‘The Avengers’ director describes love-hate relationship

America's much-awaited superheroes will return to the big screen this May in Marvel’s “The Avengers.” S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury, the leader of a secret agency, is called to bring the superheroes together in a fight to save humanity.

Director for the film, Joss Whedon, shared some laughs and insight on his latest superhero creation and relationship to the film.

Question: What was your process in writing the film? Did you already have a directorial vision?

Joss Whedon: Half of writing a script is writing visually. The process, therefore, was pretty organic, particularly because we had such a tight schedule.

I was writing visual cues and action descriptions before I had finished structuring. It was very difficult structurally to figure out how to make it work.

Q: Is there something from your childhood experience with the Avengers that especially resonated with you?

JW: The fact that the Avengers are all really, really messed up people I think is a fine reflection of me [laughs]. I loved that it was, one, the comic books.

Marvel was known for its gritty realism, and even though the Avengers made their home in New York, they were so often out in that space and dealing with artificial intelligence, grand beings from another world, and gods and monsters. I love that element. That’s definitely a part of the film.

Q: How did you mentally prepare yourself to carry on the stories of all these established super heroes with an already fervent backing?

JW: I’ve done a lot of work for things that already exist. I've worked on the X-Men. I wrote an alien movie, not necessarily the best one. Working as a script doctor, you come in after things have been established.

Q: Why was Cleveland picked as a shooting location and what was it like shooting there?

JW: Cleveland had some financial advantages rebate wise. That’s always a big thing for Marvel. They also were very, very accommodating in terms of letting us blow up their city. It has so many locations that worked beautifully for so many different places without hardly any dressing.

Q: “The Avengers” is based on Nick Fury trying to unite heroes with extraordinary powers and egos. Did you feel like Nick Fury trying to bring the actors into a team concept, and how did you handle creative differences in this type of situation?

JW: I felt very much like Nick Fury. You do feel that responsibility that you've got to get all of these people to give their best. For him, it’s in battle and for me it’s when we're rolling. So (I) definitely felt some of the pressure, but I can see out of my left eye.

Q: Did you have any particular combination of superheroes that you thought were the most interesting to see interact?

JW: I would say I love the Bruce Banner-Tony Stark relationship. Bruce Banner (is) the first guy Tony Stark comes across who operates on his level intellectually, who isn't a villain. But I also love Tony and Steve (Rogers) and how much they can’t stand each other. I love them all. I hate this question.

Q: If you were going to insert yourself into a superhero movie, what powers would you have?

JW: I would have the power of invisibility, and then I wouldn’t have to show up for as many shooting days.

Q: College students have a lot of options this summer with movies to see during their summer break. Why should college students have it first on their list to see “The Avengers”?

JW: “The Avengers” is the kind of movie that I grew up wanting to make and thought (people) had stopped making. They’re not interested in a story. They’re interested in just barraging you with excitement and imagery and brand names.

Marvel doesn't operate that way. They care about the people … This is an old-fashioned movie. It’s a little bit bigger than life, but it's very human.

Reach the reporter at cstarboa@asu.edu

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