In a famous entry in the "Bloom County" comic strip of the 1980s, Opus the Penguin recalls how millions of penguins would watch military jets fly over their heads, bending their necks backward until they fell over. Finally, he delivers the moral: even if a million penguins do a stupid thing, it's still a stupid thing.
That sentiment applies quite nicely to the success of "The Avengers." Just because the film is a massive hit doesn 't mean that it's a great movie. And here are four ways that a sequel could improve upon "The Avengers" exponentially.
Dump Tony Stark
Every. Single. Word. Out. Of. Tony. Stark's. Mouth. Is. Sarcasm. Maybe Tony Stark is this unpleansant, shallow and aggressively idiotic in the comic books, but that doesn't mean he has to be in the movie. Whether due to Stark or the fact that Robert Downey Jr. doesn't seem capable of doing much as an actor anymore than being snarky, Tony Stark is the least interesting comic book superhero on the screen today. Either dump or give him something that shows he is deserving of one iota of respect.
Replace Scarlett Johansson with Cobie Smulders
Scarlett Johansson. What is the attraction here? She's not as pretty as Smulders and she doesn't possess the intelligence in the eyes that Smulders delivers. Black Widow is supppose to be really smart, but I don't buy it. Not with Johnasson in the outfit. And, speaking of the outfit, Smulders looks a lot better. But the key reason to discharge Johansson is that Smulders' Agent Hill actually seems to be smart enough to be working at such a top level while Johansson's Black Widow looks like she accidentally took a wrong turn on the way to next meeting of those angels working for Charlie.
The only one of the actual Avengers who even comes close to delivering the fascination offered by Tom Hiddleston's Loki is Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye. That may be because Joss Whedon apparently had no idea what to do with Thor and because he wasted too much time forcing Mark Ruffalo to share screen time with Robert Downey. Of course, Bruce Banner seems more interesting than Tony Stark! Who isn't? Hawkeye is the only one of the Avengers who hasn't had a movie all to himself that I would be interested in seeing based on his movie. Well, actually, I'd like to see a movie that teams Hawkeye with Agent Hill.
Fewer Fight Scenes
What makes "Thor" a supremely more satisfying movie than "The Avengers" is that director Kenneth Branagh had enough confidence in his comic book characters as characters that he didn't need to distract you with fight scenes. Somehow Joss Whedon actually managed to almost waste the character of Loki and the film is saved only because Tom Hiddleston is a terrific actor. "Thor" gains its fascination from the motivations of Thor and Loki. There is almost no motivation going on in "The Avengers" except for Tony Stark's attempt to show how many times he can open his mouth and say something sarcastic without more powerful men killing him. Man, was I hoping he'd reach that point!
For more from Timothy Sexton, Yahoo!'s first Writer of the Year, check out: