This article was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad
Movies really ought to be seen (and reviewed for that matter) on their own terms. But what if their very terms are -- "it's all connected!?" I had the exhaustive if qualified pleasure this week of attending "The Ultimate Marvel Marathon," in which select theaters across the nation played back-to-back screenings of all 11 of Marvel Studio's films. Those take you from Iron Man (2008) through to the latest superheroic orgy of mayhem known as The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Between the screenings (20-30 minute breaks) were interstitials selling the television program "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" that frequently reminded us that it was 'all connected'. Does the latest film The Avengers: Age of Ultron satisfy all on its own? My early guess -- only time will tell -- is "not so much" but then, is it really intended to?
Seeing the movies back-to-back threw their problems into sharp relief: the movies are ultimately formulaic, disinterested in women, and have weakly conceived villains (an oddity given that good villains are such a comic book staple). They also betray an unfortunate tendency to end with a battle in which large inanimate objects frequently collide or crumble, mistaking mass destruction as the highest form of entertainment when the figurative character beats as well as, yes, literal character beatings are nearly always the most pleasurable moments.
On the plus side, the marathon was a great reminder of why blockbuster culture has been stampeding all over more intimate cinematic triumphs for a long time now. [More...]