As cultural cornerstones go, the Marvel pantheon may well have reached the top of the heap. The collective adventures and individual back stories of Captain America, the Hulk, and Iron Man are icons of Americana in and of themselves, but the rebooted franchise is strong because these heroes are human, and their stories engines run on character development and conflict with which the audience readily empathizes.
Also, there are lots of explosions. Just, so many explosions. Really expensive things get blown up for both good and bad reasons while inspiring music plays in the background, and we all just love that.
I was disinclined to comment during the film itself, and was too tired afterward to make a production of my confusion, but after some sleep and recollection I have to wonder – why was this a Christmas movie? It’s May, as I’ve been lead to believe, and this movie, as I have also been lead to believe, has always been slated for a May release (as with its predecessors in the franchise – indeed, with the exception of the Avengers, which released in April of 2012, all of the current Marvel titles have released in May) – so it was slightly odd to see a Christmas/New Years thematic stream throughout the film.
My disconnect was lengthened by several observations:
- It was very warm in the theatre – A glorious spring day in Seattle had lead to a muggy evening, and it was a fine time to find myself out on the town without a fan in my purse! The warmth and close company of my companions only served to remind me that it was definitely springtime outside, not Winter.
- Christmas and New Years were used as the customary metaphors for change and personal growth, but there are plenty of vernal metaphors that would have served this purpose equally well.
- Christmas is a very hard season to reconcile when ones story is set in the lemon yellow haze of Southern California. You can put as many giant bunnies as you want in Tony Stark’s quaint little seaside cottage, but we’ll never confuse Malibu with Santa’s Village.
Having returned recently from a writer’s conference, I’m still struggling with the academic overload, but I’ve learned a little bit about the gastrointestinal process that is the Hollywood movie machine. What goes in very rarely resembles what comes out – the input is generally something into which one has put time, care, research, and painstaking labor and personal attention; and what comes out is smashed, dissolved, reconstituted, and molded into something that will appeal to 2 out of 4 of the major viewing demographics. It’s a rather perfect metaphor for digestion.
With that in mind, I recall anecdotes about several movies being made from scripts, and parts of scripts, for different stories – the Die Hard series of movies were scripted from 4 (now 5) entirely different novels that had nothing to do with each other; the original movie the Terminator was smashed together from several Harlan Ellison short stories; Pretty Woman evolved from a much darker script about addiction and emotional dysfunction before it was given a fairytale sparkle by the studios.
As we have relied on the new Marvel series to incarnate at regular intervals with an increasing grade of quality from chapter to chapter, this expectation has likely resulted in an extreme amount of pressure on their battalion of writers, punch up teams and editors to produce scripts that prove financially viable while maintaining the general gravitas that the series has so far been afforded – this respect has, after all, only increased the marketability of the brand. I can tell that the artists in charge of this project really respect what they’re doing. But when you sell me a Christmas movie as Spring is turning to Summer, I can see the stitches on your Frankenscript.
I certainly enjoyed it, though. That’s a fair assessment of the 2 hours and 20 minutes I spent watching it (and the requisite post-credits scene). The show was excellent as always, an exciting chapter in the continuing story. As a trailer accompanied it for the forthcoming Thor: The Dark World, they have, as always, left me with eager anticipation for the next installment.