'The Avengers' as a Ponzi Scheme

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.
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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.

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