Joss Whedon Discusses Making ‘The Avengers’ & Teases Alien Villains

Published 3 years ago by , Updated September 18th, 2012 at 8:33 am,

avengers 2429 570x306 Joss Whedon Discusses Making The Avengers & Teases Alien Villains

The South by Southwest (SXSW) 2012 Film Festival is ongoing right now (at the time of writing this) and The Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon is in attendance, in part to promote the world premiere of The Cabin in the Woods - a long-delayed, post-modern variation on the classic horror genre that Whedon co-scripted with Drew Goddard (a writing alum of Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel TV series).

Whedon participated in a fairly-lengthy panel, which covered his upcoming film slate (including his surprise Much Ado About Nothing adaptation) and went into a fair amount of detail about his creative process for The Avengers. He also confirmed Kevin Feige’s previous claims that the extraterrestrial race featured in the Marvel superhero juggernaut are neither the Skrull nor the Kree, as has long been heavily speculated.

On the (extreme?) off-chance you’re a newcomer to this Avengers phenomena, here is our own unofficial synopsis for Whedon’s film:

‘The Avengers’ sees such iconic comic book heroes as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) unite in order to defend Earth against Thor’s megalomaniacal brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his mysterious alien armada. Joining those warriors for the battle are the capable agents of the international peacekeeping organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D., which is headed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and includes such combat-trained warriors as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), among others.

We’ve singled out the Avengers bits included in Whedon’s SXSW panel, touching on topics ranging from how the filmmaker ended up landing the coveted Avengers writing AND directing jobs, how Whedon is attempting to keep things grounded in a production overflowing with CGI and digital effects (to say nothing of the subject matter and characters) – and a brief explanation for why the Skrull and Kree aren’t going to be featured in the movie.

From Leaky News, regarding the issue of being hired on to bring The Avengers to the big screen, Whedon said:

“It unfolded slowly for me but I think that might use be because I’m slow. … I’ve been circling around with Marvel for a long time. … It felt to me like it was a favor which I sometimes do; I read the script, give my opinion. I said [with regards to Zak Penn's earlier script draft for 'The Avengers'] well, this doesn’t work, but if I was going to do an Avengers movie, here’s what I’d do. Then gradually we started meeting again and I was like, is this a job interview? What’s happening here? Because I suddenly started thinking the more I was thinking about it the more I wanted to do it, and this was a courtship process the entire time and I was just a little thick.”

Joss Whedon directs Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson on the 'Avengers' set

On how it felt to be working with such a massive budget (estimated to be around $300 million):

“Limitations are something I latch onto. A novelist…has a blank page. A genre writer never has a blank page. … That’s useful to me. By the same token the restriction of budget or set or location, anything like that, can be really useful. When you can have everything, everybody wants to give you everything and then it’s very hard to make things feel real, to make things feel lived in… We had these amazing sets, really beautifully designed, and epic, and great, but I found that once we got off the sets and started shooting on location…my camera work got a lot more interesting. Because I had to work around these things.

“Trying sometimes to pull the ‘big budget out of the movie has been part of the creative process… As a producer, it convinced me to just, too much Scrooge is not a good thing… I got a guy in a cape, I got a guy with an A on his head, I got a green guy – it’s a delicate balance. And anything your and to make it feel real, like real filmmaking, even when there are CGI shots and they say, that looks like a bit of a mismatch, I was like keep it. Say it’s from different takes… If everything matches perfectly there’s going to be a disconnect, it’s going to feel too clean. It’s not going to feel like what I’m used to in film, which is a slight dirtiness.”

Whedon also talked about his longtime adoration of The Avengers in comic book form and how that affected his approach to the cinematic adaptation:

“I’m a fanboy. I want to see what’s up with Thor and Captain America and what he can do with that shield. All of those things have been in my DNA since I was a tiny child. I love all of that. In terms of how I make it mine, I think that obviously I look at the Avengers and go, this team doesn’t make any sense at all, but I can work with that, because it doesn’t make sense to them either. They’re extraordinarily dysfunctional people. And they’re in their own way very isolated. So just being able to tell that very basic story, isolated people who come together and become more than their parts, is a meaningful story to me.

“I’m not ready to be post-modern about superheroes yet… The first thing I said to the people at Marvel was, I want to make a war movie… A lot of these movies do a beautiful setup and the hero fights a slightly larger version of himself, and it’s clean. I just wanted to dirty it up, I wanted to really put them through their paces. The feeling you get from a good movie like – oh my god it’s still coming, we’re not going to get out of this alive – that’s the feeling I wanted to make.”

avengers 2274 570x306 Joss Whedon Discusses Making The Avengers & Teases Alien Villains

Aliens Invade NYC in 'The Avengers'

As to who exactly are the non-Earthlings whom Loki recruits to help him conquer humanity in The Avengers:

“It’s the Vulcans. I don’t know a lot about the Marvel universe, and I thought there were Vulcans.”

After the expected big laugh that got from the SXSW audience died down, Whedon said:

“I will say only this: It is not the Kree or the Skrulls… Those two aliens are Marvel mainstays and have enormous backstories. They have a big life of their own that just could not be contained in a film where I already had seven movie stars… What’s probably happening is that I just said something that Marvel didn’t want me to. It’s weird to be fired so late!

“The Skrulls — they can shape change. That’s a whole thing. I’ve already got Loki. He’s got magic. Once you got magic along with your Iron Man and your Black Widow — it’s a real juggling act.”

So, in case the mix of big, well, everything (action, set pieces, emotions, personal drama, etc.) teased in the second Avengers trailer wasn’t enough to sell you on Whedon’s film: are you now convinced he is the right man for the job after all? And what do you think about his statement regrading the Skrulls and Kree? Let us know in the comments section.

The Avengers opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theaters around the U.S. on May 4th, 2012.


Source: Joss Whedon [ via Leaky News and EW]

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  1. I love the way he talks about it. It shows that he’s not only a fan boy, but a very pensive filmmaker. I loved Serenity. His work with an ensemble is great. I think he will pull it off. I really do.

  2. I love his comment about Marvel movies having the heroes fighting slightly different version of themselves. CA vs Red Skull, IM vs War Machine/Whiplash, Hulk vs Abomination, and Thor vs Loki. Its time that our heroes took on a threat bigger than themselves. A threat that it would take multiple heroes to beat back. It sounds like this movie will present that. Every time I hear Whedon speak I am more convinced he is the right man for the job. I cannot wait til the midnight showing.

  3. So it’s more of a “generic alien threat.” I’m fine with that, and I like his reasoning that Skrulls or Krees have too much story and complexity to squeeze into this movie. There are too many characters as it is. I also like his attitude that a smaller budget can spur creativity. I’m glad he thinks about that because too often big budgets end up not delivering. And I like the story of how he came to direct this. It seems like that is how it should happen. A director should have a desire and vision first.

  4. This man sure does a lot of interviews haha new post everyday

  5. Badoon ftw

    • That’s one.

  6. Any guesses on who the villains are then?
    Should have been the Skrull or Kree minus Loki. Why? Because we got Loki already it just doesn’t feel fresh especially with the fact that those Avengers fanboys bubble have just burst upon hearing NO SKRULL OR KREE.
    Say it ain’t so?…

    • You do realize that in the comics, Loki was the reason for the Avengers assembling in the first place.
      He let the Hulk loose… he’s always been pulling the strings.
      Loki is THE Avengers villain (up there with Kang, Thanos and Ultron), of course they need him for this movie.

  7. Aliens? Where did Josh say anything about aliens? Atlantis or Wundagore is my opinion

    • I’m thinking Atlantis because there was a map of Atlantis shown for a short time in Iron Man 2 (maybe an easter egg). I could be wrong, who knows?

        • hmmm, I think Namor was being set up to arrive in a third Fantastic Four movie when Doc Doom fell into the water. That movie may never happen now. But Sub-Mariner can still show up in the next Capt. America/Invaders movie along side the Human Torch whom we saw in the Worlds Fair scene in CA. The british guy in CA was also Union Jack.

          • Why would Atlanteans have a wormhole in the sky?
            Nuff said.

            • A portal can connect our sky to another group’s ground. Now, I’m not sold on these being Atlanteans, but the presence of the portal means that all bets are off.

    • Then how do u exPlain the huge alien looking ship at the end of the trailer. R u saying that was built on earth.

      • It’s not an alien ship. It’s a portal. Watch it again.

        • Watch the second trailer; it’s a ship.

          • Still see a black portal. Pause it.

          • actually it’s a portal. The laser firing from the tower was making a portal in the sky to bring the aliens in. You can see them flying from it.

            • Have you too even seen the second trailer. It’s a freakin’ flying dragon ship!

              • PS look at the picture at the top of the article.

              • Sorry, INK. Get a better monitor next time.

      • It’s Leviathan

    • Those troops are actually the guards of SHIELD headquarters taking Loki to the glass prison. Although the lasers that the aliens fired do look like from what Hydra used or maybe from the Cosmic Cube.

    • Well… I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen humans with grey/blue skin and 3 toes.
      Of course it’s aliens! ;)
      It’s been confirmed so many times, I can’t believe people are still suggesting it’s HYDRA or AIM

      • Besides the fact that they are flying down out of the sky.

  8. HA!! I said that the producer made a statement that there was gonna be no Skrulls MONTHS AGO, but nobody listened. Here’s you proof…. From the director this time!! >:D

    • Just because a director said something, does not mean its set in stone. Nolan said he would never have Bane as a villain, but he’s the villain in TDKR. I’m not saying he’s lying or it’s the Skrulls, just commenting on how you point to the directors response as an official answer.

      • And Zack Snyder said no Zod. Yeah sure.

      • Nolan never said that. You’re getting Bane confused with Robin.

        • Yes, Nolan did say he will not use Bane as a villain when he stated Mr. Freeze & The Riddler would not be the villains also.

  9. i’m glad it’s something we don’t know yet. as far as whether it’s “aliens” or whatever they are, clearly they have only 3 toes in the super bowl spot, so they are definitely not from around here.. i hope marvel keeps him on for the other avengers movies, and if this is as sucessful as marvel hopes, then that should happen.

  10. I say it could be the Atlantians with the introduction of Namor! If not its gotta be Anihilus and his 200 something super troopers lol. If my wish came true about this movie it would be Dr. Doom and his doombots jacking up the Avengers. (with the beyonders powers would be cool)

  11. Has anyone even seen the animated Ultimate Avengers? If you had you might have a clue as to who the aliens might be.

  12. More and more I think these aliens are just some generic army from somewhere else, who have advanced technology. They probably wrote the entire script not even certain of who it would be. It doesn’t matter. It’s the Avengers characters who are the story. Insert BIG THREAT.

    The same thing Whedon said about Skrulls and Kree applies to Atlanteans. They don’t want to get into those stories for now, and doing so would be painting themselves into a corner in regards to future projects. They’d be committing themselves to how these characters looked and behaved. Personally, for me it could have been any of the above and I wouldn’t really care, but it sounds like they are thinking further ahead, creatively and financially.

  13. Fact, it’s an army with advanced technology/magic brought to Midgard from another planet or dimension.

    Fact, it’s Loki’s army.

    Where did he find this army? When last we saw Loki, he had possessed Dr. Selvig and had his eyes on the Cosmic Cube. If Fury gave him the cube to study for shield, he could’ve secretly used it to open a doorway to any part of the universe he wishes. He could harness it’s power to fuel any ship or machine.

    Loki is the god of mischief and lies, I’d like to think his war would be more subtle. Perhaps he promised the Earth to these “aliens” in return for revenge on Thor and his foolish mortal friends.

    They do sort of look like Chitauri though.

  14. The cosmic cube will be in the avengers and loki aliem army are the badoon,space phantom will be avengers vilain.

  15. After reading the interviews that Whedon gave, I can say that I get exactly what he means by wanting to make the movie have a feel of danger and not have it be so clean and polished, that’s exactly how it should feel to us and the characters in the movie.

  16. Do we know for sure they are aliens? My money’s on A.I.M. and Modok. Don’t know why the army looks the way they do in the trailer (maybe that was just to hide the true army’s identity), but the toys do have yellow helmets.

    • Hmmm. I have only a passing familiarity with Modok and AIM, so I read about them in Wikipedia. Your idea doesn’t seem too far out. They are connected with the Cosmic Cube, which was featured prominently in Thor and Captain America. We really haven’t had a clear look at the army, but they don’t look like the yellow AIM outfits. However, they look pretty horrible in the comics, so I’d imagine they’d change them for a movie. They could be mutated men. Also, there was a writer saying how he’d like the villain in CA II to be Modok, so maybe he had wind of what was going on in Avengers.

      • Lately Hollywood likes to make trailers with stuff that is not in the movie. Especially when it’s only seconds worth. Toys however need to be made in advance because of the production time. There have been two versions of the army in toys, but the Skrull like figures are not nearly as complete as the yellow Lego figures this close to the film release. Then again, if you’re Nick Fury, why put a team of superheroes together before you even knew there was a guy named Loki? Is the Mandrin from the Iron Man movies involved? He was all about technology. Is that giant “dragon” looking ship really a new version of Fing Fang Foom? Bio-mechanic? What about the Leader from the second Hulk movie? Whatever the threat, it must have been there before Loki was.

        • The problem is general audiences. How much story and explanation can the average movie goer handle? I follow everything you say, but when you say “the Mandrin from the Iron Man movies” and “the Leader from the second Hulk movie” you’re going too far. In the movie-verse, they both need a whole lot more development and explanation. Even then, they would have to be explained in the context of this one movie. I don’t think they would make a movie where complex characters with superpowers are seemingly pulled out of left, right, and center field. They are probably aiming this movie towards the average movie-goer who has seen one, maybe two, of all the Marvel movies, and otherwise has some awareness of the other movies. A lot of people haven’t seen all of these movies, and maybe have only watched them once. That’s it. They don’t read comics so they don’t have the backlog of information you, me, and most people on this blog have. I expect all of the Avengers and Loki to have some kind of introduction and back-story referred to in this movie. Then there’s SHIELD and the cosmic cube. The army could be AIM because that wouldn’t require a lot of explanation. Modok is such a disgusting bizarre character that I doubt Marvel cares to much if they throw him in. They could be tied in to the Cosmic cube. However I think the army will have to be clearly evil, and probably not human at all, otherwise a body-count will be disturbing.

          Personally I like your ideas, and I can see how they could be woven into the movie. Your toy argument is logical too. Heck, maybe they are really going to go for broke and that’s what Whedon means about the messy quality. But I think this is going to be mostly about the Avengers and their internal conflicts and triumphs. They’ll fight each other and then come together as a team. I’m still expecting some generic “big threat” that is not complicated.

          • I get your point about a general audience. But you only need to look to Iron Man 1 to get the threat. The Mandarin and his Ten Rings army is already there. His hatred for the West and his search for weapons, too. Loki could supply the technology. The army could also be bio-genetic “Iron Men”, not real men and Fing Fang Foom is totally doable. Jon Favreau even spoke of Fing Fang Foom as a possibility in an Iron Man sequel if Mummy 3 hadn’t done it first. The bio-tech would be a way to still do it, but differently.

            I’m not saying all this is what we are seeing in the trailers, but it certainly wouldn’t need much back story. Iron man 1 was also the most successful of the Marvel movies, so the audience is already there.

            Either way, it looks to be a fun movie.

            • I asked co-worker (late twenties male, likes movies and action movies) if he’d seen any of the Marvel movies leading up to the Avengers. First he said, “Is Spider-man one?” Then he said he hadn’t seen any of them. I asked about Iron Man. He said he did see the first one. He’s aware of Thor and CA too. I know two co-workers who’ve seen most of them and know about the comics more-or-less. Other than that most people don’t know, and don’t care. It’s similar in my family. Some people know a little, others don’t know anything. In the end, come May 4th, a lot of these sorts of people will go see this movie. If they really like it, they’ll see it again. That is what Marvel wants. They have the avid fan-base. They want to expand that, and get repeat customers. It’ll probably do very well, but it’s the expanded audience that will decide how far it goes beyond 500M.
              I know about the Mandarin and picked up on the reference in IM1. Trust me, nobody but fairly avid comic readers did. If they want to include that story they will essentially have to start from scratch. Like I said, I think they’ll be re-introducing a lot of these characters to the newbies. Mandarin is something they’d want to develop properly, not squeeze into an already over-crowded movie.
              I still like your ideas, but those are my thoughts. Definitely looking forward to this, especially the Hulk.

  17. I think Alex is right. Iron man flies towards a portal shooting at ‘whatever they are’coming out.

    Aliens. Portals. Ships. yes. No. WHO CARES??????

    It just looks all shades of awesome.

  18. Guess we’ll no for sure when the toys hit the shelves before the movie comes out…

    • WOuld be awesome if this led, like the Ultimates version into a Wakanda/Black Panther introduction.

    • It’s the Ultimates version of the Skrulls. So there! :-P

        • Well, look at the picture. The test tube fungus guy had ridges, and looked like a real Klingon.

          Hab SoSlI’ Quch!! petaQ!!!!

          Oh, sorry Kahless.


  19. Red Skull has commandeered the “Moon-Nazis” from the Iron Sky-movie and he lends them to Loki, LOL.

  20. you guys are really missing the obvious, the alien race from the ULTIMATE AVENGERS animated movie, they are not Kree or Skrulls and they don’t have any history except from this one shot movie.

    • The alien race from the Ultimate comics and the animated movie is called the Chitauri (and they definitely have a history/back-story).

      • Come to think of it, you are right, but I bet that’s Loki’s alien army. What do you think?

        • Quite possible.

        • Possible, yes.
          Unlikely, probably.

          It seems the reason why they didn’t go with Skrulls in this movie, is because of their huge back round, characteristics and powers (the shape-shifting ability).
          And since the Chitauri are almost the same as the Skrulls (the back story, the abilities, etc.), it would stand to reason that they aren’t going to be the villains as well…

      • do they have two/three toes?

        • Three toes on each foot.
          If you watch the superbowl trailer frame-by-frame, it’s easy to spot.

  21. Now I want to see the Avengers fight the Vulcans.

    • Vulcans???!!! The intellectual puppets of the Federation!! Klingons are a far more worthy race than these Tharavuls!!

      Don’t mind Kahless; he hasn’t gutted anyone in a long time and he’s getting restless. :-D

  22. One of the things Marvel has been lacking in their movies is a great final battle; I think the ship/robot at the end of the 2nd trailer is the final act which Iron Man can’t handle alone, thus leading it to all the boys (and, uh, girl) to put it down. With Josh Whedon, I expect an awesome final battle.

    • I for one thought Cap’s final battle with the Red Skull was pretty good… as well as Iron Man and War Machine going up against the Hammerdrones (granted, that wasn’t REALLY the climatic final battle)
      And then there’s Thor Vs. Loki… it was powerful, epic and full of raw emotion. I thought that was one of the best CBM fights ever.

        • You forgot Hulk and Abomination’s fight in Harlem! Yeah I have to say all the final fights in Marvels’ movies were good…just not long enough.

  23. I know this is random but if you are watching the trailer, and you pause the video at 1:04 – then you can see the Helicarrier on Maria Hill’s monitor!