The Blog

Like Sex With an Ex: Joss Whedon's Avengers Assemble

He wooed me with, committed to me withand broke my heart with. Garnering the kind of devotion that you can only create by pumping yourself twice weekly into the homes of geeks, gays and feminists, Joss Whedon knows how to make a fanboy (or girl) out of anyone.

We had a wild five year affair.

He wooed me with Buffy, committed to me with Angel and broke my heart with Firefly. Garnering the kind of devotion that you can only create by pumping yourself twice weekly into the homes of geeks, gays and feminists, Joss Whedon knows how to make a fanboy (or girl) out of anyone.

Introduced to the Buffy-verse five years into its run meant that between the vampire-killer and her ex-boyfriend's spin-off series, Angel, I had unprotected full-frontal access to 105 hours of wet and sticky Whedon in neatly packaged cardboard-sleeved boxsets from a by-gone era when DVD distributors made an effort to excite our collecting gene through original packaging design. These days they wrap it in insert-less identikit bluray plastic, hardly the same as Buffy's ancient screw-sealed tomes.

And so, when you can line up two to three (story) lines each evening after work, 144 episodes become more than enough for anyone to develop a serious series habit. In the matter of a few months, I was a washed-up Whedon-junkie desperate for my next fix, but forced to wait, like the rest of the world, for weekly rationed doses from there on in.

As Buffy went out in an appropriately timed blaze of glory and Angel hobbled out with a bizarre and frustrating final season, we weren't left wanting for long before Joss gave us the equally brilliant and achingly fresh Firefly, a series that gave me the same schinpter-twinge that Star Trek had the decade before.

And so, as all one-way romances do, it all ended in heartbreak as Firefly was cancelled, our frontier space travellers dry-docked, and the only habit-feeders left on the tube were Jack, Chloe and an ever ridiculous string of terrorists.

I mourned, I self-harmed (yes, I consider watching a Star Trek: Voyager boxset as self-harm), and then I found myself a new lover and supplier of tv-crack, Aaron Sorkin. He taught me what true love was, and that maybe my time with Joss was immature.

But he soon left me too. Rebelling against his maturity and intelligence, I replaced him with juvenile, silly and monster-loving JJ Abrams, whose Lost saw me through into my thirties and, well, a life outside of the TV.

I've stabilised recently, no more swinging from show obsession to show obsession, taking series casually, maintaining a healthy TV / Life balance (Mad Men is more like a laxative than it is crack), and happy I was until last week, when Joss came swinging back into town, with two films blazing - Cabin in the Woods and Avengers Assemble.

I have to say, initially I was concerned that the Marvel machine would devour Whedon, but from the word go you realise that the king of ensemble was the ideal lord of Assemble.

Inter-personal relationships were what made the Buffy-verse such welcome escape, and he ingeniously reignites some quite stale movie characters: Captain America was dull, Thor I didn't even attempt to watch due to an achingly painful Facebook quip in the trailer and Hulk has never really worked on screen - but here they all did.

Whedon has crafted a story that takes the strengths of each of the characters and plays them off against each other, and it's so refreshing to have a superhero movie that isn't a retreading of the comic book 'origins' story. Take the forthcoming Spiderman film - I KNOW how Spiderman was created, I don't need to see it a fourth time, no matter how pretty Andrew Garfield is.

It's the expectation of Joss's mastery of the cast ensemble, that I think held Cabin In The Woods back from excelling - the cast were too soon being warped into stereotypes and hacked into bits to create that bond, that love: that gooey Whedon goodness.

So. Spending two hours in the dark with my ex has been fun. He's learnt a few new moves, I'm a little less agile (I blame my marathon injuries for that) and when we were done, I remembered why we're not together anymore.

I got dressed and left before he woke up.