I’ve talked before about my love of Superheroes and the fact that I truly believe that a lot of modern Superhero stories have their roots in tales handed down from our past.
Last night I went to see a midnight showing of a movie I have been looking forward to for about four years now: The Avengers. It is, at its core, a timeless story of four men overcoming their differences to work together in battle, and using that newfound camaraderie to take down a giant metal snake monster and aliens coming through a wormhole created by a glowing cube. Yes, it is a timeless tail. If you don’t see evidence of giant metal snakes and glowing wormhole cubes in Shakespearian works, you’re not reading it close enough. I think a glowing wormhole cube is how Hamlet gets around so quickly. Don’t quote me on that.
What is it about the Superhero that continues to amaze us? The current gripe is that there are too many “Superhero” movies coming out now. But the Superhero story is older than time itself: Tales of people who could do miraculous things have always fascinated humanity. From back when Homer (the blind poet, not the cartoon character) first told his story of a man defying the gods themselves to get home, to Hercules, to Alexander Dumas’ swashbuckling heroes (that spawned several sequels, thank you very much) to Edgar Rice Burrows’ interpretation of a man-ape, to today. The difference between then and now is that rather than keeping these stories in a book, we splash it up on the big screen and follow it up with explosions and twenty minutes of commercials. (This last sentence is brought to you by Hardees.)
The movie itself was spectacular. I would highly recommend that you share this blog with your friends, go see the movie, and then share this blog again. (The blog sharing has nothing to do with the movie, I just want more people to read it.) Joss Whedon manages to fit together a ton of personalities into a giant big screen epic that would make Homer himself “whoo-hoo” with joy. (The cartoon character. Although the blind poet might not find it too shabby, either.) The special effects are awesome, the dialogue is great, the actors all hit their marks, and there is one sequence that would qualify Joss Whedon for an Academy Award should they not be deathly afraid of the most timeless of stories: The Superhero story.
The perfect Superhero story to me is one that captures that feeling you had when you were younger. That feeling when you tie a blanket or towel around your shoulders then run around the house with your arms raised making whooshing noises, pretending to save the Earth from monsters or aliens, and always having the perfect powers to stop them. We’ve all done it. Some of us as recently as last week. (whistle nonchalantly.) The Avengers captures this feeling. It is a reminder that no matter how old we get, we can all remember that first time we all saw a story about someone who could do something amazing.
I bring this up in a teaching/Shakespeare/literature blog because these stories, while often overlooked, are an important part of our heritage. We can try to forget it, or bury a perfectly good story underneath layers of pretending it’s NOT a Superhero’s story or a fantastical tale that stokes our imagination, but that doesn’t change the fact that all of us in the audience are wishing we are able to fly, lift a car, or rush in to save the day. This is all stuff I have said before, but I feel it is important enough to reiterate, especially this weekend when America will be firmly divided between those going to see the Avengers, those who got to the theater too late and are stuck seeing Five Year Engagement, and those who are too “high above” such silly entertainment to give it a fair viewing.
As for a review of the movie itself… I give it 10 Yorick Skulls out of a possible 10.