News Column

MTSU professor offers tribute to filmmaker [Daily News (Bowling Green, KY)]

October 16, 2013


David Lavery offered comparisons between two successful Hollywood filmmakers Tuesday night, but it was obvious he'd made his choice of favorite before the program ensued at Western Kentucky University's Mass Media and Technology Hall.

The professor of English and popular culture at Middle Tennessee State University titled his talk "Joss Whedon vs. Michael Bay - Weapons to be Determined." Lavery has written a book, "Joss Whedon - A Creative Portrait" about Whedon and walked into the lecture wearing a black T-shirt that said, "Joss Whedon Is My Master Now." Lavery travels the world talking about movies, television and pop culture. He believes, of the two filmmakers, Whedon is more personable and offers more depth to his movies.

"Nobody breaks glass better than Michael Bay," he said with a smile.

Bay is best-known for the "Transformer" movies, "Armageddon," starring Bruce Willis, and "The Rock," starring Sean Connery, while Whedon's 2012 hit, "The Avengers" - Marvel Comics superheroes Ironman, The Hulk and Captain America combine their forces against evil - is the third-highest grossing movie of all time, behind filmmaker James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Titanic."

Lavery said the public votes for favorite filmmaker when tickets are purchased. Right now, Whedon trails Bay by $1 billion in the amount of money each director's films have grossed at the box office, with Whedon sitting at $3.5 billion.

His recent success with "The Avengers" helped his tally, Lavery said.

Whedon is a third-generation television screenwriter. Both his father, Tom Whedon, and his grandfather, John Whedon, were successful television writers, Lavery said. Joss Whedon did television shows like "Roseanne" before his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," first a less-than-successful movie in 1992, then a long-running television show on the WB network, finally ending in 2003 after 144 episodes, became a fan favorite.

"Bay and Whedon remain polar opposites," Lavery said. While Bay's "Pearl Harbor" grossed $450 million at the box office, Whedon saw his popular sci-fi television series "Firefly" canceled by Fox network. Before "The Avengers," Whedon put work on the Internet and created a fledgling film company called Bellwether Pictures, Lavery said.

Whedon's newest project, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," is on ABC and is Marvel's first television series.

Both men attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Lavery said Whedon said Bay has "the best eye in the business."

Lavery quoted Whedon from an interview where the filmmaker said: "I am the fan that gets to have the most fun." He said while there have been several books on Whedon, he's not aware of one on Michael Bay.

Elizabeth Alsop, WKU assistant professor for the Department of English, said she enjoyed Lavery's talk.

"I'm a Whedon fan. I wasn't aware the extent that their careers were parallel," Alsop said of Whedon and Bay.

-- Chuck Mason covers education. Follow him on Twitter at or visit

Credit: By CHUCK MASON The Daily News 783-3262

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