Joss Whedon Discusses 'The Avengers,' Robert Downey Jr. & The Hulk

Joss Whedon Discusses Avengers, Robert Downey, Recreating Hulk, and Nick Fury

There's little doubt that The Avengers is one of the two most highly-anticipated superhero films of 2012 (the other being The Dark Knight Rises) - and that's in spite of the questionable rock music in the Transformers-esque trailer from last month.

Yesterday, a Joss Whedon interview landed on the Internet, where the writer/director discussed the Marvel tentpole film in vivid detail, including but not limited to: Robert Downey Jr.'s dissimilar style when it comes to making movies, recreating the Hulk for the third time in eight years, and expanding upon Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury as an actual character (as opposed to just a cameo).

We've consolidated the most interesting segments from the interview below. Read the entire thing over at Yahoo! Movies.

Robert Downey Jr. Bruised and Battered in Iron Man Suit

On working with Robert Downey Jr., who’s known for his impulsive, on-the-spot style of acting, Joss Whedon said:

"Well, we have very different methods. But working as a showrunner, working as a script doctor, working in sitcoms -- a lot of my work has been coming up with stuff on the fly.  Like fixing as we go, improvising, being open to a new idea. So Robert and I would spend -- we worked specifically towards both of our processes, so that we would beat out a scene so that he was very comfortable with where it was going or what was being said and very aware of where it would fit in the whole. And I would give him stuff to say, and by and large, he would say it.

"But then there were always pockets where we had some wiggle room for him to play, or ask for options, and if he said, 'Can we do something else here?' I could give him four or five options by the time he had his makeup on. Because that's actually fun for me, that frantic scramble. [...] We would try different things. He is very collaborative. He loves notes. He loves to be guided and worked with. He is not trying to steamroller over me. He is really trying to create it side-by-side with me. So it ended up being a really healthy and delightful collaboration."

On figuring out Tony Stark’s transitional role in The Avengers, Whedon said:

"I think the conversations were largely about 'Where is Tony now?' Like, 'Who is he now? Where is he [going] from Iron Man 2 toward Iron Man 3?' He is such a well-delineated character, so it was really a question of, 'What do we want to stress and what do we want to say? We have said that, we have done that, so let's not go there.'

"He felt a sort of isolated man who is -- even though there is an element of that, just because that's sort of what any team movie is about. He didn't want to be the sort of just, 'I am totally wrapped up in one thing and I am not thinking about everybody else.' He didn't want to be the tortured lonely man, which I totally get. And it was easy to make him as delightful and gregarious as he can be and still go, well, there is a piece missing and it's the piece that makes him an Avenger."

Mark Ruffalo's Hulk in The Avengers

On starting anew with Mark Ruffalo’s version of the Hulk:

"Yeah, he and I did the most character work of anyone, because we really were starting fresh, but we were starting with something that had been embodied several times. And both of us agreed upfront that the template for who we wanted this guy to be in his life was Bill Bixby, the TV [show character] who was busy helping other people. That was more interesting to us than the Banner in the first two movies who was always fixated on curing himself. We spent a lot of time talking about what makes us Hulk out, the nature of anger, how it feels.

"We even fought some. I mean literally we actually got some pads out and did some tussling. Just to talk about the physicality, and also the physicality of somebody who has to control this thing, and the way he moves in space and the way he relates to the people and the objects around him. It was extremely fun. What we found was that he could be very bumbling and kind of awkward, but at the same time very graceful and in this almost transcendent control of himself."

On transforming Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury from a cameo to an actual character for the first time:

"Well, he is not going to be talking about his childhood, and you do want to keep a certain mystery. Also -- and this is something that I was very pleased that Marvel actually mandated -- they were very interested in keeping him, not just in the sort of a mystery of how the organization operates, but a real moral gray area where you really have to decide, 'Is Nick Fury the most manipulative guy in the world? Is he a good guy? Is he completely Machiavellian or is it a bit of both?' And that was really fun to tweak.

"I felt that in the other movies, they had been cameos and he had been called upon to come in and be Sam Jackson and bluster a little bit. And I told Sam upfront that my big agenda was to see the weight on someone who is supposed to be in control of the most powerful beings on the planet. The weight on somebody who has to run the organization and the gravity of it. Not that we don't have any fun with Nick, but he definitely -- it's, I feel like a much more textured performance and at times really moving."

Sam Jackson's Nick Fury in The Avengers

On crafting the right cinematic balance between gods, supermen, and ... a guy with a bow and arrow:

"Yeah. Well, I feel like we pulled that off. At the end of the day, the guy with the bow and arrow is a lot easier to write gags for than the God. But we created a situation where everybody can be useful, and everybody can be in jeopardy, and they really can act as a team, even though -- as we have known from the first issue of The Avengers comic -- there's no reason for these people to be on the same team.

Frankly, Joss Whedon doesn't always hit homeruns. Doll House was considered by many to be a tad underwhelming (to put it mildly), and Serenity, despite its fans (of which I am one), didn't exactly "blow up" at the box office. Regardless, the one thing you can't say about the guy is that he doesn't try.

The above interview perfectly illustrates that Whedon cares more about his projects than your average filmmaker. Clearly, the man has thought extensively about how to make The Avengers -- and the characters therein -- not only entertaining, but also interesting. Hopefully, he pulls it off. (And has minimal involvement in the non-diagetic music choices for the film, if indeed he chose the music for the trailer.)

How are you guys feeling about Joss Whedon's take on The Avengers? Let us know in the comments.


Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

The Avengers hits theaters May 4th, 2012.

Source: Yahoo! Movies

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