The Mightiest Avenger
An Interview With Joss Whedon
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
JOSS WHEDON: My advice would be: sit down. Now you’re in the director’s chair. We live in an age where anybody can make a movie. If you have a phone, you can make a movie. Okay, maybe not a huge movie, maybe phone-sized, but it’s there. When I came up, you wrote a script, and you hoped and hoped. Or you raised enough money to make a short film. Things are different now, and the best way to get your work out there, not just, you know, as an offering to somebody else to hope they’ll make it, but to show yourself as a filmmaker, and to learn as a filmmaker is just make movies. You know, there’s no excuse not to now.
Q: Both your father and grandfather were screenwriters. In what way do they influence your work?
JOSS WHEDON: Well, they were both enormously funny men. They both worked extremely long hours to do, you know, to do their jobs. They are cold, and distant, and frightening like me— no, my dad’s actually a teddy bear. I learned a great deal about story from my dad. Sometimes just inadvertently by listening to him, or watching him, or reading what he did. Very often, he’d just throw down a little piece of advice, and I find that almost with exception, the things he said to me are the things I carry the most.
Q: If you were going to insert yourself into a superhero movie, what powers would you have?
JOSS WHEDON: I would have the power of invisibility, and then I wouldn’t have to show up for as many shooting days.
Q: How did you become attached to this project?
JOSS WHEDON: I’ve known Kevin for a while. I’ve known comics for a lot longer and, you know, I think Marvel has a great nose for a director who has a passionate vision, who’s not, you know, famous for turning out big-budget hits, but will bring something a little bit fresh to the concept of a hero movie, and it’s one of the things that I respect the most about them. And so it just seemed like a good fit. The only other movie I’ve made had a very similar problem.
How do you structure a story that some people know very well, that other people don’t know at all? But you have, you know, eight main characters and they’re all friends already. So it seemed like a fit. I think they regret it now, but, too late [laughs].
Q: College students have a lot of options this summer with movies to see during their summer break. Why should college students have it first on their list to see The Avengers?
JOSS WHEDON: I think The Avengers is the kind of movie that I grew up wanting to make and thought they had stopped making. When I grew up, the summer movie was, literally, created as a concept, and all my life I wanted to do something like that, something like the first Indiana Jones, something that was steeped in character, in love of the genre that it was portraying, had intelligence, had real acting, had a story that unfolded and wasn’t just a sort of big premise that you already knew going in, or isn’t based on, you know, Parcheesi or something just because it has a name.
More and more, summer movies have felt a little cynical. There are very, very big exceptions to that, but that has, you know, been the case when people throw so much money down. They’re not interested in a story—they’re interested in just barraging you with excitement and imagery, and brand names. And Marvel doesn’t operate that way. They care about the people. That’s why they hire some of the best actors in the business to play their heroes, and this is an old-fashioned movie. It’s a little bit bigger than life, but it’s very human.