Joss did two super Joss things in The Avengers, one that I will always love, one that I don’t really like.
The first one is the one I love, in the scene where the Black Widow’s introduced. We see Scarlett Johanssen, tied to a chair, being dangled over a hole in the floor by some dudes who are about to torture her. It looks bad. Then one thug’s phone rings. It’s for her. It’s home office getting her to come in. “I’m in the middle of an interrogation,” she complains. “This idiot’s giving me everything.” The Russian bad guy is like “No, I’m not.” She gives him a look like O RLY. Then she manages to kick all their asses while still tied to a chair. It’s one of his best moves, to introduce a stock movie situation with a scared, vulnerable lady, and then flip things so it turns out she’s actually in total control and then punches a bunch of guys. (I know people don’t like ScarJo but I thought she was perfect for this and her flatness read as impassive hardness.) It’s totally the first scene of Buffy, where a blonde girl and a kind of creepy jock are sneaking into the school after hours and she seems a little scared — before she sucks out all his blood, because it’s Darla.
The other thing that is classically Joss is the shockingly killing off a likable minor character to raise the emotional stakes thing. This is a Joss favourite. I like it less because I feel like sometimes it’s dramatically called for (the death of Jenny Calendar), and sometimes he uses it like a bludgeon (the death of Fred Burkle). This time it worked okay.
Other than that, it was practically the perfect superhero movie. I liked how he managed to make a bunch of people who could not be more deeply embedded in the military-industrial complex seem like ragtag rebels.
(I will also note for movie record keeping posterity that I saw Thor and Captain America in preparation to understand the plot of this one. I liked both a lot more than I thought I would, especially Captain America. It was smart to keep the army superhero tied to WWII, otherwise I think stuff could’ve gotten really disturbing. I liked when the love interest punched that guy.)
(I will further note that I have actually missed writing up a bunch of movies that I’ve watched this year because of reasons; am probably going to have some very vague short backlog type posts coming up soon?)