There are four primary reasons why comic adaptation films fail:
When the dialog sucks, there’s no way to recover.
Ex: Batman & Robin, Elektra, Superman IV
Over-reliance On Source Material
Attempts to cram a ton of famous comic moments into a movie with little regard for the narrative, tend to fail. This is usually done to appease fanboys & girls.
Ex: Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3
Ignoring Source Material
There are good reason why people love characters like Batman, Catwoman, Steel, & The Shadow. Completely ignoring what made them great comic characters is a terrible move.
Ex: Batman & Robin, Catwoman, Steel, & The Shadow
Too Many Characters
When there are too many characters in a film, it becomes difficult to develop any of the characters properly.
Ex: Batman & Robin, Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3
Why The Avengers (Probably) Won’t Fail
Making a movie about the The Avengers is a massive undertaking. There are about a dozen significant characters who will appear in this film, and it’s no small task to write each character properly, develop them with minimal dialog, all while telling a story that the audience cares about.
The Avengers has two big things going for it:
Most of the main characters will have appeared in their own movies by the time The Avengers makes it to the silver screen. The recent round of Avengers-related movies have all ranged from fairly good to great, and barring poor performances in Captain America & Thor, The Avengers has a solid foundation to build upon.
The Avengers script won’t have to explain the origins and motives of each character. Most viewers won’t find themselves wondering…
“Why is there a misogynistic billionaire flying around in armor?”
“Why is that adonis running around in American flag pajamas?”
“What’s with the yellow-maned dude and his giant hammer?”
Here’s the lynchpin in this movie. There are very few writers who deeply understand and appreciate these characters and their legacies, have a background in movie scripting and directing, and can tell a compelling story with a massive cast. Come to think of it, there is only one man who fits that description.
Whedon is the go-to geek for this kind of film-making. He’s a legit comic fan. Damn-near everything he writes has a massive cast (Buffy, Angel, Firefly/ Serenity, Dollhouse, Astonishing X-Men & Runaways), and has proven more than capable of telling great stories with these large casts in a very small amount of time.
With Whedon at the helm, you can be confident that the script will be good, the source will be honored, and he will make the most of each character at his disposal.
Will the movie be good? Only time will tell, but at least we know that it is in the best hands possible.
The Avengers is due in theaters on May 4, 2012.