Dear Joss Whedon,
Congrats on scoring the Avengers directing gig! Like many comic book fans, I think the mixture of comedy and action that you brought to cult TV hits like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly is just what Marvel’s premiere superhero team needs to help them succeed on the big screen. (If anyone can make the Avengers less stiff, it’s the guy who made costumed heroes and villains sing in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog.)
You’re also coming in at a much needed time, Joss. Because, I hate to say it, Marvel could use a little help. Iron Man 2, while fun, lacked the spark and brisk pace of the now classic first outing. Thor’s costume is looking good, but until a trailer hits, we can’t be sure that director Kenneth Branagh won’t have the Norse superhero quoting Hamlet. And while the First Avenger: Captain America cast is shaping up (Hugo Weaving as Red Skull is spot-on), director Joe Johnston’s last film,The Wolf-Man, came and went from theaters faster than The Blob at an all-you-can-eat rib buffet.
Still, all is not lost. If you follow these five easy steps, the Avengers will “assemble” on the big screen in a most heroic fashion.
Turn Hawkeye Into the Next Wolverine
Once The Avengers finally hits screens, audiences will have met all of the major team players (Iron Man, Cap, Thor) in their solo movies. And once you get past the big guns, the rest of the Avengers are a little C-list. (If Wonder Man shows up, you’ll really be scrapping the bottom of the barrel.) The one shining light in the Avengers roster is Hawkeye, the tough-guy archer. Cast wisely, Joss, (rumors of The Hurt Locker‘s Jeremy Renner are promising) and you could have a breakout star with spin-off potential on your hands.
Pay Robert Downey Jr. Truckloads of Money
Rumor has it Avengers might not be able to afford Robert Downey Jr.’s massive salary, meaning that Iron Man could be M.I.A. for the big superhero team-up. If this happens, you can expect nerds to riot in the streets. Not only is Iron Man a founding member of the Avengers, Robert Downey Jr’s charm is what jump-started Marvel’s current cinematic golden age. Marvel should pay whatever will keep Downey in the red and yellow suit–and away from another Sherlock Holmes flick–until after Avengers wraps.
Make Scarlet Witch Freak Out Phoenix-Style
In one storyline, all-powerful team member Scarlet Witch went bonkers and destroyed Avengers mansion in one of the best Marvel tales of all time. This led to the deaths of characters like Vision and Hawkeye, and the formation of the New Avengers (Wolverine! Spider-Man!). So why not take a cue from Jean Grey’s transformation in X-Men: The Last Stand and have Scarlet Witch turn on her teammates? Scarlet Witch is a plum role for the right actress, and would be a fine addition to the Whedon-verse.
Beware Villain Overload
This one is key. With so many heroes, you might be tempted to shoehorn in tons of baddies for a superpowered battle royale. In comics, big slug-a-thons make the fans go wild. Onscreen, however, you’ll be doing constant crowd control. There’s already enough heroes to juggle without worrying about throwing in, say, killer robot Ultron or the Masters of Evil. Stick to the original Avengers origin story and you’ll avoid the dreaded Spider-Man 3 curse.
Less Nick Fury, More Black Widow
Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is a little too camp in Iron Man 2. Best to use Fury as more of a behind-the-scenes puppet master and advisor to the team. On the other hand, fanboys will hardly have a problem with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) popping in to help the Avengers battle Loki or seek costume advice from fashion designer The Wasp. Maybe Wasp could help Widow locate the missing top button from her uniform, come to think of it!