So everyone’s excited that Joss Whedon’s directing The Avengers 2.
Why? Maybe I’ve had it with sequels. Maybe I’m finally starting to feel superhero burnout. Maybe I’m just too cynical. It was a small miracle that Marvel even culled together five decent-to-pretty good movies just to get to The Avengers. Maybe I don’t believe they can do it again.
It’s not that I don’t have faith in Whedon. He’s a terrific storyteller. He delivered the best possible Avengers film I think anyone could have hoped for. And each of those sentiments has already been echoed back and forth many times. Whedon is great; I hope he makes another good Avengers film, etc.
So here’s why I’m not excited: every minute he spends making another Avengers movie is a minute spent playing in someone else’s toy box instead of creating his own.
I’ve now spent 82 straight words dealing in clichés, so let me see if I can dig myself out.
Whedon is a world builder. He’s at his best when he’s creating his own thing. He’s already achieved rare success. Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s a cult classic. Firefly remains a gem of science fiction television. He still has the potential to create new and original works that can carve their own places in genre storytelling. Instead, he’s making another sequel. And it isn’t even a true part deux—the Marvel movies are so serialized that “Avengers 2” will actually be “Marvel Mega Movie—Episode 12” by the time it’s released.
Between the years of 1975 and 1982, Steven Spielberg gave us Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. Seven years, four classics, none of them sequels. I’m not sure we’ve seen another genre filmmaker enjoy that kind of run. M. Night Shyamalan had potential, but it’s doubtful he’ll reach the level of success we once hoped he would. Christopher Nolan might still have it in him, but that depends on what he does next. J.J. Abrams could still have a shot.
Whedon has, perhaps, the best chance. Asking him to direct another Avengers film is like asking Spielberg to helm a Bond movie in 1980. In fact, that’s what Spielberg wanted to do until George Lucas talked him into making Raiders (thank you, George).
We’re drowning under the weight of sequels and franchises. We’re at the point now that it wouldn’t surprise us if Disney announced tomorrow that Avengers 2 would be released in two parts. So far, Marvel has delivered the goods. Maybe they can keep it up. Maybe they can establish a franchise on the level of the Bond movies and keep it going for 20 years. If they do, great. I’ll do my best not to complain.
It’s time for artists to do more creating, build their own worlds and invite us over to watch something amazing happen. It’s time for someone to reclaim the sense of excitement we used to feel when “A Steven Spielberg film” would appear on the screen.
We still have Whedon’s take on Much Ado About Nothing to look forward to. The next Avengers film won’t happen for a while, so he might pump out an original film before jumping back into the Marvel pool. Yeah, there’s still hope. It just feels like there’s less now.
So no, I’m not wild about Whedon making the next Avengers movie. I want Whedon to make his Raiders.