I was expecting a simple action flick with lots of explosions, pretty much standard stuff with a few twists. I was not expecting to think. Holy fuck Whedon, could you work in any more themes? Life, death, teamwork, honesty, change, reality, even moral absolutism!
About my only complaint about the movie is that there were some golden opportunities to show that violence is not always the right answer. Yes, it’s an action flick, the purpose is to show violence. I’m not expecting the Avengers to stop and sing kumbaya. But there were a couple of times that a non-violent resolution would have worked better and the characters were perfectly suited to pull it off! Heck, they could have worked violence into it to show how the violence didn’t work in that situation – which would have still kept the action up, and illustrated the point. (I’d describe the actual scenario but I’m trying to avoid spoilers)
I’ve seen some things floating around Facebook about how Joss Whedon’s stories aren’t perfect and leave a lot to be desired around diversity. They’re right, they aren’t perfect. They aren’t meant to be, nor should anyone claim that Whedon epitomizes the best of all storytelling. But you know what? He’s pushed Holywood to produce stories that are orders of magnitude better than what was being sold before as the big blockbusters that reached millions.
Just check out the new Avengers presented at the end: two women and two black dudes. Yes, lead by a white man. Oh wait a second, Nick Fury is back, so now we have a disabled black man in senior leadership, not to mention Maria Hill and Pepper Potts. This doesn’t mean that we’re done. Not by a long shot. There’s a lot more story telling needed to make this so normal that it’s just assumed. But this is a good direction to go in to see what we want. Perfect is the enemy of good. If we want to see more storytelling going in this direction, then we need to embrace the people pushing in this direction while pointing out gently where to make more progress and ask for more.