Monday, 11 June 2012

Ode to Joss

Ok, so I actually saw The Avengers the first week it was out (for my birthday, GREAT timing :D), but you know how it is with blogging. You're too busy having fun elsewhere sometimes and everything piles up!

What I like to call his 'visionary' pose.
Oh, Joss Whedon, you've had a very good year. You've announced the secret production of 'Much Ado About Nothing', starring the world's favourite Whedonites, you've released a popular horror film with Cabin in the Woods (I've not seen it, but I'm told it's very good and not too scary - Joss couldn't resist adding his trademark humour, throwing in the odd pastiche and homage to the genre) and then record breaking The Avengers.

It deserved its record breaking status. The thing that amazed most audiences, I think, is the fact that the film simply shouldn't work. It's the culmination of 4 super hero films, with the addition of two extras whose background films haven't yet - if they ever do - been made. There needs to be continuity for the four main films in order for it to flow, and yet it needs to make sense. A lot of the time, the characters are just talking at each other - and this wouldn't have worked if, say, Steven Spielberg had directed. (Sorry, Steve.)

Joss's wit, storytelling and general genius really shines through with this film.

We don't require too much development of Tony Stark, as we see how he has changed in Iron Man 2. However Joss still throws in a nice bit of Tony's homelife now that he is with Pepper. They're seen working together creating building designs and whatnot. Pepper is wearing casual clothing - no shoes. They're quite lovey dovey, really. 

He is seriously gorgeous, too.
Hulk needs to be reintroduced, since we all know there have been two or three flop films previously. And may I say, Mark Ruffalo, where have you been all my life? He is PERFECT. He's a quiet, understated and observant Bruce Banner, with all the underlying menace as he bitterly comments on SHIELD's 'craziness' at keeping him cooped up with everyone in the sky. His relationship with Stark is lovely, too, as the two scientists share mutual respect and insight.

Black Widow's character is the most developed of all, as Whedon works his magic to undo any indication that she is somehow a token female, with the few dimensions of Michael Bay's Mikaela Banes. (Even Megan Fox wasn't happy with her character.)
We see her use her whiles to get information out of Loki, showing tenderness and emotion, coupled with professionalism as she listens to what Loki has done to Hawkeye. 
She is proven to be a dangerous adversary without the bizarre and unrealistic choreographed kung fu stylefighting seen in Iron Man 2. 

And, to defeat once again that she is 'just a token female', we have of course Maria Hill briefly introduced, who is herself a key player in the storyline, for the sequel AND as a scene filler. She is a career woman who is just as capable as Black Widow to hold her own, her first scene being the evacuation of a SHIELD HQ in a fast driving car, shooting guns at an escaping Loki.

She gets her hands dirty, and although we don't see much of her or much character development, you can tell she will be a key figure in later films.

I wasn't overly taken with Hawkeye at first - I didn't care that he'd been taken over so quickly and easily by Loki, and I wasn't sure I cared much what happened to him, but I really do hope now that they do a cross over film with Black Widow's. It'd be good. I think if Marvel reckon they can't flesh out a Black Widow background film, they should definitely throw in Hawkeye. I mean, I think I speak for most of the internet fandoms when I say, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN BUDAPEST.

And of course, Coulson's built upon, and even gets some of the best lines in the entire film.

The only criticisms I have - and it's not entirely Whedon's fault - is the shallowness of Loki's character. He doesn't really have a drive or real motive (though there are plenty of theories explaining his actions in this film to be a means of getting back to Asgard for Thor 2, the *real* sequel) and his mental state and emotions are less complex than they could have been. It was a very watered down Lion King 2 style storyline, only instead of being Kovu, he's Zira.
And boy, does Whedon punish his arrogance. xD

And perhaps that Maria Hill was a teeny bit shoe-horned, but only a bit. And it's not really anybody's fault. Couldn't very well leave her out, either.

Perhaps the reason the film works so well weaving the characters' stories together is that the characters themselves have to learn to work as a team - The Avengers. To start with they each have their own opinions and agendas, not really trusting each other. Captain America and Stark start on the wrong foot, whilst Thor just generally does not get them.

The script too is a big reason the film works so well. It's full of sharp one liners, with perfect delivery and comic timing. And there's plenty of piss-taking of each individual character - from Nick Fury's one-eyedness to Captain America understanding a Wizard of Oz reference.

The Avengers was quite simply marvellous, putting the bar very high for potential Black Widow/Hawkeye/Hulk and other sequel films in the Marvelverse, and I am certain that Whedon will do a great sequel.
(Though apparently he's 'torn' about doing it. Which makes fans everywhere weep.)

Incidentally, if you're interesting in what Joss had to say about his phenomenal record breaking week, read his thanks to his fans.

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