I enjoyed the “The Avengers,” though not nearly as much as my Facebook friends who commented on it. As with several other films and television shows I’ve discussed in recent months, the Joss Whedon-directed comic book film suggests a move back to a pre-9/11 perspective in pop culture.
First, “The Avengers” does not feature the angst and introspection of the recent "Batman" and "Spider Man" films. For that matter, it contains less character development than Whedon’s cult television shows, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) and “Angel” (1999-2004). While not nearly as silly as the 1990s Joel Schumacher-directed “Batman” flicks, “The Avengers” is much more of a traditional action film than recent comic book movies. As a friend pointed out, that may be because other filmmakers explored the various characters in their own films.
Furthermore, the climax (SPOILERS) of the film occurs in New York City and shows the villains destroying huge portions of Manhattan in comic book fashion. I dare say that Whedon would not have portrayed the scenes in such a flippant way five years ago, when memories of the World Trade Center attacks were fresher. Indeed, “The Avengers” destruction is more akin to the NYC mayhem seen in pre-9/11 films such as “Independence Day” (1996) and “Fight Club” (1999).
As the summer continues, it will be interesting to compare these aspects of “The Avengers” to other popcorn movies like “Amazing Spider Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”