The numbers are in and (surprise, surprise) “The Avengers is a hit at the box office and with the critics. The film just pulled in a worldwide revenue of over one billion and it shows little sign of slowing down. Surprisingly, director Joss Whedon is not hesitant about sharing the recipe for the film’s success– and it comes with some harsh words aimed at the upcoming Harbo production, “Battleship.”
In a conference call interview with various universities across the U.S., Whedon answered questions about his work on “The Avengers.” When asked why college students pick “The Avengers” over the summer instead of other blockbuster flicks, the “Firefly” creator admitted that making a movie on the scale of “Avengers” was a career-long dream, before making a subtle slight to the upcoming “Battleship.”
“When I grew up, the summer movie was literally created as a concept,” Whedon said. “All my life I wanted to do something like that- something like the first “Indiana Jones,” something that was steeped in character, in love of the genre that it was portraying, had intelligence, had real acting, had a story that unfolded and wasn’t just a sort of big premise that you already knew going in or isn’t based on Parcheesi or something just because it has a name.”
While “Battleship” was not mentioned by name, Whedon made it clear that the Peter Berg-directed adaptation was the target of his comment. As the interview concluded, Whedon began to rant about how current production companies (such as the unnamed Hasbro) may not be as emotionally-invested in their stories as Marvel.
“More and more, summer movies have felt a little cynical. There are very, very big exceptions to that, but that has been the case when people throw so much money down. They’re not interested in a story; they’re interested in just barraging you with excitement and imagery and brand names. And Marvel doesn’t operate that way. They care about the people.”
Whedon’s comments are hard to refute. With a handful of exceptions, Marvel films have been embraced by mainstream audiences and critics alike. The lowest-rated of the five prequels to “The Avengers” was 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” which received a 67 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes- 10 percent higher than the highest rated Hasbro film- the first “Tranformers.”
On the other hand, Hasbro’s five-movie collection has been some of the most critically panned films in recent history. The “Tranformers” trilogy has received Rotten Tomato ratings of 57, 20 and 35 percent ratings respectively, while the first installment of “G.I. Joe” received a rating of 34 percent.
The interview was conducted before the release of either films, and it may have served as an omen of things to come. Currently, “The Avengers” holds a 93% rating and continues to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. “Battleship” currently holds a 46% rating with critics.
“Battleship” was released last Friday. Whether or not the board game adaptation will have what it takes to push “The Avengers” out of the number one spot is still uncertain. If producers want to compete with films like “The Avengers” in the future, they may want to consider taking Whedon’s advice by investing more time and effort into story and character and less into gimmicks like hallow CGI and explosions.