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January 08 2011

What To Expect When Expecting Joss Whedon's Avengers. Writer Elisabeth Rappe's take on the hype surrounding "The Avengers".

And it's safe to say the "Whedonites" don't really criticize him. They've loved everything he's ever done, and mourn its loss bitterly

I snorted. I love the way people have all these opinions about Whedonites without knowing anything about 'em. Ah, the human condition.
I'm amazed at just how much she doesn't get. No matter how Joss writes long loved Marvel characters someone will not be happy, I get that, but to show so much venom for something not written or cast yet? I don't get that. However I imagine its safe to say we have not heard the last from her.
I love how we, apparently, only love Joss for his quirky dialogue.
I was much less irritated by this than I expected. Seemed as well-argued as a piece like this is ever going to be.
So nobody hates season 6, 7 and 8 of Buffy anymore cause we love everything he has ever done? Like they say in Futurama "Good news everyone..."
Only one man can truly unify comic book geeks, and that man is Christopher Nolan.

I guess she's never seen certain internet discussions about TDK. I doubt anyone can or will ever 'unify comic book geeks'.

As for her supposed insight into "Whedonites", it's the same song and dance that anyone who doesn't actually know this fanbase comes out with. Whatever.
If you define Whedonites as "people who love everything he's ever done" then it makes perfect sense. Speculating about a film that's two years away without even seeing a script ? Also very sensible. In fact reading the piece, sense just oozes off the screen.
I thought it was pretty entertaining and written at least in part with tongue in cheek. She knows she's stereotyping, and she's having fun.
I'm with you, Jaymii. I didn't read this as showing hate for the project, rather stressing its probable impact and trying to write something funny about it using a bit of hyperbolic exaggeration about Joss and us Whedonites. Not really true, but not totally incorrect either. For the record, I did not particularly like The Dark Knight.
I'm really looking forward to this movie because A) I love comic book movies and B) I'm looking forward to see what Joss will do with it.
But as to Whedonites loving everything Joss does, hmmm, has she been to any season 8 comic thread? Not to mention 6 and 7. I guess there are a lot more Whedon fans than Whedon "ites" because it seems to me that criticize is what we do. Myself included!
Also that list of alum that should clear their schedules? Hah!Most were correct, but I don't believe Joss has ever, will ever, call James Marsters for anything. Don't know why, and yeah I'm gonna criticize. ;)
I liked the first comment (by Phillisn) better than the article above it.

[ edited by cleveland on 2011-01-08 17:50 ]
Whedon has a devoted female following because he writes strong, competent heroines.

No, he writes strong, competent female heroes. Heroines are women in distress whom heroes rescue. That mistake drives me up the wall.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2011-01-08 18:03 ]
No, he writes strong, competent female heroes. Heroines are women in distress whom heroes rescue. That mistake drives me up the wall.

Not to nit-pick but last I checked heroine was the female form of the word hero from the Greek word ἥρως meaning "demigod".
It was full of funny. Too bad it wasn't humorous, because I have a sneaking suspicion it was intended to be--at least in that "let's beat the joke to death" way. I interpreted the piece as a lot of nudging. You know, like with a repeated elbow to the ribs: "See. Did you see what I said there? Inside joke! Look at my my inside joke!" I think it just missed it's mark.

I keep thinking about how any of her remarks would play out if I actually heard them spoken out loud, and in fact I think I might actually said all of them in a joking manner to various people at one time or another.

Except the Christopher Nolan thing. I'm with OldSwede. Consider Geekdom divided. (Except... apparently I'm not a geek according to Matt Senreich. I guess I'm demographically challenged.)


"Heroines are women in distress whom heroes rescue."

Er, not according to every dictionary definition I can find. They all seem to agree it's just the feminine of "hero." I do think it's gradually getting dropped from common usage the same way "actress" is sometimes dropped in favor of "actor" as our Western culture feels less and less need to call attention to the gender of certain common roles. But the standard definition still seems to exist. (Now if only my alma mater would drop the "Lady Lions" thing. It's just awful.)
I was referring to how the archetype has evolved in fiction, not the dictionary definition. The women heroes being classified as heroines keeps them inferior to male heroes. I've always seen Buffy as a hero, on par with (or even stronger than) any male hero. The word 'heroine' has connotations of weakness, and I think still makes people conjure up images of the damsel in distress.

I just think the definitions don't quite describe how the archetypes have changed.
The women heroes being classified as heroines keeps them inferior to male heroes. I've always seen Buffy as a hero, on par with (or even stronger than) any male hero.

Misuse of the word heroine stems from the fact that in common usage it has become synonymous with "female lead" (a descriptive term for a character's function in a story - not an archetype), and given the fact that most female leads (at least in film and television) are damsels-in-distress - presto!

If, however, you're one of those people who actually knows and cares what the words you use actually mean...

ETA: Colorful illustration. :)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2011-01-08 18:58 ]
Re: heroine, I can understand the confusion. The other definition of heroine (there are two according to Merriam Webster as I've been known to use as many as three dictionaries because I'm insane) is also "the principal female charecter in a literary or dramatic work." So depending on the period and author, that meaning could be used to meet electricspacegirl's definition.

As for the article, I wasn't nearly as down on it as everyone else. I certainly don't think it was meant to be taken seriously. But I certainly did get a good chuckle at the idea that I was going to "love it" considering my Whedon cred and my current stance on "Serenity" as a movie.

Also, I'll bet the Nolan thing starts to split on #3. I attribute his success to three things really (none of them wrong, but they are abberations when it comes to normal criticism.) One, his Batman Begins was (at least to most audiences) original in the sense that most audiences were not used to a real charecter piece that's ALSO a super hero movie. As a result, it brought over a larger audience and most fans dig that while critics get their kicks from "serious" super hero movie.

Second, TDK was simply better than the first. Without the setup, it became a charecter piece that could be more of a thriller because it didn't need all the time in the world to set up like the first one. What could possibly be wrong with a story that is well set up make your hero choose to become the "villian"? Again, no reason to not like it unless you want to nitpick minor plot flaws as most fans love to do.

Third, Nolan himself was (although he had a cult following of his own) a bit of an unknown commodity to many of the geekier persuasion at the time of the first. So his first two really came out with what would be considered a fairly low bar to clear. He just had make a good "Batman" movie.

Now, he's going to have the same problem as everyone else. He has to make a good movie in comparison to his other REALLY GOOD movies. Just as Joss will get judged against Buffy or Firefly, Raimi gets judged against Spider-man 2 or The Evil Dead, Nolan is going to get judged against TDK.

Personally, I like Nolan's work and did before he was doing Batman (I'm such a hipster), but this "fans united" thing will die. And yes, there are boards you can find where people disagree, but I'd say as a whole... Nolan's work has a less fractious fandom than most.
The article was hilarious.

People here are too sensitive.
Hmm, starting to wonder if I read things with too little criticism. Maybe I'm not feeling bristly, but I thought this article was pretty harmless, positive and written by someone with a fair understanding of Whedon fans.
It didn't bother me overly much but it sort of reads like it's written by a self-loathing (even if they're unaware of that) Whedonite, like the author thinks it's vaguely embarrassing to be a fan since, it seems to say, Joss is clearly so hackishly predictable in what he does.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2011-01-08 19:09 ]
Well, honestly until he gets over the "I have to kill" someone thing, some people are going to find that hackishly predictable. The thing is, you can write good deaths and bad deaths and he's really had both. And since I can ususally set my watch to someone dying now, I'd like to see him consider NOT doing it. Even the Bard mixed it up.
Was there really that much 'funny dialog' in Dollhouse? I guess that's the biggest criticism that I have for this piece, since it's evident Joss can do wonderful things without the Buffy-isms.

Otherwise I thought it was cute and definitely supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. There's not much serious in there and it's just supposed to be a laugh.

I do kind of dislike the 'Whedonite' definition, though. That seems to define people who don't actually participate in this fandom and are just rabid fans. There are rabid fans in every medium, but most of us here are definitely willing to dislike something. (And no I haven't kept up on season 8 of the comics so I haven't seen the discussions, although I have noticed some bleed over in other threads.)

However, if we're all here, then we all like Joss for his quirks and how he writes and the depth at which he writes it and so I don't think it's unexpected we're all looking forward to another project of his despite it's 2-years-in-the-future release date.
The article's pretty harmless but part of my problem with it is the very idea of starting to talk (even tongue in cheek) about a film that's so far away. Ultimately even if it were serious who cares right ? It's just some random on the internet mouthing off. But assuming it isn't doesn't make the article anymore worthwhile (cos to me it's also not funny in itself).

And since I can ususally set my watch to someone dying now...

Then stop setting your watch FFS, is temporal accuracy really worth a life ?! ;)

I was also a Nolan fan before 'Batman Begins' (owing to 'Memento' being, y'know, brilliant) but I didn't particularly notice a big split among Batman fans with 'The Dark Knight', it seems to me more between fans and non-fans - most of the non-fans I know prefer Begins, most of the fans think TDK is better. Which just goes to show two things: 1) everyone's different and 2) Batman fans have better taste than non-fans ;).

(I like Begins too but to me it suffers slightly from origin storyitis - TDK takes themes from the seminal Batman comics and expands and elaborates on them to great effect while upping the ant and incorporating great action scenes, everything just meshes and flows better. Basically, i'm really looking forward to 'The Dark Knight Rises' BUT if they'd left it at TDK we'd still have already had the definitive live action Batman movie IMO - if he can top it fantastic, if not TDK is still gonna be there)
I had two major problems with the article.

1. I've never understood why people are so insistent that Joss writes "pop-culture" heavy dialogue. I never thought Buffy or Angel was too pop-cultural dense, and Firefly/Serenity had almost none to speak of whatsoever. I don't think Dollhouse was too bad about it either. Also, I think it's kind of dumb to think that all of the Avengers characters would talk like teenagers just because that's how Buffy characters talked. They will be witty, sure. But I highly doubt Joss is going to make Thor add unnecessary y's to his words.

2. I also find the last point a little odd. "The real villain is usually something much larger, creepier, and weird." I guess I never really saw this as a staple of Joss's writing. If I was writing it, I would have probably said that the real villain turns out to be something internal. Like doubt or anger or jealousy or something like that. The characters often have as hard of a time overcoming their own flaws as they do the villain of the week. Which is perfect for an Avengers movie.

Also, I highly doubt we will see a Skrull invasion. Do you really think they want to force Skrulls on everyone, with every other difficult element that will be required just for the premise of the film? Maybe in a sequel, but I think the villain of this film should be very terrestrial. Then again, I could be wrong.
Then stop setting your watch FFS, is temporal accuracy really worth a life ?! ;)

Best advice I've heard all week. Although, in my defense I really didn't know where to go to top Swiss accuracy.

[ edited by azzers on 2011-01-08 21:54 ]
@Caroline That was my favorite snippet from this article! Obviously the author has never read the comments section on this site:)
If this article is tongue in cheek, which I think it is, then no harm at all...if it isn't, then there is a problem.
I also always thought heroine was a drug derived from opium po...oh, wait,nevermind. Pretend I didn't type that.
If I were the first to comment here, I would have said "Annnnnd cue the outrage." It is rightful outrage, or annoyance, or minor bother, but still I could almost here this forum in my head, responding as I read that article.

The line about Whedonites not criticizing anything Joss does is clearly bogus. But the weird thing is that she then goes on to say that Whedon fans are BEGGING for one of his franchises to die...I detect a logical misstep her. Hmmm....

Anyways, overall I agreed, but found many generalizations to be much too genrally. Clearly captain logic wasn't flying this boat, gorramit!


also, *here

ugh, learn to type, me!
I enjoyed the article as being more about fandom's reaction to rather than Joss' work. Within that fandom I see GREAT differences of opinion (particularly he's a feminist/he's an anti-feminist.)
I read the comments first, and I thought this was going to be a bashfest. She, however, is clearly a fan of the man. I don't really get the sensitive reactions. She pokes fun at fandom a bit, yeah, but the article is super well-written.
Maybe it's just me, but I feel the sensitivity that has popped up and how defensive people have gotten only solidifies the author's claims. She's playing with archetypes and throwing on a heavy amount of quotation marks. It's kind of wily way of her saying "not my words."
But they are her words so that'd be less wily and more disingenuous (though to be honest I don't really think that's her intent anyway, the tongue-in-cheek, playful criticism approach rings truer to me).

Thing is, to me it's kind of like with family members/spouses. You might moan about them to your friends, even go on and on about their faults but if anyone else does that it pisses you off right ? In other words, if the author had been upfront about being a "rabid fan" herself then I think most people would feel better about it but either actually being an outsider or at least positioning herself as one and then criticising is partly what's got folks' backs up. It's one thing to say "Hey, sometimes we can be a bit weird right ?" but another to say "You weirdoes sure are weird" (particularly when in some cases - e.g. the "fans united" thing - she clearly just doesn't know what she's talking about i.e. isn't just an outsider but an outsider that hasn't even bothered to learn about what she's commenting on).

Or maybe it really is a genuine attempt (by an insider) to satirise an outsider looking in, that's one pitfall with satire, if it's good it can sometimes be hard to distinguish from the real thing (whatever's the case BTW, this is just an attempt to explain the response. Personally, as I say above, i'm not particularly bothered).
"And it's safe to say the "Whedonites" don't really criticize him. They've loved everything he's ever done, and mourn its loss bitterly..."

*snort* Then they've never been *here* where we criticize Whedon's work constantly, and argue (gleefully, for the most part) over it. We're far more willing as a fandom to criticize Joss for his decisions and the directions he's taken characters than other fandoms are.

As for the "pop-culture, cute dialog" stuff, that was primarily a Buffy thing. And it was something done primarily by Buffy, Willow and Xander - that is, it was their thing as a group. But none of his other work has been like that. Firefly, in particular, had its own unique dialog flavor. What Whedon is good at seems to be finding a unitive language for ensemble casts. They know each other, respond to each other's words, and co-opt from each other. Which is what real people do when they spend a lot of time together. But it's been misinterpreted by people, mostly detractors who haven't spent enough time watching, say, Buffy, to know what it means.

Tongue-in-cheek or not, the article was amusingly ill informed, but that doesn't make it wrong (at a superficial depth, at least).

"The real villain is usually something much larger, creepier, and weird."

This isn't a Joss thing, it's a writing thing. You know, plot. Joss often had larger background baddies, but not all the time. The Mayor, Gloria, Spike, etc. never had larger things looming behind them. They did have (or act as) emissaries from larger enemies at times, but it's something Joss plays with only occasionally. It's worth noting that even the first Ironman movie toyed with a bigger badguy (the Ten Rings) but never did anything with it, and basically ditched the idea in the second movie. So ... what's the BFD?
4. The Avengers team will speak in cute and quirky dialogue.

I'd like that sentence more-- and it would be more accurate, IMHO-- if the words sharp and funny replaced cute and quirky.

3. Feminist blogs will be debating it from the time the final cast list is posted until dust settles on its DVD case.

This, I fear, is likely.

Whedon has an incredibly passionate following, and it's safe to say the "Whedonites" don't really criticize him.

True in the sense that Whedonites are unlikely to criticize the man himself. Though arguably, this is how any artist should be treated.

(I'm not going to argue it because I'm human and there are some creators whose work I can't stand no matter what. But if you were to, you'd have a good argument that Whedonites are some of the better-behaved fans on the internet).

They've loved everything he's ever done, and mourn its loss bitterly.

That is good for a chuckle. See: every Dollhouse thread ever.

1. The Avengers will tear geekdom apart.

Likely! And I can't wait!
For what it's worth, I've met* Elisabeth Rappe. She's very smart, warm and yes, bitingly funny and self-deprecating. In regards to some of the more "sensitive" reactions: Relax, folks. Have fun. Methinks you doth protest too much. :)

*We've been involved in podcasts together on a few occasions. Also, Twitter is a great social networking tool. :)
It's nice that she's nice (and smart and funny etc.) but most of us can (and should) only judge her based on the article. That's the thing about playing the ball rather than the man, it cuts both ways (or "man" in this instance ;).

(it's all subjective of course but if i'd found it funny i'd have even less problem with it than I do - funny's an end unto itself as far as i'm concerned, whether it ruffles feathers or not)

ETA: an 's'. Two sloppy mistakes in a row, time for bed.

[ edited by Saje on 2011-01-09 23:18 ]
Am I the only one who jumps straight to that one scene in the girls' locker room from "Welcome to the Hellmouth"? whenever people talk about Joss' 'cute and quirky dialogue.!? As a whole I don't really think the dialogue is all that popculturaly-heavy. Or maybe I just don't notice anymore. I will willingly admit that my speak patterns in English have been heavily influenced by BtVS etc.

Oh and yes - the article also read very tongue in cheek to me, and yet... at the same time I also felt like I do whenever someone makes the vailed suggestion; that I should appologice for wanting to acutally get paid for being a History Geek. (the nerve! Don't I know that people with a REAL passion for History will do it for free!) This time however my dirty-dirty act is loving Joss' work.

Ah and DANG IT! I had myself convinced that 2011 was going to be the year of 'The Avengers'!*fail* Imagine if that kind of mind control worked outside of my own head!
#2 - I'm tempted to keep a tally of the posters here, who have expressed an opinion on Buffy/Angel/Firefly. (Dollhouse is too much work.) My guess is that there is a decent spread of people in all categories: love all 3, love 2 and hate 1, and those who love one of the shows and hate the other 2. (There is no sane person in the "hate 3" category, because at least one of those shows would be a candidate for bestest show ever for that person.)

#4 - It's not "cute and quirky dialogue" at its core. Its short-hand talk, based on common experiences, that friends use all the time. As such, it may involve pop-references or personality quirks, but that is not the reason for its existence. (Its the reason why my former college roommate and I could clobber people playing Taboo, because there were so many ways to work around the taboo words.)

#7 - I'm really hoping it is the Super-Adaptoid, with AIM (in the yellow haz-mat suits) in the background with Kirby-esque weapons. With maybe Ultron in the background of the background.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2011-01-10 18:13 ]

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