Saturday, September 12, 2015
Imagination Incorporated (aka "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.")
A thudding noise, roaring engine. Gust of wind rocks me back on my heels. Baxter barks. I look up. And see ...
A helicopter. A freaking helicopter.
Labelled "MUTANT ENEMY."
It lands in front of me.
Joss Whedon leaps out. Looks at me.
"Marty Fugate? Are you Marty Fugate?"
"Last time I looked."
"Well, according to my sources you're the greatest undiscovered creative mind of our century. You want to come work for me?"
I look down at Baxter. He cocks his head to one side with seeming approval.
"I'm in," I say.
"Cool. Get in. We've got a lot to talk about."
And .. ah, to hell with it. That's not going to happen. So I might as well be honest.
Like it or not, if you like to take your imagination to the place where The Wild Things Are and let it play, Joss Whedon is going to influence you. And what a weird imagination he has.
Just look at his big successes. None of them make any damn sense. Without the benefit of hindsight, they all seem like really stupid ideas.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A cute cheerleader who kills vampires in SoCal. Seriously?
Firefly. Brilliant show. We know that now. But, on the face of it, it's the most puerile sci-fi cliche known to man ... a WESTERN IN SPACE! Yeah, a lousy premise for a Lost in Space episode. And the basis for Outland ... the "High Noon in Space" concept, famously excoriated and eviscerated by Harlan Ellison.The most IDIOTIC SCI-FI CONCEPT OF ALL TIME! And yet ...
Joss Whedon made a brilliant show out of it. As he did with the concept of a buxom, vampire-killing Valley Girl.
Now Joss has sold out, sorry ...
Now Joss is working for Marvel. Or Marvel is working for him. I'm not sure how it works.
But he's the dark eminence behind Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I've been binge-watching said televisory epic. I like it, folks. I really, really like it. (Y'all know the "but" is coming.) It's got all his signature tropes. (And it's a really big "but.") It's, for want of a better term, Whedonesque. (Here it comes!) But ...
This is Marvel's universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically. Not Whedon's World. Not some crazyass idea that popped out of his fervid brain. It's insanely great, brilliant, a ton of fun. But it's a franchise, folks. Chef Whedon isn't serving up his own recipes -- he's supersizing McMarvel burgers. Yeah, I know, he's working hard to make it his own. These are the cats and kittens on the fringes, just like our friends on Firefly. I get it. It's good stuff. As good as it could possibly get ...
But this isn't the weird, insane originality of Firefly or Buffy. Great stuff, but it doesn't hit that level. What I want is pure imagination. I want the Wild Things to play. But this is Imagination Incorporated.
And, when all is said and done, it's a franchise.
And that franchise takes up space.
If some other Joss Whedon is out there somewhere and he wants to have fun on the playground? Create another Buffy? Another Firefly?
The playground is full.