Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Open Letter to Joss Whedon -- Reflections on "The Avengers" (2012)

Damn you, Joss Whedon, for making the rest of the world aware of your greatness!

Dear Joss Whedon:

What have you done? You have created a perfect monster. The Avengers is every comic book nerd’s wet dream – it is exactly what we’ve been hoping for since poring over well-worn comics since our childhoods. Somehow, you caught the proverbial lightning in a bottle and delivered on your promise.

Let’s do a rundown, shall we?

Balancing the characters and plot? Check.

Giving us geek-a-licious hero fights to further feed comic junkies’ need to endlessly debate over who could best who in a fight? Check.

Making Hawkeye moderately interesting? Check.

Showing us some kickass action sequences that we actually care about? Check.

Making the Hulk something more than a CGI-eyesore? Check!

Seriously, Joss, you nailed every cliché in the book for creating a successful film. You put the exclamation point on several years’ worth of single-character blockbusters that had been building to this, and you didn’t disappoint. It was obvious The Avengers was going to have a monster opening weekend ($207 million, though? That was a surprise!), but once the initial fanfare subsided, I don’t think even the most ardent fanboy wasn’t at least mildly concerned that your film might not live up to the hype. Thankfully, it did. Let me say it again – you made a terrific film!

But what did you do? Here are some of the consequences your genius has created:

1.      You rescued the superhero movie. Superhero films have been faltering as of late, mostly due to bad writing, uninspired adaptations, and poor casting, probably causing many studios to put their comic book projects on the back burner. But you have now successfully greenlit a hundred more comic book movies, including The Avengers II through whenever people stop caring, another Batman reboot, more Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor sequels, and probably screen versions of such iconic characters as Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Speedball. Maybe you have even resurrected Ben Affleck’s superhero career with this one.

2.     You have made expectations for the summer film season of 2012 remarkably high. Can any film to come make any waves after your tsunami has flooded the box office? Will The Amazing Spiderman, or The Dark Knight Rises even stand a chance to reign supreme?

3.     You may very well have ended Tim Burton’s lucrative partnership with Johnny Depp. C’mon, Joss, let’s be honest here – there is no way in Asgard that Dark Shadows is overtaking The Avengers this coming week.

4.     You made a film so good that non-geeks want to embrace it for their own. As you no doubt know, one of the benefits of being a geek is having secret knowledge. Knowing about comic books and movies and music others don’t gives us the air of superiority we never felt when we were being bullied in the asphalt jungles of our schools when growing up. But now, everyone knows who the Avengers are. Those same punks who used to give us wedgies and whirlies now have kids who are wearing Avengers t-shirts and screaming “Hulk … SMASH” as they beat up our kids. What solace do we have now? Doctor Who and re-runs of Buffy? For as great as your film is, it ruined our geek cred.

5.     You have deprived us of your ever working in television ever again. While I can’t pretend to assume what future career decisions you will make, after the critical success of The Cabin in the Woods and the commercial explosion of The Avengers, I can’t imagine you wanting to go back to the small screen. And I can’t say as I blame you – you put a lot of heart and soul into Firefly and Dollhouse, but they never took off like they should have. Television is much crueler than film. Regardless, your attention to character is so astute that to have you away from the small screen is a major loss.

There are more things I could point out, from the fact that your virtually sexless movie will still inspire masturbatory fantasies in teen boys in love with Black Widow’s clip changing skills to the nagging feeling that as major studios greenlight more superhero films, they will do so with no understanding for why your film worked – attention to character detail, a focus on family dynamics, and a solid cast featuring Samuel L. and Robert Downey, Jr. – but it would be in vain. The Avengers is a fantastic blockbuster, filled with your trademark heart, soul, and humor. I guess I shouldn’t be so upset about your success – it’s just that, as a geek and fanboy myself, I wanted to hold on to you just a little while longer before sharing your work with the world.


Jeremiah Dollins

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