After wrapping post-production on The Avengers following a lengthy and complicated shoot, Joss Whedon’s job wasn’t even close to being done. The seemingly endless and draining press circuit began where Whedon toured the world promoting the film, walking red carpets and losing his voice. Repeatedly.
That process for this one major project was the beginning of a new chapter in Whedon’s career. Gone is the skepticism surrounding ‘that guy who did Dollhouse’ and in is the demands of a massive fan base to have Marvel Studios bring him back for the sequel. Marvel was game, but Whedon wasn’t at first.
The superhero epic successfully brought together Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor and broke box office records for biggest opening weekend with a $207 million+ domestic haul. Within two days, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger was quick to confirm that The Avengers 2 was in development. Outside of our own speculation that the movie would come out in 2015 and what we knew about the post-Avengers character sequels, there was little available information.
From watching countless interviews with Whedon following the film’s successful release, it was very evident that he was unsure of whether or not he’d come back. And it wasn’t just a negotiation tactic. After seeing Patty Jenkins exit Thor 2 – much to the chagrin of Natalie Portman – and Favreau take himself out of the running to return for Iron Man 3, coupled with the fact that veteran directors of Captain America and Thor chose not to return as well, it was a very real possibility that Whedon shared the same sentiment. The studio process is killer, and for films as strictly controlled as Marvel Studios’ interconnected properties, it’s an even more stressful challenge.
In chatting with Co.CREATE at the Toronto International Film Festival, Whedon reflected on The Avengers and how moving from that to a small, more relaxing and personal project such as his Much Ado About Nothing was not only refreshing, but like a vacation.
“The Avengers was a job and a really tough job. I can’t say that about Much Ado. That was a gift, a gift from my wife who said, this is what you want to do. You don’t want to travel. You want to do this. I remember thinking: Have I gone completely mad? Then, I’m shooting and I feel all the tension release from my body. It was amazing. When you work at something really hard, then working at something else is a vacation. I remember returning to work on The Avengers with a clearer eye and being more invested not because I have my art and this is my commerce but because the joy of storytelling is back.”
It wasn’t until a month ago when Marvel Studios announced that Joss Whedon is returning to write and direct The Avengers 2 and there’s a reason why it took most of the summer for that deal to come to fruition.
“There’s a business aspect to it and I would be disingenuous not to say that, but the question for me is, Do I have another story to tell about these people? So we worked on the business side of it and I didn’t think it was going to happen–I was like ‘I’m never going to do this again.’ But once they worked on the business aspect of it I thought that seems fair and cool, so, the question was, Do I have another thing to say? I was in London and I went to a pub and had some fish and chips and a pint and started writing in my notebook. I’m writing if I was going to do this what would I say and 40 minutes later I filled the notebook. So I text my agent and said to make the deal. I’m so in love with that universe and the characters and they way they were played and I have so much more I want to do with them. I know I can’t match the success of the first one but I can try to make a better film and that’s what I’m excited about, that’s the new room of fear I’m entering now.”
By “business side of it,” Whedon is referring to the three-year exclusive deal he signed that not only has him helming The Avengers sequel, but helping develop all of the Phase Two films leading up to it. One of the selling points for Whedon was that he’s also going to be developing a live-action S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series for ABC with his brother Jed Whedon and Jed’s wife Maurissa Tancharoen. A win-win-win for Disney/Marvel, fans and the Whedon family.
Happy to see Whedon taking on an instrumental role in the long-term plans of the Marvel cinematic universe?
The Avengers hits home video September 25th and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston and Stellan Skarsgard. It is of course written and directed by Joss Whedon.
Looking towards the future, Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.