The Avengers is kind of a major success. What, you hadn’t heard? Of course you did. Avengers box office is on the tips of tongues, internet screens, newspapers, and even within the pages of Time Magazine. You don’t make a billion dollars that quickly without garnering a lot of attention.
With attention comes discussion. People always want to be included in the discussion, it helps get a little bit of that attention directed their way. If at this point you feel the need to point out the hypocrisy of this entire thing, go for it. What do I care?
In attempting to be part of the discussion and gather up some of that sweet, sweet spotlight, everyone has been discussing the Avengers box office results and asking the question we all ask of super hero teams and double rainbows: What does it mean?
Very obviously, it means that this movie has made a ton of money. It is a success by any measure. People love it. People are seeing it multiple times. Unless you live in Japan. They don’t get the film until Fall. First Hiroshima, (then Nagasaki), now this? Will the pain ever end?
Continuing. Pretty much everyone involved with this film is in a good position. All of the actors have lucrative contracts and the few who don’t (Robert Downey Jr. is at the tail end of this contract) now get huge bargaining chips to negotiate new contracts. Joss Whedon will have the world as his oyster, free to copulate with fan girls and, almost as importantly, he’ll get a lot of latitude to make a film he wants – probably after he handles another blockbuster first though.
All the executives are drinking champagne out of Hulk colored glasses while Marvel’s Kevin Feige is having his penis cast in gold. The people at Disney who acquired Marvel are probably grabbing a lot of blow and giving themselves a lot of credit. The executives at Fox, Lionsgate, and Sony are probably weeping just a little bit, since their Marvel movies have run the gamut of great to pure shit. And DC, well… Maybe one day, DC. Maybe one day.
So yeah. That’s about what the box office means. What, did you think Hollywood changed? Did you think the world was upended? Was the very way we do business changed by this?
A big box office is a big deal for plenty of reasons, but very few of them are important. Let’s be honest, The Avengers, as good as it is, didn’t redesign the wheel or revolutionize film. This isn’t adding sound or color to movies. What did The Avengers do differently than other films? Not much. It had a gigantic budget, but we’ve seen that – films like Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the Pirates of the Caribbean films all have had gigantic budgets and made gigantic lump sums. Let’s not forget Avatar, which while making a shit ton of money and forcing 3D on us, didn’t do much else (practically) other than really push 3D into the forefront – despite not being the first widely released 3D movie.
There is a lot of talk about The Dark Knight Rises and what the box office for this Marvel flick means – it means nothing. TDKR is one of the mostly hotly anticipated movies of the summer. The Avengers isn’t affecting Batman at all. If anything, it’s giving them a target to aim at. They won’t hit it, but still, they can aim at it.
Just because this particular movie was mostly fun and happy, not grim-dark and serious, doesn’t mean we’re rejecting those values. It doesn’t mean anything other than The Avengers is a good, fun film that people worldwide want to see more than once. Seriously, it’s full of their favorite comic book characters, full of popular movie characters, and it’s well executed. What’s not to like?
It’s strange that we haven’t seen conversations like this much before. There was talk of this surrounding Avatar, but Cameron’s flick did bring something new to the table: 3D. Dismissive talk about 3D aside (see a few paragraphs ago), the 3D movies that beat Avatar to theaters were made because of and filmed with technology Cameron was pushing. The Avengers lacks that.
Spider-Man made a ton of money, but we didn’t see this talk. Superhero movies were already here and in the pipeline. Pirates of the Caribbean. Transformers. All massive, gigantic hits. Hell, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Toy Story 3. These movies all made billions. Well, billion. Except Avatar. That one made billions. Two of them. Clarification: Spider-Man didn’t reach the billion dollar club, but fucking Alice in Wonderland did. Did we talk about how Johnny Depp and Tim Burton were going to revolutionize film? No, we talked about how tired and fucking stupid that movie was.
To be clear: box office success is important. It’s a motivator. It helps more, similar movies get made. When talking pictures and color pictures came out and blew people’s minds open, that made a real change. Now, we just live in a society where people are hungry, very hungry. We consume things at a fast pace. It’s not okay just to like something. Hell, it’s not even okay just to love it. You have to consume it completely. That’s why records keep shattering. People keep consuming.
Yes, The Avengers gets an asterisk for the fastest rise. Good job, Whedon. It probably won’t last forever. The movie made its splash and will continue to do well, but another big summer movie will come along and soon we’ll be talking about that.
The point? We need to stop making mountains out of mole hills. Or in this case bigger mountains out of mountains. It’s cool that The Avengers is doing so well, but there is no secret to it. There is no long lasting ramification of this. Superheroes movies will be here to stay. Avengers merchandise will be hot. DC will probably try to make Justice League of America actually happen (and fail).
But really, what does this box office really mean? It means the movie was fucking good. Right movie, right stars, right time. To talk about it in a further context, there’s no substance there. Not really. So the more people talk about what this means, the further I get past my boiling point. For me, I’m just glad we had a righteous Avengers movie. I look forward to what else Marvel is going to bring to the table – so why don’t we all relax, watch the box office number climb higher and higher and just chill? Maybe get some shawarma?