Other things that came up:

Why was Thor here?

How did Thor get back to Earth? My hubby liked that they sort of just said “Oden did it” and left it at that without getting too complicated and sort of just ignoring it. I agree, but I can see why other people may not like it. I didn’t like that he didn’t even go say hi to Jane! That seemed a bit rude, you’d think he’d make a little time at the end there since he can fly and shit.

WTF is Black Widows use????

Out of all the heroes she’s my least favorite… it’s fun how she can get people to tell her what she wants to know but she seems a bit useless otherwise. Scar Jo is super gorgeous, though… right?!

Loki left a lot up for chance!

My first criticism was that Loki’s plan left a lot up to chance – but then I remembered… he’s the god of trickery! So he probably knew how it would all shake down. 🙂

Basically – the geeks and comic book lovers in the crowd had a special treat and will be filled with happiness for a while. Others, not so into comic books or geek culture, will love it too – because it was fun, fighty and sexy (and see if you catch the Stan Lee cameo!). Sure, the science wasn’t “accurate” and it’s a bit of a stretch to think Hawkeye’s arrows are that effective against aliens – but this is Marvel. It’s a spectacular universe filled with these amazing creatures that kick the shit out of alien invaders… it was perfect. Go make a weekend out of Avengers and Cabin in the Woods. They both kicked off the summer movie season with a bang.

5/5 Shawarma Restaurants (all of which were likely overrun all weekend)

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Katie is a graduate student from Canada studying the environment and systems theory. She also loves dinosaurs and baking cupcakes. Follow her on twitter @katiekish


  1. May 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm —

    Yeah, Black Widow was pretty useless for the most part. But I have to say: I adored her first scene (or her first fight scene, with the chair, if it wasn’t her first). I loved every second of it, but I won’t spoil why.

    • May 13, 2012 at 12:19 am —

      Black Widow is amazing. In many ways, she’s *more* impressive than either Thor, the Hulk, or Iron Man. There is nothing “super” about her, and yet she held her own in every fight she was in. Plus, let’s not forget that she’s the one who made it to the top of Stark Tower. It was a team effort and to say that she didn’t have a point is unfair.

      Also, can I just say that I’m again very pleased with how Joss Whedon dealt with his main female characters. There was one point I thought Black Widow was going to lose her nerve, and she didn’t. No one treated her differently because she was a woman, and if they did, they regretted it. Joss Whedon, et al showed us how female superheros should be written.

      • May 13, 2012 at 12:55 am —

        Didn’t someone tell her to go to the top of the Stark Tower? (I honestly don’t remember – but I think Captain America did.) And when she got there the dr. was already fine.

        But comic book culture is really sexist – so the only woman on the team is best at “persuasion” (aka “talking”), has a killer body and her main story line was basically about being in love with hawkeye.

        Joss has a history of portraying females really well, and he did the best with what he has been given. But to say that is how female superheroes should be written?! No way! Female superheroes should be written to be way more kickass and powerful. I felt like the only reason she was on the top of the Stark tower was to throw her a bone because she was pointless through the rest of the movie. Sure she found out loki plans, but what good did that do? And really, her job on top of the tower could have been done by anyone, including the doctor alone.

        • May 13, 2012 at 9:51 am —

          I’m not suggesting that Black Widow is the super hero we would come up with if we were writing one from scratch, but from what I understand of the super hero movie genre, that’s not what happens. So there were inherent limitations to her character. But, given those limitations, the writers wrote her very well. There were times when she could have looked weak, and she wasn’t.

          In addition, let’s look at everything she did. She rescued Hawkeye from the clutches of Loki. She got information out of Loki, which in turn lead to that verbal altercation in the lab. It showed how un-teamlike they were at that point. And I would argue that it *had* to be Black Widow to go to the top of Stark Tower. (I’m 99% sure it was her idea, and I think Captain America tried to talk her out of it.) The other guys tried to get to the top of the building, but only she did it. Her deal was that she’d done some really bad things, and this was the way of atoning for past sins. It wasn’t a bone Whedon threw her. It was her purpose.

          Also, am I the only one who sees poignancy in both Black Widow and Hawkeye? These are normal, non-super people fighting alongside gods, geniuses, and science experiments. It adds another way to connect to the team. She doesn’t have super strength, but that doesn’t make her less valuable. Why should powers of persuasion be somehow less than raw power?

          I think that some of the arguments being made against Black Widow could also be made about Hawkeye. What unique purpose did he serve? He shot arrows? We could have had a nobody with a gun and had the same effect.

          • May 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm

            Hey man – I never said Hawkeye was useful, I just didn’t have a cool comic for him. (But he also lead the fight against the Avengers when he was in control by Loki and nearly killed them all with his plan…)As a stand alone character Black Widow is awesome. But compared to a god of lightening and iron man?? She’s pretty dull. I feel the same about Hawkeye.

            I just watched these particular parts again. The altercation had already started before black widow even got there. She didn’t say anything to stop or contribute to the fight.

            He says “You and me stay here, keep the fighting on the ground…”… so she stays and does that for a while then says “Captain all this fighting isn’t going to mean a damn thing unless we close that portal.”
            CA: Guns can’t touch it
            BW: Maybe it’s not about guns
            CA: If you want to get up there you’re going to need a ride.
            BW: I got a ride. Could use a boost tho…
            CA: Are you sure about this? (asking about riding the alien flying motorbike – not about her going to the top)
            BW: Yeah, it’s going to be fun.

            That’s far from trying to talk her out of doing it, but it also wasn’t his idea. (Well, a few scenes earlier it’s actually Tony that mentions the portal needs to be closed…so its originally his idea but then she piggy backs on it)

            Then she jumps up onto the alien thing. She is definitely NOT the only one who can get up there. The hulk is jumping all over the place, Tony can fly, Thor can fly, CA could have gotten up there and Hawkeye got up to his spot easy enough. No one else even tried to get to the top of the tower. The only person that even thought about going up there was Tony and that was specifically to deal with Loki – not the portal. The others were all given instructions by Captain America to do other things – no one was trying to get to the portal.

            BW just had nothing else to do, which is why I think she’s the one that got to close the portal. She couldn’t go on top of a building and shoot arrows, or fly around and kill shit… She had to stay on the ground to fight (or jump onto their flying machines) which is useless against flying aliens, so she’s really the logical one to choose to go and do it. So joss makes it her plan to get up there and close the portal and I think it’s because she had nothing else to really do. And by the time she gets there the doctor is already awake and he tells her how to close the portal (which is why I think he could have done it on his own, it’s not like they encountered any problems). So I’d agree that it “had to be” black widow because otherwise she’d be doing nothing but being beaten up by aliens. I also don’t see at ALL how this is her atoning for her sins… I just watched the whole movie again watching for these specific things and that didn’t come out at all.

            (And yes – Brave looks freaking fantastic!)

        • May 13, 2012 at 9:52 am —

          Oh, also, I posted a response last night but I abused my site admin status to delete it. It was late and I re-read it and it wasn’t what I wanted to say. Just FYI.

          • May 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

            Katie: For some reason I don’t have the option to reply to your post, so I’m replying here.

            I interpreted all her talk about having a lot of red in her ledger and wanting to wipe it out as trying to make up for her past bad behavior. She mentioned it when she was with Hawkeye as he was waking up from his Loki-coma (or whatever).

            I guess I just don’t see why she can’t get any respect for doing what she did. When you think about it, did we even need any of the Avengers other than Iron Man? He can fly and shoot lasers and has superior strength (not as much strength as the Hulk, but whatever). The fact is that this was a team and they all had their role to play. She made sense in the universe of the movie. She was already a trusted S.H.E.I.L.D. employee (independent contractor?) and was, apparently, the only Avenger who thought to actually try to close the portal. I’m not arguing that she *looks* as impressive as her hard-hitting cohorts, but she remains an important character.

  2. May 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm —

    Love the little Black Widow comic. Do a search on YouTube for “three point landing supercut” to see just how cliche it is.

  3. May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm —

    it’s fun how she can get people to tell her what she wants to know but she seems a bit useless otherwise.

    Your statement alludes to the fact that her primary function is espionage and secret agent stuff. (Sort of like a less classy version of Emma Peel. But then, no one is as classy as Emma Peel.) As such, she is valuable to S.H.I.E.L.D., and it looks like Nick Fury trusts her with some very sensitive assignments. For one thing, she and Hawkeye work for him full time and take his orders–which makes them far more useful, in some ways, than a handful of whiney, tempermental superheroes with gigantic egos.

    I agree that she and her sidearm looked really out of place once the aliens and demigods started throwing buildings around–she’s not a superhero, duh. I couldn’t take Hawkeye seriously in the final battle scene either, for similar reasons. But up to that point, she did her job very well. It was not the same job as Iron Man, Captain America, et al.

  4. May 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm —

    We may disagree on how kickass Black Widow is, but can we at least agree that the trailer for Brave was bangin’?

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