I won’t be seeing The Avengers this weekend.
Not because I hate fun. Not because of the creators’ rights issue. Not because I already promised the wife I’d clean the front room.
I won’t be seeing The Avengers because I don’t see the logic behind spending fifteen bucks and three hours on an experience I can already extrapolate from the previous struts of the franchise’s tentpole. Oh, sure, my hypothetical version may have some of the banal one-liners mixed up or assume the giant explodo-thingee at the climax will make a “CRASHABOOM” sound instead of “SMASHAKRAKOWIEE” effect, but I’m pretty confident that the actual beats will closely match the imagined ones.
Here’s where everyone laughs at some “witty” bit of trash talk. Here’s where some CGI monstrosity barrels down the Uncanny Valley. And here’s where everyone fidgets through the end credits for the pseudo-surprise commercial for the inevitable sequel.
For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the feeder films leading up to the big event. I’m not immune to the charms of big dumb spectacles, especially where they intersect longstanding points of interest. Yet it was pretty clear by the time Captain America rolled around that the process of content generation had settled into a predictable and profitable formula. That plug ‘n’ play aspect is ideal from a production standpoint; a reliable recipie for success is the Holy Grail of studio execs — especially when dealing on the blockbuster level of budgetary scales. From my perspective as an end-user, however, the sense of diminishing returns has set in with a vengeance.
Chalk it up to having a PSYOPS vet for a father or just a general sense of surliness, but there are few things I despise more than being blatantly pandered to by some agency or form of entertainment. It’s greasy and gross and presumes familarity that it hasn’t earned or been granted.
“We know you’ll lllluuurrrrrrrve it! It has that thing that you have fond memories of in it!” Fuck that noise. I don’t drop trousers for every Slick Willie who promises to massage my nostalgia or fandom cortexes. In fact, I resent the assumption that I could be so easily bought — or, in the case of the contemporary model of fandom, induced to buy.
That may reek of cynicism, but so does a big-budget cinematic juggernaut ruthlessly tailored to maximize licensed revenue streams for a massive entertainment conglomerate. That doesn’t preclude an entertaining experience, but it does color my impression of it.
Whether it excites you or not isn’t my call. I don’t really give a shit either way. Conversely, my lack of enthusiasm shouldn’t be interpreted as litmus test for my geek credentials. If someone told me going in that loving stupid shit would eventually require playing an unpaid cheerleader for media combines, I’d have found another hobby.
I’m a dedicated functionalist where my entertainment is concerned. If it moves me, it moves me. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Sources only matter when they intersect non-negotiable matters of ethics. While there are some serious ethical issues surrounding The Avengers, the real dealbreaker was that it just doesn’t interest me.
(Panels taken from Avengers #252, an issue which presents the platonic ideal of what the franchise means to me. If Disney gets around to making a film which reflects that, I’d be more than willing to reconsider my stance.)
Recommended listening: The notes may change but the song remains the same.