Film Carew: The Worst Of The Avengers

8 May 2012 | 4:08 pm | Anthony Carew

Ladies and gentlemen, meet The Avengers at their worst.

It arrived in an explosion; a rain of box-office cash and an ejaculation of critical excitement. The Avengers —a movie that couldnt've been more transparently conceived in a boardroom were it delivered as a PowerPoint presentation— is officially the biggest cinema event of, like, forever; opening to the greatest box-office weekend ever in America, whilst being hailed as the greatest superhero movie ever. Of course, the former should only matter if you're a Disney shareholder, and the latter seems like the faintest of faint praise; this is a genre, after all, where people in silly costumes have fist-fights whilst the fate of the world hangs in the balance. But, this ain't no regular superhero movie, no sir; it's a veritable orgy of people in silly costumes, a six-way Voltroning of Avengers named Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Alan Alda Jeremy Renner). These Hollywood heavy-hitters are currently sitting on top of the world, which means it's the perfect time to look at them when they were at the bottom of the barrel; ladies and gentlemen, meet The Avengers at their worst.


Long before he was the marquee name in an array of sequel-sporting blockbuster franchises —hell, long before he rolled through the '80s gloriously typecast as the wacky-and-rebellious-best-friend in an unending run of teen comedies— lil' Bob was an on-screen plaything for his pops, Robert Downey Sr, a militant undergrounder whose no-budget, taste-free flicks were so luridly prurient that they were an inspiration to a young John Waters. Sr infamously started passing the joint to Jr when RDJ was merely eight years old, and in the 1992 documentary The Last Party, the pair come across as chummy, wild-eyed pals who've shared many a line (of, y'know, dialogue). Not too many dads would, for example, cast their pride-and-a-joy as a method-trained porn-actor whose role requires the Hallowe'en costume of a Pantsless Nazi.


Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Evans faced an uphill climb to make it in Hollywood, having to struggle long and hard to overcome his own natural blandeur, which begins with his whitebread name and extends to his dishwaterish screen presence. That completely-unmemorable quality makes him perfect for his turn as the interesting-backstory-free Captain America, especially given audiences who turned out in droves for The Avengers would've already conveniently forgotten the fact that Evans toiled in CGI-comic-book-hell as Johnny Storm in those awful to-screen adaptations of The Fantastic Four. You may also no longer remember his terrible work in 2004's The Perfect Score, a film only memorable for the fact that future-NBA flame-out Darius Miles made one of the worst-ever motion-picture performances by a moderately-famous-and-eternally-underachieving professional basketballer. In fact, audiences have been instantly forgetting Evans since his work way back in 2000's The Newcomers, in which he actually scores Kate 'Miss Coachella' Bosworth by doing the old show-her-how-to-shoot-a-gun-by-wrapping-his-arms-around-her-from-behind move.


Everyone loves Roofy: he's the kind of thoughtful, critically-acclaimed actor whose work in intelligent, deeply-emotional dramas like You Can Count On Me and The Kids Are All Right plays perfectly against slyly subversive leading-man turns in pitch-meeting-concept rom-coms like Suddenly 30 and Just Like Heaven. He was also in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, which, for many, makes him officially unfuckwithable. But, oh, my friend, peer beneath his easy smile, stoned demeanour, and sensual pillowhair and there are dark secrets lurking deep within Roofy's IMDB page. Chief of those being the unendingly repellent Apartment 12, a film shot (for, seemingly, $5) in the '90s, finished in 2001, then dumped onto DVD in 2005 to capitalise on its star's newfound stardom. In it, Roofy plays a smug, detestable prick whom audiences are supposed to identify with, perhaps because everyone else on screen is a screeching caricature going through a parade of turgid tropes and gobsmacking clichés.


We'd all love to pretend to be au fait with the middle-Hemsworth-brother's two-episode turn as King Arthur(!) in some kids TV show called Guinevere Jones, in which a 14-year-old girl learns that she's a mystical descendent of Queen Guinevere of Camelot; this not just an idea that someone actually came up with, but one which was somehow deemed worthy of an entire Canadian-Australian co-production. But, sadly let's admit to our spouses, therapists, and/or Twitter followers that we've never actually seen it, nor ever will. Instead, every single citizen of Australia must accept the fact that they first laid eyes on this tall, tall human in the eternal —hell, undead— soap-opera Home And Away. There, he was laid out as little more than glistening side of well-cut beefcake; Hemsworth having a higher shirt-off-scene screentime ratio than Matthew McConaughey. In the below contribution to the acting canon, clad only in his most resplendent boardies, Hemsworth displays the range of a young Olivier, making the defiant epithet “bull!” resound like the very voice of God Himself.


Where many a thesp has a long and embarrassing history of shitty D-grade genre movies, Scar-Jo practically rolled out of the womb and into worthy artworks; scoring an Independent Spirit Award nomination —for Female Lead— when she was just 12, then making an insanely-hot appearance in the Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There when she was but 15. In the absence of any embarrassingly-bad on-screen turns —though her Paquin-esque Nawlins accent in 2004's shitty A Love Song For Bobby Long comes close— Johansson had to endeavour to author her own career nadir. And so it came with Anywhere I Lay My Head, her ill-conceived 2008 vanity album, in which a whole host of hot-shit indie names —members of Antibalas, Celebration, TV On The Radio, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs— and David fucking Bowie tried to breathe life into an inert collection of charmlessly, near-tunelessly sung Tom Waits covers.


This year, Renner will turn up on screens not just in The Avengers, but The Bourne Legacy and an Untitled James Gray period-piece (which may or may not be called Low Life), meaning he'll officially inch closer to the Damon/Pitt/Clooney club as handsome gentleman of both bankable success and actorly merit. Renner's been doing intense, earnest work long before his Oscar-nominated breakout in The Hurt Locker; only, of course, he's done plenty of intense, earnest work in really, really shitty entertainments. Sadly, no video evidence of Renner's appearances in the TV series adaptation of the painfully-'90s identity-theft scaremongerer The Net exists, so let's just witness Renner intensely, earnestly methoding out as really greasy, kinda-date-rapey-seeming douchebag in a no-budget indie “comedy” called Monkey Love. All those voting pro-Renner in any Sexiest Man Alive polls may, after watching it, wish to rescind their ballots.