AO Scott, 27 June, 2012: “It’s telling that Hollywood placed a big bet on superheroes at a time when two of its traditional heroic genres — the western and the war movie — were in eclipse, partly because they seemed ideologically out of kilter with the times.”
Jentleman Film Journal, 5 May, 2012: “For all those differences, I contend that the superhero movie (let’s refer to this subgenre as the ‘Super’ for linguistic ease) should be viewed as the truest modern descendant of the Western. However different they are, they are unified by the theme of heroism, which powers everything that happens within them.”
Points to him for saying it better, though.
The big movie story of last week, as fans of The Avengers (apparently every person on the planet, based on how hard it was to get a ticket for 11am on a Sunday) will already know, was Samuel L Jackson’s vitriolic response to AO Scott’s ambivalent review of the movie. It’s not surprising that Scott’s review wasn’t glowing – he’s as good as openly admitted to having little tolerance for Supers – but Jackson’s response seemed out of proportion, and, perhaps, in its mild air of entitlement, a depressing exclamation point on the seeming irrelevance with these movies, not of critics and criticism, exactly, so much as the very idea of ‘good’ or ‘bad.’