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It's one of the biggest commercial successes of all time and garnered extremely positive reviews, but "Marvel's The Avengers" has at least one rather notable critic: its own writer-director.
For millions of fans, "Marvel's The Avengers" was the movie of 2012 as it brought to life countless childhood fantasies of some of the world's greatest superheroes coming together to, well, fight the bad guys and save the day. But Joss Whedon, the writer and director of the film — and one of our top pop culture gurus — has referred to it not so much as a great film but "a great time."
Whedon's biggest criticism of his creation? The structure, which he refers to as "haphazard" in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"When I think of a great film, I think of something that's either structured so perfectly like 'The Matrix' or made so lovingly like 'The Godfather Part II,'" said Whedon. "There was haphazardness in the way ['The Avengers'] comes together — not just the people, but the scenes. I don't think you'd look at it and go, 'This is a model of perfect structure.' You'd go, 'This is working.'"
Whedon is currently hard at work on the sequel, "Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron," the current draft of which is "a million pages long." Whedon is especially fond of the story's villain, the powerful robot known as Ultron (who will sound a lot like James Spader).
"He's not a happy guy, which means he's an interesting guy," Whedon said of Ultron. "He's got pain. As a character I love him because he's so pissed off."
Ultimately, though, Whedon sees the sequel as his chance to improve on the original.
"I want to be clearer about how I engage the audience, and where I take them," said Whedon. "I want more control visually, more time to prep it. Not that I didn't dictate every shot — I did. But there's only so much you can do when you're making a summer film when the ball is already rolling as fast as it was when I got in. Why do it again if you can’t do it better?"
It's hard to imagine how the "Avengers" sequel could possibly be better than its predecessor. "Marvel's The Avengers" has a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although Rhett Bartlett of Dial M For Movies agrees somewhat with Whedon's own criticism, writing that the movie "stumbles into a standard film structure and doesn't even try to break free." David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews concurs, writing that the film has an "utterly routine (and decidedly endless) finale."
But the real quantifiable success of the film came from the fans who went to see it over and over again throughout the summer of 2012. "Marvel's The Avengers" had the biggest North American opening weekend in history ($207,438,708, for the record) and is the fastest film to reach the $1 billion mark (19 days). The film's final tally was $1.51 billion worldwide, making it currently the third highest-grossing film of all time (behind "Avatar" and "Titanic").
And even though Joss Whedon might be a little hard on his creation in some respects, he ultimately has a fondness for it.
"I like it. I'm proud of it and I like its imperfections," said Whedon. "The thing I cared most about — making a summer movie like the ones from my childhood — is the thing that I pulled off."
"Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron" will hit theaters on May 1, 2015.