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Part of the reason Joss Whedon is such a god among fanboys and fangirls is not just his gift for spirited banter, or his inventive spins on often derided genres. It's that he is writer who can cull inspiration from a wide range of influences to create something peppered with allusions yet fresh and fun. To his credit, Whedon didn't want The Avengers to be bogged down by fan service tropes, but one dedicated fan of the Whedonverse has uncovered an unlikely inspiration for one of the feature's most popular jokes.
Cheers to J.P. Gagen, whose Youtube handle is Buffyfan45, for unearthing this video from bonus features of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Chosen Collection. Here Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on the series, recounts his life-changing audition, and Whedon notes the one word that got Brendon the part: shawarma.
In The Avengers a punch drunk Iron Man memorably asks his concerned fellow heroes to grab a bite of the Arabian dish after their battle wraps up. It's a weird moment that Downey plays with the kind of loose charm that makes most of his lines seem like they could be improvised. However, the above anecdote does bear a striking resemblance to Iron Man's loopy bid for a post-brawl bite. But whether or not you think this is just a coincidence or clear evidence that writer-director banked the story for use in one of his many future projects really depends on how you perceive Whedon. Either way, shawarma sellers will likely be grateful for a renewed talk of the scene, as Iron Man's initial endorsement reportedly sparked a surge in the spice meat's popularity.
The Avengers is now out on DVD and Blu-ray.