Zak Penn Talks ‘The Avengers’ Script; Joss Whedon the Sole Writer

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:28 pm,

Next to David Goyer, Zak Penn is probably the most prolific comic book movie writer in the industry, having been at least partly responsible for X2, Elektra, X-Men: The Last Stand, and The Incredible Hulk.

Recently, Zak Penn gave an interview wherein he discussed his work on the original script for The Avengers, causing many a Marvel fan to wonder how much of the forthcoming film’s script was written by Penn and how much was written by director Joss Whedon. Well, Whedon fans, fear not – regardless of how much work Penn did on a version of the script, Joss Whedon is the sole writer on The Avengers.

Earlier this week, Zak Penn was asked – by Coming Soon – how he felt about how The Avengers was developing, to which Penn said:

“Do you believe in Joss Whedon? Do you believe in him? I believe in him! That’s my comment. If you believe in Joss you should be excited. Actually Joss and I went to the same college so we have a long history. I’m very excited. I can’t wait to see what happens with it, you know. And it’s weird because [my upcoming TV show] Alphas is kind of almost the inverse. If you know the comic book world, this is kind of the flipside of something like The Avengers, so it will be weird next year to have Avengers coming out while I’m working on this show.”

Zak Penn

When asked, to the best of his knowledge, how much input the cast of The Avengers had with regard to the dialogue in the script, Penn said:

“I can’t [speak to that]! I can’t speak very much…I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement for Avengers, so I can’t really speak about it too much. I’m pretty limited. I just can’t answer any of it because I’m not allowed to. I have a big mouth, too, but they made me sign a contract.”

While Zak Penn doesn’t explicitly say he was involved with the shooting draft for The Avengers, he doesn’t exactly deny being involved, either. Due to the oversensitive nature of the Internet, fans wondered – could this mean that Joss Whedon wasn’t the single solitary screenwriter for every sentence, paragraph, and page of the Avengers screenplay, as they’d hoped and dreamed for so long?

Well, according to Badass Digest, no, it does not mean that. Regardless of the work Zak Penn did on his draft of The Avengers, it’ll have little to nothing to do with Joss Whedon’s draft. Indeed, Whedon did a page-one rewrite, so barring similar producer’s notes and, you know, coincidence, there will likely be no similarity between the two drafts.

joss whedon the sole writer on the avengers Zak Penn Talks The Avengers Script; Joss Whedon the Sole Writer

The Ultimates as drawn by Bryan Hitch

Badass Digest further speculates that Writer’s Guild issues may have something to do with why Penn didn’t say outright, “Look, guy, I can’t comment on The Avengers because I didn’t write  a word of it,” which sounds possible (if not entirely plausible). Nevertheless, the point is – Joss Whedon wrote your precious Avengers film, Internet, so fret no more.

The Avengers, which is shooting currently, hits theaters May 4th, 2012.

Sources: Coming Soon & Badass Digest

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  1. Typo: “Joss Whedon is the sloe writer on The Avengers.” :)

    • @Scapegoat, what man, you’ve never heard of “sloe” writers before. “SLOE WRITE, Take it easy”…I love that song! :)

      • I´m german. I don´t know every single english word. :D

        • I’m American and don’t know every english word. :-P

  2. Whedon has an incredible knack for writing for ensemble “group hug”. He’s a great choice and I’m so glad that he also actually took the time out to analyze and tweak Captain America TFA, and Edgar Wright’s “Ant-Man”, this way everything will be cohesive as possible and no continuity problems and such. I absolutely DO NOT like what Edgar Wright had to say about his approach to Ant-Man. Hopefully Whedon made significant changes to Wright’s script and also have Hank & Jan in Avengers in some capacity. The Bryan Hitch design for “Hawkeye” is very plausible and I could easily see that being somewhat of what Hawkeye will look like on film. I’m also looking forward to seeing Bryan Hitch’s design for Iron Man on screen at some point too, not because I like so much but because it’s so different. Oh, and…..HULKBUSTER armor in Avengers #1 please….. :)

    • Hulkbuster armor?! Heck yeah! I would love to see the beginning of Avengers be Iron Man trying to convince Hulk to join and Hulk destroying his armor. Then Tony creates the Hulkbuster armor.

      • Yup. Ever since I heard of the Avengers movie (and that the Hulk will be in it) I just thought to myself… they gotta have the Hulkbuster armour, but not for the whole movie…

    • Ulik, I don´t think they´ll use Hitch´s Iron Man design for the movie. But it looks very cool. I´d love to see that…

      • @scapegoat, Yeah, actually I don’t want them to use Hitch’s Iron Man design for Avengers, I just want to see the Hulkbuster armor used in it. I’d mos def like to see Hitch’s Iron Man design used for Iron Man 3 though!

  3. Avengers is already filming? Who’s currently confirmed in the cast? Captain America, Thor and who else? I didnt know the movie was is production already…

    • Iron Man, Nick Fury, Black Widow.

      • Don’t forget Hulk, Hawkeye and Maria Hill.

    • Are you freakin serious?
      Man… I can’t believe this planet still allows cavemen to walk around… yeah I’m talkin to you “Tim”… lame… seriously man… seriously… I mean come on… man.
      How dumb can you be.

      • How rude.

      • TheAvenger,

        You’re new around here – so I’ll tell you once: We’re serious about “no personal attacks.” You can disagree with people but be respectful unless you want to find yourself banned.


        • holy crap man ive only been going to screen rant for a month now and I havent read that much about the avengers. It was a simple question / comment, but thanks for negativity and name calling, real mature kid…

          And thanks kahless for the answer.

          • Uh… Tim… I was DEFENDING you, dude. What the hell?


            • Listen people I am really sorry. I know it was wrong. As soon as I posted the message I knew it was out of line and I immediately posted an apologize (just scroll down).
              But still… it wasn’t that bad… I’ve been called far worse for also just asking a question about a certain movie (mind you it was on a fan-page – but i now realize this isn’t a fanboy-site). You just shouldn’t let this stuff get to you (is what I learned). Most of these rude comments aren’t even meant to be so rude.

              So stop being such a baby (just joking)
              SERIOUSLY, I AM SORRY.

              P.S. It wasn’t even actually meant to be that rude… it was meant to be more of a joke… but I guess people don’t have a sense of humor anymore. ;) – just joking AGAIN. I’M SORRY.

              P.P.S I’m not that new… I’ve been on since last year February… stopped coming for a while and joined up again in January this year.

              • TheAvenger, since it´s hard to read sarcasm on written text, we all have to choose our words carefully. Or just hold up a sarcasm sign…

                • I’ll do that from now on mate.
                  Sorry again.

              • The Avenger,

                OK, thanks. But even putting a smiley at the end of “How dumb can you be” wouldn’t make it acceptable.

                Best regards,


              • Your apology should have been:

                “I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future”

                And it’s best to do this with a British accent. :-D

            • Vic, I think he was referring to TheAvenger, not you.

              • Pretty sure Tim was refering to The Avenger as well, not you Vic.

  4. I hope Loki will not be in ‘The Avengers’ and is taken care of in Thor. There are many other villains that The Avengers can face instead of using the same villain from Thor. Hulk should not be used as a villain either.

    • He will be in it (apparently). In a rumored casting sheet he is listed. Don’t know if it’s true but personally i don’t think he will (maybe a cameo ) where we realize that he was the one behind the evil event that takes place. (Like in The Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes animation show.)

      • Yea and i cant remmber where i read it but theres a scene written where thor attacks shield to get loki back.. which i dont know why he would do that since he is the villain trying to exterminate the human race. and the avengers correct me if im wrong DOES take place after thor i dont know i guess theres more to it. but i have read it from a quote of somone involved with the film i just cant remember who.

        • The Avengers takes place after Thor. Fact. Confirmed. :)

          • At the risk of spoiling, I’ve seen Thor, and can confirm that Loki will more than likely be the big bad guy in The Avengers (or, at least, one of them). Details below, but consider it a HUGE spoiler.

            The post-credit sequence implies, without going into too much detail, that Loki gets his hand on the Cosmic Cube.

            • Hi Darren and everyone else. **SPOILER ALERT**
              I have just seen Thor (in Oz) and loved it. But since my boys forced me to stay until the very end of the movie they have been arguing like mad about the Cosmic Cube. I am new to this whole comic book thing. Can someone tell me what the relevance of this cube is? I have asked my boys who simply confuse me or treat me like an idiot? And yes Loki is obviously going to be a very big baddie in the Avengers. How will they afford the cast now that Natalie Portman has an oscar?

  5. I hope they learn from this and start hiring actual comic book writers to write scripts from now on. I have complete faith in Joss.
    @ Tim, Really dude? There’s news every week regarding who’s in the Avengers.

    • yeah!

      P.S. Sorry about the bad language usage in my previous message. It was out of line and i’m sorry.

    • @Jacks Drinking Problem, Actually Marvel’s Joe Quesada has addressed that exact issue and has said that ALL future motion picture and T.V. media for Marvel will be helmed or guided by ACTUAL prolific Marvel comics writers & editors. Joe Quesada is now oversees Marvel’s T.V. media & programming while writer Jeff Loeb has a big hand in it also. I forgot what both of their professional titles are.

  6. hmmm

  7. So the headline says Joss is the sole writer….then quotes (Penn) are added which have nothing to do with the headline.

    • ??????????????????????

    • I assume you read, like, two sentences in the article?

      • At least he read the headline…

  8. PLEASE give Pym a small part in this movie! Yeah thats about all I gotta say.

    • Yeah! At like a cameo or at least mention his name in the movie – to just make people feel he is a part of it.

  9. I hope zack penn had nothing to do with avengers. if you look up his credits, he wrote X3, which im sure most of us hate, and the fantastic four, which was also pretty bad. his only good work was on incredible hulk, and even that movies dialog could have used some improvement.

    • And Norton had a lot to do with that movies success.

      • Norton even did some rewrites on location. and if you read this whole interview he says how he couldnt imagine how to do any dc titles because they are based in a fantasy world and he wouldnt know how to write them. hes a pretty terrible writer im surprised he keeps getting work in the comic book film industry.

        • I had heard norton did some rewrites so im sure that had somthing to do with that film being better overall. and I too wonder how penn continues to get work with marvel, its like hiring mark steven johnson to write/direct ghost rider after he did the unsuccesful daredevil..why? just, why?

          the actors who have seen the avengers script say its amazing and i personally am a fan of whedons work (never read his xmen comics though) and i have faith in his ability to write and direct an ensemble cast. he’s proven his skill with that before.

  10. This movie is gonna be great, but War Machine won’t be in it, he’ll have his spin off first before he is introduced into The Avengers. Stark using the Hulkbuster armor would be awesome by the way.

    • I don´t think War Machine will ever be in an Avengers movie. Or a solo movie either…

  11. Isnt hulk supposed to be in it because tony stark was in the end of his movie?

    • Oh dear… there that was better wasn’t it?
      No, in the comics the Hulk is a founding member of the Avengers… he is in the movie caus he was one of the people who founded the avengers.

      Tony Stark did appear at the end of IH simply because Marvel is trying to make it obvious that all these movies are connected.


      So I don’t know if i’m reading your question wrongly, but I guess that was kind-of an explanation.

      PS If you meant to ask if the Hulk will be in the movie: YES, YES HE WILL – AND HE WILL BE PLAYED BY MARK RUFFALO.

      @Tim: Also check out for other Avengers-movie news. (Screenrant brings more rumors and news from the directors and writers while MTV brings more news from the actors -)

      • Dude, lay off the caps lock, for real.

  12. Not a fan of joss whedon.

    And i find it extremely arrogant on his part that he’ll be the SOLE writer of Avengers. I thought Marvel Studios always brought a team of comic writers together to pitch ideas and help with the script. I find this to be a reasonable, not too mention more intelligent way to bring these characters to the big screen. After all, making a movie is a team effort is it not? And who better to write the script then the people who have YEARS of experience in writing these characters. Whedon had only written 24 issues of x-men which was only actually mildly successful thanks to his own fans.

    I’ve said last year that one of two things will happen with the new Avengers movie. It will either fail miserably at the box office or do well enough but with mixed feelings from the fans (of the books, not Whedon’s fans who will certainly cheer for him no matter what he does good or bad). I still say this will happen (most likely the latter).

    Either way, my hope of this movie becoming the most greatest superhero or comic movie of all time had died that day when Whedon was announced the director.

    • First, just because he’s the sole “writer” doesn’t mean other ideas weren’t utilized. No doubt there were producer’s notes and just general brainstorming prior to his draft being written. Being the sole writer just means he took those ideas, sat down, and wrote a screenplay by himself.

      Secondly, have you heard the phrase “too many cooks spoil the pot?” There’s no evidence whatsoever that having a whole bunch of writers on a single film is more beneficial than it is detrimental. In fact, I would argue it’s historically more detrimental.

    • @Anakin, Hey I feel ya, on that but Marvel chose Whedon for a few reasons. #1 Whedon is foremost a comic book writer and fanboy #2 Whedon’s comic book and other genre writing who has garnered him awards for his prolific writing. He has gained several awards for writing such as “The Eisner”, Hugo, Prometheus”, and an “Emmy” and has been nominated for an Academy Award for “Toy Story”, has also been nominated for an a second Emmy. #3 Whedon knows how to balance an ensemble cast VERY well and will be able to make this very testosterone heavy Avengers balanced out with some strong female arcs too. #4 Whedon will is cost effective. #5 Whedon will respect the source material and keep the continuity in tact(not like some yes menm trying to make a quick buck with the last name Vaughn. #6 Whedon ALREADY has known the characters for many years. #7 Whedon is incredible with dialogue, action sequences, and is VERY HUNGRY and passionate about his work, especially for this Avengers project.

  13. The only time I’ve seen any of Joss’ writing was on Firefly and it had a large ensemble cast and I loved that show so this is good news. I was also wondering if anyone knew if Enchantress was gonna be in either Thor or the Avengers because wouldn’t she have to be if they were gonna use the Hulk against the Avengers. I’m also hoping along with everyone else that we get to see some hulkbuster armor

  14. @Yeti, Enchantress, Scourge, and Balder are very important characters that have not been mentioned to be in this Thor movie. They may be referenced to or be there in some capacity but they may be saving them for the sequels. Balder is THE most important character because he not only is Thor’s secret half brother, the second greatest Asgardian warrior after Thor, and his death would be the catalyst for Ragnarok, which may be saved for Thor #3. As villains, I look forward to seeing The Absorbing Man, and The Wrecking Crew in Thor #2(and a refernce to The Celestials). The Enchantress & Scourge , Ulik, Malekith and Surtur in Thor #3.

  15. @Ulik, thanks for the reply. I’ve never read a Thor Comic so the limited knowledge I have on the matter comes from the animated series’ like “Avengers EMH” so any insight anyone wants to give before the film comes out would be much appreciated

    • @Yeti, no prob, I’m no expert on Thor but I have been reading Thor and other Marvel comics for about 23 years and I’ve studied Norse mythology a lot too. The Avengers EMH is an awesome show! I can’t wait for season #2!

      • The only problem I have with Avengers: EMH is the animation. Other than that, this show rocks. If you like a lot of action in your cartoons, this is your show. DC’s Young Justice is also a great cartoon, with great animation, but I like Avengers better.

  16. @Ulik, you have more experience than I do bows head in submission= I’m not worthy. Though I’ve collected Comics and trading cards for for at least 13 years the majority of my knowledge comes from watching animated series and I know that they aren’t always100% accurate to the source materialso that’s when I go to