20 Things to Know from the AVENGERS Screening and Q&A with Joss Whedon, Who Teases Another Hero and a Second Villain Who Almost Appeared in the Film

     December 19, 2012


Although it opened back in May, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers helped us bring our year to a close with a screening at the Hollywood DGA. Also in attendance was none other than Whedon himself, who participated in a Q&A after the screening. I’m happy to report that The Avengers still holds up after the hype has died down, but what you’re really interested in is what Whedon had to say. He talked about missed opportunities for his hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, revealed some of the characters and footage he had to leave out of The Avengers (including a tease about another villain who we may see in a future film) and comments on his overall writing process. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

joss-whedon-avengers-set-photo-hawkeye-bowThe screening of The Avengers and Q&A with Whedon was hosted and moderated by Jeff Goldsmith of Backstory Magazine. You can check out the full interview soon on The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith on iTunes. Whedon’s quotes and comments follow below:

Writing for The Avengers:

  • Upon taking on The Avengers, Marvel laid out certain requirements ahead of time: the heroic characters, Loki as the villain, the helicarrier attack and the epic battle scene at the end. His job was to get the picture from point to point along the way and “try to make it matter.”
  • On making The Avengers, Whedon said, “We made the movie we set out to make,” and was genuinely and pleasantly surprised by this fact.
  • The script of The Avengers took two years from draft to screen. (By comparison, he drafted The Cabin in the Woods in three days with Drew Goddard.)
  • Whedon wrote a 15-page final battle arc that incorporated a prologue and five acts.
  • On the topic of balancing the introduction of the heroes to new viewers with those who have seen all the previous Marvel movies, Whedon compares the effort to his experience incorporating reiteration throughout his writing for television series.
  • Whedon talked about an early draft being too heavy in “dry wit,” and later realized the fact that Hawkeye’s character would need to be compromised and that Agent Coulson would have a man-crush on Captain America.
  • Whedon addressed the darker moments of The Avengers, saying that Agent Coulson’s death was mandated early on by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and was encouraged by actor Clark Gregg as well. Bruce Banner’s confession of his suicide attempt was taken from a Hulk comic with artwork done by Richard Corben in which one issue had Banner committing suicide via a self-inflicted gun shot and the next issue’s splash page had the Hulk spitting the bullet out.
  • On his most difficult scenes to write and direct in The Avengers, Whedon said that the big action scene was tough due to the smoke from the explosions as well as the various characters interjecting dialogue throughout the sequence. He also commented that any time all of the actors were together on screen (ie the scepter scene), it was like being a kindergarten teacher trying to keep control of his students.
  • Whedon confessed that his favorite scene was the one between Loki and Natasha/Black Widow.

the-avengers-2-sequel joss-whedonIdeas that Didn’t Make It Into The Avengers:

  • Whedon’s early draft heavily featured The Avengers comicbook character, Wasp. He wrote what he called a “very Waspy” draft and began to get carried away by writing much too much about her, saying, “She’s adorable! I’m just going to write her!”
  • He also fought hard for a second villain, but declined to say who that villain happened to be. Though the studio rejected this request, the villain may appear in a future film. Whedon commented that Tom Hiddleston was fantastic as Loki, but he had in mind a villain that his heroes could wail on.
  • As for what was cut from The Avengers, Whedon said that Iron Man’s introductory sequence was unfortunately cut and “a ton” of Captain America was cut as well. The Cap scenes appear in the DVD/Blu-ray extras under the “Man Out of Time” heading.

Other Films in the Marvel Universe:

  • Whedon comments that he has “no clue how the Tesseract got to Earth.”
  • Though he didn’t talk directly about The Avengers 2Whedon did draw a comparison between the original Star Wars film and the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, saying:

“I still believe that even though The Empire Strikes Back is better in innumerable ways than Star Wars, Star Wars wins because you can’t end a movie with Han frozen in Carbonite. That’s not a movie, it’s an episode.”

  • So hopefully we can expect The Avengers 2 to be every bit as satisfying as the first with just a little teaser for the next film in the franchise at the end.
  • Whedon comments on the writing of dialogue for The Avengers, saying that writing for Tony Stark was easy once he’d heard Robert Downey Jr. talk, since they’re basically the same. He also wrote a bit of dialogue for Captain America and loved being able to do “1940s talk.”

the-avengers-mark-ruffalo-joss-whedon-imageMiscellaneous Whedon:

  • Apparently there was talk of developing an animated version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Whedon and his creative team couldn’t get anyone to buy the project, citing the need for a male character as a lead. Whedon called the project his “Simpsons version of Buffy,” of which the writing team wrote seven scripts.
  • Whedon’s first draft of Serenity was 190 pages long. He reached 160 pages on The Avengers before admitting he needed some help on the revisions.
  • Whedon confesses to being a very detailed action writer when he has the time to devote to it. He repeatedly praised the storyboard artists, Brian Andrews in particular, for The Avengers who filled in the blanks for his action scenes.
  • Whedon talked about his writing process, which involves a lot of time spent in restaurants because they’re free of distractions and always has his earbuds and movie soundtrack music with him.
  • On the conflict between writing and directing, Whedon talked about a recent discussion with fellow writer/director James Gunn in which they each lamented the fact that becoming a director ruins the purity of the writing experience.
  • Whedon also showed his contempt for movies and TV shows that don’t give the viewers a complete arc and choose to end on unsatisfying cliffhangers, citing Jumper and Lost respectively.


Around The Web
  • kps88

    ” You can check out the full interview by selecting The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith on iTunes. ”

    No, you can’t.

    • Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

      will be posted in the next few days

  • Lance

    I am not surprised to hear Whedon’s first draft was too heavy in “dry wit.” Serenity was riddled with (and ruined by) such wit at the expense of genuine emotional involvement.

  • Marc Blazel

    Err has he actually seen the end of LOST? Unsatisfying, debatable. Cliffhanger, no way. It wrapped the story up pretty well.

    • dogg

      Angel ended with the cast just about to fight all the monsters of hell. I actually thought that was cool, but he’s got some balls criticizing others for cliffhanger endings.

  • Van Iblis

    Joss can STFU.

    A. Lost didn’t end in a “cliffhanger.” He clearly only watched an episode or two and echoed Twitter nonsense.

    B. It was in its prime a better show than anything he’s ever done.

  • ScaredForMovies

    He’s right about Lost. Saying it’s about the characters is an excuse for when you have no idea where the plot is supposed to go. The characters were great and if the story was as good, there would be no argument about it. Put 20 writers in a room and have them each fighting for their own ideas and Lost is what you get. The first few seasons were amazing it just never went anywhere. Way too many useless red herrings and no where near enough answers.

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  • George

    “Whedon also showed his contempt for movies and TV shows that don’t give the viewers a complete arc and choose to end on unsatisfying cliffhangers, citing Jumper and Lost respectively.”

    I love him even more now. The hacks behind Lost (Cuse/Lindelof) must be the most successful conmen in network television history. They clearly had no idea where they were going with show, so they relied on cheap cliffhangers and story arcs that they had no idea how to explain.

    To the guy above citing Angel as a point of Whedon’s hypocrisy – you’re way off. Unlike Lost’s copout ending, which rendered such huge chunks of previous seasons irrelevant – along with the flashsideways of season 6 – Angel’s ending was pretty much just a metaphor for the ‘always keep fighting’ theme that was foregrounded for 5 seasons, and was not unsatisfying. It was a cliffhanger of course, but it wasn’t the kind of frustratingly cheap ones that are seen in Lost throughout its run, culminating in the terrible ‘OH LET’S IGNORE THE MYSTERIES THE SHOW BECAME TOO RELIANT ON, AND HIDE BEHIND THE CHARACTERS’ WHO ALREADY TOOK A BACKSEAT IN OUR WRITING’ final season.

    • MrNateathon

      Which mysteries?

  • Rick G.

    I have to say that I would be more than thrilled if they made Agent Coulson the movie version of The Vision and made Pepper Potts The Wasp. I like her character enough that I wanted to see more of Pepper in the Avengers movie, and Coulson has become a mainstay in the Marvel movieverse and needs to be resurrected in some form. This would satisfy the desire to add more members to the team without alienating the casual viewer by adding new faces and learning totally new origins and back stories.

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  • Snacks

    Firefly was great.
    Serenity was funny with the ‘dry wit’, though the movie could have been better.
    I think Firefly needed more time as a television series before going to movies, but this was not possible. The captain had a little of the Captain Kirk fun about him.
    The Avengers is one of the best movies ever made. A new standard at least for superhero movies. Let DC go the dark boring realism Batman 3 way. The Avengers is why I enjoyed comics.
    So if we judge by the most recent movie, Josh Whedon’s opinions can be valued. I do agree that The Empire Strikes back did not end as a movie, but did end as an episode. The result though was that it had me waiting for the next movie. So their goal was accomplished, though I do prefer solid endings.

    • habsfan86

      Firefly was horrible,and so was serenity after. I’m gonna be choked if they go with Whedon for Star Wars 7. Have some balls Disney and hire someone like Rian Johnson or Duncan Jones or even neil Bloomkamp. One of the best movies ever made?jesus. Don’t get me wrong the Avengers was great,but I prefer Batman over Marvel(not to be confused with DC, I wrote Batman). With that said,maybbbe The Dark Knight is the closest thing a comic book movie has done to warrant one of the best movies ever praise.Maybe. Pretty sure movies like Goodfellas,Unforgiven,Ben Hur,Schindlers List,Citizen Kane,Vertigo and Full metal jacket deserve this honour before any Marvel or christopher Nolan film( I’m not going to let my bias blind me on this one,Inception may just be my fave movie of all time). What emotions does the Avengers offer other than excitement? Unless you teared up when coulston was stabbed,then you’re prob 10 years old. To be fair, I believe you and I look for different things when we watch movies,which I can respect. The best part about this is that wheedon was told what he has to put into the Avengers, Warner Bros rolled the dice and let Nolan do his thing. Which is why i believe no director will be brought in to give his own take on Star Wars. Whoever it is will be told what to do and how to do it. Sorry for the rant,but one of the best movies ever made,cmon man! Ill take GROUNDED batman over popcorn Avengers anyday,nothing real about a guy walking around with half his face missing. It annoys me when people dont understand the difference between the 2 concepts of grounded and realism. BTW if you thought Alien3 was bad,might want to check out who wrote that horrible Alien resurection script.Alien/ripley baby,wow that really pissed me off. Good work on helping with Toy Story though, i cant deny that. I guess that feeds my point as well, Wheedon material is always incorporated with a sense of a cartoon feel,with anything he has ever done. Joss Whedon’s opinions can be valued from ages7-18, Christopher Nolan’s opinions can be valued ages 19 and up.

  • Mikey

    Lost’s ending was the biggest overall disappointment to a show…..ever. Producers had the ending called out in the first season on msg boards. Then lied for years saying that what was not happening. Definitely not a cliffhanger though.

    Lost was so good and ended so badly.

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