You know you’ve officially arrived in Hollywood when a biography is being written about you, and if that’s truly the case then Joss Whedon has finally made it. Officially. Joss Whedon: The Biography is set to hit bookstores on August 1st, and among the stories it contains is a detailed account of circumstances that Whedon entered into while working on The Avengers. The interesting part of the whole scenario is reading how harshly Whedon panned the pre-existing Zak Penn draft that was in play before he decided to re-write it.
Business Insider tells the story of how the man behind Firefly and Buffy The Vampire Slayer was brought in for consideration by Kevin Feige, only to tell him that he would only direct the film if he could also re-write the film from the ground up. Joss Whedon put it as bluntly as humanly possible:
I don't think you have anything. You need to pretend this draft never happened.
The studio and Kevin Feige himself trusted Whedon’s judgement so much that they let him run the show. Of course, Marvel Studios had a couple of their own rules as to what the film was required to do: it had to be a film pitting The Avengers against Loki, there needed to be a huge blow up between the heroes and a grand finale against Loki and his forces. Also, May 2012 was his target date. While Whedon and Penn would share the story credit on the film, screenwriting was solely credited to Joss. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hollywood, despite its best depictions to the contrary, is not the best industry for your ego. While Joss Whedon was eventually installed as the grand high poobah of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, you can see how big of a gamble Feige and company were willing to take on a man who’d only directed one feature film before The Avengers. To not only let him direct, but also to let him can Zak Penn’s original draft, shows that they trusted him as much as New Line trusted Peter Jackson when they embarked on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. After all, Zak Penn was no stranger to writing comic films at that point with X-Men: The Last Stand, Elektra, and The Incredible Hulk all to his credit. While Whedon wrote comics, Penn wrote comic movies.
Marvel Studios has always had a vision for what it wants out of its films, and Joss Whedon is just the man that fits the bill. For him to reject a script at that early phase of their working relationship, and to get away with it, just shows how cut out for the job he actually was. When and if he leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which, if his intent to focus on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Age Of Ultron is true, could be sooner than later,) someone else will have to step into the shoes of the man who brought Earth’s mightiest heroes together. Which means someone might have their own chance to pull a Whedon and reject his vision for their own.
For now, the Joss Whedon-written-and-directed The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is going to crash theaters on May 1st, 2015.