Joss Whedon Talks THE AVENGERS & THE AVENGERS 2; Over 2-Hour Runtime, No Skrulls or Kree, Easter Eggs, and “Smaller” Sequel

     March 11, 2012

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Joss Whedon is a very popular man. If he wasn’t also the writer and director of The Avengers he would still be a very popular man, but given that he is the guy bringing the all-star superhero movie to the screen, fans have been dying to soak up every nugget of info he gives out about the much anticipated Marvel pic.  Such an opportunity arose this past weekend when Whedon and director Drew Goddard premiered their new horror film The Cabin in the Woods at the SXSW Film Festival.  Whedon serves as co-writer and producer on the pic which is garnering intense positive buzz (read Matt’s review here), and members of the press got the chance to talk to Whedon about the genre bending film during the festival.  As expected, questions didn’t exactly stick only to Cabin in the Woods, and Whedon talked quite a bit about The Avengers and The Avengers 2 over the course of the weekend.

Not only have we gathered all the noteworthy quotes from Whedon regarding The Avengers and its sequel in one tidy article, we’re also including some information on the film that Whedon revealed to Steve earlier today including the current runtime of the movie, what kind of extras we can expect on the DVD (including whether or not we’ll get a “Director’s Cut”), the prevalence of songs in the film, Easter eggs, and much more. Hit the jump for a Whedon/Avengers extravaganza.

the-avengers-joss-whedon-samuel-l-jacksonRegarding the runtime of the film, Whedon revealed to Steve that his first cut of the movie was three hours long, but he’s found the sweet spot at just over two hours:

“My first cut was three hours long and it’s now down to 2 hours and 15 minutes, and I’m extremely proud of that. I had always intended to go over two, under two and a half. There was no way a movie with this many great actors and this much epic scope was gonna clock in under two and not feel a little anemic, somebody wasn’t gonna get their moment if that happened. But at the same time, I get very angry that romantic comedies run over two hours long, it’s like ‘Guys, that’s not okay.’ More isn’t more. I don’t want anything in the movie that shouldn’t be.”

the-avengers-2-joss-whedon-imageGiven that he’s shaved 45 minutes off his initial cut, there’s quite a bit on the editing room floor. Whedon talked a bit about what kind of stuff he removed from the movie:

“There’s a lot of me that got cut out, but I think part of the process in a situation like this is you make the movie, you make your movie, then you remove yourself out of the equation. At some point you stop looking beyond The Avengers movie at your own stuff, you don’t look at that horizon you look at this movie and you go, ‘You know what, The Avengers are more important than I am so these things that I’m obsessed with aren’t necessarily moving the story forward, and therefore they are baggage.’ You can do that in a TV show, you can bring your baggage and sort of lay it out because you have a season to do it, but in a movie you actually have to remove yourself from the equation a bit and when I was finally able to do that, I saw a much clearer road to how to get the best experience for the audience.”

the-avengers-joss-whedon-scarlett-johanssonFor those hoping to see Whedon’s three hour version as a director’s cut, don’t hold your breath:

“No [there won’t be a director’s cut on the DVD]. I… believe very strongly in putting the director’s cut into the theaters. I believe that the director’s cut is the best movie for the studio and the best version of the movie for the audience. I’ve never really been in a situation where I had to pull the beating heart out of something that I did. I think people get to see a lot of extraordinary extras because I did shoot a bunch of stuff that I love, but the movie is the movie I want it to be.”

Fans have been rewarded with quite a few Easter eggs planted in previous Marvel films to spot, but Whedon said not to expect any winks at some of his other works outside the Marvel universe:

“I am not a fan of referencing your own work when it’s in a different universe than what you’re doing. That, to me, is a wink at the audience and winking isn’t actually cool when you’re not, like, 10. When I was 10 my girlfriend thought it was super cool that I could wink, but now you’re just sad if you do that.”

the-avengers-hawkeye-captain-america-black-widowThat said, The Avengers won’t be without a few nods to the Marvel universe itself:

“There are a couple of mentions of things; we were preserving the continuity and I threw in one or two things where I’m like, ‘Well this is something one of them would say because it’s part of the Marvel universe even if it’s not a part of this movie necessarily.’ I had such a job just making the thing coherent that I didn’t have time to play a lot of games, and I’m not really a fan of that. I do think fanboys will see more in certain bits than everybody else, but ultimately I want them all to have the same experience.”

the-avengers-movie-image-chris-evans-robert-downey-jrAs for the music, Whedon said there won’t be many popular songs in the film. He revealed that there’s a scene in Tony Stark’s place that needed music and he suggested a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” by Jeff Beck, but the studio said the song was too expensive. Nevertheless, Whedon seems happy with composer Alan Silvestri’s score:

“The score is very old-fashioned, which is why Alan was letter perfect for this movie because he can give you the heightened emotion, the [Hans] Zimmer school of ‘I’m just feeling a lot right now!’ but he can also be extraordinarily cue and character specific, which I love.”

tom-hiddleston-the-avengers-movie-imageRegarding the film’s plot, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appears to be the main villain but judging from the trailers, we can surmise that he’s got a bit of help. Rumors have swirled that the film includes the alien character races of the Kree or the Skrulls (and that alien ship in the trailer seemed to confirm their inclusion), but Whedon flat-out denied their involvement when speaking with EW:

“I will say only this: It is not the Kree or the Skrulls… Those two aliens are Marvel mainstays and have enormous backstories. They have a big life of their own that just could not be contained in a film where I already had seven movie stars… The Skrulls — they can shape change. That’s a whole thing. I’ve already got Loki. He’s got magic. Once you got magic along with your Iron Man and your Black Widow — it’s a real juggling act.”

I’m pretty clueless as to who the mysterious creatures could be now that Whedon has ruled out the Kree and Skrulls, so hopefully some of you more knowledgeable fans can get to work in the comments.

scarlett-johansson-the-avengers-movie-imageThough Whedon is still putting the finishing touches on The Avengers, he’s already thought a bit about what he’d like to see in The Avengers 2. When asked by SFX how the follow-up could top the first installment, he answered candidly:

“By not trying to [go bigger]. By being smaller. More personal, more painful. By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time. By having a theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself.”

That’s certainly a refreshing approach to hear in this exhausting climate of “bigger means better” sequels and threequels (see: Transformers franchise). Marvel has already confirmed that their film slate following The Avengers will hopefully culminate in The Avengers 2, just as their slate following Iron Man led to the first Avengers film. If the pic is as good as it looks, hopefully Whedon will return for the follow-up to make his intimate, character driven sequel a reality. Until then, expect much more on The Avengers in the coming weeks as we count down the days until the film’s release on May 4th and look for more of Steve’s interview with Whedon soon.

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