There's been a lot of talk about "The Avengers" being a culmination and a landmark event that completely solidifies the comic book movie. It's arguably the most ambitious comic-based project yet, and the fulfillment of a vision that began over five years ago when Marvel started putting the pieces into place by acquiring the necessary properties. However, "The Avengers" also should mark the arrival of writer/director Joss Whedon into the public consciousness as well.
While general audiences have no doubt been at least a little bit familiar with his most famous work "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Whedon has hardly been a household name outside of the geek niche. In those circles, he's also hailed as the creator of "Firefly," "Dollhouse," plus the author of several memorable comic book runs, including a highly regarded stint on "The Astonishing X-Men."
In a world where something like "The Avengers" was creeping ever so slightly out of the exclusive purview of the fanboy domain, Marvel's choice of Whedon to helm its biggest film yet felt like a coup for hardcore fans. In short, it felt like it was in the hands of one of our own, a guy who gets and respects the business and source material.
And by many accounts, that move has paid off for Marvel: "Avengers" has already been well-received critically, and fan excitement is at a fever pitch. Hopefully it'll pay off for Whedon as well; he's a guy who's had no shortage of opportunities, between directing "Serenity" and helping to hatch "The Cabin in the Woods," but neither of those films managed to find much mainstream success.
Many will argue "The Avengers" would have been a hit regardless of who directed it, and that may be true. But if Whedon does indeed pull it off, it'll be time to give the man his due.
I'm sure Marvel will want him on projects for as long as he's willing, and I'm not opposed to that. However, knowing Whedon, he's probably already looking ahead to other things; after all, this is a guy who surprised everyone with a guerrilla production of "Much Ado About Nothing" at some point last year; nobody even knew about the film until it was finished.
Hopefully any success "The Avengers" has will translate into more exciting projects like this in the future for Whedon. He's earned it.
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