I bought my first Blu-ray disc last week. I’ll probably never watch it. I don’t own a Blu-ray player. Don’t know that I ever will.
But that’s the way life works in entertainment merchandising — Come up with something different and screw people into giving up their old technology for the shiny new thing.
It started with the music industry. First there was the LP. Then the 8-track. Then the cassette. Then the CD. Now it’s all digital downloads. With each advancement, bonus features were added to compel people to change over and turn all the old stuff obsolete. Bonus tracks! Hidden tracks! Not available on cassette! I’ve had to change over my music collection four times now, and I’m really not that old.
Naturally the video people followed suit. First it was the videocassette, then it was the DVD with its commentary tracks and gag reels and deleted scenes — not available on videocassette! And now it’s the Blu-ray and they’re not even bothering to come up with new features — they’ve just moved the features that were on DVD to the Blu-ray.
I hate you, entertainment industry.
“Marvel’s The Avengers” came out on home video/disc last week. I had to do hours of research to determine what format I wanted and where to buy it. Every retail outlet and online store had a different deal — free lithographs! free cases! free bonus DVD! All free with purchase, of course.
I concluded Wal-Mart had the best deal: A DVD/Blu-ray combo pack with “The Avengers Season One” graphic novel. I don’t need the Blu-ray, but it’s part of the deal. The Blu-ray has a number of features not on the DVD that I would like to watch, but not enough to buy a Blu-ray player and render my DVD collection obsolete. Besides, I’ve already watched most of the special features on YouTube, and special features really aren’t worth paying for, as I’m only going to watch them once.
My sister has a Blu-ray player so I guess I’ll give that disc to her. Don’t tell her, it’s her Christmas present.
So, is “The Avengers” as good on TV as it was in theaters? Of course not. My puny 42-inch Visio can’t compete with a movie screen, and this is the kind of movie you really need to see on as big a screen as possible. Is “The Avengers” the greatest DVD in the history of DVDs? Yes, for now. At least until “Avengers 2” or that “Hawkeye/Black Widow” movie that I’m dying for.
As far as bonus features, the DVD has two: a short making-of documentary that was fine as these things go, and a commentary track by director Joss Whedon. I was hoping for more from Whedon, but this is pretty bog-standard director commentary stuff — he complements the lighting guy and all the crew who helped him and talks about how all the actors are great and etc. Sometimes you get really inspired commentary tracks — this is not one of those times.
Which brings me to the bonus feature that caused me to go to Wal-Mart in the first place. “The Avengers Season One” is sadly an uninspired tale set in the early days of the team, featuring Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and HULK. God, am I tired of The Big Four.
It didn’t even used to be The Big Four. All Avengers historians and fans know that it’s really The Big Three — Thor, Captain America and Iron Man — who are the bedrock of The Avengers. HULK didn’t count. HULK abandoned the team after the second issue and never came back, other than the occasional guest appearance.
But HULK had a TV show, and a couple of movies of his own, and he was the breakout star of the “Avengers” movie, so now Marvel is trying to pretend that he’s always been an important part of the team. It’s a little annoying, especially when they’re ignoring Clint and Natasha, who have contributed far more to Avengers’ history than HULK.
Anyway, the comic, written by Peter David and illustrated by some guys I’m not familiar with (you’d think Marvel would’ve enlisted some A-list talent for this project, but that would mean Marvel was thinking), features Loki playing mind games with Thor, Cap and Iron Man and then HULK smacks them around and they realize they’ve been manipulated.
It’s competent but not David’s finest moment. The cover art by Adi Granov is the best thing about it. Sadly, he doesn’t do the interiors, that’s handled by five different artists of varied talent. Like I say, it’s all perfectly average, but you’d think Marvel would want to put more pizzazz into something that they’re hoping reaches out to a larger audience.
My advice: Just buy the DVD.