Joss Whedon comes from a long line of TV writers, but he gained cult fame and permamnent nerd cred for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, first as a feature film, then as a cultish, pop-culture touchstone of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. Although series that had season-long arcs and combined soap opera with genre had existed before (Dark Shadows, anyone?), Buffy was the show that really made it cool to have big arcs and heaping helpings of pop culture references, genre merging, and tapping into the zeitgeist (say thank you, Lost fans). Now, pretty much every show made is doing arcs that last all season long. He continued to build on the Buffy-verse with the spinoff Angel. He also created cult fave (but prematurely canceled) sci-fi series Firefly and its big-screen version Serenity. Finally, his last series Dollhouse, struggled to hit the same cultural pulse as his previous series and eventually limped to cancellation last year.
The Avengers film is the culmination of Marvel Studios' attempt to recreate the shared universe as it exists in their comics onscreen. It began with Iron Man, continued with The Incredible Hulk, and will be expanded upon in the soon-to-be-released Iron Man 2, Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America. After those films are released, all of the title characters, plus Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury (and presumably some other heroes like Ant Man and the Wasp) will team up and form super-group The Avengers.
So, what do people think? Well, oddly, I'm a little cautious, but not too much. I mean, what had Jon Favreau really done that made anyone think he could make a blockbuster like Iron Man? Made was great, Elf was a hit, and Zathura showed promise, but there was nothing that said blockbuster. And Marvel is famous for choosing people that initially seem odd, but make total sense once you really look at it. Kenneth Branagh for Thor seems odd, given his classy stage-bound pedigree, but you really need someone who can give the mythology gravitas, and Branagh turns out to be an inspired choice.
So, why Whedon? Well, my reservation springs from the fact that the sole film he's directed, Serenity, still looked like a TV show with a little extra cash. It was fun, it was enjoyable, but it felt small. whether that was a budget limitation, or a lack of vision on Whedon's part is what I don't know. But as for why Marvel chose him, I think it's his genuine love for comics and his skill at handling large casts. He really knows how to give everyone their due, without shortchanging the story. And considering this flick may have Robert Downey, Edward Norton, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson and who knows who else involved, you'll need someone skilled at juggling all that.
Interesting. Any thoughts?