Why a Joss Whedon Directed Avengers Makes Me Sad

Joss Whedon Avengers Cast
News this week came out that there would indeed be a sequel to Thor (no surprise there), but that Kenneth Branagh would not be returning to the franchise. No official reason has been given, although rumours ranging from contract negotiations to creative control have been cited. It’s the latter rumour that concerns me the most, and certainly keeps me from rejoicing (unlike every other fangirl and fanboy on the planet) at the fact that Joss Whedon is working on The Avengers.

Ever since the first Iron Man movie came out, Marvel Studios has been nothing if not a well oiled machine, churning out increasing amounts of superhero movies at an alarming rate, all with the intention of bringing said superheroes together in The Avengers. As far as I know, it’s not something that’s ever been done before in movies, and for that, they certainly deserve credit. But I also feel that the Marvel Movie Machine, in its goal to dominate the movie industry, has lost sight of the very reason that Iron Man was so successful, and why it is still easily the best of the movies that Marvel has put out so far: a great director.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because you attach an accomplished director to a film, doesn’t mean the film will be any good. Ang Lee’s Hulk being a good example. But with Iron Man, the proof is in the proverbial pudding. Here we had Jon Favreau, an indie director, who took the Iron Man comic book franchise, and put it in a very real-world environment. Out went the Vietnam origins, as did the Mandarin as a villain, hell they even changed Christine Everhart’s position from a reporter at the Daily Bugle to Vanity Fair. And it worked! Iron Man did what it never could have done, had these changes not been made: it reached a new audience. I’m one of those people. I didn’t have a clue who the hell Tony Stark was, but man, that first trailer for Iron Man, is still one of my all-time favourite trailers. Jon Favreau showed audiences how cool Tony Stark was, while not alienating the movie’s core audience.

Jon Favreau Robert Downey Jr Iron Man

But as the Marvel Movie Machine Monstrosity began its enormous push towards an Avengers movie, Tony Stark himself got sidelined in Iron Man 2, in favour of steering the character towards the Avengers. These aren’t fan boy hints anymore either. The major plot line with Tony Stark is only resolved because of S.H.I.E.L.D. And the rest of the plot line is, frankly, a bit of a mess. So naturally we hear an announcement that Favreau will not be returning for Iron Man 3. Again, no reason has been given, but studio interference certainly seems to have played a major role.

Then we have Thor, which should have been a great movie. I know a lot of people liked it well enough, but ultimately, like Iron Man 2 before it, it suffered from far too much time spent with S.H.I.E.L.D. And not enough time developing other character and stories. I was, I admit, baffled when I heard that Branagh would be directing this film, but I expected great things from it. And, just occasionally, as in the early battle scenes, you get to see some of that potential greatness. But mostly, you get a messy film that serves as little more than an advertisement for the Avengers.

And now we have Joss Whedon. A lot of us have been waiting a long time for another Joss Whedon movie. Many of us hoped that that movie would be Serenity 2. Instead, it’s going to be The Avengers. And this bums me out. Granted, the Marvel Machine can’t do any Avengers plugging in the actual Avengers movie, but I still worry about the compromises that will need to be made between Whedon’s voice and the voice of Marvel Studios. How much hinting will they be doing for sequels? How many things will just be included purely for merchandising sake? Joss Whedon has a unique voice. You feel it in his dialogue, in his choice of camera angles and in the seriously f’ed up things he puts his characters through. And I think it would be a really sad thing to have his voice shouted down because a studio is more interested in achieving world movie domination than telling a good story. In my eyes, Marvel Studios is looking more and more (to use a Dr. Horrible reference) like the Evil League of Evil.

And yes, I’m sure I’m pissing people off by saying this, but I feel that if you’re gonna hire someone as uniquely talented as a Joss Whedon or a Kenneth Branagh, then you better be damn sure that you allow them to use that voice a la Christopher Nolan. Otherwise, personally, I’d rather see a Joss Whedon project of his own creation.