One Avenger’s clearly the best, and another (sorry, Scarlett) the worst
By RICHARD ROEPER rroeper @suntimes.com April 30, 2012 8:10PM
NO BIG DEAL: Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow looks sharp, but she’s the lamest Avenger.
Updated: June 2, 2012 8:15AM
As much as I loved “Marvel’s The Avengers,” let’s face it: Some Avengers are much more impressive than others.
Take Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Not to get too deep into the weeds of Marvel Comics Universe here, but the shorthand back story for Black Widow is she’s a Russian-born spy who eventually becomes a member of the Avengers, using skills of seduction and self-defense for the greater good.
Of all the fantastical scenes in “The Avengers” involving flying superheroes and gods from other planets and a flying, invisible aircraft carrier, perhaps the most logic-defying moment of all comes early in the film, when Scarlett/Natasha is tied to a chair but still manages to disarm and disable a roomful of bad guys. Even in 3-D and with the help of quick cuts and maybe a stunt double or two, this is one of the least believable tiny-actress-takes-down-sneering-bad-guys scenes in recent memory.
It’s not as if the Black Widow has amazing super-powers. Sure, she looks great in that tight outfit, and she’s got mad skills as a martial artist and assassin, and her back story includes the obligatory gobbledygook about super-duper biotechnology that helps her to resist aging and heal more quickly than the average human being — but still. You see the Black Widow firing her little weapons at the flying monster machines in “The Avengers” and she seems outgunned.
Cue the fanboys to fill my e-box with angry, anguished rants about how I know NOTHING ABOUT BLACK WIDOW.
Thanks for writing.
From the home office at S.H.I.E.L.D.
We get a half-dozen main superheroes in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” and it’s pretty fantastic and of course kinda silly when they’re introduced to each other and you’ve got Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner and Thor in the same room. I mean, come on: Thor! He looks like he fell off a Vegas poster for “Thunder Down Under,” he talks as if he spent a year studying at the Royal Shakespeare Academy at Asgard — and it must take him an hour to wash and blow-dry that hair and get dressed every morning before he heads to work. (“I know I’m forgetting something . . . ah geez. The hammer! I gotta start leaving that right next to my keys.”) You rank your Avengers for super-powers and cool, and Thor has to be ahead of the Black Widow, right?
(Cue the fanboys to fill my e-box with more rants about how I know LESS THAN NOTHING ABOUT BLACK WIDOW.)
Again: I loved “The Avengers.” Other than Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” films, which are in a league of their own, this is one of the most entertaining films of the genre since the advent of the Superhero Movie Renaissance. One of the joys of the film is its self-aware sense of humor, whether it’s Tony Stark noting the theatrical nature of Thor’s family squabbles or the Hulk pulling an Indiana Jones on a grandstanding villain.
With that in mind, here’s my ranking of the Avengers.
6. Black Widow. Oooh, she has great fashion sense and she can bring the martial arts. The same could be said for Charlie’s Angels or Lara Croft. Or Hilary Swank as “The Next Karate Kid.”
5. Hawkeye. OK, it’s Jeremy Renner and he walks really fast and with great purpose. But a bow and arrow, really? This guy might not even win “The Hunger Games.”
4. Captain America. He can run fast, and he can bench press 1,200 pounds, which would make him a sure first-round draft choice. But his main weapon is a garbage can lid, and he has the most pretentious superhero name of all.
3. Hulk. Now we’re getting into some seriously impressive alter ego territory. Hulk angry, Hulk scary, Hulk kinda funny in this version. Mark Ruffalo’s interpretation of Bruce Banner/Hulk is the best yet.
2. Thor. Somebody fix him up with Storm from the X-men! Or maybe not. The sex alone might destroy the universe. This guy is a god, plus he talks like he’s in a Lord of the Rings movie.
1. Tony Stark/Iron Man. One of the few superheroes who’s actually more entertaining when he’s NOT in costume. Stark’s wit alone could take down half the superheroes in the galaxy. And when it comes to lifestyle, women, techno-gadgets and narcissism, only Bruce Wayne/Batman comes close.
Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong.