With an impressively hefty budget of $220 million, Disney and Marvel are taking a considerable swing for the fences on a single film.
The Avengers, the superhero movie to end all superhero movies, rolls into theaters on May 4, 2012. Anticipation is high, especially since writer/director/wunderkind Joss Whedon got on board.
Fan faith is palpable in this particular fellow, and for good reason; he was responsible for Firefly, one of the most popular (and in my humble opinion, just about the best) sci-fi series of all time.
Like drunk clowns dog-piling out of a circus car, Fox executives cancelled the show, but not before mercilessly messing with it (they altered the running order so the premiere episode actually aired eleventh, a telling example of colossally mindless ineptitude), then, sullenly dumbstruck, watched it take off on DVD like no show has before or since. At the time of writing and almost a decade later, it still sits in Amazon’s current top 20 best selling sci-fi DVDs. To blindly miss this succulent, fecund teat by such an incompetently wide-of-the-mark fumble demonstrates just how hopelessly visionless these people must really be.
The DVD sales prompted Universal to acquire the movie rights and fund the feature film Serenity, also written and directed by Whedon. The movie broke even at the box office, but won numerous prestigious awards, and, as might be expected, performed strongly on DVD. And so it should, because it was a damned fine film.
(Unfortunately, Whedon was also the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I think is terribly overrated. I freely admit my prejudice is aimed directly at its star, who I unerringly refer to as “that Gellar twit” whenever Buffy comes up in conversation (after some personal reflection on this bias, I eventually discovered she reminds me of a particularly obnoxious ex-girlfriend, but she blighted the entire series for me nonetheless). I fully understand such opinions expressed in the sci-fi community may raise the rarely-groomed hackles of those who periodically attend conventions clad in Vulcan ears or waving plastic lightsabers, but I care not a jot. Anyway, I’m getting off track here…)
For those who don’t know, The Avengers are a group of individually powerful superheroes, most of which already have movies (or multiple movies) dedicated to their stories. Ironman, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye (the marksman archer dude played by Jeremy Renner in Thor) and Black Widow (played by Scarlet Johansson in Ironman 2). Called in by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson in Ironman 1 & 2) to combat some machination of Loki, Thor’s sibling nemesis. Whedon has promised dynamism between the characters:
“…these people shouldn’t be in the same room let alone on the same team—and that is the definition of family.”
Which is a lively thought while decompressing from Thanksgiving and barreling towards Christmas…
As you probably know by now I typically get nervous when I see a long list of producers attached to a movie, but not as much as when I see a long list of writers. Fortunately, while The Avengers has plenty of the former, it has a blessed paucity of the latter.
Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: The Last Stand) wrote the original screenplay before Whedon took the reins, who considerably re-worked it to the extent that rumors abound Penn may not get a writing credit at all. He doesn’t seem to mind this, though, and has expressed complete trust in Whedon’s ability:
“Do you believe in Joss Whedon? I believe in him. That’s my comment. If you believe in Joss, you should be excited.”
Sounds like he’s already received a nice fat check. Good for him.
Release date: May 4, 2012.