Tuesday, April 13, 2010


So, I catch the news.

Joss Whedon to direct The Avengers? by Darren Franich.

I agree with Can We Switch Them? by SamuraiFrog.

Why don't I trust Joss Whedon anymore?

It all began with the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The ludicrous fanboys who defend - even prefer - this season tend blame those of us who fucking hate it for not being up to the so-called "darkness". I'm, as it happens, a fan of Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. I can handle dark. I just have limited patience for stupid... and as "dark" as that season of television may have been, it was 1000 times stupider!

(And confidential to those fans! Really? I'm not up to the "darkness" of Doublemeat Palace? Seriously!)

Now, at the time, those of who were paying attention - probably too much damn attention - lay the blame for that on Marti Noxon who took day to day charge of the show at that point. However, the instincts he's shown since then have demonstrated further frustration from me.

Then came Firefly, which I used to hate, as is documented somewhere on here, but did like better as it went along. Mind you, the first three or four episodes are still, even in my kinder view, terrible. And so Whedon's instincts in fighting Fox in their decision to hold back those early episodes in favor of episodes from the time when the show had become much less aggravating, show a creative untrustworthiness to me.

(Ok, conceded, Fox chose the worst episode out of those available, but that's hardly here nor there in terms of the reasoning presented by Whedon in public.)

That was followed by Serenity, the movie sequel to "Firefly". It was promised as a good introduction to this world for a mass audience. Again, if this stated intention was an honest appeal than his understanding of introducing continuing characters to a new audience are way, way off.

Mind you, after watching "Firefly", and eventually rather enjoying it, I found the movie relatively amusing. But it is wholly designed from top to bottom to be enjoyed by people who watched and enjoyed the preceding series.

This is the opposite of the instincts needed for a movie of The Avengers.

This will be the first time that a movie - at least a major movie - will attempt to graft together multiple movie series together into one grand sequel. A feat like that will require someone with excellent instincts for drawing in the viewer to each of the characters within that movie without alienating those who've watched them all. Whedon has shown the opposite instinct. He's a guy who's best at showing off for existing fans.

Yeah, I really did think Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was a hoot and it has eased my general irritation over Whedon's future. If I hadn't, I'm sure I wouldn't have bothered to try out Dollhouse, which was... err... entertaining... ish.

I watched it a couple of times and never could quite get into it. Again, not showing the right instincts for this.

Frankly, I was hopeful on his Wonder Woman, and still would be. I'd totally watch anything he does with Dr. Horrible, if only to watch Neil Patrick Harris.

But I hope this falls the same direction of his Wonder Woman. I'm not sure he's ready to sit at this big a table yet.

I don't take any joy in that feeling. I still like Whedon or the idea of him and wish him well. I just can't help being really skeptical on this.


Chris Stangl said...

Ah, points acknowledged. My opinion is probably nulled, on account of admiration for season six of BUFFY. For everyone's sake, I'll bypass arguments about the reason the fate of (Failed Whedon Project of Choice) is not Whedon's fault.

Howevs, part of the AVENGERS sitch is that it looks very, very much like Marvel Studios does not want a single human being on the planet to need any catching up, invitation inside, or debriefing when they step into the theater for AVENGERS. Besides, those kind of issues seem to revolve around the duties of the screenwriters and — let's be frank — the publicity department. We don't know the story, and I can't think of a reasonable precedent for this sort of thing, but it looks like a problem of building brand awareness: Hey! All these movies go together and then the guys are in this other movie together!

I'd say the real trick is making audiences excited about Ant-Man (or whatever; pick your Silly Comics Thing of Choice). The trick is making them believe that THOR exists in a universe with IRON MAN. The weight rests on a slew of creative teams, not just the AVENGERS director... maybe him least of all, if everyone's done their jobs.

Heavens, this makes me sound so much more invested in an Avengers movie than I actually am.

Neil Sarver said...

The publicity department's job is to get butts in seats, but the important thing in my mind is that it not be BATMAN & ROBIN. The publicity department apparently did there job - God forbid, as I laughed at that trailer - and it had another of those crazy record breaking openings.

But the perception was there that it was a huge failure and people hated it. And they only went back to the drawing board because BATMAN and BATMAN FOREVER had shown them that Batman was big money.

For me, I don't care that much about THE AVENGERS. I'm excited for IRON MAN. I'm super-ridiculously excited for THOR!!! I'm hopeful they'll turn one of the many Sam Jackson contracted Nick Fury appearances into an actual NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D movie. But THE AVENGERS, on the surface, I could take or leave.

What I'm concerned about is whether any studio ends up with the balls to do another major movie "rally" type movie again. And THAT I'd like to see happen. I'm not sure what. Maybe JUSTICE LEAGUE. I'd certainly like GREEN LANTERN FEATURING GREEN ARROW, but even with these things showing success that's still likely a pipe dream of mine, but who knows what else.

But your screenwriter point is a good one. And, yes, if Marvel Studios insists on a workable script that draws all of these elements together in a fun way that everyone coming in will appreciate, I think Whedon is probably capable of making it work on-screen. Point taken.

And while I don't nullify your opinion based on you admiration of "Buffy" season six, I'll emphasize that I thought it was the best show in 20 years up until then, and I haven't watched a single episode of it in eight years since that season ended. It was a pretty disheartening blow to me as a fan.

Greg said...

I don't know what any of this means because I never watched it but I still empathize because how you feel about season 6 is how I feel about LOST season 6. I hate it, and yet I feel alone in my assessment.

Neil Sarver said...

Ok, well then, I return the favor and sympathize with your pain as well.

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