I dunno... I went there expecting to see...
[List of expectations for the Avengers movie ... ]
I hear and respect Iron Sledge's comments (but seriously, a spoiler warning would have been nice for those who haven't seen the movie...
) because he is entitled to a different opinion than mine, but I can't see to wrap my head around what he (and others) expected...
The problem is those expectations are actually quite low b/c they are quality insensitive. They are just factual descriptions of events that you expect to see in the film.
Compare them, to, for example: Superman Returns:
I expected to see Superman fly around, punch things, use heat vision, and stop a natural disaster with the sheer power of Kryptonian awesomeness.
Film did all that and more. Was it a good film? No. It was universally panned. X-Men 3:
I expected to see the Phoenix (check), some mutant on mutant action (check), as the capstone of the trilogy some spectacular displays of mutant power (check), and some conflict over the role of mutants in society and their personal lives (check).
Again, film did all of these. Umm, yeah, again, not well received. My personal feelings on it are not fit for polite company.
I think there's more to it than just a description of things going on or expected in the film. Jet Li's Fearless
, a great fight film, has a plot that is really just "Jet Li punches people in new and interesting ways." It's all about its execution.
I liked the film. I saw it on opening night, and give it a B or a B+ depending on my mood. But, I think what is lacking from Avengers was that the conflicts had little ... narrative. [preemptive but probably unnecessary SPOILER warning] Really, the climax (earlier stuff I thought was more solid, some of which were quite good actually). I'm going to refrain from any more in-depth description of what I mean b/c people haven't seen the movie yet. I don't think a spoiler warning is necessary for my current comments -- I imagine most people assume there is a climax of some sort.
This is something a little hard to articulate, but if you look at the conflicts or fight set pieces that are really great a few things are common. First, risk, danger, and suffering, which is what Iron Sledge has been discussing. Second, and probably more generally, is a sense of narrative. The conflict moves and develops. Good examples of what I'm talking about include:
Luke Skywalker v. Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back
Huo Yuanjia v. Anno Tanaka in Fearless
Neo v. Morpheus and Neo v. Smith from the Matrix
Note, it's not a binary thing. There was some of this stuff in the Avengers, to be sure. And, the film exceeded my expectations. But, I think there was significant room for improvement on the setpieces. I also think Whedon, among his other foibles, is a little lacking in the way he handles villains, but it's been a long day so I can't get into that now.