Yond Whedon Has a Lean and Hungry Look: How Joss Whedon Failed in The Avengers

Friends, Avengers, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I have not come to praise Joss Whedon, but to bury him. Yes, I am going to critique Joss Whedon on his Avengers movie. I will not talk about anything I liked.

For example, I won’t tell you that Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was moving. The actor did in seconds what others needed hours to do. He might have even out-emoted Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. If there is a heart in The Avengers, it lies within Mark Ruffalo’s sometimes green, monstrous chest. Or in Scarlett Johansson’s bosomy chest. The jaded, shattered spy is a trope, and yet she brings it to life with such pathos that I wanted to pay for her counseling. And her interaction with Hawkeye, where in seconds, backstory was spun out with such depth, such richness, I might have been eating a comic book mousse.

And that is the brilliance of Whedon. Quickly, magically, he can create characters we love. Snap your fingers, you are captured, and if you like the characters, everything else will follow because that is the magic of storytelling.

In Firefly, in the first twenty minutes of the pilot, I knew the characters, I loved them, and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them.

But I’m not going to talk about how The Avengers is a completely satisfying comic book movie. Nope. I will not.

But I will say this. I have to, dammit. I have to. The Avengers has texture. The characters, the action sequences, the whole mother-lovin’ spectacle of it has texture. And it’s funny.

I howled laughter and clapped my hands with glee. A child again, witnessing the circus. Hee, bloody, hee.

I needed, though, two things. And I just wonder if Joss Whedon knew I needed them.

I am going to go into a spoiler. If you haven’t seen The Avengers, go see John Carter, then go see The Avengers. Please. For the love of God!

I was surprised that much of the tension was due to the Hulk. Here you have larger-than-life superheroes, even a few demigods, and yet, they are afraid of the Hulk. And the Hulk is a massive, ripping thing of unbridled carnage. The scene between him and Black Widow is frightful. And when he punches Thor out of the blue, I laughed. But the best scene is when Loki is going on and on about how stupid and pitiful humans are, the Hulk grabs him like a dog with a sock. Hilarious. But then, why does the Hulk turn hero in New York? He saves Iron Man. Why? I think I know, but I would have liked that spelled out more.

The Hulk would know how duplicitous Black Widow was, and not trust her. That makes sense. But Iron Man, well, the Hulk knew that Tony Stark was generally interested in him and really, wanted to see Bruce Banner overcome his own “breathtaking anger management issues” to become a single entity. I needed that spelled out a little more.

And the end battle. I needed a dark moment. Thor was supposed to keep the portal bottled up with lightning, and he does that at first, but then gets caught up in the fighting. I needed aliens to pour out of the portal, completely devastate our heroes, and all looks lost, until Tony Stark takes the nuke and flies back inside the portal, saving everyone.

And of course, that’s when Black Widow figures out how to close it. That whole end battle could have been handled better. More grit and angst.

But the dark moment on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hover-carrier, well, that was certainly bleak. Bravo, Joss Whedon, bravo.

Shut it! No praises for him! At times, the story was murky, it wasn’t crystal clear why Loki let himself be captured, or why lording over humans would please him. I kind of got everything, but it wasn’t as clear as it needed to be.

But funny, and cool, and moving. I’m telling you, when Bruce Banner walked on stage, I got tears in my eyes just looking at him.

And the shawarma at the end. If you wait through the credits, you’ll see the shawarma. And it’s worth the wait.

Joss Whedon, through decades of storytelling and work, has become an icon. He’s the George Lucas we all wanted. He’s a great man.

And unburied. Arise, Joss Whedon, and bring us more stories. More characters. More! Since The Avengers has become a hulkish hit, maybe you can insist on a John Carter sequel!

I Had Dinner With John Carter and It Was Just Perfect

I saw the movie, John Carter, and while I went in afraid it was going to suck like a Hoover-demon, I left overjoyed.

They got it right. I can’t imagine another movie so lovingly done, so respectful of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and so faithful to the world of Barsoom. Maybe not to the actual books, but to the spirit behind the books. The vision.

Keep something in mind. I loved Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring. However, he lost me in The Two Towers, because Sam, Frodo and Smeagol were about to sit down to eat a supper of rabbit and taters, and they were interrupted. No. You have to have them eating the rabbit and the taters. Or it all doesn’t work.

So I am very sensitive about books being translated into movies. And I knew Hollywood was going to try and kill my beloved John Carter. I grew up on Barsoom books, ever since I was an eight-year-old, and I’d get in trouble for bringing the books to school because in my editions, they had half-naked women on the cover. Drawn wonderfully by Michael Whelan.

It was worth the trouble. I adored Dejah Thoris and Thuvia, Maid of Mars. I dreamed of sleeping in the towers of Helium on my dais of silks and furs. To fly across the dying world, a radium pistol at my side, a long sword, short sword, and dagger on my harness.
So I figured the John Carter movie was going to be a lot of fighting, and no rabbits and taters for supper. Then I heard Andrew Stanton was going to help write and direct, and that guy, that guy brought us Wall-E. Which I still can’t talk about without getting weepy.



Me. Crying.



I went with hope in my heart, but fear in my wallet. And guess what?  Taters were roasted. Rabbits were eaten.  The movie was wholly and completely satisfying.

Now, I haven’t read all the reviews. And I don’t know what the zeitgeist is on the movie, but I will give you my opinion. And forgive me, ERB, forgive me, but I liked the movie better than the book. I know, I know. But hey, in the movie, Dejah Thoris is a real woman, with strengths and weaknesses. And John Carter? He’s not a cookie-cutter-white-guy-hero coming to save the day. In Andrew Stanton’s story, John Carter is a good man with a troubled soul who has a character arc, who changes, who is heroic, but that heroism came at an awful price.

And dude, they had McNulty from The Wire as the bad guy. Right there, that raises this movie up to the heavens. And don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop, Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas.


I laughed. I cried. I loved me some Woola and Sola. And the baby Tharks. I wanna wake up with baby Tharks crawling all over me. Better than puppies. Well, prolly not. But the movie did a great job bringing the Tharks, men, women, and children, to life.

Yes, there were some minor problems. I mean, the swords were wrong. Look at the Michael Whelan covers for how Barsoomian weaponry looks. Long swords, short swords, and daggers. Not curved. Not alien. They should look like how Michael Whelan drew them and how I imagined them for decades.

And the motivation of the Therns was kinda iffy. I mean, part of me dug it—they had that vibe of The X-Files’ smoking man but with more tech and less Camel cigarettes. I also needed a little more of why Dejah Thoris thought Barsoom would be destroyed if she got married. And the opening nearly threw me off the horse. Until we got back to the Arizona Territory. Then, it was magic. Pure, magical storytelling.

I felt young again. As when the world was new. And I was eight years old, and my dad’s friend gave me books that changed his life, and would change mine. All written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

In the movie, I cried when I was supposed to cry. I laughed when I was supposed to laugh. I felt hopeful for John Carter, I hated the villains, I loved the heroine.

Bottom line, the movie hooked me, and it’s getting harder and harder to get to my old, jaded heart. Especially with some big, dumb, 3D action movie. This worked for me.

And I hope ERB is looking down from heaven with approval. Because the way the movie treated him was just right. So full of respect, and honor, and love.

I plan on going to see it a second time with my daughter. To pass along the legacy. Because this movie truly feels like the torch of Barsoom is being passed to another generation who will ride their thoats across the empty seas under a Martian sky, looking for adventure, love, and a better world.


Heavenly Fridays – Lynn Rush Confesses Her Undying Love For Demons and Angels

Today, I have a guest blogger, Lynn Rush, whom I interviewed a few weeks ago.  You can go back in time to enjoy those literary hijinks by clicking this blue line.  After my threats, promises, and several arrests (what you call stalking, I call undying love, like the title) Lynn has agreed to guest blog for me.  She is wonderful, classy, and way too awesome for my ghetto blog, but, I somehow roped her in.  Check out her links below to CATCH THE RUSH!  Take it away, Lynn.

Hi, my name is Lynn Rush and I love demons and angels.

(Aaron: I feel like I’m at a 12 step meeting and should say, “Hi, Lynn!” in return.  Okay, back to our show.  Sorry, Lynn.  Sorry, sorry, sorry.)

Anyone who follows my blog knows…there are often random pictures of angels, both dark and light! And since my debut novel, Wasteland, is about demons, that pretty much confirms it.

I love demons and angels.

What’s a good book you’ve read about angels? You know the wing-sprouting, normally tall and handsome perfect-looking angels…

Okay, they don’t have to look perfect, because a nice battle scar somewhere is always endearing as well. Shows me they’re strong!

Here’s a book I LOVED about angels….

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick

Have you read it? It’s a YA book, which I love to read, and I really enjoyed it. Great view of angels.




And Darkest Passion by Gena Showalter. Loved her take on angels, too. And well, I love AERON…he has wings, but is NO angel by any means. But Olivia…now she’s an angel.

Can’t leave out those beautiful demons, the Lords of the Underworld, but they deserve a post all to themselves….later.



There are a few angel movies out there that have caught my eye, too.

MICHAEL—now this was a funny movie.

Michael isn’t your typical angel for sure.

But I really liked it.




And then there’s Legion. I mean, what’s NOT to like about a nice-looking guy with wings, carrying a gun in one hand and a blade in the other.

Okay, so the movie wasn’t that great at all, but the angels were!




Can’t forget the City of Angels movie, right?

Okay, I could. The ending royally ticked me off.

BUT…having said that, I liked their idea of angels. I have to give them props on creativity.



So, what’s your take on angels and demons? Any favorite books or movies out there??

Website: www.LynnRush.com
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