As you read this, I am in the great city of Los Angeles, probably getting a tan and maybe even watching the Avengers (work, work, work). As I write this, I am still in anticipation of getting to do these things, and it is pretty killer. For now, though, let’s chat. Because I have to get up in five hours, I’m going to make this short but sweet:
I think the Avengers is genius. I don’t mean the movie itself–I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t judge (you can check my review on FlickBoom once I have)–but rather the way in which it was planned and released, with the five “prequels” that were actually full movies in and of themselves (as opposed to sequels, which are rarely planned from the beginning and therefore lack the strength of the original film). A lot of people recognize that the concept of linking movies together has a lot of value in the way of marketing, because it will collect fans over a longer period of time, which means more people committed to seeing each movie and, in turn, bigger box office numbers. And movies live and die by box office numbers.
But that’s not what I think is so revolutionary about the idea (and it is revolutionary). The Avengers format completely changes how movies work. It takes a one-shot medium and morphs it into a serial format. Instead of having a single movie to build up the characters and their worlds, it has five to mess around in before ever even getting to “the big one” at the end. In this way, the series becomes more like a TV show, with a growing fanbase and lots of room to breathe for each character. By the time the last movie comes out, there are tons of inside jokes and character moments already in the watcher’s mind, which gives the writer tons to work with without straining the final screenplay. There are a million different directions you can go with a format like this.
Of course, Avengers isn’t the first pre-planned movie series. It had predecessors. The proof of concept came out of Lord of the Rings: three movies planned sequentially, which drew bigger crowds each time. It was proven again with Harry Potter and (sigh) Twilight, and I’m sure we’ll see it yet again with Hunger Games. But Avengers is the first where each individual movie has a completely unique story, with unique characters, who come together in the final installment. It’s not a linear narrative, moving from film to film. Instead, it’s an entire world, built up one piece at a time.
If this movie does well (which it will–it already has), I would not be at all surprised if we started seeing more series like it in the future. Which I, for one, think is amazing. Any time mediums start to shift around and re-define themselves, I’m happy. Bring on the revolutionizing; Hollywood needs it.
“I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians.” -Francis Ford Coppola