Dear Mr. Whedon,
I’d like to start by saying that I saw your movie Avengers: Age of Ultron this past weekend. Twice. So what did I think of it?
I FREAKING LOVED IT!
You’ll note the above statement is underlined, bold, and italics. I want there to be no mistaking my meaning. The purpose of this letter is in no way to criticize your work, tear you down, or cast aspersions on your character. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is something of a love letter to you, so I’ll try not to make it too awkward.
I think there are other directors who could have helmed Age of Ultron, and done quite well with it, but it wouldn’t have been the same. Your directorial stamp ̶ the skillful flip/flop between humor and tragedy, the banter and dialogue, all those little moments that made Ultron great ̶ sold me on this movie. Now, I’m not blowing smoke here or trying to get all butter-y on you; the truth is that I love this movie because you made it.
And that is why I have such a hard time understanding the vitriol leveled at this film, particularly from those saying that it’s misogynistic in some way. I get that you can’t please everyone, particularly for a movie that will be seen all over the world, but this, really? I don’t know what film they were watching. I honestly don’t. And to level this at you of all people! You gave us Buffy and Willow, Zoe and Kaylee, and Echo and Fred, just to scratch the surface. Black Widow is another in the long line of strong, beautiful, badass ladies you’ve brought to life on screen.
You have written/are writing/will continue to write some of the strongest female characters that exist. A great multitude of writers could really learn from your lesson, particularly in the realm of comic book movies. (David Goyer, I’m looking in your direction. She-Hulk, really?)
I don’t know what it was that compelled you to deactivate your Twitter account, but I’m sure that this backlash didn’t help. Regardless, I hope that you will come back at some point. Your fans love you. (Also because it will be significantly harder to Tweet this to you if you don’t.)
Look, I’m not a movie director, and certainly not one tapped to helm a tent-pole blockbuster like an Avengers sequel. I have no clue what it’s like to work with Marvel Studios, or the pressure and worry that come with it. I’m sure it was no picnic. Furthermore, you had to set up so much that will take place in future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. No rose garden there, either.
But when you resolve people’s expectations of what they wanted Ultron to be, along with all the things it had to be, I’d say that you were given a Herculean task in all this, exceeding that of even the first Avengers. And in my estimation, you didn’t just choke the Nemean Lion, you popped his head off with a flex of your mighty bicep to score a sweet basket from center court. Nothing but net.
As I’ve been writing this, I’ve been listening to “A Promise” from the first Avengers soundtrack. It’s my favorite track on that album, and that’s saying something. If I recall, this music plays during the part where Nick Fury and Agent Hill are talking on the bridge of the helicarrier. When Hill asks Fury what makes him so sure that the Avengers will come back if Earth finds itself once again in peril, Fury simply says, “Because we’ll need them to.”
That is my hope for you, Mr. Whedon ̶ that you will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe one day, despite it all. These superhero movies need you, whether they will admit it or not.
Now, I hope you don’t take all this as the little kid tugging at the pant leg of the hero in the third act, saying: “You can do it, mister! I believe in you!” No, I think the best-case scenario for me here is to be the convenient wind that carries Indiana Jones’ fedora back to him as the music starts to swell. At any rate, you have a true gift for this work and a love of these characters that is undeniable in the finished product. You are a Big Damn Hero to me and to so many other fanboys and fangirls out there.
Please remember that.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
– Matt Carson
P.S. ̶ You may not remember me, but we met once. It was at the last Buffy Bash in LA, circa 2004. I was the long-haired gentleman in the suit who gave you a semi-translucent plastic card of Buffy from the Buffy trading card game. Good times.