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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"That's the kind of wooly headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."
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April 14 2011

6 reasons why Joss Whedon is the perfect director for The Avengers. Very nice overview of what Joss brings to the table and why doubters have nothing to worry about.

"Each of Joss Whedon’s television series centers around a group of people and the dynamics within said group. Everything else grows out of it. From Buffy and Angel to Firefly and Dollhouse, the central conceit of Whedon’s shows has always been the characters and their interactions, which is why they work."

This, among other talents, is primarily why Joss Whedon is perfect for The Avengers film. I would also like to posit that this is one reason Joss would be absolutely PERFECT for the upcomming Dark Tower movies as well. That series absolutely screams Whedon to me. ...Ron Howard, seriously?

[ edited by Penthos on 2011-04-14 18:15 ]
Good article. I like how it points to Serenity as evidence that Joss can handle a big film production. After all, if he can take what is a relatively modest budget and shooting schedule and turn out a movie that can hold its own against other movies with 2 to 3 times the budget, it's not unreasonable to think he can probably handle a huge production too. That said, it's odd how many people have cited the "he's never done a mega-budget film before" as a reason why he shouldn't have been chosen for The Avengers when the biggest movie that Jon Favreau directed before Iron Man was Elf.
This was really good.
Add to the Serenity evidence, he was doing Buffy, Angel and Firefly *at the same time.* If *that's* not a monumental task, I don't know what else qualifies. Granted he wasn't necessarily the prime mover on Buffy and Angel by that point, but, was very much involved.
After he was named director of The Avengers, some have raised the similar objection that Whedon won’t be able to handle such a large scale project, because the majority of his experience comes from the world of relatively low-budget television. On the contrary, it can be argued that his background in television will help the production substantially. The mentality of television—less is more, because it has to be—will keep Whedon from getting power-drunk and using the budget he has just because he has it.


This, full stop. The idea that work in television doesn't translate into work in film is insanely flawed. I personally would have a lot more respect for a director that knows how to do the most with a little than one who is used to having everything handed to them. Like the author says, staying grounded can only serve the interests of the film in the long-run.
Add to the Serenity evidence, he was doing Buffy, Angel and Firefly *at the same time.* If *that's* not a monumental task, I don't know what else qualifies.


Somewhere there's an interview circa the Buffy finale airdate where Joss reveals how much that cost him physically and emotionally.
Occam's razor. Yes. Understanding how to use less resources and turn it into more story! good essay. Thanks for the link.
Somewhere there's an interview circa the Buffy finale airdate where Joss reveals how much that cost him physically and emotionally.

Just the other day I was wondering about the sheer logistics of something like this. I don't know how he pulled off doing a job that, by the job description as I've understood it, would've required pretty much being in three places at the same time. I'm not surprised that it took its toll on him, especially from how demanding just running a single show can be.
I think it's worth noting that while the author is very dismissive of Bay's work, Whedon is not. Bay can take a snappy script and make a fairly good movie with amazing shots, it's just his snappy scripts have been lacking fairly often. I'll just tell you right now, if the movie was directed by Bay and written by Whedon, I would also be on board.

And there is a very valid point that the lack of SFX or "simple" way Serenity was shot is not a knock against this film. He had a budget of $40 mil which is nothing in the world of cinema. Essentially you break it down, you can either have a 40 minute paper thin SFX movie or a two hour epic with simple shots. I doubt anyone would really take the former. For me personally, I can think of things that I think would make for a better movie, but almost none of them include more SFX.

Now, my legitimate concern for Joss in this movie is... whether he likes it or not, this will also be a kids movie (not teens, kids). Can he make a film that can appeal to the entire demographic? Early Buffy certainly did. But since then he has always skewed adult (which admittedly isn't a problem for me).
You'd think that after John Favreau (never directed an action movie before Iron Man) and Kenneth Branaugh (never directed an action movie before Thor-- in fact, has he directed anything?), people would stop worrying about Marvel's selection of "inexperienced" directors. Their gamble has paid off every time.
Thor is the 12th movie that Branagh has directed.
Kenneth Branaugh (never directed an action movie before Thor-- in fact, has he directed anything?

Kenneth Branagh has a pretty impressive track record as a director, including an Oscar nom or two if I'm not mistaken. But more importantly, if you have any question about his ability to direct an action flick, you should watch Henry V, his first flick made as an actor/writer/director. It includes an impressive rendition of the Battle of Agincourt. He was pretty young when it was originally released and was so good that people were comparing him to Orson Welles.

ETA: In case it wasn't obvious, I'm really looking forward to Thor.

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2011-04-14 20:24 ]
Now, my legitimate concern for Joss in this movie is... whether he likes it or not, this will also be a kids movie (not teens, kids).

I'm not sure how much of a concern this is. Both Iron Mans (Men?) were pretty clearly aimed at a not-kids demographic, with sex and drunkenness and other sorts of unkiddy fare. I assume the kids will be pulled in by the many action scenes and subsequent action figures, not by a kiddy plot.
I can't speak to Iron Man 2, but I've gotta say that just because a guy's drinking doesn't make it a movie kids won't enjoy. Now, if Stark had gone into Leaving Las Vegas mode, I'd agree with you. But the whole movie first movie was a fun super hero action story with a lot of humor, a lot of action, and just enough charecterization to make Stark textured. To me, a lot of it is very G.I. Joe. If anything, I'd say it was a kids movie that was dirtied and well thought out enough to be enjoyable to adults. It earned it's PG-13, but it was the kind of movie I probably would have watched and enjoyed at 8 or 9.

Now you may have a parent who has a problem with thier child seeing that, but that is a seperate issue because Marvel is well aware there will be children in the theaters with their parents. Heck, I saw 8 year olds at TDK, which I found completely insane.

[ edited by azzers on 2011-04-14 21:05 ]
I agree that the Marvel movies so far definitely appeal to kids of 8 or 9, I'm just not sure how much of a concern that is for them when dealing with plot matters, outside of making sure there's enough action to keep them entertained. Which, by the nature of a comic book movie, Avengers is already pretty much guaranteed to have. I guess I'm just not seeing it as much of an obstacle for Joss--if we can agree that Iron Man qualifies as closer to a kids' movie than not, I think it straddles that line well enough that Joss won't have trouble striking the right balance.
Kenneth Branaugh (never directed an action movie before Thor-- in fact, has he directed anything?

Branagh made his name directing films scripted by some old British guy - way out of date stuff. Thor is definitely a step up for him.
It's The Avengers - it has Iron Man and The Hulk in it. They don't need to worry about making it appeal to kids, because it does by default. Joss is making a movie here for people who want to be kids again.
Joss is directing The Avengers ?
I can't understand how anyone could "doubt" Whedon not being good for The Avengers.

And the ignorance of Kenneth Branagh greatly distresses me. SO MUCH SHAKESPEARE BRO. What the frak. "Has he directed anything" -- really? Really??

[ edited by Waterkeeper511 on 2011-04-14 22:10 ]

[ edited by Waterkeeper511 on 2011-04-14 22:11 ]
Methinks that poor dispatch may be cringing at that Branagh comment at this point. ;-) I'm not in a position to poke fun though. When I saw the first headline on Whedonesque that Joss was directing The Avengers, I thought they meant another remake of the 1960's British TV show, so I was more than a little confused by the subsequent references to Iron Man and the Hulk.
You were not alone.
I can't believe how tight a lid they've managed to keep on the casting of Steed and Peel. And not a single mention of shooting in England...strange indeed.

I think Joss has been at this long enough to respect the various audiences he needs to gear this towards--kids, comic geeks, foreign markets, what have you--but probably only worries about such things to a point. He'll focus in on character, ensemble, and of course telling a kick-ass story, and figure most of the demographic categories the marketing people lose sleep over will follow along once he's taken care of those basics.
I wonder how much different things would be for Joss, his fans, the universe (and everything) right now if he'd held off on attempting to do Firefly until Buffy and/or Angel was finished. Maybe Firefly was one of those projects where he just had to do it now or else there was no guarantee of it ever happening.

If nothing else, Fray would've been released quicker! On the other hand, we would've never gotten the Firefly we know and love.
I'm in the middle of reading the article now. I had been enjoying it quite a bit, but the author's use of "secede" instead of "succeed" is really bugging me. I'm not usually that much of a stickler for such things, but I find it especially glaring when the rest of the article seems to be written so well.
As the editor of the Popmatters Spotlight (which comes to an end tomorrow, by the way), there were a few proposals I got that I wasn't very confident about. I thought some would turn out better than they did, but several were much better than I expected. I frankly was delighted with this one. My initial fear was that it was going to be a bit too much fanboyish, but I felt had a lot of solid points to make. I was hoping for at least one substantial essay on The Avengers when I first sent out the proposals way, way, way back in December. And my wish was granted.
Thanks for the project over at PopMatters, Njal, I think it's safe to say that we all throughly enjoyed many of the pieces and of course the huge spotlight shined on Mr. Whedon's body of work. Nicely done.
And not a single mention of shooting in England...strange indeed.

Well, it's a modern reboot so apparently they're filming in New England (Steed wears an immaculately tailored baseball cap).

I can't understand how anyone could "doubt" Whedon not being good for The Avengers.

This is kind of my feeling too. In fact, are there many that actually do doubt it ? The overwhelming impression from fansites i've seen has ranged from cautiously optimistic to "This is already the best film ever made even though it hasn't been made yet". So this article feels a bit like a solution in search of a problem to me (aside from the fact that he is directing it so whether fans on the internet feel bad - or, for that matter, good - about it seems slightly irrelevant).
Oh, there are haters/doubters out there in cyberspace to be sure--and as much as Joss is a household name to the likes of us, that's not the case in the majority of moviegoing households. Yet.
Yeah, I maybe put that badly, clearly this is the internet which means you can find pretty much every opinion it's possible for people to hold somewhere on here (particularly of the negative, cynical variety). What I mean is, among those that know his work and aside from the people that reflexively dislike everything Joss related (who're a tiny minority from what I can see), are there many doubters ? Doesn't feel like it to me. People that don't know his work (that majority of households) also aren't going to be doubters since they're not that likely to care who directs it, they just want good value for their $10 (or whatever).

So articles like this seem to me to be either preaching to the converted or fighting a fire that's barely lit (and in doing so potentially fanning its flames).

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