movie // avengers // widow symbol

Fun with The Avengers and the dictionary

So I was rewatching a bit of Avengers in the interests of story research, particularly Natasha's first scene, particularly her phone call with Coulson, and can I just say how much I love it?

First of all, Coulson doesn't explain the necessity of interrupting her interrogation by explaining (or even alluding to, since they were speaking on an unsecure line) that the New Mexico facility was blown up, or that the Tesseract was stolen -- which of course is SHIELD's priority -- but instead by mentioning Clint. And then it takes her all of half a second to shift gears.

(I think stuff like that, as well as a handful of scenes on the Carrier, are pretty much why I glomped onto this pairing despite the fact that they have hardly any screen time together.)

And then the wording Coulson uses, that "Barton's been compromised," is unusual. In spy terminology - at least everything I've been able to Google about it - a compromised position or facility or agent is one whose secret location has been revealed, leaving them vulnerable. In literal terms that doesn't make any sense here, because it's not like Clint was running an undercover op or even on foreign soil.

(Sidenote: Does Natasha know that he is - or was - in New Mexico? Most fic I've read says yes. In the movie she does ask Coulson where he is, but that could be read as 'where is he now?' or 'where is he that he could have been put in that position?' Personally I'm sticking with the headcanon that when they're not working together they pretty much keep tabs on the other's location. BECAUSE I CAN.)

So anyway, in a way it's an odd choice of words. 'Barton's gone rogue' or 'Barton's been turned' would have been less tactful but just as accurate.

However, one of the many dictionary definitions of 'compromised' is to reveal or expose to an unauthorized person and especially to an enemy... which is pretty much exactly right, isn't it? Clint's brain or body or however you want to say it was exposed (to submit or make accessible to a particular action or influence) to an enemy.

Wordplay is fun!

And then of course you have Natasha's use of the word to Clint later on, which I know has been debated and discussed by more cogent minds than mine. When she tells him she's been compromised, is she referring to Loki knowing as much as he does about her past? In that regard she has been exposed. (to make known : bring to light; to disclose the faults or crimes of) To what he said to her before his escape? (Joss's commentary seems to indicate that she was affected by it, IIRC.)

Or is it something else entirely? After all, her next line - "I got red in my ledger; I'd like to wipe it out" - was originally spoken to Loki in reference to Clint, to her being in his debt. There's definitely an invitation to project, at the very least, that she's referring to him again in this scene, although he wouldn't necessarily know that.

Ahhhh I could mull over this stuff all day.
  • Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
I love how understated they are, and how economical they are with everything: movement, facial expressions, and especially words. It's fitting, I think, that Coulson understands Natasha well enough to know that the destruction of the base in New Mexico probably doesn't mean all that much to her. I never realized she might not know about it, but...it kind of makes sense, a little bit, I guess (except she was defending SHIELD's use of nuclear deterrents in the cranky toddler fight scene with the scepter in Bruce's lab and the Phase II weapons were stored in New Mexico, so I would think she either knew about it or she got briefed on the flight from Russia to India).

But I like that Natasha and Clint are very much Tony's opposites; Tony's all fidgety movements and sweeping gestures, while Natasha stands around with her arms crossed over her chest, essentially still. Then you get Clint, who is very military in how he moves.

That scene in the infirmary stuck with me for weeks because it was amazing how much they managed not to say and still shout at the same time. Guh.
Well, Natasha might well have known about the base in NM - I guess it depends on how compartmentalized Fury keeps things, but I tend to think that Natasha, Clint and Coulson have worked closely enough together that she would at least be aware of its existence in terms of studying the cube, if not the extent of Phase 2.

That scene in the infirmary stuck with me for weeks because it was amazing how much they managed not to say and still shout at the same time. Guh.

Guh is the word. I went into my first viewing of the Avengers knowing very, very little about either character, but by the end of the scene where Cap comes to the infirmary and Clint says that he can fly the jet, I was a goner. I remember thinking there is something going on here and I think whatever it is I'm in love with it.

Have you listened to Joss's commentary, by the way?
I haven't, actually. I tend to get too distracted to listen to commentary and sometimes I've learned I don't want to hear from the writers. *blushes* I've seen bits and pieces of it floating around the internet, though. What does he have to say about that scene?
I'm not always a big fan of commentary either, but I had heard good things and decided to give it a go.

Okay, I was going to just summarize what was said but now I want to hear it again myself... just a sec...

About Jeremy in this scene: "He is very, very minimalist in what he does, and... sometimes literally to the point of inaudibility. But he is working so hard. He is SO invested, and this is one of my very favorite scenes. And what he's NOT doing IS what he's doing. The game that he's NOT giving away, while there is so much expressiveness on his face, is why he's a different kind of star than anyone else in the movie. And it's really gratifying to watch... and oddly enough, in 3D it really shows up as well. And you don't come to 3D going "You know what? We'll use 3D and you'll really feel the acting." Usually it's "you'll really feel the piranha." But in this case, when they add that dimensionality to his face, just every muscle twitch or a little wetness in the eyes, it registered on a different level. And I was really impressed by the beautiful conversion work, and also that it could help a scene as intimate and non-fly-y as this one... is pretty impressive. This is one of those scenes that I thought they were going to take away from me, that I didn't think we'd get to keep. And here again, Alan brings in his Natasha theme (music) which is one of my happiest things..."

And then when Cap comes back in and asks if Clint has a suit and he says yes...

"This is one of the things, his little 'yes' there, they had actually ADRed Jeremy to be more audible and I had pulled it out because you know exactly what he's saying and I love, again, that minimal thing."

So... not a whole lot about the scene itself, I guess, but it goes back to the awesome minimalism and that Joss is a Jeremy fanboy which is awesome :)
I also had to go back and listen to his commentary for Natasha's first scene, and he said something that made me LOL, that this scene is basically his career in a microcosm. "There's a helpless female who turns out to be stronger than everybody around her."
hahaahahaahah. I like that he has more than a little awareness about these things, honestly. I think it was Maria Hill's little roll out of the way when Clint was shooting at her that made me really start liking the film when I first saw it, but that first Natasha scene happened and I was a goner. Which explains a lot, given that Joss Whedon has never made anything (but the character of Angel) that I disliked.

You know, I never really thought about it, but Renner's face likely did benefit the most from the 3-D. The best models are always kind of pointy-faced to start with, so the third dimension in 2-D photographs are kind of a trick of the light. Renner is handsome, but he's not the conventional handsome of Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, so I can see how the 3-D would accentuate the things you don't normally get to see in 2-D (I mean, it's not like he was absolute dog to start with or anything). And it definitely brought the acting into sharper focus, too.

The minimalism is an interesting choice. I've been following Copperbadge on Tumblr as he reads through all of the Captain America comics (which is an undertaking as there were some serious misfires over the years) and he mentions Hawkeye a lot, and from what I gather from the comics, the character is flamboyant and seems to have no filter. Then you bring the minimalism of Renner to it, and it changes everything. I am definitely going to have to listen to the commentary. My parents have the Blu-Ray and a large screen, plus they're nerds, so I'm on my way over there to badger them into an evening of Chinese and Chitauri.

Also, I am giggling over the feel the piranha line because that's 100% Joss.
The minimalism is an interesting choice. I've been following Copperbadge on Tumblr as he reads through all of the Captain America comics (which is an undertaking as there were some serious misfires over the years) and he mentions Hawkeye a lot, and from what I gather from the comics, the character is flamboyant and seems to have no filter. Then you bring the minimalism of Renner to it, and it changes everything.

Yeah, from what little I've seen of the various comics and the 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes' cartoon, Hawkeye is more often portrayed as a lot more outspoken, impulsive, emotional, etc, which makes the decision to play him so toned-down in the movie pretty interesting. And I've seen Renner in enough other stuff to know that he's not one of those actors who only has 3 expressions *cough*MattDamon*cough*. He's plenty capable of ramping it up.

I have to say, though, that I like the way they decided to do it. You already have characters like Tony and Thor - and, to a different degree, Steve - who are more out there and don't really have a filter. It's nice to have a counterbalance to that in Natasha and Clint (and Bruce, I suppose, when he's not Hulked out :))
Okay I was compelled to go back in and listen to the commentary for the Natasha and Loki scene as well...

(LOL. "Loki has more eyes than Nick Fury, but apart from that they're very similar.")

"This is probably my favorite scene. And of course it's just two people talking, but it is a power struggle. And it's a power struggle that contains a great deal of flopping who's ahead and who's behind. And it was enormous fun to write and the two of them really sunk their teeth into it, AND I had that extraordinary cell to shoot with its extraordinary reflective capabilities."

And then he goes on about the challenges of shooting through the cell wall...

Natasha's line about 'red in my ledger':

"That line again, red in my ledger, that's something else that at the time it wasn't designed to be a callback, but it leant itself perfectly. That's the thing about a movie of this scope, again, that lets you do a little bit more with all these characters.

"The fact the she plays him, and PRETENDS that everything he's saying is affecting her, and this, my favorite shot in the whole movie (when Loki and Natasha come face to face through the glass) because of the Scary Loki God of Guilt coming at her. The fact that we later find that even though she was playing him it DID actually affect her just adds one more layer of texture."

And then he talks about the cutaways to Steve and Bruce and Tony and Fury, because:

"I had a lot of people talking. And talking in extremely unpleasant Elizabethan language. Which I know there's been some back and forth about whether that's (the 'mewling quim' line) a good thing or not, but all I can say is it felt right for Loki, if felt right that Asgard is not necessarily an UNsexist world, and that this guy would not take her as seriously as he ought. And for him to be truly, truly, brutally ugly in his language, to reveal himself like that, and for that to be the moment she gets the upper hand on him. To me, that's delightful."
Okay, first, you are awesome for transcribing all of this for me. Our evening of Chinese and Chitauri turned into an evening of Chinese and Clint Eastwood; we watched Trouble with the Curve instead (which was a really good movie, by the way). How is Joss's favorite scene my favorite scene? My mom outright cheers when Natasha's all "Thank you for your cooperation" (seriously, the O'Scanlin household goes quiet during that scene because we love it). And I loooooove that he addresses the issue of the mewling quim line. See, I like the line because it shows how problematic Loki's character is, but I also dislike the line because it gives the idiot misogynistic fanboys another insult, you know? They don't see how deeply trolling that line is.

Man, I love that Natasha is not just eye candy. I mean, sure, her costume's form fitting and there are a couple of OMG LOOK AT HOW PRETTY SHE IS shots, but there's also power there. She gets her own motivations that aren't because she has to save her man or anything; her motives for going into battle are because of her past and because Loki got to her on some level and I'm going to start foaming at the mouth with how much I love that at any second now, so I probably should stop.

Again, you're wonderful, and thank you!!
Transcribing is really way fun because you hear the words differently than when you're just listening to it, you know what I mean?

The first time I saw the movie, that line kind of took me back, because I was all, "Umm doesn't that word mean...?" and even dad visibly reacted. When I got home I looked it up and... yeah. I was kind of surprised they got away with it. That said, props to Joss for going for it.

There's just so many layers to Joss's Natasha and I freaking love it :D
Yeah, I didn't realize how bad the word was until much later, when I saw a feminist blog just going off on it. I was like, "Oh. Huh, yeah, I see how that's problematic." But on the other hand, you know, villains are villains and we want to cheer against them because they do villainous things, right? Except that there's this huge contingent of Loki-lovers that terrify me because, as Natasha put it VERY WELL, he killed 80 people in 2 days.

But hey just needs some love!, they scream at me.

Uh, no, he needs to be locked up because killing people is bad.

Sorry, "Reform the Loki!" is one of the things about this fandom that I openly recoil at. I wish there were a way to filter tags on AO3 so I didn't have to see Loki/Thor and Loki/Tony...or Coulson/Clint, for that matter. :)
Yeah, I understand having a character that's bad but that you like despite yourself, sort of a 'love to hate' thing, but the amount of Loki apologism is highly disturbing.
I sometimes like listening to the commentary, but it depends on who's doing it.

Joss is a Jeremy fanboy which is awesome

And this is why Joss needs to write a movie for him. Hawkeye would be great, but honestly, ANY collaboration between them would be great IMNHO.
I sometimes like listening to the commentary, but it depends on who's doing it.

For sure.

And this is why Joss needs to write a movie for him. Hawkeye would be great, but honestly, ANY collaboration between them would be great IMNHO.

Hell to the yeah!
I just want to hug Whedon over and over for doing what he did with Coulson and Clint and Natasha--in that one little "Barton's been compromised" he put all three of the characters together and made their stories one, particularly Natasha and Clint. When one was on the screen, the other was in your thoughts even if they weren't onscreen at that time.


When she tells him she's been compromised, is she referring to Loki knowing as much as he does about her past? In that regard she has been exposed. (to make known : bring to light; to disclose the faults or crimes of) To what he said to her before his escape?

I think that Loki got under her skin and while she still got what she wanted from Loki, I think his comments hit their mark to a certain extent.

"I got red in my ledger; I'd like to wipe it out" - was originally spoken to Loki in reference to Clint, to her being in his debt. There's definitely an invitation to project, at the very least, that she's referring to him again in this scene, although he wouldn't necessarily know that.

I read that (and still do) as more Natasha's default reasoning for why she's doing what she's doing (why she took Clint's offer, why she's working with SHIELD, why she's going to go fight aliens).
I think that Loki got under her skin and while she still got what she wanted from Loki, I think his comments hit their mark to a certain extent.

*nods* Now, right before that, Clint had kind of made that assumption - "What'd Loki do to you?" - and her first reaction is to brush that off... and then the 'compromised' comment. So is she brushing it off out of habit, not wanting to be seen as being affected, and then changing her mind... or is she actually talking about being compromised by something non-Loki related. I'm up for being convinced either way :D

I read that (and still do) as more Natasha's default reasoning for why she's doing what she's doing (why she took Clint's offer, why she's working with SHIELD, why she's going to go fight aliens).

There's just so many wonderful layers :) And it makes you wonder... she tells Loki that she's in debt to Clint, and almost all C/N fic I've read seems to accept that, even take it as a given and work it into their relationship. How much does she feel indebted to Fury? To Coulson? To SHIELD in general? Enough that she's willing and eager to go outside her comfort zone and, well, fight aliens? Is it duty that makes her want to "wade into a war"? Vengeance? Something else entirely?

LAYERS SO MANY LAYERS.