Joss Whedon Talks Writing ‘The Avengers’

Published 4 years ago by

the avengers movie logo Joss Whedon Talks Writing The Avengers

From the moment rumors began to surface that Joss Whedon would be helming The Avengers, fans have matched their anticipation with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The notion of combining four superhero franchises into one film is definitely uncharted water and there are a great number of people who feel Whedon’s sensibilities as a filmmaker are at odds with what they expect from an Avengers movie.

SFX recently spoke with the quirky writer/director and he addressed those concerns head on. After reports that Jon Favreau clashed with Marvel during the production of Iron Man 2 (specifically in regards to how much screen time they should devote to future Marvel movies), there was speculation that perhaps Whedon was not only a cheaper alternative to direct The Avengers, but also someone who would be more compliant with the studio’s demands.

Whedon is adamant that this is not the case and the film will be unmistakably his:

There are definitely stipulations and restrictions, but Kevin Feige is very active as a producer and worked with me a lot on the story, but they are absolutely honouring the fact that this is my film.

He also reveals what he believes separates Marvel from other studios, acknowledges their less-than-perfect track record, and expresses his gratitude over the freedom to cast actors like Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner in his film:

What I kind of think ultimately defines Marvel Studios was the first thing they did and that was cast Robert Downey Jr. They said, ‘What if we got great actors and let them have some time to be the people they’re supposed to be instead of going through the paces of hitting this mark and that mark?’ They don’t always 
get it right, but nobody does. But if 
you look at who they already had, and who they allowed me to add to the cast, they are thinking about the integrity of the characters.

That may be the case, but even Whedon’s supporters have voiced concern over how many characters are in The Avengers and the challenge of giving each of them a meaningful part in the story. Let’s face it – no one wants to see their favorite member relegated to a glorified cameo.

joss whedon2 Joss Whedon Talks Writing The Avengers

Whedon (who is still working on the outline for the film) admits that it has been a challenge, but that each character will be properly utilized in The Avengers:

What I will struggle with, in the outline and throughout, is that I would like to put these actors in a room and just make Glengarry Glen Ross … We’re talking about really exciting people and at the same time I have to keep the momentum of the thing going. I can’t let it turn into a lull fest. Knowing that I have enough time to do both of those things – that by the end of the movie you will feel ‘in’ with these guys – is the trick. It’s not an easy one but one that Marvel absolutely honours. They don’t hire Mark Ruffalo to say one iconic line and strike a pose.

When Favreau’s name was still being tossed around as a potential director he revealed that he wasn’t quite sure how to incorporate all of the Marvel characters into the same story (particularly Thor). Whedon is in the middle of trying to solve that exact conundrum, but remains optimistic that it can be done:

It’s finding out how to introduce people to all of these people in this world … Finding the tone and plots that are coherent is what I go to bed thinking about and wake up thinking about, but it’s doable.

the avengers movie start date Joss Whedon Talks Writing The Avengers

I haven’t been shy about my feelings towards The Avengers in the past, but apprehensions aside – I really am rooting for Whedon. I’m not a fan of everything he’s done, but he certainly has a unique style and I love that they made an unexpected choice (let’s not forget that Favreau was relatively untested when he made the first Iron Man). Furthermore, he’s no stranger to these characters:

I’m feeling that everything that I have done before has prepared me for this, besides the fact that I’ve been reading The Avengers since I was 11.

While familiarity with the source material may not be a prerequisite for a successful comic book movie, it’s a big advantage when trying to navigate through something as complicated and crowded as The Avengers. Whedon gets these characters, he knows how to balance an ensemble, and he’s incredibly skilled at injecting stakes (sorry for the bad pun, Buffy fans) into action scenes – something that’s pretty rare these days.

At the very least, we know that Whedon is approaching the film with good intentions and large ambitions. We’ll see if it pays off when The Avengers assemble on May 4, 2012.

Source: SFX.

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  1. Whedon wrote Alien Resurrection. That had a great ensemble group of characters… Each had depth and personality, and played well of each other. I know he did not direct it, and I know it was not everyones favorite Alien picture, but hey… It was fun!

    • Is that sarcasm? So hard to tell sometimes. It’s easy to pull the weakest links off someone’s resume to service a point, but come on- Whedon would be the first to admit that movie sucked (and he has on multiple occasions). He even made it the punchline to a joke on BTVS.

      Unless of course you’re being sincere. In which case I’d be at a loss for words. =-)

      • Chris, i think he eas being serious lol

      • Yep, he said everything he wrote they did wrong. I’ve read his original script and its way better on paper. That french dude screwed it up royally.

    • AR is one of those films that needs to be forgotten. I mean, burn every single copy, and act as if it was never made.

      • Like X-men 3? ;-p

  2. Wheddon did firefly with 9 characters and serenity. He should have no pro lem with giving people their due. Imho.

    • a TV series is much different that a 2-hr film, even if that series was just 13 episodes. Serenity was a great film and wrap-up to the characters though, and one similarity with Serenity is that the Avenger’s characters, for the most part, will already be introduced and be established going into Avengers so I really hope it all works out.

      Then again, Widow felt kinda thrown into IM2 (IMO, tho not as bad as Venom in S3). I expect Hawkeye will be about the same.

  3. JW..another Serenity flick please, thanks!

    • completely agree! i watched firefly a while ago and recently watched serenity.. i do wish there was more!

      • I would be fine with him skipping this for serenity 2 :).

    • I agree anthony though it will hardly be the same with out certain characters that I will miss.

  4. well i just hope that the leader makes it into the film, and maybe abomination,ultron,loki,absorbing man,and winter soldier giving everyone someone to really battle and interact with from their owen solo films and a really exciting epic battle to end the film with, and bring the heroes together. i for one really want to see the leader,ultron,and winter soldier. abomination would be cool to see again but maybe in a hulk sequel but leader has to be in it.

    • That would be a mess.

  5. …he’s STILL doing the outline? It’s almost October and he doesn’t have the script finished, wow. Plus, I thought they already had a written script and Joss wanted to go over it and kind of make it his. I didn’t know he wanted to rewrite the whole thing from scratch (from what it sounds like so far). I just hope they spend more time on the script than the “awesome set pieces”.

    A mediocre, rushed “Avengers” movie would be worse than a balls-out, terrible “Avengers” movie

  6. It will be fine.
    Nothing to worry about

  7. I purchased “Serenity” on DVD a few weeks ago. It’s a good movie but I wouldn’t call it great.

    IMO it played out more like an extended TV episode and that is my greatest fear for an “Avengers” film which may be rushed due to too many rewrites.

    If they stuck with the original 5 founding members, respected the original source material and hired an experienced ( A list ) Director, I would be much happier.

    • While I disagree with your take on Serenity you do have to remember it’s based on a TV show and it’s hard to make a TV show property in to a film and not make it seem like an extended Episode.

      That said I disagree with you and thought it played well as a stand alone film and was amazing. One of my all time fave sci fi flicks.

      • @ Daniel

        C’mon I did say it was a good movie. I did enjoy it. I just didn’t think it was great that’s all. :-)

        You know we never got “Firefly” in Australia unless it was shown on cable which I don’t have, which is a pity. I would have liked to have seen it.

  8. “I’m feeling that everything that I have done before has prepared me for this, besides the fact that I’ve been reading The Avengers since I was 11.”

    I hope so..I am not a fan of his work but I hope he hits this one out of the park..I still however have a lot of trepidation regarding Whedon and this film…his track record is very spotty and I know there are fans who go crazy for his work ..they have been his biggest spporters and understandibly so..I want him to convert me into a fan of his work by making one of the best films in the genre and giving this great property the treatment it deserves..

    With bated breath I await promotional material for this film..

  9. If he has been reading the Avengers since 11 how does he not know how to “integrate” the characters together?

    While it is really great people want to “believe” a man can slap on a suit of armor and withstand rounds fired from a jet, gain over a ton of mass in body weight, etc…… It is still make believe.

    Now I am not asking him (them) to recreate the wheel…. build on what has been done through all of these years since he was 11 and use it.

    And comments like “my movie” really rubs my rhubarb. The movie I am working on sounds much more amicable.

    When someone writes, directs, produces, finances, creates, films, etc their own piece of work it can then be “their” movie.

    Sorry… pet peeve there.

    • @ Aknot

      Good points. I agree. To me he seems to come off as a bit of an egotist. I’m sure there are thousands of people who have been reading “Avengers” comic books from an early age including other well known respected and distinguished Directors.

      I’ve been reading “Avengers since I was 10 and probably know just as much as he does about these characters. The “Avengers” he read from age 11 were not the “Ultimates”. At some stage they would have included the original five founding members in any given roster.

      If he really knows these characters well and wants to take ownership so to speak by declaring the project as “my movie”, then why doesn’t he take initiative and push for a more authentic “Avengers” first movie?

      Too many rewrites and too many characters and the whole “Ultimate” route does not sit well with me at all.

    • Wow that’s an odd thing to bother you. You must the guy who freaks out every time someone says NOlan’s batman. Seriously is that really a big deal to you? Usually when some one directs a film it’s considered their movie. It’s common and the norm not sure why you feel the need to rage against it.

      Reading it since your 11 doesn’t make it any easier. You have to understand he’s make roughly a two hour film he has to fit all these guys in to one two hour film and give them equal screen time. It’s not as simple as “Well if you read it since your 11 you should know.”

      • Hi Daniel

        Not sure if your reply is intended for me or not. :-)

        I would like to give Whedon the benefit of the doubt and I guess we will see what happens. In the meantime I’m just dissapointed in the direction this project is moving.

        Yes a lot of directors claim the film they are working on to be their movie. My point has to do with the fact that this project is taking the “Ultimate” route which I don’t beleive is any more realistic than the original mainstream source material.

        I really do hope Joss knows these characters well and by taking ownership and declaring the project as “my movie”, then why doesn’t he take initiative and push for a more authentic “Avengers” first movie with the original five founding members?

        That’s what I find odd and is really the thing that bothers me. The same way I guess if they made a JLA movie without Superman and Batman. It would put me off from seeing it.

        I just think starting with the original 5 founding members on the first movie and adding additional characters in the second and third would make more sense. Joss Whedon just seemed to be so estatic about getting the gig but not in having the original founding members.

        As you know I happen to love Nolan’s take on Batman, but the Batman mythos has a 71 year rich history where I think a little bit of creative license is acceptable compared to the shorter compact 47 year history of the “Avengers”.

      • No more then the people that seem to think Nolan walks on water and can do no wrong… ;)

        I said its a pet peeve. No it is not Nolans Batman. Nolan did not create Batman, Gotham, The Bat Mobile, Bat Mite or anything Bat related.

        He can say my vision of Batman (which is not the same thing) or what I think Batman should be (which he hasnt really changed anything enough to facilitate this). But to say it is his is ludicrous. It is not his.

        No rage (so I dont know where you got rage from?? Please explain?). Just making a point of preference. Just like Disney’s Snow White, Shamalans Airbender or anything else. It is not theirs.

        Camerons Avatar? Sure.. its his is it not? Whats wrong with Batman directed by Christopher Nolan… The Avengers directed by Josh Weedon… or even if they want their name first Christopher Nolan directing Batman – The Ice Man Cometh.

        No it seems these people need to have/want Christopher Nolans Batman – the Ice Man Cometh.

        I dont see this on Star Wars, James Bond or any other well known properties… Just seems like the new thing for certain people.

        No one mentioned screen time.. We mentioned integrating the characters. That is a big difference. We already have a link between Hulk, Ironman, Cap, Thor and Black Widow….

        Why do they need equal screen time? Are you telling me if they dont get equal screen time something will be wrong with the film? Im sure the contract that was written when they agreed to participate in “x” amount of films over X amount of years covered this.

        The only thing I remember hearing/reading is they dont want one character to showcase the film.

  10. Actually Chris, Mere Smith (the writer) made the Alien: Resurrection joke over on Angel, in Season 3, episode 5 – “Fredless”;

    “Oh Roger loves those movies. Except the last one they made, I think he fell asleep on that one…”

    I still think this is the wrong move for Whedon.
    This movie will never live up to fanboy’s expectations and so Joss is doomed before he starts.

  11. Anyway, why is this movie going to be released in MAY??

    This will be a blockbuster to end all blockbusters – and blockbusters come out in the SUMMER, (June-August), not when people are about to take their exams!

    What are the studio thinking?

    This will fight off all competiton, so why not maximise profits by putting it out in June/July, when exams are finished and people are free to celebrate end of exams etc.

    It makes no sense.

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