The Avengers part 16

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Now that the Avengers have “cleared the red from their ledgers,” the real battle for New York, and the world, begins.  Capt America, the living anachronism, is suddenly made commander.  Why is unclear: he’s shown no flair for either strategy or tactics up to this point, and he’s eternally baffled by technology.  He is, however, the group’s resident idealist, and Coulson’s favorite, which gives him the moral edge.  Nick Fury, it’s worth mentioning, is absent from the battle.  He is, I hesitate to say, the “real power” at this point, governmental power the way we mortals understand it: sneaky, underhanded and secretive, no matter how high his ideals.

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Capt America sends Iron Man and Hawkeye up top to call the game and take out aerial threats.  He sends Thor to bottleneck the portal and keeps Black Widow at his side for hand-to-hand combat.  Hulk he sends to “smash.”  That is to say, Hawkeye will act as a lookout (his forte), Iron Man will act as a weapon (his heritage) Thor will act as thunder-god (his very name), he and Black Widow will work the fight on the ground (turning their limitation into a strength) and Hulk will wreak havoc (his secret thrill).  (Bruce, after enduring an act of Tony Stark’s ribbing about his lack of self-control, now has the last laugh: he enjoys hulking out.)

Thor (somehow) uses his hammer to turn the Chrysler Building into a lightning rod (to the surprise, I’m sure, of the thousands of people currently in the Chrysler Building) and then (somehow) uses the ensuing lightning as a kind of lightning-sphincter on the Tesseract portal.

Meanwhile, up in the helicarrier, Fury is called to The Council.  The Council, as Councils will, wishes Fury to annihilate Manhattan with a nuclear strike.  (The Councils two speaking members are Powers Boothe and Jenny Agutter.  Powers Boothe came to fame playing the Rev Jim Jones in a TV movie about Jonestown, Ms. Agutter is known for being “the girlfriend” in Logan’s Run and American Werewolf, but came to prominence as “The Girl” in Nick Roeg’s Walkabout.  If there is a specific movie-movie Whedonverse joke in their casting, it escapes me.)

In the streets, Hawkeye directs Iron Man to exploit the Chitauri glider’s weakness in turning skills (a purely mechanical flaw) while Black Widow learns where the Chitauri armor is vulnerable.  Again, the fighting style is suited to the character.  The Chitauri, it should be noted, remain utterly without ideology.  They don’t even reflect Loki’s megalomania, they’re merely an anonymous “threat” of the “Crush, Kill, Destroy” variety.  Nor, it should be said, do they have a mind-bending or confounding technology, like the Martians in War of the Worlds.  They have machines and armor, but their machines have understandable limitations and their armor is not magical.  They are, all in all, an easily understood, easily hated enemy, without metaphor, the better to flex against for the good of humankind.

Black Widow now steps out of her comfort zone to manipulate the Chitauris in ways she hasn’t yet manipulated men: at high speeds over city streets.  She hijacks a glider and “pilots” the pilot with knives to his ribs.  In the ensuing incredible shot, we see a virtual tag-team of heroics as Black Widow pilots, Iron Man teams up with Capt America to zap, Hawkeye pierces (100 internet dollars to those who understand that as a MASH reference), Hulk pulverizes and Thor hammers.  Hulk, just to keep things lively, also punches Thor out of frame: Bruce in complete control is no longer Bruce.

In the street, the US Army arrives to help out.  Depending on your view, this either helps or hurts the cause.


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Meanwhile, atop Stark Tower, Dr. Selvig, although he has not been conked on the head by Black Widow, nevertheless comes out of his Loki trance.

In a nearby bank, the Chitauri have cornered a number of civilians, causing Capt America to come rescue them.  Is there a metaphor at work, that Capt America must save citizens trapped in a bank?  Are the Chitauri now predatory lenders, and their blinking blue grenade a low-interest Adjustable Rate Mortgage?  Whatever the metaphorical import, the encounter in the bank leaves Capt America shaken, to the point where civilian passers-by look at him with pity.

Up in the sky, Black Widow is in over her head, so to speak.  Loki is after her on his own glider, but Hawkeye, watching her back, knocks him out of the air with a well-placed arrow, depositing him right where we began, on Tony Stark’s porch, where the Hulk, having the last word, shows up to make short work of the god who would be king.

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10 Responses to “The Avengers part 16”
  1. Jon Wood says:

    Cap is commander because he’s pretty much the only one on the team with any battlefield command experience. Even Thor’s experience basically boils down to “show up and hit things”.

    Also, the young cop who cap addresses is Enver Gjokaj, from Dollhouse, to go with Whedon’s penchant for reusing actors. Incidentally, Hemsworth appeared in the Whedon-produced Cabin in the Woods before Avengers, and honestly does a pretty good job. Seems like the type of film you’d like.

    • Todd says:

      I hear what you’re saying about Cap, but I saw his movie and I don’t remember him commanding much. I’m sure it’s a different story in the comics.

      I loved Cabin in the Woods.

      • Megaduck says:

        The main plotline of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is his growing to be a Captain and a Soldier. He becomes a resistance leader in the third act. After he rescues the soldiers from the Hydra base he leads them to destroy a number of other Hydra bases calculating in the big finale.

        Captain America’s main power is he commanding others and he uses it two times in this fight. The first time when he meets the Cop and takes control of the defense of New York and this is the second time when the takes command of the Avenger team.

        • Jason L says:

          And his name is CAPTAIN America, after all. Captains give orders, so even if you haven’t seen the other film or know his back story other than what’s in The Avengers, it’s kind of implicit in the character that he’s gonna be in charge.

  2. Don’t forget that Selvig got caught in the blast when Tony tried to shoot the Tesseract and promptly conked his head on the slab thing he is shown resting against.

    So, the internal logic of how the mind-controlled are pulled out of Loki’s trance is consistent – give ’em a good whack on the noggin.

    • Todd says:

      I did notice that Selvig had a cut on his forehead, but I couldn’t remember how he’d gotten it. It makes me sad that falling down can have the same effect as being struck by Scarlett Johanssen.

      • Mike S says:

        In Scarlett’s defense, I believe there are at least two ways of being “struck” by her.

        On the other hand, she must not hit very hard, because Hawkeye didn’t have any marks or bruises at all after their scuffle.

  3. SonyTark says:

    The woman in the pink dress who gawps at Cap after he saves them is in a deleted scene where Steve sits at a cafe and has a short conversation with her. I’m pretty sure she’s gawping because she recognised him from before with his mask off, Captain America saved her life but he looks like just an ordinary guy.

  4. Maribeth says:

    I grew up watching M*A*S*H, but of course the reruns are still running so even your youngest readers would probably get the ‘Hawkeye pierces’ reference!

    And I’m really happy that you liked ‘Cabin in the Woods’! THAT was my favorite movie of 2012, but I can’t even express why… I would love for you to blog about that movie!