Oh look, my last Marvel Movieverse post. Links to my posts on the other five are at the bottom of this post.
This being the crossover movie to end all crossover movies, I want to take a look at some of my favorite tinier moments from this film that I, at least, have not seen talked about (much) in other reviews (not that I’m reading other reviews. I already know it’s good).
Obviously, this post is for people who have seen the movie. I don’t particularly care if you read this when you haven’t seen it, but there are spoilers, first off, and secondly, since these aren’t things you could have seen in the trailers, it probably won’t make sense to you. But do what you want, bros.
1. Loki getting into the back of the S.H.I.E.L.D. truck.
I just want to point this out because I think it's hilarious. I don't have any intense character insights about this moment, other than how much it illustrates the fact that Loki totally does not fit in on this planet. I mean, he shows up looking like a crack addict in withdrawal, kills a bunch of people, brainwashes some of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best, and then he sort of lets Hawkeye lead their escape. So I imagine when he walks out to those cars with them, he's thinking something along the lines of “I have no idea what these things are but I guess I have to ride in one.” And then the way he gets in the truck is just so wonderfully awkward. It’s only a split second thing, but I laugh every time. Once he’s in they show him gripping onto the side, like he’s holding on for dear life because he's never been in one of these things before and he's Loki of Asgard and he has an image to maintain, here, and he definitely can’t look like he has no clue what’s going on with these mechanical contraptions mortals use. And then the whole chase sequence after that where he’s apparently regained some confidence about this truck situation and is standing up in the back of it like he's directing a chariot or something is so great to me and just, I have such an appreciation for Tom Hiddleston in this movie, and I know he's enough of a geek to have given this much thought to these tiny little decisions.
2. Agent Coulson telling the soldiers to leave the boxes of weapons as the S.H.I.E.L.D. base is about to collapse.
This is one of many moments in this movie that demonstrates how awesome Agent Coulson is. We saw earlier the conversation between Agent Maria Hill and Nick Fury, where he tells her to make sure they get the weapons out. The weapons are a priority, to Fury, more than just purely evacuating everyone. But when it comes down to saving lives, Coulson makes the right decision – the people matter so much more than the fancy weapons they were developing, and thanks to him telling them to leave them and go, those soldiers don’t get caught in the wreckage. I think this – and most of his decisions in this movie – can be traced back to the fact that he looks up to Captain America as much as he does. Cap is his hero. Cap, the embodiment of self-sacrifice, a soldier willing to give everything up to save the world. Coulson’s not a superhero, he doesn’t have any powers – but he doesn’t run away from a fight. He is willing to lay it all down to make sure the Avengers will all still be there to win the final battle. And that’s exactly what he does. (That said, he is totally not dead, and it’s not just me being in denial. No body, no death. Plus, it’s comics. They’re movies, but they’re still comics. And nobody stays dead in comics. And in the words of Tony Stark, “there’s a lot of things Fury doesn’t tell you.”)
3. Bruce Banner’s wardrobe.
When Natasha picks him up in Calcutta, he hasn’t had an incident in over a year. For the most part, he’s doing pretty well, at least where hulking out is concerned. But even then, with the tight lid he has on it, he’s still wearing these baggy clothes that don’t fit him. It’s especially noticeable when he first shows up on the helicarrier and he’s bumbling around… those clothes do not fit him. They’re a representation of how uncomfortable he feels in his own skin. Baggy clothes are probably for practical reasons – Bruce is probably hoping that if The Other Guy does show up he’ll maybe be able to stay somewhat dressed for at least a while. He knows he can’t trust his own body to stay under his control and that is an inevitability that he is always planning for. But it’s also a sign, I think, of how insecure he is and the fact that he actually sort of… hates himself. He hates what’s inside him, what The Other Guy is capable of. It’s depressing.
Which is why what Tony does for him is so great. I talked about this in my post about The Incredible Hulk, but Tony does really help Bruce come to the conclusion that he can turn his curse into a gift. And at the end of this movie, when these two dudes get into a sports car to go off and do some Science together, Bruce isn’t just wearing clothes that fit him. He’s wearing a bright yellow shirt and some khaki slacks that fit him perfectly. I mean, Tony probably got them tailored for him, let’s be real, here. The yellow shirt is my favorite, because up ‘til then Bruce’s shirt of choice was purple. Undoubtedly that was to call back to what Hulk wears in the comics, but the yellow shirt – yellow being on the polar opposite side of the color wheel from purple – perfectly illustrates Bruce’s 180. And I love it. Bravo, costume designers.
4. Tony offering to fly Coulson to Portland to visit the cellist.
I had to see this movie three times before I saw that this moment even happened. My initial reaction was “wow, Tony Stark using his excessive wealth to make someone else happy, wow, he actually noticed something personal about someone and is trying to be nice just for the sake of being nice.” I still think that, though I’m trying not to let my cynicism about Tony get too embedded here and avoid going off on a rant about how the only reason he even noticed anything about Coulson’s actual life is because Pepper did first. We all already know that Pepper makes him a better person. It’s a journey Tony is still taking, and I think this little moment was a huge step for him. I love that Coulson is embarrassed, like – “okay, I get it, yes, thank you, okay, can we go fight bad guys now” – but you know he’s flattered and probably grateful. And really surprised, too, given how the two of them left things in Iron Man 2. (Remember how Tony was using Cap’s old shield to level off the thing he was making? I bet that infuriated Coulson to the point of tears. I am not joking.)
But the fact that Tony is not only starting to notice the so-called “little people” more is part of the reason he’s more likable for me in this movie. That and the whole “sacrificing himself to blow up some aliens” thing, but that I think can be directly correlated to the argument he had with Steve, which hadn’t happened at the point of the Portland conversation. Maybe this moment was intended to add more padding to Coulson as a character, and I think it does, but personally, I think Tony needs to be shown as empathetic more than Coulson needs to be shown as having a life that would suck to lose. Coulson does enough of that on his own, in this movie. Getting to work with and hang out around Captain America? Dude’s living his childhood dream. So he has a love interest that moved away – so what? People can have fulfilling lives without those, so for me that moment does a lot more for Tony’s character development than anything else.
5. Natasha is terrified of the Hulk.
So, here’s the thing. Lots of people use Natasha’s fear of the Hulk as an excuse to call her weak and useless. That is categorically untrue, if you actually watch her in any of the other scenes she has in this movie. Like when she tricks Loki, professional trickster, into revealing his plan. Or like when she rescues Clint from Loki’s brainwashing by beating him in hand to hand combat. Or like when she hitches a ride on an alien air scooter to go take down the portal. Which she then closes. And not to even mention her entire introductory scene where she manhandles a bunch of Russian arms dealers in some pantyhose. This lady is pretty fearless. Which is why it’s so interesting to me that she’s so scared of the Hulk.
It’s completely logical to be scared of him, of course. He’s pretty much unstoppable, and as highly trained as she is, there’s no way she can take him down. But what I find fascinating is the fact that they have her playing it like Hulk is the only thing she’s afraid of. She barely blinks at Loki and his very real threats, she takes down all these giant alien monsters like it’s no big deal, but the Hulk leaves her curled up on the ground, shaking. I really, really want to know why that is. What does he remind her of? There has to be a story there. And I hope that story is in the Black Widow prequel I am desperately in need of.
6. Thor can't pick up the hammer right away after he falls out of the helicarrier.
Huh – look at that. He’s not as immortal or indestructible as everyone thought. You know, this type of little moment is basically what I thought Thor was lacking. Specifically, actual character things involving Thor coming to understand himself and the world(s) he spends his time in. In that movie he sacrifices himself, but that was when he was just a really strong dude. He didn’t have the magical powers bestowed upon him by the hammer when he did that. Here, after he gets dropped out of the sky by his brother (ugh, that moment between them right before Loki presses the button, ugh heartbreaking), he still has his hammer, he still has all his powers and his strength… but he still finds himself weakened. He reaches for the hammer and it doesn’t leap up to meet him. Not right away. That moment, for me, is when he learns that he is not actually invincible. Hooray for character development!
The first time I saw this movie, I thought Loki was saying this about Thor. He’s not.
Loki and Thor are battling on top of Stark Tower, and Thor keeps begging him to stop it, to close the portal, to fight alongside him, to come home with him, and Loki takes advantage of one of these moments to stab his brother with a knife. The very same knives we saw him being utterly lethal with in Thor. He knows how to use those. He knows how to kill Frost Giants with them, and killing someone like Thor who is standing right in front of him would be so easy. But instead of going for the throat or the heart, he just stabs Thor in the side. Almost uselessly. It gets Thor to let go of him for a second, but after that it’s like it never happened. And so when he says, “Sentiment,” he’s talking about himself. He can’t kill Thor. He can’t do that to his brother, no matter what. He still loves him.
That’s Loki’s “weakness”: His love for his family. Whatever else he says or does, he just can’t cut that out of his heart.
I do think there’s a chance that he’ll be redeemed somewhat in Thor 2. I don’t think it’ll be a full redemption, and I don’t know if he’ll ever get one of those. But that one word (and ugh, the delivery of it) is proof enough for me that it is possible.
"What I find fascinating about [Loki] is that underneath all of his megalomania, ego, arrogance, jealousy and vanity is a wounded child, it seems to me. He is jealous of Thor, he is lost and damaged. I basically had to start there and build everything else around it to build the layers of how he is a character with a broken heart, and a broken heart that's hardened and is behind this shell of rage and destructiveness, basically."
-Tom Hiddleston (who I apparently can’t stop talking about in this post, but whatever, no regrets)
In my perfect world, Thor 2 would be called Thor 2: The Trial of Loki and would focus entirely on that, with lots of flashbacks and backstory about Asgard and all the adventures they had before Loki went bad… but that’s not going to happen. Some trial scenes would be glorious though, and since it has been announced that there’s going to be another villain besides Loki in that movie, I’d really like to see him team up with Thor to fight him, just for a little while, because doing so would be in both of their interests for some reason. (I don’t want to write Thor 2, I want to be friends with the person in charge of writing Thor 2 so I can tell them to do all these things and not have to do any of the actual work.)
I love this movie. You should see it. The fact that Marvel was ambitious enough to make all of these movies and set them in the same universe, and then make a movie with all of their superheroes fighting together, and the fact that they’re going to make movies like Captain America 2 and Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 and then do another Avengers movie… is seriously magnificent, in my opinion. It helps that all the actors and writers and directors they get to work on them are all so ridiculously talented. So while this post is the last Marvel post for now, there’s going to be at least a few more in the future.
Iron Man – “Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing.”
The Incredible Hulk – “And Hulk? Smash.”
Iron Man 2 – “There's only 8,011 things that I really need to talk to you about.”
Thor – No More Than Another Stolen Relic
Captain America: The First Avenger – “Is this a test?”