By the time you read this, Avengers should be well on its way to making a billion dollars at the box office and if you ask any fanboy, Avatar may have something to fear. Joss Whedon has created the comic book movie geeks have wished their entire lives for.
In the 90s, before Bryan Singer made X-Men, Wizard magazine would run a feature called “Casting Call” where they would make fantasy casts for big superhero movie adaptations, but even back then no one could ever dream of a comic book property being so perfectly translated to the big screen as The Avengers.
The reason for this is that ever since Burton’s Batman, Hollywood has wanted to ground comic book flicks in reality. The thinking was that if they embraced the unreality of the comic page, they’d alienate the casual audience. So while we did see some really great comic book movies prior to Whedon’s Avengers, they always fell just short of perfection due to a restraint that was put on them to make them more realistic.
With Marvel Studios crafting a cinematic universe for their characters to inhabit, that restraint was lifted from Joss Whedon, and the result is amazing…
It Embraces the Comic Book
Watching The Avengers and being thrilled by the epic scale, casual moviegoers are now exposed to what comic readers get every week when they crack open their new issues. Avengers isn’t grounded in reality, it fully embraces the unreality that the Marvel Universe is. From a Mad Titan employing a mischievous “god” from Asgard to wage war on New York with aliens to a team made up of a demi-god, billionaire playboy in a suit of armor, a living legend, a scientist with serious anger management issues, and two master assassins; this is a comic book on the big screen.
Whedon melted fanboy brains with The Avengers if only because we never thought we would ever see a comic book reproduced to faithfully on theater screens, especially after more than twenty years of Hollywood rejecting the fantastical nature of the comic page. Avengers is not only the culmination of four years of universe building for Marvel Studios, it also ups the ante for every single comic book movie to follow.
The Hulk is a difficult character for Marvel. While the David Banner series of the 70s and 80s handled the character well, both film versions didn’t quite get it. Ang Lee’s Hulk was burdened with too much family angst and made Banner more of a troubled scientist with daddy issues, instead of a troubled scientist with anger issues. Ed Norton’s version was a definite improvement, but focused too much on Banner trying to cure himself.
Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is simply the best version of Bruce Banner and the Hulk to ever be put on screen. He’s perfectly twitchy. Accepting of what his problem is, but not yet fully embracing it. It takes a little push from Tony Stark for that to happen, and when it does the Hulk becomes the star of the movie.
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