Why Joss Whedon almost didn't take on The Avengers

Rumor has it, some folks have claimed that Joss Whedon isn't macho enough to direct The Avengers. Whedon has a few words for these naysayers, which we captured on camera — along with Whedon's reasons for taking on this project.


One of the things we love about you is that you know how to capture the real female voice, the real woman. So what's it like now working with a predominantly male case?

Well I have to say, I did a scene recently with Scarlett [Johansson] and Mark [Ruffalo], and Mark was amazing, he's so soulful, he's so good, I was like ‘oh this is wonderful.' We turned over to Scarlett's side and I'm like she's really bringing it and there's something I can't describe, there's something amazing about what she's doing, and I just don't know how to describe it, and I was really trying to work it out, like really trying to figure out what is the thing, the X-factor and I realized I've been filming guys for a while now.

It was my latent heterosexuality coming out. I was just like ‘girl in the movie again, Cobie [Smulders]'s been gone for so long.' It's a little tough because there are really the two female roles that are significant and after a while I'm just like ‘you guys are great, but where's Scarlett?' But we're trying to keep a balance. I don't think it's going to feel too male in the sense of being sexist or empty, and it won't feel like too much like histrionic, like a woman's picture from the 40's. I've been accused of not being macho enough to direct the Avengers. Oh yeah, that's right. Well guess what: I happen to be very macho, so if you see me in a bar and you don't think I'm macho, don't talk to me. You walk away unless you want a cosmo all down your shirt. 'Cause I will. I will pour it.

How're you establishing your machoness on the set, in scenes?

By blowing shit up. The fact is, there is so much action in this movie, and there is a lot of testosterone just in these characters. The actors themselves are much more giving than the characters are. The cast is a much better team [in real life] than the Avengers are. But the fact is, at the end of the day, everybody is posturing, everybody is trying to one-up the other person, whether it's a conversation or a fight or the movie as a whole, so it's a very macho thing. Although there is a lot of angst and a lot of human drama — which are the reasons you go to the movie, but you're not supposed to talk about them in an action film, there's also a lot of expression of this human drama through hitting each other in the face and blowing up cars, so I think everybody's going to win.

But they all look like they get along so well?

They do.

How do you keep Cap and Iron Man at odds with each other? Do you tell them lies?

Honestly, for a little while there, I did think, "Well, maybe they will mess with each other and that will be great," and then they get along so well. I was just like, "Can you guys act like you don't like each other?" Turns out they're really good actors: "Work done." Yeah, I have a ridiculous cast.


This is such a holy shit movie for you! What's been your holy crap moment on set?

You know, it's funny. Cause everyone is like, "You're directing The Avengers! You must be so excited!" And I'm like, "You know what, it will happen when it happens," 'cause I don't get excited. I'm not like people. And about six weeks into filming, just a scene of everybody arguing and talking and I gave Chris Evans a note and I'm walking back to the Monitor and I just went "I'm directing the Avengers!" And I turned to my assistant and I'm like, "It happened, it took me a long time, but it happened."


Why was it important for you to get this?

When I first started talking to Kevin Feige about it, I was just giving him notes on what he had and saying ‘if I was gonna do it, I would blah blah blah.' Eventually I realized, ‘I think this meeting might have been a different meeting than I thought it was, I think maybe I'm auditioning.' And I thought about it and my question wasn't, "Can I get The Avengers?" My question was, "Honestly, can The Avengers get me? Like, do I need to tell this story? Is there a reason for me to make this movie?" Because if there's not, I don't want to waste their time and I certainly don't want to be away from my family. And I thought about it and I was like these are the most dysfunctional people on the planet. They are my people. I need to tell this story.


And that's the reason?

Yeah, that was the thing that drew me in. And what I said, Kevin and the people of Marvel totally responded to, it was: these people shouldn't be a team. You should not have these people on the same team. Some of them are monsters, some of them have no superpowers, there's no connection. It's not like the X-men, where they all share the mutant gene [and] they're all oppressed. [The Avengers] don't share anything, they could not be more ill-fitted. What better definition of family? What better way to describe a family and to show one growing? It has been so much fun seeing their differences and using them to create the narrative.




Pretty sure he's saying "Cobie", as in "Cobie Smulders playing Maria Hill", not "Kobe" as in "Kobe Bryant, basketball player". #corrections