Sunday, May 06, 2012

Whedon The Impossible

I don't know how much or how little to say about THE AVENGERS, which I saw on Friday and then again today. It's already the record-holder for the biggest opening weekend ever (though those stats seem to change with the seasons), and people are saying it might end up being the best movie of the summer, even though it pretty much started the summer.

So, I'll just talk for a couple of minutes and leave it at that.

I've been a writer for pretty much all my life, and an editor of a fiction market for going on four years. And one thing that reading for pleasure and for the Dunesteef has showed me is that a really, truly gifted writer can make their work look easy. Often I'll read a short story submitted to us and think, "Dang, that's good stuff, but look how simple it would have been to write that little tale. Why don't I do that more often?"

The truth is, it's not easy. I absolutely despise the kinds of writers who say that it is (and they're out there, and they may be telling their own version of the truth, but it doesn't make me hate them any less), because that's saying that talent is more important than work, and the thought of that frightens me, as talented as my mother told Little Kid Me I was.

A good writer can make everything look flowing and simple, and almost pre-ordained, as though they're retelling a story that existed since time immemorial, and there's no other way the story could go. And I appreciate those who can do that.

THE AVENGERS, written and directed by Joss Whedon is not one of those stories. When it was over, I was amazed, even flabbergasted at how great the movie was. But I never once, not even for a moment, thought it would've been easy. The sheer effort it would take to make a movie with, what, eight lead characters, and give every single one of them a good line, something fun to do, and an emotional arc would be hard to pull off in a mini-series, let alone in a stand-alone film. "Star Trek" feature films have shown us time and time again that one or two of these characters are going to get the short shrift, or have nothing to do but stand around, or appear solely for comic relief or muscle or exposition.

But Joss somehow gives Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Nick Fury plenty of action, dialogue, and personal growth, but manages to give Loki and Bruce Banner more to do than in their own movies. Then you've got Black Widow and Hawkeye, who get highs and lows, laughter and tears, and enough depth that they're as memorable and important to the film as the big stars. Plus, Agent Coulson, Pepper Potts, and Maria Hill all get plenty too.

I'm not going to talk about the amount of stunts, fights, and special effects in the movie, because I don't care about those as much. Except I will say that there was a lot of it, all done well, all filmed so you could follow it, and most of it as clever and thoughtful as the dialogue.

I don't know how a person could pull something like that off. We've seen entire teams of writers, producers, and directors fail at that (talented ones, with really good movies under their belts). But Joss did it, almost as though he were a hungry kid, eager to prove himself in the world. Big and I have joked about the vast amounts of pressure causing Joss's hair to fall out these past three years . . . and maybe that's the evidence right there, that he didn't draw it all from the ether fully-formed, exactly-as-it-was-ordained, with no sweat and no strain. Maybe he struggled with not only every character and every setpiece, but every take and every line.

Maybe he exhausted himself during the day, and at night was too worried about the next day to get any sleep. I don't know how he did it, because I couldn't even begin to pull that off.

Joss Whedon made me care about Scarlett Johansson. Bravo, sir.

"We've done the impossible. And that makes us mighty."

1 comment:

Seraph said...

Great post man. I so want to see this film. I may have to wait for the disc version though. The joys of parenthood ...