Ginormous Review of Recent Team-of-Heroes Action Movies

I feel equal parts bad and excited for the Justice League movie scheduled for release in 2017. I feel bad because with two Avengers films, three Expendables, and seven Fast and Furious’ the hero-team formula is growing wearisome. I feel excited because by 2017 the filmmakers might be even more motivated to actually make a good team action movie.

My beef with these three film series is that they no longer flow. The respective films aren’t films. They’re like seven or eight, twelve minute scenes glued together and then labeled “movie.” Each character gets a cameo, they have one on screen moment fighting back to back and then the credits roll.

My excitement for the future of team movies–and Justice League in particular–comes from the success of the movie Legends of the Fall. Remember that one? I can still hear my brother’s excited hope-whisper during the final scene. I see no difference between that team-of-heroes movie and these recent ones. There’s Alfred, Tristan, and Samuel, and the dad, Susannah, and One Stab round out the good guys. That’s six essentially main character’s in my book. Obviously Brad Pitt was “the rock they broke themselves against”, but that’s exactly my point. In the three series I’ve mentioned, it was exciting to see the first of each of these movies the because they were new. But on the whole, teams aren’t what movies or, as I’ll argue in a minute, any art is even about.

Avengers One worked decently because it was essentially Ironman on steroids. Number two was not about Ironman. That’s why it isn’t as good. (Not to mention that the “age” of Ultron was hardly long enough to be a “week” let alone an “age” which means that the team behind the movie didn’t even know what their movie was about–fail.) Expendables One was about Stallone. Two and three were not as focused–therefore not as good–as they tried to spread the wealth. And then with the Furious movies, Vin Diesel is cool as shyat, but honestly the Rock can’t stop cookin’ when he’s in a movie. It’s either main good guy or main bad guy for that Übermensch.

This brings us to all art. I like to think about all art the same way. Take Beethoven’s ninth. Everyone knows the simple motif that doesn’t appear until the fourth movement. It is eight notes. The symphony is over an hour long, but boils down to only eight notes. I’d call that motif the “main character”. All the other music makes it seem like there’s a team thing, but there isn’t.

Another example would be Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. For all of the many scenes, the main character is the “divine spark” taking place between God and Adam. (No, it is not an accident that these two masterpieces have the moment of creation at their core.)

Which leads to the only thing there is left to say on the subject. In the forthcoming Justice League movie, there must be a main character. And the main character must be Batman.



  1. Sam

    Two more chances for Avengers to get it right. A two part finale I think either 18 and 19 are the release dates or 17 and 18, but regardless it will be interesting to see how they make it on screen with adding even more somewhat main characters. I think another movie you could use like Legends of the Fall is Saving Private Ryan. It is a movie about a group like avengers and Legends of the fall and yet has a primary character. Where I disagree with your unhappiness is that the characters in Legends of the fall are not “super”. So…because the story of a family in Montana or wherever can be wrapped up in a movie much more clean and comfortable it is because they are characters that can be trapped in a small world setting. Avengers, being super, can’t be contained in a small setting like that. I wouldn’t want to watch them stop a thief or murderer in a small town like some cop movies, or seem them take on a mission of retrieving one guy in WW2. They have to do something bigger. As well, the avengers have yet to really form a hierarchy within the group. Although Iron Man is the main character of the first movie according to your post today, I think the real leader is supposed to be Captain America. Either way I think the plan from Marvel to make these movies is requiring more patience. I think more developing is in the works.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mcbeales

    The main character must be Batman. Or Superman. They’re both a billion times more iconic than most other heroes. Except for Spiderman. But he’s the 3rd best comic book superhero. I have a theory where all comic superheroes are essentially variations on the templates of Supes (alien deity here to save us), Bats (vigilante / billionaire playboy in disguise – yep, that’s two templates in one) or Spidey (geek comes good after enhancing).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      I still say Batman because I can identify with him as a regular old Joe. But you’re theory is sound. I can imagine there are fanboy blogs filled with disagreement though. Ha.



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