Joss Whedon, Avenger?

Joss Whedon 2 In case you live under a rock (or simply don’t care or keep up with things), there’s a pretty awesome rumor going about right now: Joss Whedon is going to direct the new Avengers movie.

I’ll wait while you squee in joyful anticipation.

In all seriousness, though, how cool is that?  And not just in a fanboy way, either.  In a rocking, who-could-make-the-best movie kind of way, this is great news.

Provided, as my wife puts it, that he doesn’t get canned the way he did from the Wonder Woman movie.  I wasn’t privy to that bit of geekdom, but from the way she described the situation, the studio wanted some hot chick in star-spangled panties and Whedon handed them a story.  Enter: creative differences.

So our household is tentatively holding our breaths and not getting our hopes up.  But still, how cool is that?

As I’ve said before, my academic specialty has slowly worked its way into being Joss Whedon.  And I’m not even fully initiated: I haven’t seen Angel, read the Buffy Season 8 comics, seen Buffy Season 7, nor read his comics like Sugarshock, Fray, or The Astonishing X-Men.

Joss Whedon Astonishing X-Men To be fair, I tried to get into The Astonishing X-Men years ago and couldn’t do it.  I was a bit younger then, and when I dug in, I expected typical X-Men melodrama and instead got trademark Whedon wit and verbage.  I need to pull out my old back issues and give them a good, close reading.  I have no doubt that my tastes will be more tuned to it.

Joss Whedon is, if nothing else, atypical.  So I can see what turned me off of Astonishing so many years ago turning off the mainstream comicbookmoviegoers, too.  But I don’t think it will.

Why?  Because as the comicbookmovie genre has grown, the A-list titles have all been intelligent.  And if there is one thing that Joss Whedon does, it’s make intelligent moving pictures.

Why did people hate X-Men 3?  Because the characters didn’t act like themselves and the plot didn’t make sense.  Not because there wasn’t enough/too much eye candy.  Spider-man 3? The black suit was handled poorly and the 3 villains eye candy didn’t actually congeal into anything resembling a plot.  Kick-Ass?  I’ll never know because I refuse to see a movie that is so blatantly harmful (and irresponsible according to Ebert) to kids and the way they view violence.  Kick-Ass is to comicbookmovies what Twilight is to horror fiction.

But that’s another story altogether.

Whedon can work with an ensemble better than most writer/directors.  He’s proven that again and again in his shows.  In fact, the ensembles are what generally shine in lieu of the main characters, which makes me happy that we might not have to deal with Chris Evans being Captain America as much as we would under another director (did I mention I think that’s a dumb casting choice? Because it is.). The focus should be on the team dynamic, not how the team supports the “leader,” which is typically how Whedon ensembles function.

What made Iron Man work was character interaction and development, not over-the-top action.  He’ll likely have a ridiculous budget (something he’s not used to), but I think he’ll use it wisely.  I have no doubt that we won’t get the jumble of CGI and stupidity that they passed off as action in Transformers 2. Whedon is used to working on shoe-string budgets, which will make the movie even more spectacular—he understands how to eek every last ounce of quality from each penny spent.

Avengers Joss Whedon I think Whedon can take comicbookmovies to a whole new level in The Avengers, provided the studio stays out of his way.

Which given his track record with studios pushing him around (*cough Fox, Firefly, Dollhouse cough cough*), I don’t know if that will happen.  I certainly hope that the Avengers studio is a bit more non-frat boy oriented than the Wonder Woman one was.  If it is, then we’re in good shape.

And, if nothing else, the academic side of me is chomping at the bit.  Whedon proved with Dr. Horrible that his knowledge of the comics industry allows him to bend convention to his whim and come out with a top-quality story.  While I don’t think he’ll be allowed to so overtly subvert (oxymoron?) the Avengers canon as he did with archetypes in Dr. Horrible, I do see a lot of room for him to put his trademark spin on certain integral elements based solely on the things he learned while working on Dr. Horrible/Astonishing X-Men. If he does even a fraction of what I think he will, The Avengers will be a catalyst for future Slayage papers on Whedonized superhero universes.

Until then, I’ll continue to squee about the possibility of a Whedonite Avengers with my colleagues and my wife and hope that the star-spangled panties were merely a setback.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. To be fair, Whedon has only ever said that he and the studio had different movies in mind for Wonder Woman. The star-spangled panties vs. story dichotomy is the bitter assumption of a jaded Buffy/Firefly fan 🙂

  2. On topic: I think Whedon *could* make a great Avengers movie; he’s got a lot of experience dealing with large casts, he’s obviously got a passion for the subject matter and, let’s face it, if he’s attached, Nathan Fillion will probably be involved! /mancrush

    On the other hand, I worry whether or not he’d be able to deal with the egos of people like Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson etc.

    Off topic:
    It’s a shame that Ebert’s review of Kick Ass has turned you against it Beej; I for one absolutely loved the film. It’s brilliantly over-the-top, outrageously funny and, in my opinion, truly unique. It’s the responsibility of parents to keep their kids from watching it, not the responsibility of the movie industry to make nothing but family-friendly movies.

    I’ve honestly never been in a theatre where people have laughed so consistently throughout an entire picture. I went with my friends, of which two were female, and they almost loved the film more than we guys did – all because of Hit Girl. They hadn’t seen any previews of the film before the screening and they had expected her to be something along the lines of Kick Ass’ whiny, annoying little-sister. One said that it was refreshing to see an (albeit-young) female character be the deadliest of the superheroes.

    I was a little disappointed to hear you compare the film to Twilight, hopefully some of the other commenters might agree with me on this! I’d really encourage you to go see it (with an open mind); if a comicbook movie can keep two self-confessed Grey’s Anatomy junkies in its thrall for two hours, it’s well worth a look!

    P.S. Apologies for the novella that I’m about to post!

    1. Oh, it wasn’t just Ebert’s review that turned me off the movie. I was unimpressed from the moment I initially saw the very first trailer they had released for it. It looked like a kids movie (like something goofy like Shark Boy and Lava Girl, maybe), with its bright colors, over-the-top action, and (pre)adolescent characters dressing up like superheroes. Then when I saw that the movie was obviously not marketed toward that demographic due to its “R” rating and profane title, I couldn’t help but think it could have been handled better.

      I had a conversation about Kick-Ass today with a very close friend of mine, and he brought up an interesting point: the original graphic novel doesn’t glorify their actions, nor does it make it seem as though there aren’t consequences.

      I’ll probably see Kick-Ass on Redbox or Netflix; I rarely make unresearched accusations toward any kind of art. I just can’t see myself spending 30 bucks on a date night on a movie that appears on so many levels to be just the kind of film I tend to dislike.

      And you’re right: it is the responsibility to protect children from potentially damaging art. Unfortunately, I also think that this responsibility is too-often ignored, and we have Twilight phenomena because of it. I don’t hate Meyer for writing the garbage; I hate the parents for letting their girls even begin to think that’s what a healthy relationship looks like. And even parents who try can’t keep their kids from being exposed to that kind of stuff due to those parents who don’t; their kids expose the protected kids at school. So it then falls to the artist to at least frame their art in such a way that it becomes more responsible in its portrayal of its negative sides.

      And if Kick-Ass does what my friend tells me it did in the graphic novel, the my argument may be unfounded and I’ll eat my words. But Twilight has taught me that subversive art is often more pervasive than even protective parents’ shelter.

      On an Avengers note: wouldn’t Nathan Fillion be awesome as Hawkeye? 😀 And you’re right, the egos would be one worry for Whedon, but if everything I’ve heard about him being so great to work with is true, I don’t see how he wouldn’t be able to calm them down.

  3. I think the biggest hope we have with Whedon and the Avengers vs Wonder Woman, is that WW would have been a Warner Bros studio. Avengers will most likely be out of the Marvel studios like Iron Man is. This is one of the reasons Jon Favreau was able to do what he has done with Iron Man. It is a studio that inherently believes in the source material and the importance of plot.

    1. This is very true. Though, Marvel has allowed stinkers to come out before (Hulk, Hulk 2, Spider-man 3, X-Men 3, Fantastic Four 1 and 2, The Punisher remake), so I still hold that it’ll be Whedon making the franchise beam. 🙂

  4. As a big comic book geek you’re appealing to me in every sense with his post, Beej 🙂 I could probably write an essay in response to your post but seeing as my wife is about to serve dinner, I better try to keep it short…

    Avengers directed by Joss Whedon? Yes, please! However, I am a little worried that it will be “Whedonified” and end up full of those snappy one-liners and quick dialog that he’s famous for. Don’t get me wrong, it works and I like it, but the Avengers should be so epic that it makes me literally pack up my belongings and move to America just to be a little closer to the magic 🙂
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Guest Posts Update =-.

    1. See, that’s what I look forward to. I have never liked the Avengers, personally, because of that hyperseriousness that comes along with it. I’ve never been able to relate the characters as I could with the X-Men or the Justice League. They were always so epic that I didn’t care. I think Whedon being involved with have the quick dialogue that lightens the mood, but if one thing that Dollhouse and Buffy have taught me it’s this: don’t underestimate Whedon when it comes to the epic and the serious. He doesn’t pull punches. Watch the Buffy Season 5 episodes “The Body” and “The Gift,” and you’ll know what I mean.

      1. I always wanted to touch on Chris Evans and Kick-Ass last night but didn’t time to comment on them…

        Not really thrilled by the Human Torch playing Captain America. Really, they couldn’t get anyone better? It makes me think the whole movie is going to be a PG-13 summer adventure film and not a ‘serious’ film. Plus how perfect is Aaron Eckhart for the role? He would’ve been perfect for a Mark Millar style Cap.

        Also, re: Kick Ass, I haven’t seen the film yet so I can’t comment but I think you’re being harsh when you say it’s to comic book films what Twilight is to horror films 🙂 At least, I hope are you… I guess I’ll find out when it comes out on DVD 😉 Still, the comic book itself is excellent and a perfect blend of pseduo-reality and parody. I don’t actually think it needs to be made into a film though and get a little irked when original medias get raped just to transform them into something more commerical. Anyway, good comic book, go read it.

        And if you haven’t read The Ultimates Vol 1 & 2 by Mark Millar, you definitely should. It’s an example of why Scottish people are taking over the comic book industry. Sorry, had to say that 😛
        .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Guest Posts Update =-.

        1. Oh, I’m with you on Ultimates 1/2. They are fantastic.

          And the reason Chris Evans got the part is because he was American. For some reason, the studios refused to take another nationality into consideration when casting, which knocked out everyone who would /actually/ be worth watching. My vote went to Nathan Fillion, personally, and then to Daniel Craig. Both would have been great Caps. But instead, we get…this.

          I’ve heard good things about the Kick-Ass comic, and I truly hope that I’m being too harsh and will eat my words when I see it on the DVD I rent from Redbox.

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