Dennis O’Neil: So, Who Didn’t Like The Avengers?
Yeah, yeah. I know it’s early in the summer movie season – I do have a calendar, after all – and two of the three big superhero flicks won’t be on screens for weeks yet. But for now, let us proclaim; Joss Whedon is king of the superheroes!
A couple of days ago, Mari suggested we go to the movies and I said no, I had work to do, and then, about ten minutes later I said yes, let’s go to the movies, and we did.
Marvel’s The Avengers, of course.
I don’t attend the 21-plex to criticize – to pry faults out of what’s intended to entertain me and maybe convince myself that I’m really a smart guy. I used to do that for money – the fault-prying part – and though it was okay for me then, it wouldn’t be okay now. I don’t want to criticize, I want to get out from under it. Not to have to think for a little while.
And yet… I don’t want my intelligence insulted, either. When that happens, the magic is gone and there I am, right back under it. So, for example, I loved the Indiana Jones flicks because they delivered the escapism I sought and didn’t expect me to forgive plot glitches, which tend to get in the way of enjoying the escapism. Anything that pulls me out of the story, that makes me question did he director and writer intend what I just saw or is it a mistake? – anything that does that sabotages the experience.
The Avengers verdict: not guilty.
Mr. Whedon understands the appeal of the early Marvel comics, the ones he read as a kid, and what made them work: the broad, extravagant action, the rough edges on the heroes, the occasional flashes of humor, the juxtaposition of larger-than-life characters with realistic settings. (That sure looks like the real New York City the villains are trashing.) He’s translated these from the language of comic books to the language of movies, filled in some blanks, provided some motivations, hired good actors who didn’t condescend to the material any more than he did, gave them decent dialogue and then put the special effects wizards to work and…
Presto! Behold what I think is the best Marvel movie yet (though the first Iron Man might also be worthy of that title).
Did I mention that Joss Whedon, of teevee’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Dollhouse and Firefly wrote and directed The Avengers? No, I didn’t – my bad – but you figured that out, if you didn’t already know it before you started reading this. Well, that same Joss Whedon had this to say to a Time magazine journalist: “I love fantasy…I love it because of the scope and the chance to talk about humanity that is very close to the heart but not wearing the same skin.”
Go buy yourself a movie ticket and see what he’s talking about.
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