The most ambitious superhero crossover event could not have been possible without the former-most ambitious superhero crossover. Marvel’s The Avengers, if you can believe it, was 6 years ago. Age of Ultron was 3 years, and Civil War only 2. (I know it’s “Captain America,” but it’s TOTALLY an Avengers film.) What a road it’s been. The MCU has blossomed radically with each new phase. It is the franchise formula that other studios have repackaged, to less-than-stellar results. Marvel Studios set the modern superhero standard, which is why even when the genre is deconstructed from time to time, the MCU is in prime position to reconstruct it. Continue reading
There’s a pivotal moment in Justice League where a weary Bruce Wayne champions Diana to lead the team, not him. The film wants to prove otherwise (THE LEAGUE NEEDS BATMAN). Thing is, the idea isn’t half bad. Wonder Woman is a far more efficient warrior; her steadfastness not only gets the job done, it saves Batman’s life. The film wants its team and its hierarchy, the same way Warner Bros. wants an Avengers-level success (so much so they brought in Joss Whedon). But there is no need for either aside from the machine-churning mentality of the studio blockbuster and a larger, interconnected universe – the new norm in franchise filmmaking. 2017 pushed the superhero into its golden age with stellar entries in the genre, making Justice League the sole casualty of the bunch. Continue reading
“The city is flying, we’re fighting robots – and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.” Correction, Hawkeye, none of this should make sense. But it does. A superfast whiz-kid, a telekinetic enchantress, a synthesized A.I. Throw in a tidal wave of robot drones and you’d think the film would tip over from the massive weight of its characters. Amazingly, writer-director Joss Whedon keeps everything grounded, even when the plot calls for many, many things to soar simultaneously. Age of Ultron is a funnier, darker, and far more action-packed film than its predecessor, but not necessarily a better one. Still, there’s plenty of things to marvel at in this worthy sequel.
“The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more.” Not a bad idea after all. The Avengers was the culmination of Marvel’s long-gestating Phase One and perhaps their most ambitious risk by far. It wasn’t a question of should they, but could they? Could Marvel weave these individual characters into a larger narrative without compromising who they are? More importantly, could you keep them grounded once the high-flying spectacle kicked into overdrive? Director Joss Whedon had a lot to live up to, and he rose to the occasion. An event film for the ages, The Avengers delivered on the promise Marvel made in back in 2006 and left us desperately wanting more. Continue reading