Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of The Avengers. After Hulk smash puny wizard by knocking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II from the top spot for domestic grossing opening weekend, The Avengers is headed for another record breaking weekend. The second weekend will be in the $95-105 million range pummeling current record holder Avatar, which earned $75.6 million in its second weekend.
No film has ever done it faster.
A moneymaker does not an Academy Award make, but Writer/Director Joss Whedon deserves a nod all the same. For at least three categories, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, here’s why I nominate Joss Whedon for the Academy Award.
BUT BE YE WARNED, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
1. He made the Hulk work.
When most people walked out of Avengers, the name playing across their lips wasn’t Stark or Loki. It was Hulk. Whedon installed a personality upgrade to the big green rage monster. Hulk wasn’t just fueled by the most brutal of human emotions, which seemed to be the trend of the Hulk’s previous two films, Mark Ruffalo’s CGI monster has a sense of humor.
There’s even a moment when he saves Iron Man’s life and practically shouts him back from the dead. There was plenty of concern pre-release on what role man’s bestial nature would play and if Whedon and Ruffalo could pull it off. They did.
2. He got that cast to make that movie
Let’s crunch some numbers.
Gwyneth Paltrow – Winner Academy Award Best Actress, 1999
Robert Downey Jr – Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 1992; Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2009
Mark Ruffalo – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011
Jeremy Renner – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011; Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 2010
Samuel L. Jackson – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 1995
That’s six noms, 1 win.
If you’re judged by the company you keep, the Avengers is a pretty good crowd to hang around.
What’s even more impressive: find any interview featuring more than one Avenger and you might get an idea of what it was like to work with these guys day to day. They are impressive. They are hilarious. It’s remarkable they got any work done at all. But, you can tell from the linked interview that Joss Whedon can take control and command the personalities.
3. He killed the Everyman
This one hit me hard. I loved Agent Coulson. From Iron Man, I was intrigued by the government suit. From the word go, Phil had tenacity, heart, and he loved his job. He loved every damn minute of being a SHIELD agent. Over the course of the pre-Avengers films, Coulson got little screen time, but still made a big impact. Coulson was the Everyman.
And, in a movie about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, he has one of the most heroic moments in the film. The Everyman stands up for what is right because he knows it is right.
And, he fails.
Surrounded by superheroes, the average guy grabs a gun and starts shooting. In a movie about making the choice to do the right thing, it isn’t just the guys in the costumes. Nick Fury and Agent Hill also have their moments when they embrace chaotic good, but it’s Coulson’s sacrifice that unites the team.
I’m still pissed about it.
4. He laid it all on the table, and everyone is eating
Whedon didn’t pull punches. At the end of the day, he made a highly enjoyable film while balancing an awesome cast and developing honest relationships. He left room for a sequel without sacrificing the satisfaction of the film.
Whedon wrote a good story. He executed that good story. People wanted it, needed it, and were willing to ride along with the premise.
For Your Consideration