Avengers Month: The Argument Against Joss Whedon
As some of you may have managed to deduce we here at the House of Geekery like Joss Whedon. He has given us so much from vampire slaying teens to love-sick mad scientists. His intrepid ability to rub geeks up the right way makes him a pretty good choice for heading upThe Avengers. He can write superheroes as both people and bigger-than-life characters and can bring together an ensemble like few others.
Yet there are some people who aren’t believers. In the deepest, darkest corners of the internet some people have argued against Whedon taking the directors chair. Many of them make frequent mention of being fans of Whedon’s previous works as this will strengthen their opinion in the eyes of those who disagree (I guess?). In the knowledge that we haven’t seen this movie yet and none of us can say for certain whether or not Mister Whedon has delivered the goods I approached these opinions with an open mind and have collected the most common arguments here, along with my thoughts on them.
Argument #1: Joss Whedon does not have enough cinematic experience.
On paper this seems irrefutable. Previous to The Avengers Joss Whedon has only directed one feature film. That film is Serenity. There are three different ways I’d like to respond to this argument.
First of all – Serenity was awesome. That on its own should be enough, but it goes further than that. Serenity took a concept that had worked well on television (let’s just hold up right now and make it clear that I’m talking about success in entertainment quality, not the approval of studio box office critics) and took it up to a cinematic level. It juggled an ensemble of colourful characters, special effects laden action sequences, deft humour and it needed to find a new angle on familiar material. Call me crazy, but that sounds like just the type of experience needed for this next project and there aren’t many other directors who have achieved that.
Response the second – just how many films does a person have to have directed before they have a ‘proven track record’? The logic being espoused here is that the more movies a person makes the better they’ll be – do I even need to pull up examples to point out the obvious here? Some directors knock their debut out of the park and then hit a slump. Some directors take a few projects to find their feet. Kevin Smith has ten cinematic releases on his resume and if you want to claim that he’s better qualified for the job than Joss Whedon you need to be slapped.
Finally, Joss Whedon has more experience as a director than most cinema directors his age. He’s been behind some of the best television of the past two decades and is known for having elevated the medium of television entertainment to a new, higher level pioneering an era of shows with higher production values. Anyone who feels that directing a television show isn’t worth the same experience as a movie is doing a great disservice to some of the remarkable talent working on television today.
Argument #2: No recent successes.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the kind of success story most writers and directors would only dream about. Not only was it a studio friendly series that was a mainstream success is also appealed to the geeky niche crowd. Not only was it successful for seven years but it spawned a spin-off series that managed five seasons and a marketing mini-empire. He set the bar pretty high and it’s been hard for him to match that success. Firefly wasn’t given a chance and his version of Dollhouse clashed with the studios idea of Dollhouse. The bold attempt to re-invigorate Firefly through the feature film Serenity burned out.
Welp, I guess he’s been busy living a life of object failure. But only if you ignore the web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog which won many awards, attracted a huge following and has a sequel in the works. Plus there’s his work in comics – from Buffy Season 8 to the Astonishing X-Men he has penned some damn fine and best selling comics. And have you heard about this awesome new horror movie Cabin in the Woods?
No recent successes by butt.
Argument #3: Not a mainstream director.
I’m sorry, would you prefer Michael Bay? I don’t WANT a mainstream director on this movie! Part of the appeal of Joss Whedon heading up the Avengers initiative is that he has a unique style. He doesn’t use pop-culture references as a gimmick or a quick source of cheap humour but he does understand how mainstream media works and puts his own spin on it. He knows that characters are more important that quips and explosions in a movie such as this.
This is a movie like no other. We’ve taken four other blockbuster tentpole films and meshed them all together. A conventional approach is not what is needed. Nobody has attempted a movie quite like this before and we need someone who can give us a unique take on it. Sure we have superhero team movies, such as X-Men but those characters didn’t have their own individual movies beforehand. This is part of the reason why The Lord of the Rings was so successful – because Peter Jackson wasn’t a typical mainstream director but someone with a fresh vision.
P.S. Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh – also not mainstream directors. They directed Iron Man and Thor respectively.
Argument #4: Not an ‘Avengers’ director.
Oh get the fuck out. This is like everything that’s wrong with the previous arguments rolled into one complaint. Seems that some people feel that one of the directors who’ve already made one of the other movies about the characters should be doing directing this one. Where’s the logic behind that? All four of them have unique, different styles and there’s benefit to trying to adjust the rest of the team to that one style. Having a new-comer who can work an ensemble piece makes far more sense. Please leave the internet now.