1.) It was a lot better than I expected. More, I was pretty much wrong in my skepticism of the trailers. I've said this before but a well-paced, thrilling action movie is an actual achievement. Keeping the train on the track is more important, and more difficult, then it actually sounds.
2.) Actors really do matter. I thought Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. really were in class by themselves. Downey's Tony Stark has always been great. But I thought Ruffalo wasn't actually "doing" Bruce Banner, he was giving you his own Bruce Banner. I don't know how to explain this except to say that he really inhabited the role. Watching him and Downey play off each other was magic--Downey outsized and Ruffalo gone minimalist, It was a beautiful study in contrast.
3.) Big, big props for not stapling on some dumb unnecessary romance.
4.) And still it wasn't the movie for me. I don't know why. But I think it says something that the character I was most interested in was the Hulk. There was no deeper thing that The Avengers was looking to grapple with. Frankly, I think that's fine. They fully executed their vision, and I have hard time imagining a better Avengers movie. But I'm not there. Bash the bad guys and save the world isn't for me anymore.
4.) And so take this with a grain of salt: I'm still unimpressed by the Spider-Man trailer, and eagerly awaiting the new Batman movie.
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is a national correspondent for The Atlantic
, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle
, Between the World and Me,
and We Were Eight Years in Power