Apr 30 2012

This Joss Whedon Interview Leaves Me Optimistic About The Avengers

Published by at 3:54 pm under Comic Book Movies

My main reservation is that a large cast frequently leads to more generic characters used in a more rushed way, more storytelling-by-committee (e.g. the studio dictating what can be done with each of the characters or how the plot has to play out), and less time for each character that viewers find interesting. For example, if you like Iron Man much more than Thor OR if you like Thor much more than Iron Man, then having both in the movie will result in less time for the one you want to see.


This Wired article suggests that Whedon and his team are at least aware of these issues, which bodes well. On the other hand, I would have been more encouraged if Whedon had been more involved in the selection of the villain (the company selected Loki for him).


UPDATE: Initial reviews for the movie on Rotten Tomatoes (based on an early overseas release) are astronomically high, 94% so far. Among superhero movies, only The Incredibles (97%) has done better.

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “This Joss Whedon Interview Leaves Me Optimistic About The Avengers”

  1. deadmanshandon 30 Apr 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Have no reservations about this movie. It’s amazing. Beautifully done. Hands down my favorite superhero movie. Nothing else comes close.

  2. Nightwireon 30 Apr 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I saw this movie the other day. It’s freaking amazing! I still haven’t recovered from the excitement!

    Oh, and Bruce Banner/the Hulk totally steals the show.

  3. steton 01 May 2012 at 5:35 am

    The Avengers characters are interesting because they’re so uninteresting. I mean, Batman is angst-y, verging on being a billionaire Dexter, Spiderman is very young, a nerd trying to do the right thing, the X-men, while often individually a bit boring, are part of an extended metaphor about racism and xenophobia. (And Mirageman–streaming on Netflix, my favorite superhero movie–is a bit dim.)

    But in the Avengers, you have a billionaire playboy genius for whom superheroing is an extreme sport. You have the Hulk, who is interesting as Banner and a superpowered toddler having a tantrum as the Hulk. Thor is a god, and there’s nothing more boring than that. Captain America is like a less-edgy version of Superman. All the conflict is external, any attempt at an interior problem just looks like the writers responding to a note: “This needs some emotional conflict.”

    That’s probably why it makes such a good movie.

    (Personally, I love a huge cast, with dozens of interchangeable bit characters who don’t really matter. Well, at least that’s the feedback I’m getting about my latest. Back to the chopping block …)

  4. deadmanshandon 01 May 2012 at 8:37 am

    Wow, stet, I don’t think you could be more wrong about the Avengers if you tried. The Avengers are interesting separately with very human problems. That’s what makes them so good together. They overcome the internal conflict to deal with the external.

  5. Nightwireon 01 May 2012 at 10:20 am

    @stet: It’s quite clear you’ve never read a Marvel comic or watch the precluding movies before.

  6. B. McKenzieon 01 May 2012 at 12:12 pm

    The initial reviews have been extremely favorable. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 94% rating (based on its 87 reviews so far). If that score holds up, it’s probably among the best superhero movies ever made.

    –The Incredibles: 97%
    –The Dark Knight: 94%
    –Spider-Man 2: 94%
    –Iron Man: 93%

  7. deadmanshandon 01 May 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Spider-Man 2 seriously is rated that highly? Wow. I hated that movie. Not as much as the third one but it was pretty bad. Other than that that sounds about right. It’s a really good movie with a couple of hilarious moments in it. One that left me unable to breathe for a minute.

    Good stuff.

  8. Cuddleson 01 May 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Great article. Thanks, B. Mac!

  9. steton 02 May 2012 at 4:49 am

    Well, I’ll give you the original Iron Man, deadmanshand. He was interesting. But the current incarnation? The only interesting thing about him is that he’s played by Robert Downey, Jr. The most interesting thing about Cap is he’s supposed to be a strategic genius (or do I mean a tactical genius?), but we never really see that. Banner’s interesting; Hulk’s just smashing.

    It’s true that my Marvel-reading days were (mostly) long ago. But I’m talking here about the movies, not the comics.

    Incredibles was great. I’m a fan of Mirageman. The first Batman (of the current Batmen; not the Keaton one) and Spiderman were both v. good.

    But the movies with the Avengers in them were paint by numbers, in terms of internal conflict. Those plot points, where they existed, seemed pasted on. Frankly, I can’t really remember exactly what they were. Hulk has no interior life, so he’s got no internal conflict; that’s all Banner. Cap was a pure-hearted 92 pound weakling then became a pure-hearted supersoldier. I guess he felt bad about doing his show for the fighting troops? Weak sauce. Iron Man has less interior life than Hulk. His origin story is basically ‘gifted heir doesn’t like terrorists.’ They gave Thor an arc, but talk about paint by numbers. And he learned his lesson, and it’s hard for me to imagine him learning another one.

    I don’t know. It’s not like you need _much_ internal conflict in a superhero movie, but the Avengers crew just seems a bit light in their tights.

    I’m not saying that they don’t make good movies, though. Film focuses on the surfaces, certainly–rightly–in this genre.

  10. B. McKenzieon 02 May 2012 at 9:31 am

    “But the current incarnation? The only interesting thing about him is that he’s played by Robert Downey, Jr.”

    I don’t think it’s only RDJ. Very few of RDJ’s other movies have fared as well critically. For example, the two recent Sherlock Holmes movies have averaged 65%, whereas the three movies with Iron Man have averaged 87%. The Sherlock Holmes movies weren’t awful but nevertheless could have been so much better. In contrast, the Iron Man movies struck me as shockingly effective, very likely the most comedically effective superhero movies made so far. Granted, RDJ played a major role, but he didn’t write the script, direct the movie, or do any special effects. In contrast, look at Green Lantern for a case where the off-camera talent ranged from subpar to historically ugly.

    “Cap was a pure-hearted 92 pound weakling then became a pure-hearted supersoldier. I guess he felt bad about doing his show for the fighting troops? Weak sauce.” Alternately, he’s fighting for a role commensurate with his abilities… I thought it was a well-executed modern take on a classic story element (Greek heroes frequently needed to prove themselves to the public and/or allies before facing their nemeses). I think putting the Captain in a degrading PR role and having him struggle his way out helps suggest that there’s more to him to than his superpowers. It would have been much less interesting if he had just effortlessly gone from getting superpowers to getting a prime military position–if it had happened that way, it would have been the superpowers doing all of the work.

    By the way, his dissatisfaction with the safe PR role while duty calls him to the front lines is strikingly masculine. It really stood out to me–I think Hollywood’s recent masculine characters have usually been more brutish than honorable.

    “Banner’s interesting; Hulk’s just smashing.” I disagree with one of these, but for professional reasons, it’d probably be best not to elaborate.

  11. deadmanshandon 02 May 2012 at 10:01 am

    Stet, I’m just going to say that I couldn’t disagree with you more and the vast majority of the comic book loving section of our populace agrees with me.

  12. Nightwireon 02 May 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with B.Mac and deadmanshand.

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