Joss Whedon directing 'Avengers': A great choice, and a tall order

the-avengers-comicImage Credit: The Avengers: © Marvel ComicsI’ve always been wary of an Avengers movie, but I never could put my finger on exactly why. Then, last week, LeBron James took his “talents to South Beach” to form an unprecedented basketball superteam, and I now totally understand my original misgivings. James shouldn’t be in the same uniform as new teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, soaring past, through, and over mere basketball mortals from New York, Cleveland, or Toronto. In sports, as in physics, heavenly bodies like superstars are supposed to attract their own satellites. Instead, James’ Jupiter is about to collide with Wade’s Saturn. It’s simply unnatural.

Ditto The Avengers. Can you really imagine a world where Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and possibly the Hulk work out at the same gym? Isn’t it the rare comic-book movie that manages to craft a believable universe that explains even one superhero? Even Joss Whedon, who confirmed yesterday during EW’s Visonaries panel at Comic-Con that he’ll direct The Avengers, conceded the challenge: “It makes no sense. These people shouldn’t be in the same room, let alone on the same team.” Whedon is a smart choice to create a challenging storyline that juggles multiple superhero mythologies. But it’s a tall order — if his film fails to connect, it could sink all of the individual franchises as well.

Yes, X-Men did it successfully. I guess. And I’m sure that’s what Paramount is thinking. But as huge as Wolverine is now as a result of the films, he and his fellow mutants were never as famous with mainstream audiences (i.e., non-comicbook readers) as some of the Avengers, and thus had less to lose. As Batman once quipped, “This is why Superman works alone” (though that mere mention of a rival superhero nearly gave me vertigo). To me, shoe-horning the Avengers into one supersized spectacle risks diminishes them each, just as the brightness of LeBron and Wade will inevitably be dimmed when they take the court together. I hope The Avengers is a slam-dunk, but I have my concerns.

Will The Avengers be greater than the sum of its parts? What can Whedon learn from X-Men, Watchmen, or The Incredibles to create a credible universe? Can you envision an Avengers universe where Robert Downey is not the alpha-male?

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  • Adam

    Joss Whedon is a master at ensemble stories, so if anyone can make it work I believe he can.

    • junieb

      I completely agree, Joss knows how to make a group of people come together without losing their individual voices and presence. If anyone can do this movie, he can!

    • Brett

      A “master”? Really? Competent, perhaps.

      • Justin

        I’m guessing your last name is Rattner. Stop being jealous, cause you made X3 a flop.

      • therealeverton

        X3 wasn’t a flop. It was less successful than it MAY have been if it had a tighter story, but it was the most successful of the 3 AND he didn’t write it. Blame Fox for never giving Sunger enough cash and for, effectively, forcing him away from X3.

        You’ll also find a lot of people, mostly tose with no knowledge of the stories X3 was based on – which is the majority of moviegoers) rate X3 as their favourite.

  • UGH

    Meh.
    It’s hard to make a decent “team” movies. I even found the X-Men movies rather lackluster. At least most of the Avengers’ characters will have been introduced in seperate movies already for some character development.
    Whedon is definitely hit and miss with things although I did hear his writing on The Astonishing X-Men is good.
    I have a feeling if Thor turns out to be a steaming turd that the character will be dropped. Captain America has been miscast, but if Evans can keep the cockiness level down it might work. He’s capable of it if you’ve ever seen Sunshine.
    I would’ve preferred Michael C. Hall as Cap.

  • Ceballos

    I can kind of see what you’re saying.

    At first glance, this seems like an amazing idea, and I’ll no doubt be in the theater the night it opens.

    However, the more I think about it, the more I worry that each character won’t be served. Also (and I’m not a huge comics guy, so someone please enlighten me), what possible adversary or adversaries could they come up with that the Avengers wouldn’t just crush or could at least make it interesting?

    • therealeverton

      They have a number of extremely powerful and clever adversaries.

      There’s also the possability of a combination of adversaries. In The Dark Knight it was the mix of Joker’s brand of insanity and the underworld’s resources that caused so much trouble.

      If the villain is clever and powerfull enough then it could be a case of causing trouble in different locations, Loki’s magic or Giants and monsters in Europe, whilst at the same time Loki & The Abomination cause problems in America and there could be issues to deal with in Space or in the oceans. It may not be a single threat that, on the face of it, you’d imagine S.H.I.E.L.D and The Avengers should handle pretty quickly but a division of labour that requires lone or paired up heroes to deal with at several location. Hulk is strong but only Thor, Iron Man & War Machine could realistically deal with space or underwater problems (unaded). Something that required a real strategy would need Captain America or Nick Fury, or Black Widow.

      If the set up is made, as I suspect it will be, in Thor & Captain America then there’s every reason to believe a genuine global threat can be realised; and without needeing to involve alien invasions.

      I hope we get a Black Panther appearance too though.

  • Rock Golf

    So who do you have as the villain?

    Loki, who was in Avengers #1? He should be in Thor. Space Phantom, who can replace people in an interdimensional swap? Sounds far fetched.

    Kang The Conqueror? Again, not in line with the typical movie bad guys, and hard to consider him a threat.

    Doom? Magneto? Great choices but licensed to other studios.

    How about “The Leader” who was hinted at in the the “Incredible Hulk” movie? Or Skrulls?

    Or Hulk/SubMariner team up against Thor/Iron Man and Cap? Not unlike Avengers #3.

    • Chuck

      Ultron.

      • Rock Golf

        Wonderful idea! Keep him as Hank Pym’s creation, even responsible for killing Hank so Jan becomes Yellowjacket instead.

      • UGH

        I’ve heard rumblings that Hulk/Loki will be the enemies with Hulk eventually siding with The Avengers.
        I can see Ultron (would love it) but many outside of the comics would just think he was another “throwaway” Iron Manesque villian.

      • Z. Abram

        I would love to see Ultron, but without any backstory on Hank Pym yet it would be hard to do in a first Avengers movie. I think that HYDRA, with a splash of Loki and Hulk for heavy hitters would be good. More importantly, the team’s dynamic should be at the forefront. If I were in Whedon’s position I’d take heavily from the first story arc of The Ultimates.

  • Tarc

    The Avengers really isn’t anything like the X-men. And as much as I love the first two X-Men movies, Wolverine was staggeringly popular before he every appeared on film. If you’d said Hugh Jackman, then you’d be correct (a virtual unknown was instantly catapulted to the A-list). And honestly, there are decades of comics in which these guys work together, and traditional villains to pull from. Whedon may have to transfer that to film, but it’s not like he’s starting from scratch. I’m trilled with the Whedon choice, though I’d have preferred him to have used his particular magic on Wonder Woman or Doctor Strange.

    • UGH

      You mean, The Wolvering and His X-Men Friends movies?
      Fox ruined the franchise by crapping on some of the characters. Too many liberties were taken.

  • Chaz Winterbottom

    I’m pretty skeptical about this. Unless they follow the lead of the X-Men movies and dress all the characters in understated black uniforms then there’s a big risk that the Avengers are going to look like a bunch of dopes at a Halloween party.

    Plus Thor’s hammer and Capt. America’s shield are inherently silly.

    • therealeverton

      ??

      How is Thor’s Hammer, one of the most powerfull weapons in Myhtology for centuries, silly?

  • Summer

    I really hope that this is a good movie – and I hope we get to see the Wasp and Carol Danvers in some way shape or form.

    More importantly, I hope this movie rocks so that Warner Bros. will see what idiots they were for letting him leave Wonder Woman.

  • Henry

    Not particularly fond of Whedon. I understand him to be quite the capable director, but I would have thrown the sun and moon at Christopher Nolan and Akiva Goldsman to work on the project together.

    • Robert

      I’m there with you on Nolan, but Goldsman? Really? Here are some of his writing credits: Batman Forever, Lost in Space (the movie), Batman & Robin, and Practical Magic. Are you really giving him that much credit for Russell Crowe’s work in a Beautiful Mind? Or for the 2 mediocre Dan Brown flicks?

  • Eyeball

    Do you proof read your articles even a little bit before you post them?

    • CJ

      “Proofread” is one word. Enjoy casting stones much?

  • V

    I don’t know if I even care how well it turns out, for Joss Whedon, I’ll be watching this movie. Of course, it’s also bound to be awesome, so it’s not hard to say that. =D

  • GP

    I love the recent stream of comic book movies, most noteably Robert Downy Jr. as Iron Man and Ed Norton as The Hulk. I was really looking forward to this movie until it was announced that Ed Norton was no longer attached to the project. Regardless of the reasoning behind the decision, continuity is important (even in the fantastical Marvel universe). I am a lot less excited about this movie now compared to a few months ago, despite JW signing on to direct..

    • Brett

      You DO realize that the Hulk could be in the Avengers movie and never revert to being Bruce Banner, don’t you? Ergo, Norton would not be necessary.

  • GP

    but I will, of course, still be scouring EW for spoilers, and stuff to look for when I inevitably go see it :)

  • JLC

    Marvel recognized this pretty early on, when most of the founding Avengers were replaced by “second stringers” (in terms of powers) like Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The big boys would return for major events, like the Kree/Skrull War, but most of the time, only one of the heavy hitters would be around at any given time.

  • Rush

    The “New Avengers” characters would be a more compelling team-up for a movie. Added bonus is that you’d get, yet again, Wolverine.

    • Brett

      Not really. These characters are just as compelling, if not more so, than the “New Avengers.”

    • therealeverton

      Also they can’t use Wolverine as Fox owns the movie rights. Although I’m still not sure how that works as it’s supposed to be characters that originate in the titles’ comics. That’s why Silver Surfer (sigh) is with Fox, becaause of the Fatastic Four rights; but Wolverine isn’t an X-Men character, he’s from The Hulk, so shouldn’t Marvel have his rights? I know there was probably an X-Men AND Wolverine line when they sold Fox the movie rights.

  • BlackIrish4094

    Seriously, get off Robert Downey d-i-c-k. He is playing the character of Iron Man so it’s extremely plausible that he NOT be the alpha male in the universe. Downey might be the most accomplished actor but his character is not the dominant one in the Avengers mythology but is certainly one of the pillars. Plus your X-Men / Avengers comparisons don’t fly as someone said above. Wolverine made Jackman, the X-men movie did not make Wolverine he was already super popular.

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