I just saw The Avengers. Two words: “Oh boy.”
I fancy myself a true connoisseur of Story, and I am simply delighted when a big-scale movie like The Avengers embraces the craft.
Too many tentpole films ignore the basic elements of character development and plot structure, opting for a tired formula that’s painfully adjusted to fit the studio’s fancy visual effect department and bill of superstar actors (I’m looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Shrek the Third, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and pretty much every Michael Bay film of the last decade).
The Avengers is a game changer for the world of Hollywood blockbusters.
It would have been easy to throw the recognizable superheros onto the screen in an amalgamation of poor writing, half-nude women, and rapid chases void of any emotional impact, as so many have done before. But, instead, writer/director Joss Whedon made the film something really special. He took characters that everyone is familiar with, and showed that they are, in fact, human. He gave the capes a soul, and that’s not something that’s easy to do – especially when the studio execs keep harping on you for their exciting set pieces that sell the precious summer blockbusters.
But I’m not surprised. Joss Whedon is a master storyteller. From his delicious Dr. Horrible to the epic saga of Firefly, he has shown time and time again that he can make you fall in love with anyone, and have fun along the way. He managed to pack the action and celebrity screen time that has become standard for big budget flicks, but didn’t ignore a compelling plot or emotionally-engaging characters. There’s fascinating inter-personal drama that makes you empathetic for the right people at just the right time.
Oh, and it is really, really funny. Like hilarious.
Let it suffice to say, without compromising any plot details, that you should see The Avengers. It shows audiences that they should expect – nay, demand – more from Hollywood than they have for the last decade. It was starting to look like any movie with a budget more than $10 million meant a cookie-cutter story and a lack of any and all intellectual stimuli.
Joss Whedon has finally made it to the big leagues, and let’s hope for all of our sakes that he’s here to stay. After all, filmmaking is, first and foremost, storytelling.
And he helps us remember that.
About Adam Blair
A traditionalist who clings to the Hero's Journey and other classic modes of story structure, Adam strives to continually refine his craft and make his tales as compelling as possible, through media ranging from radio-plays to the stage, prose to film. His life goal is to have one of his stories make a complete stranger both laugh and cry. Adam is the luckiest guy on earth to have such a group of fun and talented people to create stories with.