OK, so like pretty much everyone else in the world, I loved The Avengers. I mean, LOVED. I went to see it three times in a week and could happily go again: I’m already waiting in anticipation for the DVD. It was everything I want from a blockbuster, and everything I hoped for from Joss Whedon: smart, funny, action-packed, with great ensemble chemistry and each character given ample time to shine. It was also, clearly, everything Marvel and Disney ever wanted: a record breaking smash cementing Marvel’s place at the top of the superhero movie tree, and paving the way for what they hope will be a lucrative stream of solo flicks before the inevitable Avengers 2.
Why shouldn’t they think that? Despite the two stumbling, misjudged Hulk movies, the Avengers solo outings have all enjoyed respectable (or very respectable) success: so plans are already afoot for Captain America 2, Thor 2 and Iron Man 3; Mark Ruffalo has been signed up play the Hulk in six movies in hope that his spot on casting can fix what was so clearly broke in that series, and there’s talk of a Black Widow/Hawkeye outing, or a Nick Fury solo flick. But, at the risk of incurring fanboy/girl fury, my big question is: leaving aside the obvious attractions of milking this particular cash cow, should they bother with more solo efforts? How about we just skip the foreplay and go back to the main event: Avengers 2?
My arguments for this are varied, so hear me out. One, while I enjoyed (to varying degrees) all of the solo outings, I’m really not sure we need any more. Iron Man, Thor and Captain America were all pretty much origin movies, and enjoyable ones too: but even the solid gold charisma of Robert Downey Jr couldn’t stop Iron Man 2 suffering heavily from the law of diminishing returns, and I don’t feel there’s any compelling direction in which I want to see Thor, Cap or even Iron Man head off to again – and can’t we just agree that the Hulk isn’t interesting enough to base a whole movie around? There’s also a strong risk that, after the sparkle of the Avengers ensemble, where you see all these great characters (and actors) bounce off one another, that putting them out on their own again will make them seem a little… well, flat. Even the established relationships worked better against the Avengers backdrop: I’ve never cared a hoot about Pepper and Tony’s relationship, yet in a couple of scenes Whedon made it seem real, warm and likeable, something neither of the solo outings achieved – I’m worried that Iron Man 3 will seem like a step backwards.
Plus there’s the unpalatable fact that Robert Downey Jr – without whom the Avengers would have been a whole universe less fun – isn’t getting any younger. He’s already slightly long in the tooth for a superhero – how old will he be when Avengers 2 (and, most likely, 3) roll around? OK, he isn’t required to have the gym-solid physique of Thor or Captain America, since his power is based on the suit, but leaving it too long to make a sequel risks an Iron Man who has started to go a little rusty. Nick Fury is already sailing close to retirement age: how long can he convincingly be handy with a rocket launcher?
OK, but, I’ll admit it: my main argument is that, while I enjoyed the solo Marvel movies, I can pretty much take or leave the sequels – but I loved the Avengers so much I want a sequel as soon as possible, and anything that delays that even a tiny bit, I’m resentful of. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who feels like that?