Avengers – Welcome to the Whedon ‘Verse
Posted on May 4, 2012
Note: This post may contain spoilers.
Despite the gods of the tunnels trying to block my way from getting to the theater on time, I managed to make it to the 9:00am showing of The Avengers in IMAX 3D in time to also see some great previews for future blockbusters (it looks like it’s shaping up to be a great summer for movies). Yesterday, I posted about how Joss Whedon‘s Firefly series could be rebooted on an online streaming channel like Netflix. Today, I want to talk about why Joss Whedon may never return to television again.
Putting together The Avengers could not have been an easy task. There are multiple movies that have to be brought together. Within those movies, there are multiple reboots – will The Hulk ever get a decent representation in film? Fans’ expectations of the treatment of the characters are extremely high, especially after director/actor Jon Favreau showed us that comic book characters could be kickass with Iron Man (the first movie). And every one of Whedon’s fans hoped that some of the brilliance he put into fan favorites like Firefly and Dr. Horrible would rub off on this blockbuster franchise.
What were the benefits of the Whedon effect on The Avengers? First, the writing from the story to the dialogue was superb. In an action film, we tend to ignore the bits in between the fights. In The Avengers, the parts in between were just as important and interesting as the fights. Second, there were gems of humor dropped in throughout the movie. They weren’t cheesy or out of place. These moments were truly laugh-out-loud, add-to-the-overall-enjoyment humor. Third, you could tell that the movie was made by a true fan of the comics, the films, and by someone who appreciates other fans. There were references throughout to the other films as well as to other pop culture phenoms, although I think I was the only one to laugh out loud at the Point Break joke.
We’ve come to expect high levels of action to these types of movies. The Avengers does not disappoint in its one-on-one fights or its group scuffles. All of the characters get their moment to shine, but the end boss fight was definitely the best. The special effects were particularly high level considering that I got to see them in 3D, and they weren’t so ridiculous that they were distracting (I’m pointing a finger at you Ang Lee for your Hulk). The 3D wasn’t necessary to enjoy the movie, but it was a fine way to view it. It wasn’t distracting with things flying at us, but rather it added depth to the scenes.
The cast remains strong from their own films, but really work well together. I didn’t mind Colbie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, but I didn’t feel like she added that much other than being Nick Fury‘s sidekick and acting as Miss Exposition from time to time. Mark Ruffalo took a whole lot of flack as Bruce Banner/Hulk as he’s the newbie without a film. However, he may have been the Cracker Jack prize of the film. The way he played Banner reminded me of the classic portrayal by Bill Bixby in the 1970’s television show, and that’s not a bad thing. And he definitely played better with his cast mates than I would assume Edward Norton would.
By the end of the film, the team is made, and we’re already gearing up for the next Avengers movie. It will be interesting to see how individual character films will be affected by The Avengers film. Even Scarlett Johansson would like Black Widow to get her own movie. I’m sure that Whedon will already be working on the next installment as this film has set him up as a top selling blockbuster film director. I hope to see him return to more humble grounds just because he’s that kind of guy, but he doesn’t need to anymore.
One final note about the Whedon effect: I’ve intentionally turned his name into a verb after his treatment of characters in most of his projects. If you are aware of what I mean, you can rest assured that someone gets Whedoned. It just shows that he cares enough to push even this blockbuster franchise to its very best. And it is at its best.
Tagged: Avengers, Hulk, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo, Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson
Agreed on your assessment of the movie in whole, even coming from the “Why Doesn’t God Eat Joss Whedon” camp. I absolutely loved Ruffalo and the Hulk in this movie. In my opinion, the weakest performance – and it was still passably good – was from Chris Evans as Cap. RDJ was just as good here as in his previous Iron Man outings (I guess not having to act AT ALL because of the perfect character-to-actor matching helps), and Chris Hemsworth was better here than in Thor. Hawkeye’s being a little darker and broodier, as opposed to the utterly sarcastic clown he is in the comics, wasn’t significantly distracting.
My top two moments, though, were all Hulk: the merciless dirtslamming that resulted in “Puny god,” and the awkward silence solved by violence moment made the entire movie. Those, what, 25 seconds?, were all I needed; everything else was gravy.
Avengers 2? One of my favorite Marvel baddies of all time. Bring the Infinity Gems.
Thigger! In some ways I wish this was happening all those years ago when we were all together so we could have gone to the movies as a group again! Hulk was my favorite part definitely. I liked all of the little surprises and laughs, especially Thanos. Hope you’re doing well these days!
I loved the movie, loved seeing my childhood up on screen and having the masses who derided comics and those who loved them flocking to it. I loved Hulk in the film and Thor was fantastic. Cap does let the side down…again, being the weakest of the group (well, him and Hawkeye I guess…I wasn’t that moved by his story arc).
However, I do disagree with your last paragraph. The fact that someone got Whedoned…and worse, that we went into the movie waiting to see who would get Whedoned, detracted hugely for me. I don’t feel like he’s ‘pushed’ the envelope… all he’s done is create a new envelope. It’s like seeing a M. Night Shyamalan film and waiting for the TWEEST! If it’s your signature move that you pull out in every film, then it loses all power. I should have been affected by that scene. I love that character. But not only did I anticipate it and was therefore disappointed to see it happen, the character actually had to wax ‘meta’ about how necessary their Whedoning was. It was like Whedon was trying to justify it… “See! See what I did there? It was NECESSARY!” Which, frankly, is BS. All those civilians who were dying in New York seemed like a pretty good bonding agent to me.
But I’m not bitter.
I hoped, really hoped, we’d have an extra extra scene at the end with the character in a hospital bed, looking at and saying, “Wait, you told them I was dead? Why did you do that?”
Haha! I see your point. I was thinking, “Oh fine, you Whedoned one of my favorites. You bastard!” But I like that it puts everyone at risk. So yes, I anticipated, but I’m always surprised by who. And I agree – he should have had a final final scene.