Marvel gave Joss Whedon a tall order when they asked him to write and direct The Avengers. Not only was it Marvel's biggest movie to date, but it was the culmination of the studio's ambitious attempt to create a shared universe where all of its characters could fight alongside one another. Fortunately, Whedon knocked it out of the park, delivering an action-packed summer spectacle that won over both critics and audiences (to the tune of more than $1.5 billion worldwide).
Recently, Whedon has been focused on promoting his latest film, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing, but the director has also made time to talk about several upcoming Marvel projects.
In an interview with Moviefone, Whedon weighed in on the status of The Avengers 2, offered some perspective on why James Gunn is the perfect director for Guardians of the Galaxy, and talked about telling a different kind of Marvel story with the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
On the subject of Avengers 2, Whedon said that he is coming in with a much clearer perspective than he did with The Avengers, joking that it would be his next "little passion project."
"I enter upon 'Avengers 2' with a different mindset than I did the first one. I feel like I know so well what it is that I want to accomplish, and like 'Much Ado,' I now have a real sense of the troop I'm working with and the strictures and the opportunities. My little passion, sidebar project comes out May 1st, 2015."
Whedon also commented on expanding the Marvel universe into TV with the upcoming ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
According to Whedon, the purpose of the series and of its back-from-the-dead lead character Agent Phil Coulson is to show what the world looks like for everyone who doesn't have super powers (or a collection of armored flying suits).
"There's always the struggle between spectacle and a TV budget. What attracted me to 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' were the gadgets. But after the gadgets was humanity: The idea that there is an underside, a darker side, a more human context. Phil Coulson always represented the everyman, the schlemiel in the world of the fabulous or the mighty, gods and billionaires and legends. And that's what the show is for, it's for those people who, as remarkable as they may be, are not the supers, are not A-list.
"What are the rest of us worth when there are people that are so extraordinary? That's a human story. We hired actors that I am so excited to welcome into our universe, and they're extraordinary, and they're going to bring so much to it. That's what I'm giving people every week; those actors, their stories, and the stories that they encounter."
As if that weren't enough Marvel goodness, Whedon also took time to endorse James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy and talk about his supervisory role on the film.
Saying that he "giggled like a schoolgirl" when he learned that Gunn was hired, Whedon talked about what made the cult-favorite director a great fit for the more offbeat project.
"I've talked to them about the story from the beginning, and the different drafts. One of the questions they asked me was 'What do you think of James Gunn?' And I giggled like a school girl because I was like, 'Oh, this movie is going to work.'
"My only piece of advice has been: I want to hear more of James. Let's pull out the formula. Give me more James. Make it weirder. The only way to achieve that 'Star Wars' vibe is not to chase it - is to try to be an original universe and have all the fun and do all the stuff. And James is... he's perfect for that because even I said, 'A raccoon?' And James's thing was, 'Here's the deal. It's about the raccoon. This is why I love it: because of the raccoon and the tree.' And I'm like, 'Okay, that's the guy you need.' "
In an interview last year, Marvel's Kevin Feige said that the company will continue to "take creative risks" with its Phase 2 series of films. Clearly, hiring James Gunn (and all of the fun weirdness that comes with him) is a part of that plan. Whether it will pay off remains to be seen, but it's an admirable strategy regardless. As is keeping Whedon closely involved with all upcoming Marvel projects.
What do you think of Whedon's comments on Avengers 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let us know in the comments.
Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters on August 1st, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs this fall on ABC.