'The Avengers' as a Ponzi Scheme

More
From A.O. Scott's review, largely negative, we get an interesting thought:

Translated into the hugely expensive, culture-dominating realm of big-budget moviemaking, however, the tactic of treating the price of a ticket as an installment-plan payment has more in common with a Ponzi scheme. The purpose of putting this movie in theaters is to make sure you and all your friends go to the next one, and then the one after that. At this stage in the superhero bubble the strategy seems to be to protect the investment by minimizing risk. 

And the biggest risk would be a movie that dared to be interesting or original in its exploration of archetypal characters and their allegorical predicaments. That has been tried from time to time and with some success (in the second "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" films and yes, I'll admit, in "The Dark Knight" as well). But the norm in this genre is a hodgepodge of adolescent emotions, cheeky humor, cool special effects and overblown action sequences, a formula that can, when the casting is right, make certain specimens (like the first "Iron Man" movie) seem better than they are.

The key, I suspect, is in the audience. I'd be very interested in seeing the age demographics for these movies. If you're fifteen and facing a rather limited array of options for that first date, Thor may be less Ponzi scheme than solid bet.

As for the movie, I think Scott is on to something. They aren't even really trying to make it "good" in terms of interesting characters, and existential dilemmas. At some point, we should acknowledge that that isn't the goal.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In