Marvel's The Avengers - Director Joss Whedon with Samuel L Jackson
Marvel's The Avengers - Director Joss Whedon on set with Samuel L Jackson who plays Nick Fury © 2011 MVLFFLLC, Photo by Zade Rosenthal

Emmy and Oscar nominee Joss Whedon is probably best known for his popular TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, his cult favorite Firefly, and subsequent movie of the franchise, Serenity.

But nothing in his past can equal his achievement of writing and directing the new superhero movie Marvel’s The Avengers which brings Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye together, when Nick Fury, the director of the peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. needs them to save the world.

Are you a fan of Marvel’s and how hard was it to figure out how to bring the superheroes together?

Marvel's The Avengers - Mark Ruffalo
Director Joss Whedon attends the premiere © © 2011 MVLFFLLC

I am a fan of what Marvel has established. The films they have released are extremely informative, useful and fun, but when they first came to me, Thor and Captain America were not even close to being finished. I just felt like, ‘Okay, you have all these moving parts, but how can you possibly bring them together?’

Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America don’t seem like they could co-exist and ultimately  that is what intrigued me and made me go, ‘This can be done and this should be done.’

These people don’t belong together and wouldn’t get along, and as soon as that dynamic came into focus, I realized that I actually had something to say about these people.

What was the biggest challenge for you personally being the guy who finally brought The Avengers together?

I think the exciting thing speaks for itself. That bunch of characters, that bunch of actors playing them, that much money. It was kind of a no-brainer.

The hardest part was the structure. How do you put them together? How do you make everybody shine? How do you let the audience’s identification drift from person to person without making them feel like they’re not involved?

It’s a very complicated structure.It’s not necessarily ornate or original, but it had to be right, it had to be earned from moment-to-moment, and that’s exhausting. That was still going on in the editing room after we’d shot.

What was your approach to the spectacle in the film?

Marvel's The Avengers - Director Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth
Director Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, on the set © 2011 MVLFFLLC

The most important thing for me was that it not be spectacle for its own sake. That it be earned, that it be believable, that you knew exactly what was at stake, who had to get where from where and how, and what was in their way.

I don’t just want a blur of things crashing around, I want to know how everybody’s doing.

What in your mind separates a good comic book adaptation film from a bad one?

It’s capturing the essence of the comic and being true to what’s wonderful about it, while remembering that it’s a movie and not a comic book. I think with the first Spiderman they figured out the formula of tell the story that they told in the comic.

It was compelling, that’s why it’s iconic, but at the same time they did certain things that only a movie can do.

Marvel's The Avengers - Joss Whedon with Scarlett Johansson
Joss Whedon with Scarlett Johansson who plays Black Widow © 2011 MVLFFLLC

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.