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Audiences, comic book fans look to marvel at ‘The Avengers’

Courtesy of Disney

The Lantern will have daily coverage this week of “The Avengers,” which is scheduled to hit theaters Friday.

From a screechy-voiced mom to a teenage vampire slayer and kid toys, Joss Whedon has worked with a slew of characters. But when faced with pairing some of arguably the most powerful forces in superhero history, some people wondered if he actually assembled a box office hit. Friday, they’ll have the chance to decide.

Marvel Entertainment’s “The Avengers,” which is slated to hit theaters Friday, centers around Nick Fury, director of an international peacekeeping agency, S.H.I.E.L.D, who tries to get Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor to ban together with a vengeance toward Thor’s brother, Loki, who is trying to take over the world.

“I felt very much like Nick Fury,” Whedon, director of the film, said in a conference call with The Lantern. “You do feel that responsibility that you’ve got to get all of these people to give their best. For him it’s in battle, and for me it’s when we’re rolling to really come up with their best stuff and play off each other as well as possible.”

Jared Gardner, an associate professor in English and film studies and director of the popular culture studies minor at Ohio State, said he started collecting “The Avengers” comics when he was 4 years old, after the series was created in 1963.

Gardner said he and others who grew up with the comics have long anticipated seeing the story on the big screen, and he has faith in Whedon’s ability to translate the comic to film.

“I think as a writer and as a creative person, he’s got absolutely the right temperament for it, but I have no idea what qualifies somebody to work with these multimillion-dollar egos,” Gardner said in reference to some of the A-list actors in the film.

Gardner said he thinks Whedon’s biggest challenge was “finding a way to manage all these different, not just characters, but personalities.”

“How on earth can these people work together?” he said.

Whedon said he was able to handle the cast because he can relate to most of the characters.

“The fact that the Avengers are all really, really messed up people, I think is a fine reflection of me,” Whedon said. “So it’s not hard for me to fall into the cadences of these people. In fact, it’s a lot easier when you’ve already seen them being acted in the other movies.”

“The Avengers” movie succeeds the origin stories of its characters, which have all been made into films as well.

Listing directors Jon Favreau of “Iron Man,” Kenneth Branagh of “Thor,” Joe Johnston of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and Louis Lettieri of “The Incredible Hulk,” Whedon said,

“There’s no way you could make a movie that looked like (theirs) … My own style is actually kind of smack dab in the middle of what all those guys do.”

Jeff Stang, store manager at Laughing Ogre Comics, located at 4258 N. High St., said every review he’s read about the film has been “glowing” and has hinted that Whedon has “pulled off a minor miracle.”

Although the Laughing Ogre hasn’t seen a rise in its sales of “The Avengers” comics since trailers for the movie were released, Stang said it’s normal because people usually want to read the comics after seeing the movie.

He said, however, he’s unsure of how much attention “The Avengers” comics will receive after Friday’s release because there are so many issues to choose from.

“The problem with ‘The Avengers’ is that there’s 60 years of continuity and so to a lot of people, it’s just overwhelming,” Stang said. “That’s the problem usually with the superhero movies, is that people want to read the comics but they have no idea where to start.”

He suggested those interested should start with the “Avengers Assemble” comic book series, which has nearly the same cast as the movie.

Stang also predicted “The Avengers” will do better in the box office than “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is scheduled for release in July, because it will appeal to all demographics.

“It’s going to bring in young and old alike,” Stang said. “It’s one of those movies that I don’t think it’s going to be excluding any kind of audience.”

Gardner agreed and said he thinks Iron Man will be the most attractive to audiences. Thor and the Hulk will appeal to younger audiences and Captain America will draw in older audiences because he’s a World War II hero.

The film has already grossed $260.5 million worldwide since its overseas premiere April 25, according to Box Office Mojo.

Brad Miller, a first-year in business, said he’s going to see the movie for Robert Downey Jr., who plays Iron Man, and Scarlett Johansson, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D agent Black Widow.

“I really liked both Iron Man movies,” Miller said. “I could really care less about the other ones.”

Some students aren’t as hyped as others about the film.

“I liked Iron Man, and I know that (Avengers) is getting good reviews, I just have no investment in it,” said Zach McKee, a first-year in molecular genetics. “I don’t know enough about the fictional universe.”

Still, Garder predicted “The Avengers” will be a success.

“I think it will be, for Marvel Entertainment, its best opening weekend,” he said.

Gardner added he will be interested to see how Whedon stepped up to the challenge as a director.

“It’s going to be interesting to see somebody who has never really directed a movie on that size, a budget on a scale he’s never done, how well he rises to the challenge,” Gardner said.

But Whedon said he thinks Marvel chose him as director for “The Avengers” precisely because he could bring something fresh and new to the concept of comic book heroes.

“I think Marvel has a great nose for a director who has a passionate vision, who’s not famous for turning out big-budget hits, but will bring something a little bit fresh to the concept of a hero movie,” he said. “It’s one of the things that I respect the most about them.”

Patrick Cooley contributed to this story.

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