Saturday, May 5, 2012

And Max Power uttered, "I hate you, Joss Whedon!"

I'm proud to feature our first-ever post by contributing writer Max Power! One of the goals of this blog is to begin to feature opinions and articles that run the gamut of fandom. At times, we're going to be fawning nerds and other times we're going to be blasphemers, but it's all going to come from a place of love for all things fanboy.

So without further ado, here's Max's first (and incredibly relevant) article "I Hate You, Joss Whedon." (!?!?!?!)

Before we start, let’s make sure we understand each other. Of the volumes that will be written on Marvel’s Avengers most of it will be deservedly positive. This will not. This is not a review of that film and you should not read it as such. This is an attack on one of fandom’s metaphorical “girlfriends” and I will offer no quarter. The other thing I would like to state right up front is that, I get it. We are lucky to have these movies.

In the good old days of the late 80’s and early 90’s, we fanboys had little in the way of cinematic Marvel fare to enjoy. Oh, sure we had quality DC coming out the whazoo. The first three Batman’s treated me very well, thank you. I also hold dear three of the four Reeve Superman’s (Not III, as the woman being turned into a robot by a giant computer scared the hell out of me.) But as for Marvel? Well, I’m the guy who watched the Matt Salinger, Captain America and convinced myself it was good because he does a flip over an oncoming car. So I get it, we are blessed to live in a time where Ghost Rider who can’t even carry his own monthly, can have not one but TWO films starring that guy from Con-Air. The fact that I can plunk down my hard earned Washington’s and watch Thor punch The Hulk in the face is nothing short of a miracle. And yet…I hate you Joss Whedon.

Firstly, let me disabuse you of the notion that this man is some geek genius. Up till now his claim to fame has been Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Hot chicks and vampires, Eureka!!) a spinoff of that aforementioned opus with the guy from Bones and the Sci-Fi mish-mash that is, Firefly. Near as I can tell, Firefly is a show that gained popularity by virtue of not being god-awful and then getting cancelled which usually propels you to levels of undeserved acclaim in our little sphere of entertainment. If a Sci-Fi show makes it to air and doesn’t run forever, then the sooner it is cancelled the greater it would have been had the idiots at the network not been so short-sighted. This is a geek-math formula of inverse relationships that almost never fails. Shockingly, the film Serenity based on Firefly performed poorly in theaters and those “characters” were never heard from again. And for the record, the man did not write Toy Story. He wrote a DRAFT of Toy Story which in no way was the shooting script. (In all fairness Whedon is the first to admit this, a fact his adoring fans gleefully ignore.)

When I heard Whedon was to direct The Avengers I was possibly the only grown man with Captain America undies balled up in a drawer not turning cart-wheels at the announcement. It seemed like an overly telegraphed overture to fandom. Marvel seemed to be saying, “We have no real vision for this film but you guys likes this dude right?” It felt like when Lucas started cramming Episodes II&III with OT characters, “This is what you like, right,Right, RIGHT?!?!” But that’s just my read on it and in no way a salient argument against Mr. Whedon having his crack at these storied characters. What is in my opinion a good argument is that this guy is a one-trick hack with annoying fetishes he cannot restrain.

I have the same problem with Whedon’s work that I have with Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and whoever the hell wrote most of The Gilmore Girls. Not every character, in every situation, and at all times can have the same voice and precise comedic timing. When one character in an ensemble is the “funny one”; they become the cipher for the audience. This character breaks the tension, points out the absurdity we are all perceiving and drags it into the light. This in turn acknowledges that the story isn’t fully asking you to forget how ridiculous these scenarios are and that then allows us to accept them and roll with it. When John McClane quips about how ridiculous it is that he is once again trading bullets with someone who more than likely has some odd member of his family in danger, you can rest easier in your chair and say,” See, even he thinks this is nuts!”  You are then comforted knowing that the movie doesn’t think you are stupid. It realizes it can’t fool you and it has to admit to you what it’s trying to do. Because the “funny” character pointed this out to you in a charming fashion, you forgive it. These characters usually steal the majority of the scenes they are in and in doing so, become our favorites. Peter Venkman, Jack Sparrow and Han solo, are all excellent examples of this. Without the majority of the film’s characters treating the proceeding’s with the most grim, seriousness there is no contrast for the “funny”  character. This is the problem with Whedon’s work, every character has the “funny” voice. It becomes a Pro-Wrestling match where after every move, the wrestlers turn to you and wink.

 All the characters this man writes have Second City levels of comedic timing and never miss the opportunity to hit you with the snarkiest snark. It quickly becomes too much of the same thing. His body of work plays  like being at a party with some jackass, who encouraged by a successful first joke will now back you into a corner and deliver and evening-long one man show. You never get a break and it never stops. Heroes are funny, villains are snarky, side-characters; HILARIOUS.

 Consider what made Seinfeld the perfect ensemble. Each member of that glorious foursome brought something different to the table, offering you a fresh voice and the opportunity to contrast and appreciate the different styles on display. Elaine was the easily flustered bitch, Kramer the oddball, Jerry the detached, quipper and George the neurotic. Imagine a show where everyone had Kramer’s idiosyncrasies or George’s foibles; all you’d be able to think is “What is wrong with these douche bags? How come no one in this group can function as a human-being?”

Oh, Whedon tries for the barest semblance of variety in his characters, but it’s the same carousel of stock archetypes every time. There’s the loyal nerd, the tortured leader, the tough guy who’s secretly nice, and so on. Now, granted in many cases these are tried and true character molds, but not when they all sound exactly the same. Read a random line of script from any climax scene in any episode of Buffy that does not have a name attached to it and you’d never know who was talking. On the other hand every one of Han Solo’s lines are 100% swarthy-douchey, awesome sauce and are thus easily distinguished. The same goes for absolutely all of Bill Murray’s lines in Ghostbusters.

Whedon brings this bad habit to every project he works on, not just his WhedonVerse (blargh) material. His X-men run is mostly Claremont lifts with everyone talking like the kids on Buffy or the crew of Serenity. Wolverine, having never really been “ha-ha funny “ in his printed career is suddenly the Dennis Leary of mutie-town USA.

Oh and don’t get me started on this guy’s pathological fixation with small kung-fuish women. Joss let me tell you something my friend; no one gives a flying Norse fuck about the Black Widow. That is why she had five minutes of screen time in Iron Man 2 and why she has never, ever carried a monthly book for any extended period of time.

You honestly haven’t worked out your desire to see small women kick guys in the face by this point in your career? It bothers me most because it manages to be unbelievable in a movie where a god is fighting an alcoholic in a flying tank suit. If you have to have these Uber-Chicks wrecking all life on the globe at least fucking sell it to me. When Hilary Swank played a boxer her back looked dense enough to shrug off a small armament.  If Summer Glau kicked anyone in the face they would easily chase her down on what is now her broken foot and throw her into the nearest speeding vehicle.

 My sister is currently in France and is a tiny woman herself, albeit without Kung-fuish tendencies.  As result of the early European release she had already seen the film while I lingered in anticipation. Eager for some tidbits I asked her some tentative questions. She reported to me that Loki had the most screen-time to which I replied “Excellent”. Then she told me that he was followed closely by ScarJo to which I replied, “Of-fucking-course”.  The amount of lines, action and general time on-screen that this character is given is shameful when you consider all the extra Gamma-irradiated smashing that could have occupied it.

Joss, I don’t care about poorly executed fight choreography from a buxom red-head or that you managed to once again shoe-horn your character archetypes into a new project re:Coulson=Xander=Wash. Our medium needs strong female characters, that’s not up for debate. The problem is that you have been forcing the same character on your audience for the last decade and a half. She just traded a wooden stake for a Beretta (kept the awful Kung-fu though). This was a film for icons and legends. The Black Widow is not an icon. She is back-up Captain America’s girlfriend. She was however, the fastest, easiest way for you to put Buffy back on the screen and you couldn’t pass that up. Could you? Please from this time forward direct all Marvel movies. Get Pepper Pots into that armor she’s running around the comics in and you can put Tony in a coma or something. Jane foster did not back-flip into nearly enough Frost Giant’s in Thor. Summer Glau just screams She-Hulk.

It was recently debated at  that maybe Whedon should be allowed to have a crack at the Star Wars universe. I will close by saying, No-Fucking-One wants to see a trilogy of films about Super Leia flipping around Star Destroyers and helmet kicking Storm-Troopers while evading snarky British-actor portrayed Imperial assassins.   

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you, friend, for your words. Know that you are not alone. There are others who hate joss Whedon, and I am one of them.