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When Joss Whedon speaks, superhero-movie nerds listen … and often treat his words as Gospel. So at some point today, if you are a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you are going to want to read over this comprehensive Whedon interview with EW.com, as it’s loaded with gems about television shows both old (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and new (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), his childhood,
Chunks of this interview have dribbled online already, from Whedon’s issues with the non-ending in The Empire Strikes Back to his beefs with Indiana Jones. In case you don’t have time to peruse the entire piece, we’re going to isolate some of our favorite Whedon answers as he takes the reader through his career to this point. For instance, when talking about his various, celebrated rewrites, the only two he considers successes are the original Toy Story and Speed, of all movies.
Almost all have been a crushing disappointment, with the rewrites almost always coming out wrong, with the exception of Toy Story and Speed. There’s other bits here and there—the "You’re a dick" line from X-Men. I had done so much work they had thrown out, so that was a personal victory. It was then overshadowed when I told the famous Toad story [when Storm, played by Halle Berry, dramatically asks Toad what happens to a toad struck by lightning]. It’s supposed to be (casually): "What happens when a toad gets hit by lightning? [Lightning strike] The same thing that happens to everything else." It was supposed to be like a throwaway, and she did it like she was King Lear. I was trying to explain what I had written versus the actor who played it. But all people remember is you’re the one who wrote that terrible line. I should have never told that story.
He also opens up about the character of Wonder Woman, whom Whedon tried to bring to the big screen on more than one occasion. His insight is interesting because DC is going to have to figure her out eventually if they ever hope of doing that Justice League movie. On Wonder Woman, Whedon notes:
She’s a tough nut to crack. I know she’s famous as a television show, but I don’t think she lends herself to television. I think she only works on an epic scale. I saw a bit of the David E. Kelley [NBC pilot]. That was not a good marriage.
Whedon runs through his "Greatest Hits" of interview topics, from Serenity/Firefly to his current run on The Avengers. Here he describes how he landed his most-lucrative directing gig:
I had been telling stories that were clearly superhero-team stories for many years, writing and directing them on a smaller scale. And at same time Kevin Feige was slaving away at Marvel, then was eventually put in charge of it. We sat down to talk about a script they had and what I would do with it. I wasn’t even aware there was a possibility I could be called upon to [direct]. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with it. Everyone was like: "Why did they pick you?" But I fit the Marvel profile perfectly — I had vision and passion and I was cheap."
He won’t be so cheap on the sequel, which will pit Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against Ultron. When asked if it was difficult to humanize a robotic villain, the director explained:
It wasn’t a challenge because I knew right away what I wanted to do with him. He’s always trying to destroy the — Avengers, goddamn it, he’s got a bee in his bonnet. He’s not a happy guy, which means he’s an interesting guy. He’s got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff. So we’ll take away some of those powers because at some point everybody becomes magic, and I already have someone [a new character, Scarlet Witch] who’s a witch. You have to be careful to ground it while still evoking that guy. As a character I love him because he’s so pissed off."
Obviously, with a Whedon interview, you can pull pretty much the entire piece. Safe to say, if you have even a passing interest in Whedon, Marvel or pop culture, you’ll want to read this in its entirety.