It’s nearly over! The build up of movies, all the hype, even that stupid rename – Avengers Assemble (or, y’know, just Avengers if you’re feeling old school) is nearly here! Yayyy!
Oh wait, you’re all asleep. Or is that just me? The now sprawling franchise of Marvel movie tie-ins, to me, represents not the pinnacle of a fresh and exciting movie series spanning half a decade, but the culmination of a drab collection of narratives that has simply served to remind how stale the “superhero” story has become, each a replication of a standard script in the style of out-of-the-box manufacturing – no assembly required.
Before you rip my head off and call me a geek Judas – just wait a tick – think about it. Each film is pretty much the same. Man becomes hero…man meets woman…man makes mistakes…man encounters villain…man embarks upon suicide mission…man defeats villain…man redeems mistakes and gets the girl.
I hear you. Aren’t all superhero movies, and indeed most stories, loosely based on this same formula? Without a common narrative, as an audience we would find it difficult to relate to any film, TV show, book, etc. This is true. However, all the Avengers series seems to have done is emphasise the similarity between them by tying them together. Each film, in its own way, has been produced as a prequel, before the “original” film has been released. Everyone paid hand over fist to get into the Star Wars prequels, right? Everyone will pay hand over fist to get into The Hobbit, right? It’s the same principle but in reverse.
Avengers Assemble is the film that’s meant to tie everything together, and by knowing it’s going to be released years before it was even in production, this string of forerunner movies become all about getting their characters to the tie-in, much in the same way as prequels show how the characters in the source movie got to that one. Iron Man is a bit different in the sense it had its own sequel before the tie-in, but the principle mostly remains intact.
In this way, you’d think that Avengers Assemble would be the highlight, but as the forerunner movies were merely vehicles to get the characters to the big event, AA is the first time we might get to see them in a new capacity, beyond the formulaic narrative of predecessor films. And what’s the problem with that? Well, that you’ve got a cast of characters from five films (Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America and Thor) crowding together in one film for their audience’s attention. How is anything interesting going to happen while they try and save the world?
Presumably lots of cool explosions. And fights, and sh*t. But the film is in good hands with Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse master Joss Whedon at the helm of the script – not to mention his experience writing for Marvel comics X-Men and Runaways. If anyone can cram all of that character development into 135 minutes with some snappy dialogue, it’s our Joss! In addition the production values and the quality of the film’s cast can’t be knocked at all, so hopefully Avengers Assemble will rock, but maybe I’m not going to hold my breath.