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August 12 2012

Avengers: The Down Side Of Up. Or why the success of The Avengers and the choice of director might hurt future genre movies and comic book movies in particular. The author makes some good points, although I sincerely hope he's wrong.

When I first saw The Avengers, I had the thought that Whedon's mainstream success could be compared to Team Angel being handed the keys to Wolfram & Hart in Season Five of Angel. Sudden success of a formerly struggling independent agent within a corporate institutional framework, being faced with having to negotiate on the institution's terms instead of your own, making little compromises and backslides in exchange for more power, now that you're on the inside. It was rightly pointed out to me that Whedon's not really an outsider to the industry (what with dad and grandpa being in TV), so *it's not a perfect metaphor* but every time I read a piece like this that highlights a potential worry for fans, I can't help but imagine Lilah telling Whedon: "you'll get to make fully-funded movies and TV for three years... if you agree to sacrifice quality for consistency! AND YOUR SOUL!"
What's with the hate for The Amazing Spider-Man? In my opinion, it was one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen (surely better than the Sam Raimi Spider-Man flicks). The characters are so well-developed, there is so much subtext in every scene. Even if you don' think it's great, I don't see how you at least not think it's good.

[ edited by Mitholas on 2012-08-12 18:53 ]
A negative voice always gets more attention than a positive one - and thus we get pieces like this one. Ones that admit they love what was done, but warn that in some ways the great thing is a harbinger of doom. DOOOOOOOOM I SAY!!!!

I trust Marvel. They earned it with the recent movies. I trust Joss. He earned that trust a long time ago. I believe that they're going to do their best to tell great stories in a mostly internally consistent universe - with the occasionl ret-cons, recasting, and revisions. The business of Hollywood will be the thing that hurts them most (not being able to resign an actor at a reasonable rate, licensing disagreements, etc...), but I think within the constraints of Hollywood they're going to have skilled and professional artists working hard with adequate funding to make kick %$#@ movies and TV for us.

I eagerly await word on what the new TV series will be and when we'll see it (as well as if the Hulk will (against high odds) be in the MCU as well as Joss' new series - or as Joss' new series).
totally agree with you Mitholas the amazing spider-man was so much better than the raimi trilogy also yea marvel has also earned my trust with the recent releses
I'm not worried about Marvel. (At least, not yet.)
I'm worried about DC, trying to rush out a Justice League film.
Like trying to build a skyscraper before the foundation has been made.
I don´t really care about that article, because the writer prefers Ted over DKR or Prometheus, etc, and uses a cheesy 80s Horror-Movie-Series to illustrate his point which is nothing but speculation.
Sorry, but that was a wasted read.
Yeah, once "The Dark Knight Rises" was branded a so-so letdown, I had a bad feeling, and I really don't see how he managed to establish a basis for concern that we would get stuck with "Nancy Thompson: The Return" or equivalent because of Marvel cinematic universe or the chance Warner/DC might do the same, or why it is people won't accept the occasional handwave anymore. I really don't think it's nearly as hard to hold up a multi-franchise continuity in a movie as it is in a comic, where you have titles that share a universe going out with new stories weekly. I mean, Marvel and Paramount were inches away from continuity and they weren't even supposed to. So I'm not seeing "Zero Hour: Movie Edition" as something Marvel or DC properties will ever need to do.
Stopped reading when he said Spider Man was bad and Dark Knight was a let down. Dude is a grade A moron, why give any views to him?
... or he had different reactions to certain films. Personally, I thought TASM was a weak film with a great cast. And, although I liked the film well enough, I also definitely consider TDKR a let-down with a weak script.

Now, I don't really think this is a particularly great post. But I do think it's probably a good idea to shy away from calling people morons because they disagree with us about films. (Especially if you're not going to bother actually reading what they have to say.)

There are plenty of other sites for that.
Tummns, play the ball not the man. We don't bash writers here.
We always seem to dig for the darkest facts. Why is that?

For me, the glass is always half-full.
(Although in tennis, it is often fun to try to hit the man with ball. It still wins the point.)

If the author's point is that Hollywood (in general) will learn the wrong lesson, by trying to copy the lowest denominator, then that is not specific to "The Avengers". I'm thinking of "Jaws", and all the monster movies it inspired, being made even today. (Let alone the three Jaws sequels.)

That's one reason why I'm glad Joss is handling the sequel. He will remind the execs that with good writing and quality, they can build on what they have already. Rather than try to milk it dry (and destroy the existing good will).

[ edited by OneTeV on 2012-08-12 23:54 ]
Yeah, personally I found TDKR a good, yet lacking movie, too little Bats, some stuff was pulled out of Nolan's rectum, the pacing was kind of off, wouldn't watch it again too soon, honestly.

Sorry if you disagree with the article and thought it was a waste of time. Different strokes for different folks.
The article isn't much, but I'm more or less on board with the TDKR comments. I did re-watch Batman Begins prior to seeing it and like the many hooks back into that film, and the middle one for that matter, but it kind of collapses under its own weight and lofty expectations (funny enough, somewhat in line with what this blogger has to say). Also live in Colorado so unfortunately the gunplay scenes were quite a bit more jarring than fun, not that that's the filmmakers' fault of course. I have fewer worries about the Marvel 'verse because quite frankly it doesn't take itself as seriously as the Batman movies (and I don't say that as anything less than a complete fan of Nolan and his Bat trilogy). Oh and that Josh Sweden guy seems to know how to swing a camera.
I thought Amazing Spiderman fantastic until the corny finish. I thought Dark Knight Rises terrible almost completely throughout.
And I love Tim Burton's style on original projects while I absolutely hated his take on Willy Wonka.

None of these facts make any difference to the fact that the article was thoughtful and astute.
My friends, I think you all sortie silly.

Bats!! Must bring a lager swadder!
I thought the point of the article was more the balancing act between staying true to source material and having creative liberties. It reminded me of the predicament that HBO's Game of Thrones producers have run into, and the reshuffling and subtraction they've done in the name of translating a story from page to screen. I can appreciate this author's notion that the movies can risk both wider appeal and creative opportunities by sticking too closely to comic book source material (which the author rightly points out can become hopelessly convoluted).

[ edited by AMCsoldier on 2012-08-13 05:58 ]
Also wasn't a fan of TDKR. Towards the final third it started to have random previous characters showing up for no real reason, without context. I actually thought the subject material could have given them a great story - the idea of the underdogs rising up against the rich and already powerful. But, well, that didn't happen.
Funny how his concerns about the possible pitfalls of the shared universe continuity thing are completely true of Marvel's comic books as they currently stand - with virtually every character being an Avenger of one sort or another.
Continuity gaffes have always been more of a DC than a Marvel problem anyway. When the writer mentions 'events that clean up continuity'...I think he had "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and the several follow-up events that attempted to clean up DC's convoluted continuity. Marvel has been both more consistent with their treatment of their in-universe history, and also showed more willingness to put story first, continuity evidenced by their Ultimates line and the re-launches they've orchestrated over the years.
daylight, I think that is one of the problems with the current Marvel writing. From the 60s through the mid-80s, it was a shared universe, but the hero cross-overs were rare enough to make it interesting. Villains might appear in different titles, but the appearances were usually distinct stories. (For example, when Cassidy and the Juggernaut first appeared in Spider-Man, it was independent of the fights they had with the X-Men.)

After the first few large cross-overs (like "Secret Wars") made money, the bean counters kept pushing it. Now its hard to find stories that *don't* involve multiple heroes and titles. The Marvel Universe feels so much smaller now. What used to be extraordinary is now commonplace. And the traditional stories, which used to be worthwhile by themselves, are sometimes just place holders until the next "event".
The substance of the article is pretty much on the mark. I think other filmmakers and studios need to find their own voices and not be tempted to try and re-create what The Avengers did. It worked because just the right talents happened to come together in a happy confluence with great chemistry, and because Joss's corporate contact was a guy who Gets It (Kevin Feige), and not a roomful of meddling suits.

It is true that roomsful of suits usually make exactly the wrong conclusion from the success or failure of any project they run.

This writer needs to learn not to lead off his geek-culture articles with statements that will make the majority of geeks instantly hate his guts, though... especially when those statements have very little relevance to the topic of the article. Being controversial isn't an asset when it makes people stop reading after your first paragraph.
Here comes the AV Club to add to this discussion:

“It’s like Jaws but…”: 14 great films that inspired regrettable trends,83688

(Yes, I know that the article title has 14, but the link has 16. Go figure.)
No one else liked Men in Black 3? I thought it was hilarious.
@Mitholas. The Amazing Spider-Man is on my top five worst movies this year. My brother and I almost left the theater. Terrible acting and dialogue. I had high hopes too. Instead, we both ended up laughing at how terrible it was.
I kind of understand why superhero movies are popular, because you can make them very large and spectacular and take advantage of Big Movie Economics where you're practically guaranteed to make money. I have to hope that what The Avengers teaches Hollywood is that, even when you have all the elements to make money, making sure you have the right writer and director can earn you huger piles of money. It's weird when you think about it, the process of creating a big film. I remember Kevin Smith in one of his talks, how he had meetings with an exec who eventually made Wild Wild West, and the guy was basically insane. I think it's like The Wire. The public good can't be served, regardless of good intentions, because people are fundamentally selfish, shortsighted and insane. Any ray of sunshine is a totally random event, which is why they're always so eager to learn lessons, and why art doesn't improve as a civilisation 'advances'.
But Dark Knight Rises was a big time let down. I was hoping for a Batman movie.
@OneTeV - 100% agreement with you. Actually, back in 2000/2001 when Joe Quesada first took the helm at Marvel, the whole line of comics had been in this sort of mould for a while, though not quite as extreme as it's become of late, and the new regime basically decided to pare everything down so each book almost became its own universe, in a way (in fact the Thor book took a complete divergence from the rest of the line, with Asgard hanging over New York City). This was partly to accommodate a whole swathe of new writers who had just come in to revamp pretty much every title from the ground up and couldn't be expected to co-ordinate things with each other on top of that. But it really worked, and when they later started intertwining - New Avengers, and then Civil War - it felt like a big deal. It seems strange that Marvel has lost sight of what made that era work, especially given it's being run by the same people from back then.

Of course with the movies they only come out once in a while, one pretty much follows on from the other (without them being interdependent in any way), and most of the people who see them have usually already seen all of them - so it's not as much of a problem there, and the massive mega-crossover of The Avengers - the first of its kind perhaps - comes across as a legitimate event.

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