Thank you, Paramount Pictures.
Thank you for helping childhood dreams to come true in such incredibly awesome ways.
It’s not very often an entire studio gets that kind of praise from me. It’s not very often that said praise is pre-emptive to the completed project. But, if things keep going the way they are, that praise will be fully deserved. For the task of taking such a mammoth project and getting to the half-way point, they deserve a lot of credit. Most studios would have given up by now. Most studios would have had a true bomb by now. But, something in the cards is right with Paramount. They’re allowing their directors the freedom to do what they want while discussing with the intellectual property managers as to how exactly things need to go down to accomplish the end goal.
I know some of you may be skeptical. This is natural. Open yourself up to the clues around you and tell me it’s not going to be incredible.
Seeing Iron Man 2 made clear that Marvel Studios, with the help of Paramount, is really in this thing for the long haul.
The Avengers movie is going to happen and it’s going to be done well.
If you haven’t seen any of the Paramount/Marvel movies (Iron Man 1 & 2 or the Ed Norton Incredible Hulk) and you’re a comic book fan of any magnitude, shame on you. The Iron Man movies are both absolutely fantastic (Bidula’s Last Word on IM2 – 9/10) and The Incredible Hulk was a much better attempt than Ang Lee’s Y2K disaster.
Once, a friend and I were discussing what it would take to make a proper Avengers movie. I said they could never do it because it would take far too much effort and pliability on behalf of too many people. I told him, if they were to do it, the whole project would have to be under the same banner and be many movies long. I said that it would probably take five to seven years to actually accomplish. I also established three conditions which would make the perfect Avengers movie possible. They seemed unattainable at first.
1. Solid actors and directors would have to be signed to multiple movies and committed to the end project.
Done. Every single character who will make an appearance in the Avengers movie will be the same actor who portrayed them in their individual movies (except for whats-his-name that used to play War Machine but got Don Cheadle’d). Sam Jackson signed a ridiculous contract to appear in nine (count ‘em, nine) movies up to and through The Avengers (5/4/2012, mark your calendars) reprising his role as Nick Fury.
Other than Sammy J, Cheadle and Robert Downey Jr. are in. Ed Norton is in (as Banner/Hulk). Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow) is in. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are in (as Captain America and Thor, respectively).
And, for the behind the scenes staff of the Big Show? Producer: Jon Favreau. And, this one’s for the fanboys… Director: Joss Whedon. Paramount knows what they’re doing.
2. Schedule the movies for release in an order that makes sense to the nerds on the street while making sure it makes sense to the general audiences at the same time.
Done. Iron Man lead up to the Hulk lead up to Iron Man 2 which leads into Thor which will, more than likely, lead in to Captain America: The First Avenger. They’re also exposing more of S.H.I.E.L.D. and what they are as things move along.
The tempo at which they’re introducing new characters and sub-plots are perfectly suited for movie viewers and will (hopefully) allow them to follow the new continuity with the knowledge of a passable comics fan if not the outright fervor of a full-scale nerd.
That’s right, folks. Hollywood is turning you all into comic book geeks. Mwa ha ha.
3. Do right by the fans.
Done. At least, in this reader’s opinion. Sure, it’s not the same stuff verbatim, but you have to respect the fact that they’re crafting a whole new universe on film and that they’re dedicated to the idea that the Avengers films are, indeed, their own universe. They’re trying to keep them as close to 616 as possible without needing to make a 3+ hour movie. Some details you just have to lose.
Look at this: A StarkTech logo on a cryo-tube full of the super-soldier serum that made Captain America in the Hulk movie. That’s two different shout outs in one plot-relevant easter egg. Expertly done. Also, the other Cap shout out in Iron Man 2 was pretty damn funny. I won’t spoil it for you.
Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. being used as sort of a binding agent through everything is also great. It keeps the movies flowing toward that ultimate goal without stifling the individual movies with cross-contamination. Yes, Tony Stark did appear in the after-credits of the Incredible Hulk and yes, M****** (or T**** H*****) did appear in the after-credits of Iron Man 2, but it’s not overbearing. It’s just oil to keep that big machine moving toward the finish line.
I am not here to guarantee the success of the Avengers movie, but things are certainly looking up. They’re taking their time and they’re doing it right the whole way around.
For once, I am optimistic about what Hollywood’s got cooking.
Here’s hoping they don’t fuck it all up in a few months.
Keep fighting the good fight.