Though he’s gearing up for the premiere of his adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at this year’s South By Southwest, Joss Whedon can’t escape superheroes. It’s a good thing that he likes them and has a lot to say about them. In an interview with the director of ‘The Avengers’, Deadline picked Whedon’s brain about a number of things, including his ABC show ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’, his consulting work with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his unproduced ‘Wonder Woman’ movie.
First, the Marvel MCU overlord comments on his experience with directing the pilot of ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and his involvement in the show moving forward:
“That was fun to do, but again, too much work. The idea of the Little Guy is something that I am very fierce about, and there has never been a better Little Guy than Clark Gregg. That intrigued me, this world around the superhero community. It’s the people whose shop windows get blown up when the Destroyer shows up. It’s the more intimate stories that belong on television that we can really tap into the visual style and ethos, and even some of the mythology, of the Marvel movies. I think we’ve put together another really great ensemble headed by Clark. And how much it’s actually seeding or hinting or reacting to what’s going on in the movies is something we’ll let play out as we go. For me the most important thing is that people fall in love with it on its own merits, rather than constantly asking, ‘Is there gonna be an Avenger?’ Well, there’s not gonna be a Hulk because that guy’s too expensive.
I will be as involved as I can be – mostly on a story level. On the TV show I can say, ‘No, do it my way.’ I’m just trying to keep it exciting and meaningful and surprising.”
Next, he goes into a little detail concerning what exactly he does for Marvel Studios and how involved he gets in the movies that he’s not directing:
“I understand what Kevin [Feige] is going for and where he’s heading, and I read the scripts and watch cuts and talk to the directors and writers and give my opinion. Occasionally there could be some writing. But I’m not trying to get in anybody’s soup, I’m just trying to be helpful. Every time you work on a project it’s a little vacation from the project you’re working on the other 23 hours. That’s the thing – it replenishes you to do something else. And they’re very aware that if I’m too tired or busy to help with anything, that’s fine. But if I can help and not get in the way of the actual filmmakers, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Then, he expanded on his ideas for a solo Hulk movie. Recently, he squashed the rumors about a ‘Planet Hulk’ or a ‘World War Hulk’ movie, and in this quote, he goes into more detail about why those storylines probably wouldn’t be ideal for him or Mark Ruffalo:
“The Hulk is the most difficult Marvel property because it’s always about balance. Is he a monster? Is he a hero? Are you going to root for a protagonist who spends all his time trying to stop the reason you came to the movie from happening? It’s always a dance. I don’t think the first two movies nailed it, but I don’t envy them the task. It was easier to have him in a group than to build everything around him. I don’t think there would be any problem getting a movie together that had enough Banner, even if there was also Hulk. But if he was only Hulk for the entire movie I think Mark [Ruffalo] at some point would go, why am I here? I would be less inclined to pursue a storyline where the Hulk is only ever the Hulk. Mark [Ruffalo] and I loved the Hulk and went over and over the concept of rage and how it should manifest, and that part of it was fascinating to both of us. But when it comes time for the Hulk he has to put on the silliest damn pajamas you ever saw, a tiara made of balls, and a bunch of dots on his face and growl around like an idiot. The real heart of the experience ultimately becomes playing Banner. And people fell in love with Banner because I think Mark has you from the first time he shows up.”
Finally, Whedon addresses DC and what they’re currently trying to do with their films. It’s no surprise that after the success of ‘The Avengers’ and the rest of Marvel’s shared film universe, DC wanted to do the same thing, starting with ‘Man of Steel’ and continuing into ‘Justice League’. But fun fact: DC could have had Joss Whedon to help them. At one point, he was working on a movie for Wonder Woman, but the whole thing fell apart. Here, the filmmaker discusses why that fell apart, as well as his feelings on a DC Cinematic Universe:
“I don’t keep that close an eye on it. But I loved Batman Begins so much and thought Christopher Nolan nailed Batman in a way that nobody ever had. It couldn’t be more different from The Avengers, and the Marvel and DC universes are different animals. If they actually crack the code which has not been done in terms of creating a shared sensibilities where all the movies are interesting and come together, I’m going to be thrilled. I have no fear that we’re going to be stepping on each others’ turf.
It’s not easy. It’s not a simple trick. The Marvel properties with the exception of Batman who has often been described as the Marvel character in the DC universe are much easier to translate to a modern audience. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern are so far above us and their powers are amorphous and that makes it 10 times harder. Even when you’re doing a fight, it’s harder to write a fight for Thor than it is for Captain America because he’s that much stronger. I loved what I was doing on Wonder Woman. Clearly I was an excited party of one. I wrote the movie, I felt good about the characters, the structure needed work, I did another outline, they read it and were done. There wasn’t even a phone call.”
Call me biased, but I’m glad that DC passed on Joss Whedon’s ‘Wonder Woman’ because if that didn’t happen, then we wouldn’t have ‘The Avengers’, which is my favorite superhero movie of all time.
What do you think about Joss Whedon’s thoughts on all these things Marvel and DC? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Though he has his hands in various Marvel projects at the moment, the next time we’re certain to see Joss Whedon shine on the big screen is in ‘The Avengers 2’, which hits theaters on May 1, 2015.