This afternoon, my husband and I are playing hooky from work to go see THE AVENGERS movie. Aside from the other recent films starring these guys (and a few half-remembered episodes of the Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk show from childhood) I don’t have any particular connection to these characters. They weren’t a part of my childhood, like Batman, Superman, Spiderman, or the X-Men were, with cartoons and comic books. I’m still not sure what all the characters’ superpowers are (Black Widow? Is she like, an acrobat in leather with a gun?)
But I am super crazy excited for this film. Why? Let’s examine:
1. Joss Whedon. I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan. I’ve seen almost everything he’s ever done (I’m waiting for Cabin in the Woods on DVD — yes, even despite the killer unicorn everyone tells me is in there — because I’m the biggest chicken in the world when it comes to horror movies, and DVD lets me mute/fast-forward past the terrifying stuff). I own all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD and watch it regularly, and I also own Angel, Firefly, Serenity, and Titan A.E. — yes, even Titan. I stuck with Dollhouse despite some elements that deeply bothered me (Prostitute-of-the-week plotlines), and was absolutely blown away by the fact that Joss examined that, and turned it not only to a central aspect of the storyline, but took the concept of body-buying to its terrifying, post-apocalyptic conclusion. I’ve never seen a story get saved the way he saved Dollhouse. He took our discomfort w the subject matter and said, “Guys, don’t you see? That’s the point.” Genius.
So Joss is doing this? I’m in. I’ll ignore the fact that women hardly even appear in the trailer. It’s Joss. It’ll be okay.
Lesson to writers: established authors bring a lot of credit with them when they embark on a new series. Audiences trust the content creator to give them something they will like.This is why sometimes established writer can publish a series with off-the-wall concepts or difficult characters.
2. Loki. I wasn’t a particular fan of the Thor film. It was beautiful, sure, but I thought the plot was dull and full of holes, and the “good guy” characters of Thor (not Chris Helmsworth’s fault, he was good in the part, but Thor’s “poor little rich boy” schtick didn’t move me) and his lackluster astrophysicist girlfriend (probably Natalie Portman’s fault, because I have yet to like her in any role she’s ever played) weren’t particularly endearing.
But Loki? Oh, Loki. I want you to be my bad guy boyfriend. Forget Severus Snape. Forget Magneto. Forget Logan Echolls (no, wait — I didn’t meant that, Logan!) I love me some Loki. I hope he doesn’t wear Earth clothes for the whole movie. Full Loki costume is one sexy look.
Loki is so fascinating. An “also-ran” to Thor’s golden boy prince in Asgard, he was secretly an abandoned child of his adopted father’s worst enemy. And no one ever told him. And so the guy has Issues. Plus, he has a costume to die for. (Please wear it! Please!) And the actor who is playing him, Tom Hiddleston is: 1) talented, 2) good looking, 3) incredibly funny and not afraid to camp it up.
I admit it, I’m kind of going in there to root for the bad guy.
Lesson to writers: Make your bad guy an interesting person. Make him or her someone that the audience maybe, on some level, even understands, or roots for. Or at least cheers every time he or she appears on screen. Fiery eyes on mountaintops are all well and good, but so are villains with more human aspects and failings (and senses of humor).
3. The other characters. I’ve seen the Iron Mans and enjoyed them, and I loved Captain America. Agent Coulson (who I always think is actually Agent Casper, since that was the part the actor played on The West Wing) and Nick Fury have established themselves in their minor scenes in other films, and I’m looking forward to seeing an expansion of Hawkeye and some actual personality for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow (also, Cobie Smulder’s an agent in this, too, apparently). I only saw one of the Hulk movies, but apparently they scrapped all that as non-canon and Mark Ruffalo invents a whole new Hulk, and I like him in stuff, so I’m looking forward to that, too.
All of which is to say, I can’t wait for these guys to start bouncing off one another. I can’t wait to see Captain America’s forthright eagerness slam against Tony Stark’s cynicism. I can’t wait to see Thor’s cockiness grate on Bruce Banner’s hard-won zen. Whedon does ensemble well, and I have high hopes. We had the chance to see most of these guys star in their own films. Now let’s see what happens when they get together.
Lesson to writers: Your secondary characters are the heroes of their own stories. Make sure they are rounded characters, with their own motivations and goals, which may or may not jibe with your hero’s.
What about you? Are you excited to see The Avengers?
I’m off — popcorn ahoy!