Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Joss Whedon, Avengers Connections

When Buffy The Vampire Slayer ended one of the mainstream critics (in  The Times) was clued in enough to say that with its comedy, charm and martial arts it was the modern equivalent of the  British Avengers tv series of the 60s and 70s.

For those in the know this shouldn't be a surprise. References to the Chris Claremont X Men comics are littered throughout Buffy, notably Willow being decribed as going "Dark Pheonix", and that classic comic storyline itself is influenced by an infamous episode of the Diana Rigg classic.

So it's nicely ironic that the much maligned and mistreated creator of Buffy has just broken box office records with the another Avengers, the American collection of Earths Mightiest Heroes.

Whedon is now effectively God of the Marvel universe (The Watcher?). Studio suits that previously looked at a series of books and thought wow we have three or four stories to wring out of this now have a almost unlimited source of material to adapt. He won't be doing any more tv, so time to savour what he has done. I'm about to start watching one of his interesting tv failures, Dollhouse.

The Filmspotting podcast covering this subject suggested the success of the Avengers is that it plays like a tv miniseries, perhaps as a series finale to this...

"Avengers Assemble"—Evaluating the 9-Hour Cut 

'SnakeCharmer' here has edited together all of the prequel marvel movies (plus connecting scenes) so they play chronologically as
First part of Thor, then
Captain America
Iron Man
Then events of Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor happening concurrently.

.. And apart from odd stylistic juxtapositions they all apparently play better, particularly the bad ones (Iron Man 2), which suffered most from pointless episodic indulgence when released alone.

Aside from this 8 hour miniseries edit, the "prequel" movies now look much better in context, (though stylistically only Thor stands out) I've just watched Ang Lee's Hulk and even that is 10% better having seen the Avengers, interestingly nothing in the Ang Lee film is particularly contradicted in the official films and I think Whedon re-introduces some of the ideas from it, like Banner only surviving his Gamma accident because of the "other guy" within him.

They and we should be grateful to Ang Lee, if he'd not made such ambitiously arty flop the rights to use the Hulk would never have reverted back to Marvel to be able to use the character in Avengers! (Compare with fate of endless Spiderman/Daredevil/Fantastic Four sequels and reboots)

In the course of returning to what we are now calling "The Prequels" I also watched Daredevil again, the superior Directors Cut even. Don't make the same mistake, unless you subconsciously want to give the whole subject of movie super heroes a serious rest...

UPDATE: re: the Claremont X-Men and the Steed/Peel Avengers, this covers the subject in more detail

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