After breaking the all time record for highest opening weekend numbers with 207 million and holding steady at 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, The Avengers is officially a giant effing success. As haters everywhere find themselves stunned that Joss "wait, the guy who created Buffy?" Whedon pulled off such a universally acclaimed take on these beloved characters, it starts to make you wonder. Will Disney give Whedon another shot, since he did so well the first time around, or will they move on, too nervous about the chance they took the first time to try again? What should they do? Does Whedon even want a round two?
First off, it should be noted that I am a major MAJOR Whedon fan. I've watched all of his shows when all of his shows originally aired, I love The Cabin in the Woods, I love Serenity, I love Dr. Horrible, I know I'll love Much Ado About Nothing, and the list goes on. When I met Whedon at Comic-Con a couple years back (well, met as an adult, I encountered him rather often at conventions as a teen,) my fandom overtook my body and forced me to blurt out "BUFFY CHANGED MY LIFE" before telling him my name. Good one, Muse. So I never doubted that Whedon could handle the multi-character action extravaganza that would be The Avengers.
He has been juggling ensemble casts and action scene after action scene for the past fifteen years! This ability is not one easily honed, but comes so naturally to Whedon, it can't help but make you consider that he made a deal with The Master Angelus The Mayor Adam Glory Trio First Evil the devil somewhere along the way. What he does with The Avengers is masterful. Each character has his moment to shine, his fight to win, his relationships to explore. No one gets the shaft and everyone has the ability to walk away a fan favorite.
On top of that, the fight scenes were made for the excited child in all of us who used to smash Iron Man & Thor action figures together, even though it didn't really make sense, the dialogue is smart, quippy and feels natural coming from each characters' mouths, and Whedon even turns his own Whedonverse tropes on their head by gettin' a little meta, but for the sake of spoilers, I won't elaborate on that. For now. While the film may be slow to start, it ends exceptionally, the first Marvel film to boast such a claim, as most of them end following the same old same old formula to mostly unexciting results. In The Avengers, instead of pretending the question is "Will the heroes win?" when we all know they will, the question becomes "How will the heroes win?" and watching the answer unfold and these characters finally become a team is pure unbridled fan joy. Oh, and the film is currently sitting on over 650 million worldwide. So yeah, I think it's safe to say Whedon succeeded.
Furthermore, I would argue that the film has succeeded primarily *because* of Whedon. He jumped in there and rewrote the script, he used his talent at writing and directing women better than most anyone ever to make Pepper Potts the most likable yet and give Scarlet Johansson close to the best role and performance of her career, and he finally put the Hulk we've all been waiting for on the screen. The only difference between this Marvel film and the rest? Joss Whedon. So when this one is clearly the best yet, the reason seems rather obvious.
How the actors felt working with Whedon has become a major topic at any and all press events. Scarlet Johansson during CBS' profile of the director last week even said that when she got the script and read how Joss crafted Black Widow so powerfully she said to herself, "Thank you, Joss" and at the press conference held last month, Chris Hemsworth talked about how hilarious Whedon is and how though he doubted certain comedic moments would play, he ended up being blown away by how well they worked on screen (specifically, "He's adopted.") Whedon knows these characters inside and out and it shows. Robert Downey Jr elaborated, noting how Whedon established the perfect tone for the film and "...did a good job of finding everyone's frequency."
So why wouldn't Disney have him back to direct? Well there's always the old fear that lighting doesn't strike twice. Maybe Disney feels great about this gamble paying off, but wants to use the good will the film will drum up to A) pick a "bigger" director (although technically, no one is bigger than the Whedon right now) or B) go in the opposite direction and pick someone even riskier, with more of a distinct directorial style. Perhaps Whedon himself would want to go out on a high note, rather than pull a Favreau, who followed up the acclaimed Iron Man with the disappointing Iron Man 2. Of course it's possible to pull a Nolan as well, and take on both Avengers 2 and Avengers 3, but Nolan has had time to breathe and step away between each of his Batman films. Would Whedon be afforded that luxury?
When I really think about it, much more so than the directing, it is the writing and the overarching choices of the series that make The Avengers work. Whedon makes some fun directorial choices and the action is all extremely solid, but I find myself only really panicking if someone suggests Whedon stepping away from the writing desk. So here is my proposal.
Acknowledge the fact that Whedon is pretty much *the* reason the film works so well and give him reign over the rest of the Avengers films as writer and producer, and if he so choose, director. Let him guide the story and the direction, perhaps even becoming a instrumental force in selecting his predecessor, should Avengers 2 not be his to helm. After all, Joss discovered some of the best writers working today on Buffy and Angel, and I trust his knowledge of the Avengers and where they need to go and what they require inside and out, and truly believe he would know whose vision would work best in presenting them next.
So at the end of the day, as long as Whedon is heavily involved in the rest of the Avengers series, I'll be a happy gal. But no matter what happens, thanks to the quality of The Avengers and its inevitable success, I say already Whedon has won, Marvel has won and fandom has won. It's a good week to be a geek.