EDITORIAL: Is the plot of The Avengers too simple?

EDITORIAL: Is the plot of The Avengers too simple?

The Avengers is receiving a considerable amount of critical praise. Yet, some say that the simplicity of the film's plot holds it back. Is there validity to this claim?

I've seen many people criticize the plot of The Avengers as too simple. Loki tries to take over the world and the Avengers team up to stop him. Simple indeed. Yet, I believe simplicity is often underrated. A movie like this has so many obstacles to just making it work and so many characters to give a fair amount of screen time and development that keeping the plot simple might have been the best way to go.

When you give it a fair amount of consideration, you'll realize that some amazing movies have pretty simple plots. Think about Die Hard. A guy visits his estranged wife at work. When everyone else is taken hostage, he has to stop the hostage takers. That's it. It's a great movie though and has received critical praise. You may say that critics have lower expectations for action movies and that they would never give a film with a simple plot high recognition at something like the Academy Awards. How about a Best Picture Nominee? Well, in Saving Private Ryan, the plot is really just that a group of soldiers goes to find Private Ryan so that they can bring him home to his mother who has already lost 3 of her 4 sons. Let's go one better: a Best Picture Winner! The Kings Speech is about a king with a stuttering problem who goes to therapy so that he can overcome this and make a wartime speech. That is pretty much it. Please understand that I'm not trying to insult these movies. I think both are pretty great in different ways. I'm just trying to make a point that simple plots are not always indicative of bad movies. There's much more to a movie than just a basic summary of the series of events necessary to understand the story. The films I've mentioned and The Avengers are more about how we're taken through these series of events than the complexity of the plots themselves.

Some of you are probably still probably not convinced. I can imagine you're probably thinking that those are serious movies focused on telling reality-based, adult stories while The Avengers is comic book fantasy. To that, I suggest you check out the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movies . # 10 is... The Wizard of Oz. Here we have a children's movie with a simplistic plot that's as light hearted as fantasies get. If critics and film experts can come to the consensus that The Wizard of Oz is the 10th greatest American film ever made, obviously complexity, seriousness, and realism are not essential elements for making a great movie.

The Avengers is the story about the process of a group of people coming together. The threat they are facing is arguably secondary to the exploration of these characters and their relationships. The film manages to succeed in this area while delivering great action, comedy, and even a respectable amount of drama. To dismiss The Avengers simply because of the relative simplicity of its plot is to ignore the many elements that make the film worthy of being called great.
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BIGBMH - 5/5/2012, 11:03 AM
I agree. The complexity of The Dark Knight is one of the things I love about it. However, I don't believe that's the only way to make a great movie. The avengers was awesome in a different way. My full review is coming soon.
golden123 - 5/5/2012, 11:36 AM
The Avengers was fantastic! With that said, you can take any movie on the face of the planet, and you can sum it up in one to two sentences. The "complex" The Dark Knight you mentioned in your last comment is basically just, "A psychopath terrorizes Gotham City, and there are a few people who plan to stop him. Although the villain manages to get the best of a few of the people, the villain ends up losing the battle of chaos and order." Was there anything, besides the love triangle subplot, that I didn't cover? Besides, The Avengers had alot of character material that sould make up for lack of story complexity.
forthesakeofnow - 5/5/2012, 11:44 AM
the simplicity/complexity of a plot isnt what makes a film great or not, ive seen incredible films with the simplest plots and awful films with complex detailed plots but in the end it comes down to whether what they do with what they have is interesting.

avengers was fun, the plot was simple, but i didnt find the plot interesting in the slightest. but it was entertaining enough for me not to care while i was watching the film. though the moment it was over i realised how it was just riding on spectacle, action, witty lines and special effects.

in the end i wasnt expecting anything more from it so i dont feel let down. but when you are dealing with budgets like that, such incredible source material and such a great cast and crew id love to see it add up to more than the sum of its parts
Knightrider - 5/5/2012, 12:33 PM
The plot being very simple is what makes the movie, this movie has a lack of character development too, but if you had put in a complex plot and complex character arcs, then you'd have to lose some action sequences. Saying the plot is simple and the characters are 1dimensional isn't actually an insult in my opinion, I always knew it would be this way, but we got Tony Stark being Tony Stark etc, so great movie, but it is what it is and that isn't a bad thing.
Knightrider - 5/5/2012, 12:38 PM
Oh and Wizard of Oz...Simple? Not in the slightest, that film on the surface is simple, but has so much going on, it is a very complex movie, has so much undertones etc going on. Give it a re-watch if haven't seen it in a while.
shadow314 - 5/5/2012, 12:48 PM
"Loki tries to take over the world and the Avengers team up to stop him."

That is so stupid and wrong. You can do that to even TDK

"Joker tries to cause Chaos in Gotham, Batman tries to stop him"

BIGBMH - 5/5/2012, 1:18 PM
@shadow314, that's not my assessment. that's what others are saying who accuse it of being very simple. i definitely think it's more complex than people make it seem which is why i did the same sort of basic breakdown for saving private ryan, a movie that people who like to oversimplify the avengers would not dare to treat the same way.

@Knighrider, while there might be more going on under the surface, the plot itself is pretty simple. i recently saw the play and from a story point aspect, it's really quite basic.
marvel72 - 5/5/2012, 1:24 PM
@ teabag

raiders of the lost ark a classic film,indy hired to get the ark before the nazi's.

why didn't indy just let them have it? just remember the film is set just before world war 2 & what the nazi's want to do is open the ark.

if indy let this happen,the ark might of been opened in germany in front of hitler preventing world war 2 from actually happening.
BIGBMH - 5/5/2012, 1:50 PM
@marvel72, Hey! You don't question Dr. Jones!

marvel72 - 5/5/2012, 2:09 PM
@ teabag & @ bigbmh

i love the movie one of the best films of the 80s,i've got another one for ya.

the matrix - if "the architect" created everything in the matrix,that we live in.

why did they create computers for us to hack into the main frame of the real world.
BIGBMH - 5/5/2012, 2:39 PM
if we're doing this, how about lord of the rings?

sauron knows that the only way the ring can be destroyed is to throw it into mount doom. if he's got hordes of orcs, why doesn't he just station a bunch of them right around mount doom so no one can get to it?
Knightrider - 5/5/2012, 2:43 PM
I guess as much I think the simple plot worked, I think people do critise it because the film had a 5 movie build up so think was expected that if got the character origins out the way we could've had a complex story. However as mention simple I believe was best for this movie.
marvel72 - 5/5/2012, 3:04 PM
@ teabag

XD hahahahahahaha

@ bigbmh

good point,another one the eagles come to the rescue of frodo & sam on the side of mount doom,why didn't frodo get the eagles to fly them to mount doom & just drop the ring in from the air.

would of saved all that walking.
BIGBMH - 5/5/2012, 3:24 PM
@marvel72, haha! like this?

TheMyth - 5/5/2012, 3:37 PM
Any movie can be summed up in a short paragraph. People with this complaint are just nit-picking assholes. Best superhero movie ever, hands down.
superotherside - 5/5/2012, 4:08 PM
I agree 200%! :D Besides it's not that simple of a plot, because everyone was wondering what Loki's plan was and so it's not really like it was without many twists and turns. The people who don't like this film, are crazy. Nuff said.
boomshuka - 5/5/2012, 4:09 PM
Dark knight is just as simple. A psycopathic man who wear makeup wants to terrorize gotham. Bane is also just a psycopathic murderer who wants to terrrorize gotham.

I think Thanos will be a bit more interesting though. Its not often you have a character with potentially limitless power in the guantlet who wants to kill the universe for having an attraction to Death.
95 - 5/5/2012, 4:19 PM
I don't see why "simple" would be a bad thing, especially when describing a movie plot. In fact, I wouldn't even call the movie "simple". My hatred of 'The Avengers' stems not from the story, but from the camera framework and excessive comedy. From the beginning of production I wasn't "feeling" this movie. With all the recent hype I raised my expectations. Critics and Fans agreeing? It had to be good. The Avengers is a great summer blockbuster with the bonus of undeniably LOL moments-- but I'm still left impressed. Personally, I think the cast were great but Whedon needs to go. He's visual style did not add anything, in fact detracted from the film. His writing isn't that bad though. My final judegment awaits his director's cut-- I was actually excited for a Steve Rogers POV. Shane Black's Iron Man 3 will blow The Avengers away.
CapFan79 - 5/5/2012, 4:34 PM
It's not that simplistic, it's just that alien invasions have been done so much lately it's hard not to have things be cliche. Avengers was more straight forward than many others. I wasn't really about the invasion at all, it was just a device to get these heroes together.

It was very entertaining.
marvel72 - 5/5/2012, 4:42 PM

that was funny,i've never seen that before.
Knightrider - 5/5/2012, 4:56 PM
There seems to be two types of people. Group 1) Who think simple is bad Group 2) People who think simple was right way to go about it. I am in Group 2. The movie was very simple, with the characters getting no development, but this left it feeling fun, easily accessible and a great summer romp.
BANE5000 - 5/5/2012, 5:16 PM
If u notice all the Marvel Studios movies plots are really simple, but thats what i like about them, they dont throw in too much that u get lost and it becomes rediculous but not to little where the story is bland and boring, they get it just right?
BigK1337 - 5/5/2012, 5:45 PM
A lot of good shit have very simple plots, even non-movies:
Metal Gear Solid - Soldier sent in to destroy a weapon of mass destruction, solder succeeds.

God of War - Kratos goes on a journey to kill a god, god gets killed in the end.

Super Mario - Princess kidnapped, Mario Bros saves princess.

King of Fighter - Fighters fight in a team tournament, a very powerful boss appear near the end, winning fighting team beats up boss.

CSI - Somebody gets murdered, forensic scientists solve case through DNA. (If it is Miami, Horatio makes cheesy one liner at the beginning)

Regular Show - Mordecai & Rigby does something mundane, crazy shit comes up near he end, everything is back to normal.

My Little Pony - Ponies doing everyday stuff, crazy shot also comes up, lesson of friendship at the end.

Phineas and Ferb - . . . Yeah, even the show itself points out it's own simplistic plot, so no point in explaining that.

Cyanide and Happiness - A set up to an obvious joke is made, a [frick]ed up punch line is connected in the end.

I think this proves a point that every great thing have a simple plot to go around.
marvel72 - 5/5/2012, 5:50 PM
it was probably made simple so dc fans could follow it. :P
Knightrider - 5/5/2012, 6:08 PM
Yeah you can take complex films and get the basis of the plot in a sentence or two, but you can't add complexity to them.
SageMode - 5/5/2012, 9:28 PM

Excellent article. I agree with it.
BIGBMH - 5/5/2012, 9:38 PM
thank you, 0SageMode0.
Floke - 5/6/2012, 12:07 AM
This is why I hate when some retardians claims a Halo movie would not work because the plot is too video gamely simple... Any moron can do things overly complicated but it takes brains to create somthing simple.
Alexandre - 5/6/2012, 12:58 AM
its that this has no need to be complex.

these characters were forced to come together so the stories are meant to just show off what they can do together. its just all commercial. its all shiny and bright but its also really cool because we see them do all of their awesomeness together.

the xmen are complex because they were all created together and thought out carefully. this is more like a take it or leave it.

the film by no way is compelling but it is very cool and fun. it doesnt even feel like a movie. it feels like a 2 hour plus advertisement showing off how each hero kicks ass and how the solo films and comics should never be discontinued.

i feel like the alien invasion was just a distraction to what really made the movie special, which i believe were the fights scenes between each of them and finally the moment they decide to team up, fight and back each other up.

is it the best superhero film ever? i really think it isnt because the villain felt so easy to beat. there really wasnt a feel of an actual threat. i think any villain could of been used for this film alone for the sake of just having something to fight against.

and i really think in order to be the best then you have to fight the best. and loki nor his army was the best. thanos on the other hand, thats another story and hopefully in the sequel we'll see it.

this was more like a piece of art for the eyes than for the mind. its more a visual treat then anything.
pOoPEE - 5/6/2012, 5:56 AM
PeoPle complain about no character development yet we see stark learn from Rogers what it means to be a hero. We see Rogers go beyond his patriotic trust of the government, we also see hulk learn team work and banner learnt that some people might accept him.
Avengers was always going to be about the character dynamics as that is the point of an ensemble flick. The plot simply gives the movie a purpose and direction, making all these characters balanced and interesting while be true to there characters is a major achievement. Anyone who is truly a fan of the ad enters would know this :-)
CorndogBurglar - 5/6/2012, 11:43 AM
"Loki tries to take over the world and the avengers team up to stop him."

That is totally unfair. You can oversimplify any movie like that. watch.

Ironman: Stane wants to take over Stark's company, ironman has to stop him.

Captain America: Red Skull wants to take over the worls, cap has to stop him.

TDK: Joker wants to caus chaos in Gotham, Batman has to stop him.

TDKR: Bane wants to destroy Gotham, Batman has to stop him.

Saving Private Ryan: Private Ryan is somewhere in Germany, a small group of army rangers has to find him.

See? Any movie can be oversimplified like that. There was more going on in avengers than just loki taking over the world. His deal to get an army, who the leader of the army was. And where they go from here.

Remember, this is a cinematic universe where every movie is lending to the overall story. Think of avengers as a chaptee in that overall story.
WildCard - 5/6/2012, 1:05 PM
Correction: Loki tries to take over the world with a borrowed army and The Avengers team up to stop him.
BIGBMH - 5/6/2012, 1:22 PM
@Corndog, did you read the rest of my article? You pretty much re-stated part of my argument.
birdfists - 5/6/2012, 2:28 PM
did it really need to be complex? like.. the avengers, they team up to battle the villain and evil forces they couldn't take on alone. That's what they are.

What were they supposed to do honesty to make it less simple? And at the same time not kill the movie?
CorndogBurglar - 5/6/2012, 3:37 PM
Yeah I read it man, and I wasnt bashing youre article at all. I know u were only quoting what others have said. Sorry if it seemed that way.
BIGBMH - 5/6/2012, 6:32 PM
ok. sorry if i was a bit defensive, corndog. it just seems like a lot of people saw the first part and felt the need to defend the movie from what was perceived as my own criticism.
AztecRainGod - 5/6/2012, 10:17 PM
They should have had each avenger trying to solve Trigonominetry equations instead of fighting baddies. Make things a bit more complex.
BIGBMH - 5/7/2012, 6:47 AM
@aztecRaingod, yeah. and a 45 minute scene of selvig, stark, and banner explaining exactly how the cosmic cube works to the rest of the team.

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