Marvel Avengers Assemble (2D): Fourth-Pass review
143 mins / Dir. Joss Whedon
The final screening of Avengers at our local Cineworld was on Tuesday 12th June. A six week run is pretty impressive at a five-screener, especially in Summer-season, and it's been long enough since I last saw it for me to 'return' to the film with fresh eyes (so to speak). You can read my first three reviews at those clicks, there. Today, I have only one final thought about what's shaping up to be my Film of the Year.
I'm not entirely convinced that Agent Coulson is dead.
In the lead-in movies, as Agent Coulson, he was the quiet, unassuming face of a faceless organisation. Probably one of the good guys to you and I, but the other Good Guys weren't sure of that. The embodiment of efficiency, he's an example of why S.H.I.E.L.D. works as an agency.
In Avengers Assemble, as Phil Coulson, he's still quiet but he's warmer, funnier and holds far more passion for his job than we knew. We learn that he's a trading-card/comic-book geek, and that he's built a rapport with Pepper Potts to the point where they're on first name terms and trust each other more than Coulson and Stark do. He tells us that he's had a hand in re-designing Captain America's outfit, and It's implied that he's so married to the job that he prefers to unwind outside of work by playing the cello. In fact, his faux pas to Steve Rogers about watching him while he was sleeping, coupled with Natasha Romanov's later line, "I thought he was going to swoon" to that same Rogers, pretty much outs him as gay. Which is pretty fucking awesome when you consider they didn't show him snuggling up to a dude in order to do that. It may not be the most subtle way to tackle it, but there's a lot of shouting, screaming and punching going on in that film, so I think they've got the balance pretty spot on.
Anyway, what this leads to is that Phil Coulson is pretty much the most interesting character in Avengers Assemble. In my humble opinion. There are people with zippier lines, mightier powers, and deeper frowns, sure. But in terms of character development; in terms of an audience learning something about a character so they view him or her differently at the end of a film; in terms of the character actually being different themselves at the end of a film; …Coulson gets all the action here. No matter how likeable the Stark/Iron-Man combo is, no matter how much more depth Bruce Banner has this time round, and no matter how much more I want to learn about Hawkeye and Black Widow… everyone else walks off at the end of Avengers Assemble not much different than they were two and a half hours earlier.
Now in all seriousness, why would messrs Whedon and Penn take the time to layer Coulson up like that, only to kill him for no reason? I've mentioned this before, but when he walks into the holding chamber and faces off Loki with his S.H.I.E.L.D. issue BFG, takes a shivving from the Asgardian bastard, and then quietly lays the truth on him before blowing him through the wall, he may get a pleasing pay-off line but five minutes later, Loki's getting into a helicopter like he's just been slapped in the face. And it's not about the lack of brute-force of the blast - all The Hulk does later on is slap him into the ground a few times, and that subdues him for the rest of the movie. Maybe the gun was style-over-substance, but Phil Coulson died for nothing. Apparently.
So we know that Director Fury told a little white lie about the trading cards in Coulson's pocket to goad Iron Man into action (because let's face it, there was only Iron Man and Captain America in the room, and Cap would go to the opening of an envelope in the name of Justice™). So what if he told a larger white lie about Coulson dying? What if the paramedics revived him? Where do you think Fury got that blood from to smear on the cards? It seems a little harsh to be rubbing them over the body of a dead man just to convince an already-sold Stark to keep fighting, so what if he took the blood knowing Coulson was alive? You see it smear on the table, so you know it's someone's blood. Whichever way he's ruined a perfectly good set of trading cards, the philistine.
So what do you think? Is there an argument for Coulson being alive? Is there anything to be gained by leaving the character deceased? Isn't it a little odd that the only named person to die in the entire film does so for no actual reason?
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.