Monday, May 14, 2012
Where Does Marvel Avenge Next?
Posted by Courtney Small
It has been over a week since I saw The Avengers and it dawned on me that I never wrote an actual review of the film. To be honest, I was so exhausted after Hot Docs that writing another review was the furthest thing from my mind. Plus it seems that everything there is to say about The Avengers has already been said. Instead of regurgitating the same praises that critics and other blogs have already showered on The Avengers, I wanted to look at where the franchise goes from here?
There will be no shortage of films coming down the pipeline with sequels to The Avengers, Thor, Captain America, and, of course, Iron Man 3 already in the works. Marvel also recently announced that, to no one’s surprise, a new Hulk film would be coming in 2015. Proving with the Hulk franchise that if at first you do not succeed, reboot and reboot again. While The Avengers is a huge success, I cannot help but wonder if the formula Marvel has established will work again? Or will the franchise stumble like the show Heroes did in the second season?
The first season of Heroes was all about building to the point where all the various superheroes would unite and save the day. After the first season of Heroes, fans were extremely excited to see what life as a superhero team would be like moving forward. However, the show made the fatal mistake of trying to replicate the first season’s success by separating all the heroes once again and building to yet another team up. The problem was the audience no longer cared about the individual stories and wanted to see how everyone interacted on a regular basis. It is one of the reason’s Lost was so successful, despite highlighting one character in each episode, it still showed how they connected to the greater story.
Since audiences now have to sit through more solo films before seeing another Avengers team-up, the question becomes whether or not audiences will still find the characters as entertaining on their own? Besides the original Iron Man, a film universally liked by both comic book fans and non-comic book fans alike, the other Marvel films have been hotly debated as to their levels of success. The Avengers got everyone is jazzed to see a new Hulk film, but can the Hulk be as entertaining without his interactions with Iron Man? Let’s not forget it was only a few years ago when The Incredible Hulk, a film I enjoyed, was disliked by many of the people who now proudly proclaim they are Team Hulk. Though I thought he was the best element in The Avengers, the film did turn the Hulk into a Chris Tucker-like figure. What I mean by this is that the Hulk that is shown in The Avengers is entertaining in doses, but it is rather questionable in regards to whether or not he can carry a film on his own. They have had two attempts now and still have not found a way to sustain the perfect balance of humor and depth that the Hulk in The Avengers managed to achieve.
Besides the fact that the audience may not be as keen to see certain solo films, there is also the issue of needing to have some form of continuity running throughout the franchise. One of the major problems I had with Iron Man 2 was the fact that the whole film felt like one long commercial for The Avengers film. Does this mean that we will have to sit through five more feature length commercials prior to the next Avengers film? Hopefully now that the team has been established, the individual films can finally carve out their own unique path without the weight of The Avengers 2 hanging around their necks. However, even this does not exclude the films from suffering from a lack of tension moving forward.
Although comic books, and movies based them, rarely kill off the main character, the best ones figure out how to build in that “they might not make it out alive” style tension. Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight had these moments that, even if for a split second, made you think “how is he going to survive this?” This is one of the things that the films Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor where missing. Those films felt more like you where just waiting for heroes to be triumphant over the villains, rather than having the edge of your seat moments that the Christopher Nolan’s films had. Again, part of this is due to the fact that you knew The Avengers film was coming so the stakes were minimal at best in the solo films. Who knows, maybe the solo films will work better now that all of the origin stories are put to bed. For example, S.H.I.E.L.D can finally play a bigger role in the Captain America series and Iron Man can finally get more interesting villains. Still, it will be interesting to see what direction Marvel takes this franchise. Although I am a comic book fan, I would be content with two more Avengers films and call it a day. Mainly because I fear that the more they try and milk the solo films, the more watered down the franchise will feel as a whole. Of course I have been wrong before, for all I know Marvel may already have the master plan mapped out while giving the illusion they are making it up as they go.