On April 1st 2010, I sat in an internet cafe in London, England and read an article speculating that Joss Whedon could write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers. This poorly-timed article seemed like another April Fool’s Joke, too good to be true, and I accepted it as just that. Of course, it was not a joke, in fact it was entirely accurate and sometime later, Joss Whedon was hired. This announcement, straight out of the wildest of nerd fantasies, led to the second article I ever wrote for The Deleted Scene. It discussed why I believed Whedon to be the perfect choice to write and direct this epic Marvel team-up.
I mention these facts to put my viewing of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in perspective. I stand by what I wrote two years ago, and fortunately I was proven correct.
The Avengers’ long journey to the screen began in 2008 with the release of Jon Favreau’s flawed Iron Man. With The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and most recently, Captain America released, it is finally time for the team to come together for this cinematic event on a scale entirely unheard of.
The film is what all superhero movies should be. It is funny, dramatic and fantastical, the essence of what makes a great superhero comic book. Whedon pulled off a spectacular feat with his first true blockbuster, and yet it does not entirely surprise me. His strengths as a filmmaker are exactly what was needed for a film as ambitious as The Avengers. Of course we all expected the writing to be strong, however his skill as an action director is maybe what is most surprising. The film is littered with great action set-pieces that improve as the film goes on, culminating in a finale that will go down in movie history.
As I mentioned before, any fan of Whedon knows how distinct and strong his writing is, and The Avengers does not disappoint. His style of writing is not watered down in this film, in fact it is one of the strongest examples of his style of writing. Whedon excels as fleshing out previously established characters, which is one of the reasons why his TV-shows always begin weak and end strong. He takes what we all know and love about these characters and fleshes them out. Iron Man, for example, is a character I’ve always felt annoyed by, as he was never handled entirely correctly in his stand-alone films. In The Avengers, on the other hand, Iron Man is written perfectly. His self-obsessed attitude is matched wonderfully with the other heroes being forced to work together.
The Avengers works as well as it does because of its balance. Balance has always been one of Whedon’s great skills, and it is what was needed for The Avengers.
The film is legitimately hysterical, and in many ways is funnier than most straight comedies. The comedy never distracts from the drama and the true stakes of the film. Each character, scene and set-piece is perfectly balanced, and that is what makes the film great.
For those unfamiliar with the characters and world, the film runs the risk of being confusing. Whedon does not waste time recapping who these characters are for the unprepared. Rather, we are introduced to each character in such a fashion that we understand the motivations and complexities of each hero as the film progresses.
The film could so easily have been a disaster if it were handled by the wrong people. Marvel took a chance when they hired someone who, on the surface, seems unprepared for a film of this magnitude. While he may only have had one film under his belt, Whedon’s entire career has been leading up to this film and it shows. He handles everything perfectly, and proves that the superhero film does not need to be deconstructed to be great. Marvel’s The Avengers shows just how talented Joss Whedon is, and how great superhero films can be.