In case you live under a rock (or simply don’t care or keep up with things), there’s a pretty awesome rumor going about right now: Joss Whedon is going to direct the new Avengers movie.
I’ll wait while you squee in joyful anticipation.
In all seriousness, though, how cool is that? And not just in a fanboy way, either. In a rocking, who-could-make-the-best movie kind of way, this is great news.
Provided, as my wife puts it, that he doesn’t get canned the way he did from the Wonder Woman movie. I wasn’t privy to that bit of geekdom, but from the way she described the situation, the studio wanted some hot chick in star-spangled panties and Whedon handed them a story. Enter: creative differences.
So our household is tentatively holding our breaths and not getting our hopes up. But still, how cool is that?
As I’ve said before, my academic specialty has slowly worked its way into being Joss Whedon. And I’m not even fully initiated: I haven’t seen Angel, read the Buffy Season 8 comics, seen Buffy Season 7, nor read his comics like Sugarshock, Fray, or The Astonishing X-Men.
To be fair, I tried to get into The Astonishing X-Men years ago and couldn’t do it. I was a bit younger then, and when I dug in, I expected typical X-Men melodrama and instead got trademark Whedon wit and verbage. I need to pull out my old back issues and give them a good, close reading. I have no doubt that my tastes will be more tuned to it.
Joss Whedon is, if nothing else, atypical. So I can see what turned me off of Astonishing so many years ago turning off the mainstream comicbookmoviegoers, too. But I don’t think it will.
Why? Because as the comicbookmovie genre has grown, the A-list titles have all been intelligent. And if there is one thing that Joss Whedon does, it’s make intelligent moving pictures.
Why did people hate X-Men 3? Because the characters didn’t act like themselves and the plot didn’t make sense. Not because there wasn’t enough/too much eye candy. Spider-man 3? The black suit was handled poorly and the 3 villains eye candy didn’t actually congeal into anything resembling a plot. Kick-Ass? I’ll never know because I refuse to see a movie that is so blatantly harmful (and irresponsible according to Ebert) to kids and the way they view violence. Kick-Ass is to comicbookmovies what Twilight is to horror fiction.
But that’s another story altogether.
Whedon can work with an ensemble better than most writer/directors. He’s proven that again and again in his shows. In fact, the ensembles are what generally shine in lieu of the main characters, which makes me happy that we might not have to deal with Chris Evans being Captain America as much as we would under another director (did I mention I think that’s a dumb casting choice? Because it is.). The focus should be on the team dynamic, not how the team supports the “leader,” which is typically how Whedon ensembles function.
What made Iron Man work was character interaction and development, not over-the-top action. He’ll likely have a ridiculous budget (something he’s not used to), but I think he’ll use it wisely. I have no doubt that we won’t get the jumble of CGI and stupidity that they passed off as action in Transformers 2. Whedon is used to working on shoe-string budgets, which will make the movie even more spectacular—he understands how to eek every last ounce of quality from each penny spent.
Which given his track record with studios pushing him around (*cough Fox, Firefly, Dollhouse cough cough*), I don’t know if that will happen. I certainly hope that the Avengers studio is a bit more non-frat boy oriented than the Wonder Woman one was. If it is, then we’re in good shape.
And, if nothing else, the academic side of me is chomping at the bit. Whedon proved with Dr. Horrible that his knowledge of the comics industry allows him to bend convention to his whim and come out with a top-quality story. While I don’t think he’ll be allowed to so overtly subvert (oxymoron?) the Avengers canon as he did with archetypes in Dr. Horrible, I do see a lot of room for him to put his trademark spin on certain integral elements based solely on the things he learned while working on Dr. Horrible/Astonishing X-Men. If he does even a fraction of what I think he will, The Avengers will be a catalyst for future Slayage papers on Whedonized superhero universes.
Until then, I’ll continue to squee about the possibility of a Whedonite Avengers with my colleagues and my wife and hope that the star-spangled panties were merely a setback.