When it comes down to the most successful franchise in cinematic history (for now), few bad things can be said about it. Without a doubt, the partnership between Marvel Studios and Disney has been fruitful, with the latest proof of it being "Avengers: Age of Ultron".
The massively anticipated superhero movie released in a majority of countries on May 1st, 2015. The second Avengers installment has met a mixed reception, with no effect in it's box office campaign, which now nearly crosses the 630.3 million mark just 4 days after it's release. Impressive, but nothing we didn't expect.
The hype was killing us weeks before the release. We were all anxiously waiting to see the movie. Now, that it is here: I have no rush in seeing it.
Yes, I know this sounds weird, but that's how I feel.
In the following days after releasing the movie, I made a promise to myself, one that I failed miserably: I would NOT read any kind of review of the movie. It is a promise hard to keep, since everyone on the net would do a review regardless if they are critics or not because this is such a trending topic.
What did the critics say about the film? I will try to keep as spoiler free as possible.
1. Avengers 2 is not as good as the first Avengers
Well, some critics sound the statement that it was kind of difficult of having the same 'magic' or 'vibe' than the one you got when seeing the first Avengers movie in 2012. Neverless, they state that the movie does offer the same stuff the original was made of: great action sequences and jokes, perhaps a little too much of the second.
Now, this could be the most subjective argument you could ever point out. This statement really depends on the person that sees the film. It is a personal decision, after all.
2. Marvel, again, has problems in the villain character development.
Well, let's face it. The Marvel movies has not had in, any of it's eleven movie franchise, a villain that has standed out. For some, ti is impossible to stop comparing Marvel villains with previous DC villains who have been better, in overall. (For all people that will tell me "Loki! You are forgetting him!", Loki is no villain. He is an antivillain. Two different, but similar concepts).
As I said, I won't spoil anything for the ones that haven't seen the movie, but Ultron is a massive dissappointment. In Ultron we were expecting a serious bad guy that would indeed destroy the Avengers. At least, that is what the first trailer showed vastly.
Well, that is half true, half a lie.
James Spader does a great job as the robotic A.I., but little he could do to save Ultron from being a flop, in terms of our expectations vs. what we actually saw in the film. I expected him o be serious and deadly, but instead we was hilarious and little much else.
Every single film is flawed, with few exceptions, but there is a concern I want to address strongly, and therefore give an insight in what could Warner Bros. and DC do to get rights where Marvel has plenty of wrongs.
The main concern I have with these grand scale franchises is: Who gives the final creative decision? Who decides which stories, characters, themes are to be used in a movie? And, more importantly: that decisive person ends to be the filmmaker?
Joss Whedon, director of Avengers 2, stated that this will be his last film with Marvel. Although he stated that was because of personal creative decisions (to develop his own creations), I think the issue goes a lot deeper.
When you have an original vision of your project an someone comes along and tells you modify it because it doesn't live up to his needs, what would you do to him?
Well, Whedon went along modifying his original Avengers 2 script until it fitted the needs of the executives, to a particular Kevin Feige.
The original script of Avengers 2 was WAY different than the one we saw finally in theaters. But the version you actualy went to see on the theaters is not an 'authentic one' because the movie was chopped down. There were a lot of more stuff going on in the movie than the ones the actually got to see. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" first cut was OVER 3 HOURS LONG. How many details went off just to meet the 2 hours and 1 minute the movie has? I would dare to say A LOT.
Probably some concerns of character development and some plotholes might be explained in those missing frames.
Maybe Whedon's vision of Avengers 2 was way too ambitious, (as he himself reported that he wanted Captain Marvel and Spider-Man in AoU) but probably was the best story possible. I'm not saying the fact that the movie must have been over three hours long, but maybe a length that didn't sacrifice so much of the material would have been better, for critics and fans.
Now, where does Warner Bros. and DC stand in all of this?
Warner Bros. has a whole different approach on the matter. During The Dark Knight Trilogy, all creative decisions rested on the filmmakers, being Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer. Warner Bros. didn't tell Mr. Nolan how to do the film or which orientation the film would had. They just gave him a creative space for them to develop their Batman. Now we know how that went down, don't we?
Currently, DC has a creative team being Zack Snyder, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Wesley Coller and none other than Geoff Johns himself (I would like to make a call out to Harish Chengaiah, who redacted this information in an article in MP called "Is WB's Plan for a Shared DC Universe Actually That Flawed?". You can read it by clicking on the article's name).
Warner Bros. hires filmmakers to do their movies, giving them their space to develop their vision. That is one of the reasons Warner Bros. officially stated when Batman v Superman was pushed back to 2016, "allowing the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story." They give importance to the people that are making the movie for them. Which is something that Marvel hasn't really done since a long time ago.
A Long Story of Pain and Tragedy...
One of example of this could be Edgar Wright. Formerly the director of Ant-Man, he was working on the script for most of a DECADE. He approached Kevin Feige to explain his vision for the Ant-Man movie a long time ago. Initially, he accepted and Edgar Wright was on board. The guy had passion for the project. He really wanted to do it. But as the Marvel Cinematic Universe moved on, it appears that Kevin Feige started to have different ideas for the Ant-Man movie. So, after several closed door discussions, Edgar Wright left. This is the official statement:
Marvel and Edgar Wright jointly announced today that the studio and director have parted ways on Marvel’s “Ant-Man” due to differences in their vision of the film. The decision to move on is amicable and does not impact the release date on July 17, 2015. A new director will be announced shortly.
This was as recent as May 23rd, 2014. Although Marvel moved on with the project, we will never know how Edgar Wright's Ant-Man could have been. We only have one leaked, but promising clip. And also I can't forget the fact that Joss Whedon actually said on a recent interview that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man was "the best script Marvel had ever had." I mean, this is a no-brainer!
I don't know what is going on at Marvel's, but it seems there is a an obvious connection here: filmmakers don't like pressure on their projects, specially the kind that interrupts their vision.
Other recent example is Patty Jenkins, the now director of Wonder Woman, scheduled for release in 2017. Mrs. Jenkins was hired to direct Thor 2 when previous Thor movie director Kenneth Branagh said the wouldn't return to direct the sequel to the Norse God solo, coincidentially citing 'creative differences'. Back in 2014 Jenkins also stepped back from the project, also citing the same thing.
There is a whole article on Screenrant called "Creative Differences Are Knocking Directors Out of Marvel Movies" for the ones that are curious about it.
But is Warner Bros. really that innocent?
No, it isn't. It wasn't but a few weeks ago that Michelle MacLaren pushed back from the Wonder Woman movie, to be later replaced by Patty Jenkins. Michelle MacLaren cited 'creative differences' also as the reason for her departure. While rumours indicate that she had very ambitious plans for Wonder Woman, it is also said that, among other reasons, Warner Bros. had doubts in actually giving the charge of a very ambitious movie to a director whose experience had been "limited to the small screen." Don't get them wrong, MacLaren has directed episodes for "Game of Thrones", "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad", pretty good names, but they thought it would be a risk. They have been in the business for years. The executives must have a reason to evaluate that risk as determinating.
But otherwise than that, Warner Bros. has a good record, for now, in letting the filmmakers settle their own affairs.
We have proof of it, with DC's creative team producing various movies in the planned DC movie slate. David Ayer, director of the highly anticipated Suicide Squad, has had close conversations with Zack Snyder in order to bring the villains in a coherent way to the universe that 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' will expand next year. Ben Affleck's Batman was spotted in Toronto during Suicide Squad's filming, so there appears to be a communion between filmmakers and producers and viceversa, besides the obvious CInematic Universe connection.
Warner Bros. needs to keep doing what they are doing, letting the filmmakers do what they do best. Keep the creative decisions between the creatives and not make it a studio matter.
While Marvel fans brag about their universe being so cohesive, coherent and what other adjective they want, it appears that the ones who actually that have a creative supporting universe is the one that WB and DC are making. While some people may say that Warner Bros. doesn't know what they are doing, I really think they know A LOT. They know the true essence of the business and the people that work at it. Also, giving creatives the power to develop a cohesive, coherent universe is a lot better than just giving one man to decide.
Marvel may have Kevin Feige calling all the shots, but is that a good thing? If something indicates me, such as the recent Marvel movies announcements, departing director news and final products (the movies released), the answer could be a 'no' of the size of the Avengers' Tower.