Joss Whedon, The Avengers and mainstream acceptance

Whedon’s Marvel Studios 2012 picture The Avengers represents a mainstream turn for the Buffy and Firefly creator.

joss_whedonWhile Joss Whedon’s fan base is certainly vocal, it’s never been overbearing in numbers. Serenity proved this – a movie that existed at the behest of its fans could barely scrape its lean budget back at the box office. These figures showed that Whedon’s fans had the passion, if not the power in numbers the movie really needed to succeed.

That doesn’t really matter anymo re, though. When I first heard the report that Joss Whedon was being lined up for Marvel’s 2012 picture, The Avengers, I, like many other loyal Whedonites, squealed (not literally, mind you) in delight. Here, the creator of adored-but-underwatched TV shows such as Buffy, Angel and Firefly was finally handed the means to make a massive mark on mainstream popular culture with one of the most conceptually ambitious blockbusters of our time.

It seemed too good to be true. Whedon’s last high-profile project came in the form of Dollhouse, a commercial failure and divisive among critics, while his long-gestating Cabin In The Woods project continues to have its release date up in the air, Goners seems to be dead and his work on Wonder Woman, a few years ago, sadly came to nothing.

His work on Buffy Season Eight continues to shine, but there’s no denying that The Avengers is Whedon’s biggest project to date. Considering all the directors they could have picked, I’m thankful they’ve picked someone who, traditionally, goes against the curve when it comes to any given project he’s working on. The movie could quite easily of gone in the hands of a safer choice of director, say, one with a history of producing successful blockbuster movies, yet we ended up with a man who, to paraphrase Robert Downey Jr at SDCC this weekend, they knew we’d love.

I like this a lot. Joss Whedon is finally working on something I know that my non-genre-skewed friends will actually watch. If it’s a success – and commercially speaking, considering the already-massive box office take of the Iron Man films, it’s a safe bet – Whedon’s fan base could grow exponentially.