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August 30 2012

Joss Whedon talks all things Marvel. The Avengers, its sequel, his Marvel deal and S.H.I.E.L.D. all get discussed. There's a similar but much smaller interview at EW.com.

The paragraph that starts with "I don't think it's a perfect movie" is fantastic.
Really is. I had never seen a movie twice in the cinema until The Avengers.
I agree with Joss that it's not a perfect movie. It was the most enjoyable movie going experience I've had in years. And to me that's exactly what you want from a summer blockbuster.
Also, his description of his overall Marvel deal sounds like a dream arrangement.
The Avengers was fun, but I think I preferred re-watching Cabin in the Woods. Both I saw in theaters at least three times, usually with a slightly different group of people.
I fear Joss is going to die of extreme all-round exhaustion creating and fixing all the stuff he'll have to. Best of luck to him.

P.S: Simon, this was my first time watching a movie twice at the theater, too. And I would have done it 5 more times if I could have.

[ edited by Boto on 2012-08-30 21:56 ]
....sounds like a dream arrangement.

Does it ever! And I can't think of anyone who deserves it more. So happy for Joss.
I absolutely agree about The Avengers thing. It really has very little actual story... But I loved the shit outta it. I mean, Hulk punched somebody OFF THE SCREEN.
Joss: "... It's an unholy amount of productivity..."

Jeebus, it is. My tiny mind reels. So glad he can balk & walk. Or whatever, but not go too crazy... Such a deal.

I love that he mentioned Ashley Johnson. I worry about stuff like that.

(It's (ex)-actor-empathy. I once had a miniscule role in a miniscule film, but it got shredded down to such nothing that stopping to get popcorn was a huge mistake. All that remained, apparently, was a tiny piece that appeared in the opening credits. #SuchOwie

But Ashley's was in a HUGE film, and you hadda know that bit.)
gossi, has very little actual story? Are we watching different films?

I am getting more and more excited about everything Joss is doing as every day passes. But I'm glad we finally have his thoughts and perspective on everything.
I think Joss has a phenomenal talent for pacing. There is not a single dull moment in Avengers (or Cabin ... or Serenity). There's always something going on, a character moment, a visual clue. Even the action scenes mostly don't seem pointless or boring like they do in so many other movies (to me at least action is usually very very boring). Makes rewatching a very smooth and pleasant experience.
Well, I mean - the plot is Generic Bad Guys attack and the goodish guys win. That's not a criticism. I loved it because it was just so much fun, and it was clearly structure, structure, structure. Not of the plot particularly, but of the moments and how it would make the audience feel.

I think some writers confuse structure with building a table. It isn't. It's building a table with humour, action, romance. Also, some writers confuse structure as being optional.

[ edited by gossi on 2012-08-30 22:09 ]
Generic Bad Guys attack and the goodish guys win?

Loki is definitely not a generic bad guy, the Chitauri maybe, but they're more of a plot device than anything else. Seeing hints of Loki's humanity in the film is fascinating and his likability made him fun to watch. The Avengers themselves all have personal demons to face, and the organization behind them is just as flawed as the villain. Yes, if you want to generalize the film, bad guy vs. hero, hero wins but you can do that to any and every film, ever. And I think you can agree that what makes Avengers different is the heart... So, what are we even arguing about?
@lisatwingomez you're arguing about how Awesome the movie is :)

(no, the capital A was not intentional but I'll just pretend it was and it has a purpose. A for extra awesome and A for Avengers.)

[ edited by D-e-f- on 2012-08-30 22:24 ]
Oh, Loki was great. I worship him, through choice and fear.

Actually, funny thing. Thinking about it, I remember saying before seeing it I would be disappointed if there wasn't a plot. Call that Residual Other Summer Blockbuster Syndrome.

[ edited by gossi on 2012-08-30 22:39 ]
I was glad to hear him mention Ashley, too. What a drag. And it was such a great scene!

As for the non-perfection--there are only a few things I think are perfect (The Body & Out of Gas come to mind immediately), but I find almost everything of Joss' eminently re-watchable. Including The Avengers. :)
I think the movie was fairly close to perfect if you take into account the massive checklist of things it had to do to even work as a movie, let alone satisfy fans and newcomers alike. Perhaps there were some minor things that could have been done marginally "better" without getting in the way, but it did everything it needed to do and then some. The Avengers is a ridiculous premise, and there are countless ways for it to fail, yet somehow it didn't. The Avengers didn't need to be genius, but it did need to be ingenious. All the pieces (characters, all of which had to have arcs and a reason to be in the plot, necessary story elements like having all the characters fight eachother to later come together without it seeming hokey, et.c.) had to fit together, and it needed to have a certain sense of rising tension building up to a big, satisfying climax, and to nail all of that and still make it look simple can't have been an easy feat. Maybe it's below the perfection line, but not by much.
I can't think of many ways to improve The Avengers. Hell, I can probably write a longer list of ways to improve The Dark Knight, and that movie is pretty much universally considered near perfect (and I love that movie).
What does perfect mean anyway?
I truly think Joss Whedon has the most inspiring ideas and quotes in a special box that he just seems to magically make appear at the right time. Though I have to admit his quote about how The Avengers is not a great film, but a great time is deceptively simple on the surface...he's right, but putting aside any debate about the complexity of the plot, but there were so many balls he had to juggle that making that "great time" meant he made a great movie because of how well the juggling was done.
Good support is wonderful, but it's not a hill of beans, because they may give us all this support and then decide, "Eh. Yeah, it's Friday." They might give us all the support and then not do that, but then audiences might go, "Yeahhh no."

This, I think, is an important reality check. I'm hearing a lot of "OMG, nothing will be able to stop S.H.I.E.L.D.'s total domination of TV!" from Whedon fans--but it's really not true. The average punter out there in TV land really doesn't know much about S.H.I.E.L.D, even if they saw The Avengers. To the extent that they do know about it, they're going to tune in and be initially disappointed that it's not the guys they know about (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor etc.).

There's plenty of ways this could go right (I'm confident it will be excellent TV) and Joss could finally get the massive TV hit he deserves, but the mere fact of having a big studio with big money behind him won't necessarily get this thing past the first half season.
A quarter of all shows last past their first season. Why don't we remember all these shows that got cancelled? Because we didn't watch 'em.

All Joss, Jed and Maurissa can do with SHIELD is make it as good as they can, and hope the network promote it, and hope people tune in and like it. I did see somebody earlier saying ABC don't cancel shows. I think they cancelled 9 shows last season. That's just how it works.
I'm jumping on the "First movie I watched in the movies twice"-train. It was just so great.

Atleast I think so. I do have a feeling I might have watched a Harry Potter movie twice, but just because of the company I was with. With Avengers, I just went alone for the movie itself.
After what feels like a huge amount of time (well, a day), I've finally realised how excited I am about SHEILD. This is the quote that got to me:

What I do know is that it's the show it should be

Sounds like there might for once be a consensus between what the writers want and what the network wants. (At least for now, heh.) And now all we have to do is wait and see what they bring to us. As for whether or not it will be a hit, my mind can barely grasp what that would mean. Even a single complete season of 20+ episodes is a staggering thought to me right now.
I saw it three times at cinema. Also same with The Matrix, Serenity, The Descent and Hallam Foe. All for very different reasons.

[ edited by gossi on 2012-08-30 23:37 ]
Sounds like there might for once be a consensus between what the writers want and what the network wants.

It's too early to tell at this point. Remember, in the early days Fox said they were 100% on board with where Joss wanted to take Dollhouse. Then when he actually did what he'd promised, they changed their minds.
This was far from the first movie I've seen repeatedly at the theater--embarrassingly, my high score is 6 views, with Star Wars: Episode II (I was 12, leave me alone!!)--but Avengers certainly earned its place in the roster. So, so enjoyable.

I think Cabin rewarded the repeat viewing even more, though. Everything gleeful about that movie was even more so the second go-around.
Saw Avengers five times, and Cabin six. (Although two of those Cabin trips were free/discounted previews, so I paid to see Avengers more than Cabin.)
I think the difference here is that Disney/Marvel/ABC are very firmly in a committed relationship with Joss Whedon. It's not a flirtation or ex-sex like with TCFTV/FOX. They seem to get Joss' interpretation of their IP and want him to drive the bus. This means it's much more likely for creative/studio/network/marketing to all be on the same page; the lack of which is what caused Dollhouse and Firefly to be financial failures on FOX

I'm obviously seeing how many metaphors I can mix.
IrrationaliTV, I think that's entirely rational.
It's not a flirtation or ex-sex like with TCFTV/FOX. They seem to get Joss' interpretation of their IP and want him to drive the bus.

True, which certainly makes for much better odds of all going well. How nice it would be for Joss to get a chance to actually LAUNCH a show with his original, intended pilot!

Still doesn't mean that it'll necessarily find an audience, though. Obviously I hope it will (and obviously I'll be there from ep 1!), but I think it's psychologically useful to acknowledge what gossi says upthread--that very few shows, good or bad, survive their first season. Lots of shows that networks were entirely on board for, which had A-list casts, were heavily promoted as the tentpoles of the new season, etc. etc. etc., just die, for one reason or another. Sometimes it's because they were bad shows, but often it's just because they were just a little to quirky or just didn't quite hit the zeitgeist right or because the super-duper hit of the season happened to debut opposite them on another channel.
ABC doesn't cancel shows? Then where did that "Already Been Canceled" acronym come from? God, I wish Invasion was still on.

Edited to add Really?

[ edited by eddy on 2012-08-31 00:25 ]
My So-Called Life. My first cancellation. Thanks, ABC, thanks a lot.

(Yeah, it's seventeen years later, sowhatsyourpoint?)
eddy, I laughed aloud at "Firebronies". More than once, actually.
Of course, Yoink. This is TV. It could all go south very very quickly. I just have a feeling that this particular project may have a slightly better chance than the average put pilot. :)
My first TV cancellation was Sierra in 1974. It was a forest ranger spin-off of Emergency! that was filmed in Yosemite National Park.

Still heart-broken.
My first TV cancellation (the first time I was aware of a show suddenly and, to my mind, inexplicably disappearing from TV--I don't think I understood about the "cancellation" per se) was Jim Garner's Nichols (I'm dating myself here!). Still not available on DVD even. It co-starred a young Margot Kidder and was created and written by Frank Pierson (writer of Dog Day Afternoon, Cool Hand Luke, Cat Ballou--and an episode of Mad Men). It lasted one season. No one was willing to buy Jim Garner in a western setting if it wasn't Maverick.
I love Joss, but like GreatMuppetyOdin and BlueEyed, I think he's not taking enough credit for the Avengers. If he says that his movie's far from perfect, and not even "great," then he's applying the wrong standard. Certainly, I think he vastly exceeded the expectations of his patrons at Marvel, as well as the expectations of fans who grew up loving these characters. Not only that but he started with a concept that was virtually impossible to do well, and he did it beautifully, and made it look effortless. I don't think any filmmaker, living or dead, could have made a better Avengers movie. In that sense, it was perfectly perfect -- and great to boot.

I think his definition of perfect and great probably includes qualities that would not have made sense in this summer blockbuster about the assembly of a team of superheroes -- e.g., profound insights about the truth of the human condition. If so, then I think he's applying the wrong standard.

I wonder if he thinks Buffy is a "great" TV show, or if Dr. Horrible is a "great" internet short.

On another note, Joss's professed excitement about SHIELD and about Avengers 2 has made me even more excited about those two things, which I did not think was possible.
So where do I apply to be a member of Joss's posse (the Joss-e?) when he forms it?
Squishy:
You bring up a very good point with the question of whether Joss considers Buffy a "great" TV show, and I'll add to that by saying that (gasp!) I don't think Buffy is a "perfect" TV show, but I do think it's a "great" one. Great in the sense that it touched a lot of people deeply, including myself, while also being tremendously entertaining, and in the sense that it dared to try new things even in its later seasons and often did it beautifully. I wouldn't call it perfect, because it's also very flawed and clearly a learning process for everyone involved. But I'd call it great, because its strengths outweigh its flaws by so much that its flaws become virtually irrelevant.
A thing doesn't have to be great to be perfect, and a thing doesn't have to be perfect to be great.

[ edited by GreatMuppetyOdin on 2012-08-31 08:36 ]
"I am less important than the needs of the film." This should be taught to every director, starting with Michael Bay
Saw it four times. The Descent and lots of others twice. Shaun of The Dead five times is probably the most.
I only saw 'Avengers' twice, and I only saw 'Cabin in the Woods' twice (I really wanted to see that a third time, I cannot wait for the DVD release!). So I saw 'Serenity' more times than both of those put together....

When it comes to watching movies multiple times I'm guessing it doesn't count if we saw it on TV? Because I think I saw 'Wizard of Oz' ever year of my life growing up...

If we are only counting paying in the theater then 'Hard Day's Night' and 'King of Hearts' are probably my big winners (both tied with Serenity).
Is Buffy a great TV show? We're still talking about it, aren't we? Was X-Files a great TV show? We're still talking about it. It's one thing to make a memorable show, it's another to make an iconic show that is discussed years and decades after it's off the air.
I definitely agree that Avengers was more of a great time than it was a great film. However, if I had to choose one or the other, I would always, always pick the former.

...Not that one invariably has to choose, of course. Buffy and Firefly were both a great time AND great television. But I think the Avengers film was under so many constraints, in terms of what needed to be done to honor the characters, their universe, and what the audience wanted to see, that making it a great film was not just impossible but also probably undesirable. A great time is exactly what was called for.

So it's nice that Joss boy-howdy delivered on that front. :)

(Also can't resist adding: Fellowship of the Ring. Seventeen times in the theater.)
Can't it be both a great film and a great time? The two aren't mutually exclusive and I think something as entertaining and fun as The Avengers can definitely be considered as a great film.

I think Whedon's summing up of his billion-dollar hit is probably more appropriate for The Cabin in the Woods; great fun and very funny but not scary enough to be considered a great horror/comedy.
If Star Wars and Wizard of Oz were great films, then Avengers is a great film.

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