The Avengers started shooting yesterday.
That is pretty amazing.
Now, I have been pretty vocal about what I think are problems in the Marvel Studios model, and I don't back down from those comments. That said, every fanboy in the world's little heart must've leapt a beat when Writer(?)/Director Joss Whedon blogged about starting. We are actually going to see The Avengers on film. That's undeniably cool, and exciting.
Oh, but Marvel? That picture you released today (see above)? It's pretty uninspiring, sorry.
But, here comes the $64,000 question that no one really wants to ask, and that it seems the assembled fandom doesn't even care about:
Will it be any good?
I actually have very little fear that it will be bad, I tend to have faith in Whedon, but there is a nagging sense of a problem with Marvel Studios and, in particular, how Kevin Feige is pushing this Marvel "cinematic universe." The company has a plan, which is always a good thing, but it also seems the plan is more important to the company than the people who are supposed to execute it.
I mean, we need only look to the whole Edward Norton debacle. Feige and Marvel simply kicked Norton to the curb because he was aggressive about trying to make The Incredible Hulk as good as possible. Sure, I bet Norton was difficult to work with at times, but the director, Louis Leterrier, seemed OK with it, and they even had a "directors cut" they collaborated on, and were apparently happy with...
But Marvel wasn't. Which I suppose is fine, they put up the cash. Still the tone, and vitriol spewed by Feige in his comments about Norton. Weird.
Now, Norton's out, and Mark Ruffalo is in. Which is cool with me, as I really like Ruffalo on film, but I also really liked Norton's Bruce Banner. I will always feel that was a dead-end that didn't have to be.
The whole Avengers cast is solid, and Whedon has lots of experience with ensemble casts that all need to get their moments, so I feel like he'll work that out. It's also been nice to see they way things have been layered in, and layered together, through the Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor to point us into The Avengers. It's been pretty well handled, if a bit too eager to stroke the fanboys.
The problem I see is going forward from this. Feige is out there talking about spinning Black Widow and Hawkeye out of The Avengers into their own films.
Trust me, the only people clamoring for a Hawkeye film are the 10 guys who show up for the "We LOVE Hawkeye" panel at Sand Diego Comi-Con every year, and half of them think it's got something to do with Alan Alda. No one in their right mind would be talking about a movie franchise about a character with A) no memorable villains to speak of, and B) an actor who's already got two other franchises in the gate.
Oh, wait...You can just replace him, and issue snarky press releases, right?
OK, that was a bit snarky of me, as well.
That's the road to ruin, boys and girls.
Feige's comments in D23 just make it clear that your over-enthusiasm has bred an over-confidence. Those cheering fans in Hall H at San Diego are the bread and butter, sure...but they've also shown themselves to be willing to accept garbage. Accept it and lionize it as genius, vehemently, then turn around and call it crap six months later. The burst of excitement at release cannot hold.
For example: I almost got into fist fights upon release of Superman Returns, because I dared to say that, while I liked it (and still do), I thought it was too beholden to the Richard Donner film with Christopher Reeve. Now, the film seems universally reviled. I'd say unfairly.
We've evolved, as fans into "all or nothing" creatures. Everything is either awesome, or it sucks, and everything new is awesome. When, the fact is, almost everything is somewhere in the middle. It's this lack of true critical thinking that, eventually, leads to studios (not just Marvel), shoving out any bit of drivel, and expecting us to love it.
They start pushing a product, a plan, instead of trying to make each film as cohesive, and as good, as possible.