Joss Whedon Says He’s “Pissed Off” About Lack of Female Superheroes; Talks Robert Downey Jr. in AVENGERS 2

by     Posted 1 year, 47 days ago

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Marvel’s The Avengers was a success on many levels.  Not only did the film rake in over $1.5 billion at the box office worldwide, but it also enjoyed positive critical reviews and widespread fan acclaim.  Bringing such a beloved property to the screen in a way that pleased diehard fans and general audiences alike seemed like an impossible task, but writer/director Joss Whedon knocked it out of the park.  Furthermore, Whedon crafted a unique entry in the superhero genre in that The Avengers involves well-rounded, three-dimensional female characters that serve a purpose larger than being eye candy and/or acting as a human MacGuffin that needs saving from the male hero; a foreign concept, I know.

Whedon is currently hard at work on prepping The Avengers 2 to start production early next year, but the filmmaker recently took a moment to comment on the depressing state of female superheroes in cinema.  Moreover, Whedon also discussed the notion of Robert Downey Jr. possibly not signing on for more Marvel films, saying he has no intention of making Avengers 2 without RDJ.  Hit the jump to read on.

avengers-cobie-smulders-joss-whedon-samuel-l-jackson-set-photo-01Speaking with The Daily Beast, Whedon expressed his dismay at the lack of female superheroes in film:

“Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, ‘My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,’ and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: ‘If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.’ “

I wholeheartedly agree with Whedon’s sentiment.  It’s become exhausting to see tentpole after tentpole in which female characters are relegated to the sidelines or appear only when they act as a convenient plot point in relation to the male protagonist—Alice Eve’s character in Star Trek Into Darkness appears to serve no functional purpose whatsoever.  Thank the Maker for filmmakers like Whedon.  With Scarlet Witch confirmed for Avengers 2, I’m eager to see the writer/director’s take on the character, and hopefully after the film’s all-but-guaranteed billion dollar gross, studios will finally realize there’s an audience out there for strong female characters (they probably won’t).

the-avengers-2-robert-downey-jrAdditionally, Whedon commented on the hubbub surrounding Robert Downey Jr.’s contract and whether he’ll sign on to play Tony Stark in future Marvel films:

“He is Iron Man. He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond. I have no intention of making Avengers 2 without him, nor do I think I’ll be called upon to do that. I don’t think it’s in my interest, Marvel’s interest, or his interest, and I think everything will be fine. But I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things. You have to be ready for the unexpected. But I loved working with Robert, and everybody knows he embodied that role in a way no one else can. The day he was cast, I went up to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige and said, ‘You brilliant son of a bitch.’ “

Last we heard, RDJ had commenced negotiations to return in The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3, but had not yet started talking about more Iron Man movies.  I’d be shocked if he didn’t appear in Avengers 2, but the notion of Downey reprising his role in more standalone Iron Man films is less certain.

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  • Nathaniel Haywood

    I actually don’t think there needs to be any more Iron Man movies. Don’t get me wrong, if they make more with RDJ, I will gladly watch them. But I think they had a nice character arc with the three that have been made. Plus, the ending of the 3rd one pretty much brings the character full circle in a satisfying way. So if RDJ wants to branch out and do other things, I think that’s fine, and it opens up more room in the Marvel docket for other films like Dr. Strange.

    That said, Iron Man needs to be in the Avengers 2 more than any other character. There doesn’t need to be any more Iron Man movies, but making Avengers 2 without RDJ as Iron Man would be like making the Justice League without Superman. If you think about it, RDJ/Iron Man is essentially the movie Avengers’ version of Superman (in terms of character importance/linchpin status). So they’ll get him there.

    • Jim

      Eh he’s really more like batman. The genius billionaire with no powers. He’s a loner renegade. In terms of leadership, captain America is more like Superman and power-wise he’s more like Thor. I think the way to go is make Iron Man more of a helpful consultant as the series goes on while increasing the popularity of their current characters so you can slowly phase Iron Man out.

      • Nathaniel Haywood

        I meant he’s like Superman just in how he’s indispensable to the team. I like your idea about him being more of a consultant to may cameo, though – that’s actually much more Batman-esque and would probably work well.

      • Nathaniel Haywood

        I meant he’s like Superman just in how he’s indispensable to the team. I like your idea about him being more of a consultant to may cameo, though – that’s actually much more Batman-esque and would probably work well.

    • Jim

      Eh he’s really more like batman. The genius billionaire with no powers. He’s a loner renegade. In terms of leadership, captain America is more like Superman and power-wise he’s more like Thor. I think the way to go is make Iron Man more of a helpful consultant as the series goes on while increasing the popularity of their current characters so you can slowly phase Iron Man out.

    • Sir Sidney Ruff Diamond

      Iron Man can be there, just recast him, if they can do it for Batman, Superman and Spider-Man then they can do it for Iron Man, he’s not even in their league.

  • Jason Richards

    Well Joss, if your Wonder Woman script didn’t suck maybe we would’ve already seen a powerful female super hero movie. At the end of the day it comes down to what the general public wants to see. Would a female super hero movie sell? I don’t know. Until a studio takes that leap of faith, then we truly will not know. Blade proved that having a black lead actor playing a super hero does the same business as a white lead actor, so who knows.

    • Matt Clayton

      That was WB and Joel Silver’s fault for putting a halt to that WW project. Not necessarily a bad script.

      Had they known how big Whedon was going to be with “The Avengers” five years later, they sure as hell would’ve greenlit the thing.

      • Jason Richards

        The script leaked years ago and it’s down right terrible.

      • Lance

        I bet he punctured the dramatic tension with lots and lots of humor. “Let’s just punch up the humor a little more. Aaand a little bit more… just a bit more.”

      • Hop

        Harhar, that sounds like that old hack.

    • Nathaniel Haywood

      The other problem is that there aren’t that many female superhero solo books. Sure, there are a decent amount of female superheroes, but how many of them are popular enough to carry their own books? Supergirl will never get made because it comes across as Superman Lite. Catwoman sells well, but that will never get remade after the Halle Berry debacle. Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, and Captain Marvel are the only other ones that I know of from the last time I was at the comic store. So it’s a tough sell.

      Who knows, though. Ant-Man doesn’t have his own comic but he’s getting a movie. So maybe sometime in the near future, a good female character will get a shot…

    • Nathaniel Haywood

      The other problem is that there aren’t that many female superhero solo books. Sure, there are a decent amount of female superheroes, but how many of them are popular enough to carry their own books? Supergirl will never get made because it comes across as Superman Lite. Catwoman sells well, but that will never get remade after the Halle Berry debacle. Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, and Captain Marvel are the only other ones that I know of from the last time I was at the comic store. So it’s a tough sell.

      Who knows, though. Ant-Man doesn’t have his own comic but he’s getting a movie. So maybe sometime in the near future, a good female character will get a shot…

  • Jason Richards

    Well Joss, if your Wonder Woman script didn’t suck maybe we would’ve already seen a powerful female super hero movie. At the end of the day it comes down to what the general public wants to see. Would a female super hero movie sell? I don’t know. Until a studio takes that leap of faith, then we truly will not know. Blade proved that having a black lead actor playing a super hero does the same business as a white lead actor, so who knows.

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  • Yushwa

    I can understand and respect Whedon’s statement towards lack of super
    heroines on the front line. But the same sentiment should be expressed
    towards superheroes of other races. Although Whedon himself had no part
    in laying down the foundation with early comic books, as well as control
    over Marvel Studios’ character selections, it should still be voiced
    and recognized. Why Black Panther (who is an original part of Avengers)
    is not apart of Phase 2 is beyond me. This white superiority even within
    the comic world is most troubling.

    • Jason Richards

      That’s a good point. Hollywood simply refuses to cast minority leads in big budget movies on a large scale. There’s no excuse for not including Black Panther in the plans for phase 2. Hell I think it would make more sense than Antman. Until we see Black, Asian, Hispanic, and other minority directors have the same input as the Nolans and Whedons we won’t see a Black Panther for atleast another 5 years.

    • Sir Sidney Ruff Diamond

      Let’s look at the Avengers roster

      White American (Iron Man)

      White American (Captain America)

      White American (Hawkeye)
      White American (Bruce Banner)

      White Asguardian (Thor)

      Black American (Nick Fury)

      White Russian (Black Widow, though you wouldn’t know by listening to her)

      You’re a part of the problem not the solution Mr Whedon.

      Singerss X-Men 1 had Brits, Americans, Polish, Canadian, White, Black, Blue, Yellow ect…

      • Guy Smiley

        Well, the build-up to The Avengers was with movies starring the main four characters — white males all – and Whedon had to work with the toys he was given. Those four had to be the focus of the story, and of course Hawkeye and Widow were also introduced in those earlier films.

        Also, those main four are the core Avengers going back to the first Avengers comics, so what they did makes sense. What Marvel will do, or allow Whedon to do from here, is the test.

        Also, I wouldn’t give too much credit to X-Men. Those movies were mostly lily-white too. Storm, of course is not. But look at First Class, which Singer was involved with. There two black characters, but one was quickly killed off, the other turns evil. Good movie, but it had problems.

      • zac

        speaking of first class, who remembers the part where someone said slavery in the dialogue and the camera zoomed in on a black character. fun times

      • lee

        As Guy Smiley pointed out, this isn’t really a valid argument. Whedon was handed most of his characters. And the ones (I believe) he was allowed to choose had to be easy to shoehorn in quickly. Let’s face it, Panther would’ve been harder to explain than a typical agent-of-SHIELD type like Widow and Hawkeye.

        As for Singer, when you look at the X-Men chosen in his movies there’s one black woman (who’s horribly mishandled) and… that’s it. If we’re talking villains, Lady Deathstrike’s it. And, like Smiley said, First Class is almost racist.

        Would I like to see people that look like me represented? Of course. But with comic books that’s the least of the director’s worries so I’m not pointing fingers at either franchise. The issue really is in the fact that the studios believe the minority and female characters aren’t as bankable. And asking “why?” and “is that valid?” will lead to a looong discussion.

        And now that I’m done trying to be objective, really??? Building up Singer and spitting on Whedon? What kind of X-Men fan are you? Whedon’s run on X-Men wasn’t my favorite but I did enjoy it, especially since he brought back Kitty Pryde. And Singer dumbed down the X-universe and butchered all my favorite characters. Almost gleefully.

      • Sir Sidney Ruff Diamond

        Well villains in the X-Men movies go from Blue, Yellow, Asian, Red, Black, White. Much more diverse than the white Avengers villain but it was only one movie afterall perhaps they’ll be more diverse in future.

        “And Singer dumbed down the X-universe and butchered all my favorite characters. Almost gleefully.”

        Don’t see how he dumbed them down, he adapted them with all the key elements. Rogue is southern has the same lifeforce absorbtion powerd, Wolverine is Canadian and has his same powers, Cyclops is dating Jean and both have the same powers and told a meaningful story with depth and emotion.

        The only thing not accurate is the lack of brightly coloured costumes, which would make it seem goofy as hell for the first iconic marvel superhero movie ever made

      • Littertray

        As weird as it sounds you could in theory count Thor as an illegal alien……

    • ScaredForMovies

      It’s all about money and familiarity man. I agree that Black Panther should be in the next one but I’m just grateful we got the black Nick Fury. Could have easily had the more established white version. Baby steps I guess, for race and gender. We’ll get there eventually.

  • Dan_489

    Hit-Girl!

    • Prathap

      Yeah it would be cool to cast Chloe moretz as female superhero

      • Dan_489

        Actually i meant Hit-Girl is a prime example of a great female superhero who is not sexualized at all

      • prathap

        yeah it would be weird to sexualize a 11 year old girl…

      • Dan_489

        Well that’s sort of why Mark Millar made her 11 in the first place, to make her unique. My point is in a landscape of crappy-good female superheroes, Hit-Girl stands out as the most badass, well acted and just all around awesome of them all.

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  • RiddleThemThis

    Marvel’s more popular female superheroes can’t even have a movie at this point in time.
    Wasp makes no sense without Ant-Man, he has to be established first or both in the same film.
    Ms. Marvel needs the Kree and considering they have Thanos on the brain right now, the Kree isn’t something they would want to introduce quite yet.
    Elektra needs Daredevil.
    Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) one of my favorites, is someone that I think general audiences consider as a second rate spider-man. They have however already established Hydra, so it is possible to create a movie for her.
    She-Hulk would again be considered a second rate Hulk and I don’t think Marvel has any interests in doing a She-Hulk film until they can get a Hulk movie to work.
    Most of the other big female names are in X-men.

    • Littertray

      Maybe they will introduce The Wasp in Ant-Man. Until the script leaks or images leak, don’t count it out. There hasn’t even been any real cast leaks yet.

  • FE

    I enjoyed Avengers and give credit to the talent of Mr. Whedon. That being said – When I read this headline my first thought was “shut up ya big pussy!”.
    Enough about the lack of female superheroes, we need to talk about the lack of superheroes using superpowers, in every damn super movie!
    Yes, I want nonstop superpowers.
    Please, Stop catering man’s comic book movie adaptations to women.

  • Danvers

    Then put Ms.Marvel in Avengers 2! Or better yet give her her own film. Katee Sackoff would be perfect. Ms.Marvel is one of the best superheroes and certainly deserves to be on the avengers more than Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye combined.

    • RiddleThemThis

      She definitely deserves to be in avengers more than Black Widow and Hawkeye, but you’re really underplaying how important captain america is to the Marvel comics.
      Ant-Man and Wasp should have been in avengers 1, not hawkeye and black widow.

      • dubu

        All true, but it is much more expensive to add characters who require special effects than bows/arrows and karate. Notice how Hawkeye had no special arrows.

  • JOE

    Star Trek into darkness is not a superhero movie you dumbass Adam Chitwood, but I do agree with that poor scene with Alice Eve

    • sammy

      But they’ll post the picture of her when the trailer came out telling everyone to check her out?

  • Sir Sidney Ruff Diamond

    X-Men movies have been doing female superheros for 13 years Joss.

    Besides I can think of a bunch of Female avengers for your movie to use. There is no lack of them

    • Ben

      as long as they’re hot. I like my female superheroes sexualized

    • Lex Walker

      And Joss actually contributed to the first X-Men, I think he’s aware.

  • TheAngryInternet

    “He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond.”

    So who wants to give him the bad news about Connery and Bond?

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  • Hop

    Joss is overrated. Avengers is overrated.

  • Khalid Islasim – Afghanistan.

    Why would we be wanting a superhero female character? It makes no sense to me. I am completely misunderstanding this idea ! What do I not getting?

    No REALLY man need saving by a woman !! unless via a goat curry when I’m hungry – maybe?

    • Tobi

      This was supposed to be satiric, right? . Please?

      • Lex Walker

        My money’s on no.

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  • SUPERMAN & THOR are GREAT

    never understood why J-Whedon chose the 2 Avengers that had NO
    SuperPowers to put in the movie when he could’ve chosen them with
    Powers, it makes sense now to have QUICKSILVER because he is basically
    like THE FLASH of Marvel and SCARLET WITCH is Marvel’s answer to WONDER
    WOMAN, Avengers 2 will be very very exciting it seems now that they will
    include these 2, i CAN’T wait

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