Avengers Should Have Been Gayer

From HE reader Alan Jones, and posted in a spirit of respect for all reasonably-stated views and persuasions: “The Avengers is a bad movie. I mean it. I know it has, like, 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, but really, nerds, your super fuckin’ duper hero movie sucks. You shouldn’t be happy, you should be pissed like you were when Watchmen was unleashed on the world and it was hella lame.

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The Avengers is 60% poorly staged action and 40% superheroes bickering with each other. And LexG is right — 1.85 is no way to shoot a nlockbuster. Realistically speaking, I should have enjoyed the bickering. I enjoy it when Joss Whedon writes a script and makes his characters whine about each other. But Robert Downey Jr. has driven his wise-ass shtick into the ground, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans are both big and strong and idealistic (read: boooooring) and don’t even get me fucking started on Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johanssen, because NOBODY gives a shit, not even in the film’s admirers.

“So what we’re left with of value is Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, and yeah, I guess he’s okay. Whatever. He’s the only character with a hint of an arc (excluding Black Widow and Hawkeye, because no one gives a shit), so we’ll cut him some slack. Regardless, most of these heroes are flat. Really flat. Which leads to an obvious question:

“Where is the homoerotic subtext?

“Seriously? Where is it? There’s five male superheroes in a room, bickering with each other, talking a bunch of shit. With all the time they spend learning to work as a team for the good of the world (and the fulfillment of the plot), there’s an incredible opportunity for innuendo and sexual tension. Most of these superheroes are very muscular and good looking, and at least three of them wax their chests. It all seems pretty obvious to me that there should have been some unrequited romance between superheroes (excluding Black Widow and Hawkeye, because no one gives a shit).

“In particular a little sexual tension could have worked wonders for Thor and Captain America, both of whom (a) feel out of place on Earth in the present day, (b) are stoic and honorable, (c) wear funny costumes, and (d) have enormous (hairless) mantits.

“It’s like they’re made for each other.

“I don’t mean to say an action movie aimed at adolescent males is quote unquote “bad” if it isn’t a little gay, because that would suggest that the only merit to a blockbuster like The Avengers is its ability to trick homophobic teenage boys into unawarely getting aroused at the sight of a grown man’s muscular chest covered in oil (on the other hand, it’s pretty funny to think about 300 in that context). However, a little sexual tension in The Avengers would have been value added. Since all five characters spend most of the film bitching at each other anyways, Whedon probably should have gone ahead and filled it with double entendres and congratulatory ass-slapping.

“It’s not like this would have been the first summer blockbuster to include this sort of subtext. Since the 80′s, the action genre has gone hand-in-hand with homoerotic imagery. By now most people know there was a little extra effort put into the Maverick-Goose relationship in Top Gun, but in the past decade homoeroticism in action films has reached new heights.

“The most obvious example of this phenomenon is in Guy Ritchie‘s Sherlock Holmes. Lest we forget, the conflict between Sherlock and Watson is stoked by the jealousy that Sherlock feels when Watson decides to move out and live with a woman, and then they spend the rest of the film arguing like an old married couple. I can only assume that Ritchie, instead of trying to explain why two middle-aged men would be sharing an apartment, decided it would be funnier to turn them into a gay couple. I didn’t bother watching Sherlock Holmes 2. Not because I’m not a masochist, but the trailers feature Sherlock (in drag!) and Watson literally hiding from their enemies in a contained space that may or may not resemble a closet, so go ahead and chew on that.

“My favorite example of a mainstream action film with gay subtext (or sur-text) is 2 Fast 2 Furious. In The Fast and the Furious, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel fight (and bond), so in the sequel Paul Walker and Tyrese also fight (and bond)… if by ‘fight’ you actually mean ‘hold each other close and roll around in some dirt.’ This particular fight scene resembles dogs playfully jumping on each other and nipping at each other’s necks (the type of play-fighting that sometimes turns into humping). This trend continues in later Fast and Furious films. In the latest instalment, Fast Five, there is a showdown between Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, two ridiculously muscular men with bald heads and sweaty biceps who, if they weren’t action stars, could easily find a career in gay porn (depending, of course, on the size of their junk). When the event finally arrives, there’s something touching about the way they look at each other, equals on opposite sides of the law, before they go mano e mano apeshit.

Fast Five, like The Avengers, is two and a half hours long. That’s way too long for any movie that isn’t attempting to convey something penetrating about the human condition. Fast Five does do a couple things right — it’s two hours of shitty exposition and boring ‘character development’ combined with one scene of intense homoerotic conflict and 30 minutes of well-staged car chases. The Avengers, on the other hand, is just two and half hours of bullshit. In short, The Avengers could have been, and should have been, much gayer.”

32 thoughts on “Avengers Should Have Been Gayer

  1. If this is what we have to look forward to, I think I’ll check back in a few days after Jeff’s returned.

  2. I should have written something. Not something gay because that would be expected. I don’t have the slightest idea of what I want to share movie related. I find myself just depressed about everything. Only new film that has me excited about making an effort to theater is The Master. I haven’t started reading the script because I haven’t finished the Tarantino one. Which is a little disappointing after two major characters die, they happen to be the most interesting ones.

  3. People actually still say/type/think the word hella? Fuck me. Do 16-year-olds from Fairfield still call themselves jellybeans?

  4. I considered leaving a rebuttal, but there is no where to start. Is this Lex G writing without curse words? No, Lex G was at least coherent when he was on a rampage.

  5. You know, I love 2.35 as much as the next nerd but in case anyone was wondering, “WTF?!?! 1.85?!?!?” does not count as film criticism. If you think the action in The Avengers looks cramped and poorly staged, then you are probably isolating yourself from action movies that are actually poorly made… or you’re just pretending to hold some ridiculous standard because you know that 2.35 = GREAT!!! and 1.85 = LAME!!!

  6. You forgot the 30 percent part that was all shots of them taking off or landing. Scratch that. That was like 90 percent of the movie.

  7. In the spirit of movies with nothing important to say not being two and a half hours long, I would add that articles with nothing important to say shouldn’t be more than a paragraph.

  8. “trick homophobic teenage boys into unawarely getting aroused at the sight of a grown man’s muscular chest covered in oil (on the other hand, it’s pretty funny to think about 300 in that context).”

    so…true! I had a roommate who was extremely homophobic and made racist jokes who watched 300 every day. God knows what he did when he had the door closed and was watching it in his bedroom….LMFAO

  9. Watchmen was a very good film considering its history and expectations around it, and the fact that it actually got made.

  10. I’m with arispil — Watchmen is about 10x the film that The Avengers is. That’s not to say that it’s a perfect adaptation of the excellent Moore graphic novel, but at least it contains some actual IDEAS that pop off the screen and into your imagination. I’d even go so far to say First Class — released at a similar date last year in a very comparable comic subgenre (superhero ensemble) was multiple times better.

    More directly on-topic, though, this review is really lame (I’d also accuse it of having some sort of pronounced sexual politics agenda if I could figure out exactly what it was…).

  11. 80′s machoism was so much more overtly gay than any comicbook film getting churned out today. If anything this new crop of comicbook movies are decidedly unsexual. No one ever gets laid in these movies.

  12. Banner and Stark kind of had a bromance going. But I’d give more of a shit if Black Widow and the SHIELD chick went Sappho…

  13. “You know, I love 2.35 as much as the next nerd but in case anyone was wondering, “WTF?!?! 1.85?!?!?” does not count as film criticism.”

    And yet, articles that say “WTF?!?! 1.85 and not 1.33?!” do count?

  14. And by the way, Alan: please stick to reading HE, not writing for it.

    If you want gay superheroes… watch BATMAN & ROBIN again. Because we all know how TOTALLY AWESOME! that movie was…

  15. Mr. F, no… no, they do not. Jeff is an interesting writer and personality, but I wouldn’t call him a film critic, not least because he’s unable to look beyond his own ultra-personal aesthetic preferences… which are obviously a part of film criticism but can’t be counted on for the whole show.

    I do kind of approve of the central point of this non-review guest post, that The Avengers, as much as I enjoyed it — and I did; it’s one of the best times I’ve had at the movies so far this year, and other cheesy pullquotey things — doesn’t really have much going on in the area of subtext. This is why I prefer the three stronger X-Men movies, as well as the two better Raimi Spider-Man pictures, to anything Marvel Studios has come up with themselves (and I’d say The Avengers is the best of that lot, pretty substantially). It’s silly to pine for gay subtext because (a.) it wouldn’t be all that interesting or original not least because (b.) the X-Men movies have that pretty well-covered… but there isn’t a whole lot of emotional currency going on with this movie apart from: I really like all of the characters! Which is a pretty big accomplishment on a $200 million superhero spectacular, but I was a little bummed, as I was with the similarly whiz-bang fun Mission: Impossible 4, that the filmmakers couldn’t find ANYTHING more interesting to say with their story than “yayyyy TEAMWORK!”

  16. What subtext were you looking for in The Avengers? The cost of being gifted? The solution to the Middle East conflict? I really am curious.

  17. There’s some stuff going on about Government secrecy and whatnot, but yeah, this isn’t exactly a subtext heavy film. But neither are Gunga Din, Where Eagles Dare, The Guns Of Navarone, Star Wars, or any James Bond movie.

    Actually, now that I think of it, the Star Wars prequels are full of ideas, and that actually works against the movies, because in the long run the audience doesn’t really give a shit about that rise of fascism stuff. Or they do, but they don’t want to see it addressed in a facile manner in a kids movie–that’s probably more to the point.

  18. The subtext of The Avengers is this: it’s really hard to produce a television show, especially when everyone thinks they’re the reason the show is a hit. Anyone who thinks the Avengers is about anything other than what it’s like to work in Hollywood isn’t paying attention. To anything.

  19. “More directly on-topic, though, this review is really lame (I’d also accuse it of having some sort of pronounced sexual politics agenda if I could figure out exactly what it was…).”

    ^ Of all the negative comments this thread has accrued, I think that one’s my favourite.

    And for the record, Batman & Robin may not be “good,” but it is highly entertaining.

  20. “He’s the only character with a hint of an arc (excluding Black Widow and Hawkeye, because no one gives a shit)”

    I suppose that there’s no point in pointing out that Iron Man’s got an arc (working together with a team / becoming a “soldier” for humanity) and Captain America’s arc transitions him from being out of time and uncomfortable with the world to ordering around an actual god, right?

    Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

  21. “The subtext of The Avengers is this: it’s really hard to produce a television show, especially when everyone thinks they’re the reason the show is a hit. Anyone who thinks the Avengers is about anything other than what it’s like to work in Hollywood isn’t paying attention. To anything.”

    You used to be so much fun, Milkman. What happened?

  22. So as not to bask in the shield of my anonymity, I will state that I am Alan Jones. I thought you could change that in the comment box, but apparently not.

  23. So as not to hide behind the shield of my anonymity, I will state that I am Alan Jones. I thought you could change that in the comment box, but apparently not.

  24. @BobbyLupo:

    Totally dead thread by now, obviously, and while I think what you say about “arcs” is true — I think what Alan/loco might have meant (which is to say, the following was MY problem with the arcs in the flick, and perhaps he shares it?) is that the developmental journeys that IM and Cap’n take in The Avengers are neither particularly fresh (how many times can Stark go through this “change of heart” at the end of a movie he’s in?), nor believable (what kind of lame “god” would ever take orders from a guy that goes into battle without an actual weapon?).

    I certainly don’t think it’s fair to say there aren’t any arcs in TA, but you’re going to have an awfully hard time convincing me that they’re actually good ones, especially for anyone who has seen more than, say, 500 films in his/her lifetime.

  25. RK:

    If you’re referring to CA’s shield, it is most certainly a weapon when thrown. Hell, in the comics Cap even killed a nasty Nazi vampire with it by decapitation, ans that was back in the 80s before vamps got trendy and sparkly…

  26. The bottom line is it’s a fucking shield — it’s primarily defensive, no matter which way you slice it. What kinda moron goes into battle without an actual OFFENSIVE weapon?

    Some of these things were just never really meant to make the leap out of their silly little comic books (and I say this as a fan of the medium in general).


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