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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