The Avenger's Paradox

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage


So over at Nerdcaliber I wrote a column re-exploring my theories on why the Avengers second film may have problems.  It was in response to another column on the possibility of the Avenger's sucking like a black hole.  Hey, let's face it, we're all looking forward to this and this is an issue we talk about.

Now me, I talk about geeky professional stuff a lot.  You kind of noticed that here.  When it comes to the Avengers, however, it seems everyone is fluctuating between being a fan and being a business analyst.  I figure I had it out of my system, and here I am writing about it again - and I hear it and see it all over . . . 

Is this a good investment?  How cool is going to be?  Could this be duplicated with other properties? Can Robert Downey Junior actually kill a man with a blade of pure snark?

Talk about the Avengers being something to watch flows effortlessly into talk of financial projections or management coordination.  I've never seen a film get this many people talking about the mechanics of making a film, and I've been impressed at the geeky enthusiasm of so many people for the event.

Now here, I write on professional issues, speculate on trends, etc.  Hell, I do that in a lot of places.  Even I find myself fluctuating on the Avengers, going from pro analysis to "oh, awesome" in seconds.  I see it among my friends and coworkers as well; "This will be so great - and can you believe the careful rampup from marketing?"  

Then it struck me.

For those of us who like comics and superheroes, this is the absolute total intersection of big professional interests (making a freaking huge profitable film), and our geeky interests (comic books):

1) This is an unprecedented event, the big superhero team-up movie that we've all wanted to see, yet figured would probably be terrible.  We know that if it's good and we want to see more, it must succeed - and that makes even the most fandom-focused fan aware of the economics of the situation.

2) The Avengers represents a professional triumph of geek culture, that Marvel/Disney will place such a huge bet on a project like this.  In fact, a lot of the cast is placing a pretty big bet as well.  It recognizes the monetizable potential in our fandom passions.

3) The Avengers' journey to the screen (and it's odd detours and additions) is a kind of study of well-planned work, marketing, and more.  No matter how much you just want to see Thor slug The Hulk, it's hard not to appreciate (and learn from) how all of this came about.

4) The making of the film shows a lot of craftsmanship, from special effects to marketing.  How this is all done will be something to study.  Come to think of it, anything that goes wrong will also be studied.

5) We're also hearing about it constantly.  There's only so long you can geek out over a film - or discuss the business lessons of it - before flipping over to the other side.

6) It's such a big thing that people are going to be interested, period.  It must be hard to not be a bit curious even if you don't like comics and superheroes.

The Avengers may just be one of the best lessons for geeks to derive professional knowledge from their hobbies . . . or for business types to be led into the world of Hulk-punching.

- Steven Savage


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