There is an obvious problem about the super-hero genre of films and comics, especially those films and comics drawn from the DC and Marvel character universes.
The super-hero is not really at any risk, and you know it.
The well-known costumed hero is going to survive. As such there can be a lack of tension in the story.
There is usually no real doubt about who will be left standing.
Most stories now told of well-known characters have no plot worth the name.
One way of dealing with this problem is to concentrate on great artwork (in comics) or special effects (in films). Indeed, the general standard of comic artwork is higher than that of the over-rated (but inexplicably popular with poseurs) Roy Lichtenstein. There is nothing wrong this: there is more to super-heroics than narrative.
Another way is characterization – as Alan Moore asked implicitly in The Killing Joke and Watchmen - what makes someone want to put on a costume and beat up wrong-doers? Then there is related question, which Moore addressed in Watchmen and elsewhere: what would be the actual effect on the world if people did have super-powers? And what would be the effect on the super-powered people themselves?
In both special effects and characterization, the new Avengers Assemble film is a triumph. The film has effectively no plot (something about Loki and space aliens and a portal and something called Tesseract and whatever, but nothing turns on any of it).
But it does have superb special effects – not just the fairly static CGI one would expect, but wonderful dynamic scenes, such as when Hulk stops a charging monstrosity with a single punch.
And it has engaging characterization: you could see why Stark enjoys being Iron Man, and how Banner copes on a daily basis with the other fellow. Thor and Captain were less complex, which is perhaps right given their natures, but the balance between all the characters throughout the film is nothing less than masterful.
Of course, the Avengers were going to win, but the lack of any plot tension was not a problem for this film.
One enjoys the action and interaction all the same.
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