While in the land down under for a public talk, Joss Whedon recently chatted about the joys and struggles of penning the screenplay for The Avengers. As we already know, it's going to be one risky proposition, a hope-filled project banking on the future of Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, after a wobbly Iron Man 2 and Incredible Hulk woes. Not only does the film require movie fans to want to see everyone together, they've also got to balance a whole bunch of larger-than-life personalities without falling victim to the Spider-Man 3 bloat. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Nick Fury, War Machine, Hawkeye -- the list makes two or three villains seem like child's play.
But Whedon doesn't seem shackled by the idea -- he seems to be inspired by it.
Perhaps it's just the left-over exuberance of landing the gig, but Whedon's words to The Sydney Morning Herald are filled with eager inspiration. (It's a great interview. Check it out.) He said of the project:
When asked if he prefers a restrained environment, he responded:Right now I'm working on a movie that's got enormous stipulations and is going to be changing and fluid every second. I've come up with dozens of scenes and lines and exchanges and monologues that I adore that are not going to be in it. But while I'm writing them they feed me, excite me and they ultimately inform the character. It all goes in.
He's right -- it is exciting to see films that cleverly work around restrictions. I often reference the Chinese film Perpetual Motion, where sensuality couldn't be added to the film with sex, so the filmmaker had a tongue-intensive meal scene with chicken feet. But also think of the old films where only a stiff-lipped kiss was acceptable. To show passion, leads had to have palpable chemistry, and be able to express lust and passion within a look, or a carefully worded piece of innuendo. When you have to work around something, there's no time or room to be lazy.In a way, yes. I feel that movies got more imaginatively dirty after the Hays Code was introduced in America. There's something about having restrictions that does make you want to be sly about how you come at something. I do think that fighting against something, if it's a real creative collaboration, the frisson between what the artist is trying to get out there and what the market place expects, creates very exciting entertainment.
Whedon's thoughts on the project not only sound like a special feature wonderland heading our way, but a really great mindset and attitude to have about the production. When his name first circled the feature, I was an apprehensive Whedon fan. Joss' best work has always been through a slow build. A solid half-season of Buffy led to excellent work in Season Two. Or, consider the more recent Dollhouse, where a slow start escalated into a really killer finale.
I can't help but hope that with so many not-in-the-film exchanges that this pressured environment is allowing him to write the film as if it was a series -- to find the voices and backstory and then funnel it into one impressive feature. But what do you think? Will Whedon shine with The Avengers?