WEST HOLLYWOOD – Joss Whedon revisited “The Avengers” Tuesday night during a post- screening Q&A in front of an eager and jam packed theater at the Director’s Guild. The screening was intended to be an awards-friendly event to promote Whedon’s screenplay and directing awards campaign, but there had to be only a handful of guild members among the geek-friendly audience. Unfortunately, those in the attendance hoping the popular writer and director might reveal some details of the upcoming sequel left disappointed.
That's not to say Whedon wasn't his usually entertaining and witty self. The "Avengers" co-writer and director spoke for about 40 minutes mostly taking questions from screenwriting specialist Jeff Goldsmith. Wth at least three Disney publicists on hand he managed to completely stay on topic and snuck out a side door afterward to avoid being asked about "The Avengers 2" by the genre press in attendance. What Whedon did do, however, was dish on some rarely reported nuggets about Marvel's record-breaking blockbluster.
The most intriguing revelation was that at one time during the pre-production process it appeared Scarlett Johansson, aka The Black Widow, might not be able to appear in picture. That prompted Whedon to write a complete draft of the film’s script that included The Wasp instead. A founding member of the comic book team, The Wasp was at one time chairwoman of the group and a mainstay for decades. That all changed though when Brian Michael Bendis took over the Avengers titles in 2004 and he intentionally sent her to the side lines. Whedon, on the other hand, is clearly a fan.
“There was a little bit of time we thought we might not get Scarlett,” Whedon says. “So, there was a very Wasp-y draft I wrote. But it was way too Wasp-y. I was like, ‘She’s adorable! I just want to write her!’”
Johansson was able to appear in “The Avengers,” however, and The Wasp was removed from the shooting script. And no, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator didn’t elaborate on whether the pint-sized heroine might appear in “Avengers 2.”
Whedon also talked about his strong relationship with Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige, whom he has known for years. He did admit there was one major disagreement about the script. His only battle with the studio came over the lack of a secondary villain besides Loki. He notes, “It was the one battle I lost completely.”
“[At the time,} I definitely felt like I had Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I have four of the biggest, baddest, toughest guys out there and I have one British character actor [in Tom Hiddleston as Loki]. And they believed very strongly they didn’t want to add any more mythology,” Whedon says. “I wasn’t gonna argue in the end. It was very difficult for me to make that work, but the ace in the hole was Tom Hiddleston because he’s so compelling and commanding and gracious about it. [The story] became how he got in their heads and it’s gonna be fine. It took me a long time to accept that because [I kept thinking] ‘They need someone to hit.’”
As someone who believes he has a reputation for killing characters, Whedon reiterated that he’s not responsible for the big screen passing of Agent Coulson played by Clark Gregg. This plot point was actually mandated by Feige in their first meeting about the project. Whedon recalls, “Clark said himself while we were shooting, ‘It’s so obvious this needs to happen, otherwise it becomes just irresponsible. If there is no toll, no actual downside to bringing these people together it really is as a film just irresponsible.’”
When then smiles and continues under his breath, “And that’s why we are bring him back on TV. “
It’s been announced that Gregg will reprise his role as Coulson in the new “S.H.I.E.L.D.” series, but how that will be explained in context of "The Avengers" remains to be seen. Whedon is executive producing and possibly directing the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot for ABC, but that was another new Marvel Studios project he avoided talking about throughout the Q&A.
Whedon is currently working on the screenplay for “The Avengers 2.” The highly anticipated sequel is scheduled for release on May 1, 2015.
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