Monday, April 30, 2012

May the 4th... Be with Marvel!

 Again, take that George Lucas. That will keep me satisfied considering that I forgot that in trading up from a dead phone to a newer one that I inadvertently chose the one that gives Lucasfilm kickbacks. Anyway, so as you may or may not be aware, The Avengers opens on Friday (or Thursday at midnight, if you aren't one of those "technicalists" who keep late hours and prefer to think of the next day some time around dawn when you're heading to bed). It is a movie where comic book characters we've been getting to know cinematically for the last four years get together to save the Earth, and if not that, presumably avenge it.

 I can't imagine anyone who is predisposed to seeing Marvel's The Avengers based on the comic book Marvel's The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes does not know who Joss Whedon is, but for the rest of you he's the semi-classic definition of a "cult" hero. The reason that most of you wouldn't know who he was is because if you've heard anything he's created, it's usually in a derisive way, like "oh, the guy that Fox hires and then cancels his shows" (Firefly, Dollhouse), or "the guy who made a TV show out of that Kristy Swanson movie" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), or "oh, guy who had the spinoff of that Kristy Swanson thing with the guy from Bones" (Angel). Maybe it was "the guy that made that movie all those nerdy 'browncoats' wanted me to see but nobody got around to it" (Serenity). Actually, it's probably that "guy who did the musical thing with Neil Patrick Harris that's on Netflix that I didn't see because my annoying nerd friends told me 'OMG it's like the best EVAR!" (Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog).

 By the way, I'm not actually bagging on Joss Whedon for any of this, so there's no need to point out that he created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and wrote the movie which was taken away from him and Donald Sutherland refused to use Whedon's dialogue or that you tried your best to get your friends to see Serenity and wrote letters to save Dollhouse and Firefly and that you saw every episode of Buffy and Angel and you've read Whedon's run on The Astonishing X-Men. It's cool. I get it. There's a copy of Serenity behind me and Firefly is upstairs. I'm not trying to get your goad, folks*. This is for people who read this entire paragraph and said "what now?" There is very little "public perception" of Joss Whedon, but even as a fan of the Whedon-verse, I can understand why some people feel we're insufferable in our geekdom.

 So where was I? Ah yes, okay Joss Whedon is a writer / director / creative force known to a devoted audience and then not so much by the rest of the world. The Avengers is in almost all certainty going to change that. Then people might finally stop mentioning his period as screenwriter-for-hire / script doctor (Speed, Toy Story, Waterworld, X-Men**, Alien: Resurrection to name a few) and he'll have some leeway to do whatever he wants and also get to make blockbuster comic book movies if he feels like it. This is a good thing, by the way, as he is a tremendously talented fellow that has mostly been just under the radar for the last decade.

 I thought it might be fun to revisit the path to The Avengers by looking at reviews for Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger before we get to the main event. And even though I've already seen The Avengers, for reasons I can't get into or discuss at the moment, I'm going to see it again before giving it a proper review. To prove to you that I'm not pulling your chain, here's something that nobody else has mentioned about the film: Harry Dean Stanton has a cameo that's all the funnier because there's no good reason why Harry Dean Stanton should be playing a security guard having a conversation with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) after the Hulk falls from the sky.

 The other fun thing about this recap is that I never actually reviewed Iron Man 2, so you'll get a fresh look at it two years later as I'll be watching it again in the next day or two. Tomorrow, I'll put up a vintage double feature review of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, and then on Wednesday I'll get you a new Iron Man 2 review, followed by Thor on Thursday (how appropriate) and Captain America on Friday. Then we'll close out the week with The Avengers on Saturday. In the mean time, go see The Avengers this weekend. I think you'll really like it. Except for Professor Murder. I can almost guarantee he's not going to like it at all.

 * If I were going to do that, I'd mention that I am not a huge fan of Whedon musicals, which means I don't like Dr. Horrible and I really didn't like "Once More with Feeling". Flame on.
** He is singularly responsible for the notorious "do you know what happens when a toad is struck by lightning" line, which in his defense would sound a lot funnier delivered by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

1 comment:

Andrew W Campbel said...

I'll stand beside you against the Whedon musicals. While the phrase is overused, "Once More With Feeling" was the "jumping the shark" moment of the show. Afterwards, the series steadily declined into unwatchability as plot coherency unravelled. "Doctor Horrible" is terribly predictable for anyone who paid attention to Whedon's TV-established tropes of evil is cute, underdogs turn monstrous, and love dies violently just before contact.