Avengers vs The Canon
I’m listening to podcasts again today, this time to The Canon, a podcast about movies. The Canon, with Amy Nicholson, asks what films should be included in the list of all-time greats. Amy Nicholson (a film critic with MTV News) and a guest debate and discuss whether a film should be Canon-ized. Listeners then cast their vote in the Earwolf forums, and decide if they agree, or not, and this fixes the legacy of each movie forevermore.
The Canon is weekly and I listen to it every Sunday as I do the washing up. I don’t only do the washing up once a week, of course, but the Sunday dish pile always seems to be higher than any other day. They tackle a very eclectic list of films, but this week I grinned from ear to ear when I saw that they are going after The Avengers. I also smiled because choosing The Avengers has to be good for the site’s SEO and attracting listens, seeing as how Infinity War is coming out in just a week or so. To be specific, the episode I listened to is The Canon #150 from April 16, 2018.
Jenelle and Amy are not entirely objective in their discussion, and in fact Jenelle tells us she is wearing her Team Loki T-shirt, while Amy does not hide the fact that she thinks this is a flawed movie. The discussion covers a lot of ground, and they touch on the strengths of the main cast, the evolution of Marvel’s characters and storylines, and the prominent female stars. Plus, they dissect the film’s humorous beats and the small human moments among the spectacle.
They start off by talking about the movie Thor and how they love how it commits to the female gaze. The female gaze is a feminist film theoretical term and a response to feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey’s term, the male gaze. Mulvey applyed terms from Sigmund Freud’s theories to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, to discuss how it is intended to be from a male point of view. Thor, in contrast, has sections that are understood exclusively from a female point of view. Applying ideas like this to a superhero movie, just a few minutes into the podcast, is great. This is why I like The Canon.
Jenelle and Amy also talk about the characters one by one, such as how Captain America in this movie represents law and order while Iron Man is the rebel, and how now those roles have been reversed. They talk about how this movie was not a great vehicle for Iron Man. They found his shtick enjoyable in his own movie, but not here. There is an opera house scene where the movie is reaching for high art, but then there is a blast of AC/DC and Iron Man turns up, destroying this beautiful moment.
They also talk about Black Widow’s role very appreciatively and point out that she is the one chosen to go up against Loki and it is she who actually shuts down the tesseract. The hulk is next, and not bringing back Edward Norton to play him was reportedly because he doesn’t play well with others. This is famously the guy who told a director to only direct him with one verb and one adjective. They both like the replacement, and how he has a soft voice, like a high school history teacher that nobody takes seriously. They also both talk a lot about Tom Hiddleston, and it turns out he considers Loki his Hans Gruber.
They are both enthusiastic about the movie, even if Amy has reservations, and Jenelle compares it to Battleship Potemkin, because of its lack of subtlety, and being on the nose, and she says that’s okay in a superhero movie. Amy then says she walked down those steps, and they’re not that big. She really is the genuine article for a film critic.
There is stuff they don’t like about the movie, though, such as how Amy criticizes the comedy in the movie as being too Bro-y. She also says there is something in the structure of the movie that just drives her nuts. She wants to really believe that the earth might actually be destroyed, but she finds it impossible. She points out that with lower stakes, like saving a cat, she might actually believe the cat might die. Neither like the final battle and Amy even compares it to the end of Transformers 3, but Jenelle says she enjoyed the character moments within the battle, such as Captain America jumping on a car.
The podcast really gets good, however, when they go off on tangents. For example, Amy has a very interesting Avengers story. She was the first critic to give a rotten review to Avengers on Rotten Tomatoes, and she got death threats when that site still had comments. It was her first lesson on growing a thicker skin, she says. That, and a similar incident, was the reason Rotten Tomatoes took the comments away. This leads to them talking about the Go Make a Sandwich meme and other much worse comments. There is a lot of interesting stuff here about female journalists taking on trolls, and how nasty that can be. It is a dark tangent, but fascinating and hilarious.
To hear The Avengers dissected by two commentators who really know their stuff when it come to movies, go to The Canon, or - and here comes the plug - you could read one of my sci-fi books instead.
Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.