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Joss Whedon's 'Avengers' to pack new punch behind overworked concept

By Kayla Upadhyaya, Senior Arts Editor
Published May 1, 2012

I tend to be a tiny bit florid with my camera work and my dialogue, but hopefully in a way that feels like a realistic version of a comic book universe.”

The more sci-fi and fantasy elements of “The Avengers” were what drew Whedon — who has incorporated everything from vampires, to space cowboys, to all-powerful evil gods in his past work — to the story.

“Marvel was known for it’s gritty realism, and ‘Spider Man’ was sort the template for ‘oh, they could just be people in New York,’ ” Whedon explained. “And even though the Avengers made their home in New York, they were so often out in that space and dealing with artificial intelligence, and grand beings from another world, and gods and monsters. And I love that element. That’s definitely a part of the film.”

Whedon described the writing process for the film as very organic. For him, when writing a script, figuring out how things are going to look and feel are just as important as the actual dialogue. Because he and his crew were working on a tight schedule, some of the set pieces and action sequences had to be worked on before the story was put to paper. This made it difficult to piece it all together, but he again emphasized the organic- and teamwork-based nature of the process.

With dozens of larger-than-life action films hitting the box office this summer, Whedon explained that he hopes his movie is a bit more reminiscent of what summer movies used to represent.

“I think ‘The Avengers’ is the kind of movie that I grew up wanting to make and thought they had stopped making,” Whedon said. “When I grew up, the summer movie was literally created as a concept, and all my life I wanted to do something like that, something like the first ‘Indiana Jones,’ something that was steeped in character, in love of the genre that it was portraying, had intelligence, had real acting, had a story that unfolded and wasn’t just a sort of big premise that you already knew going in — or isn’t based on, you know, Parcheesi or something just because it has a name.”

About more recent summer flicks that are more about the spectacle than the story, Whedon is critical.

“More and more summer movies have felt a little cynical,” Whedon said. “There are very, very big exceptions to that, but that has been the case when people throw so much money down. … They’re not interested in a story, they’re interested in just barraging you with excitement, and imagery, and brand names.”

He added: “Marvel doesn’t operate that way. They care about the people. That’s why they hire some of the best actors in the business to play their heroes. And this is an old-fashioned movie: It’s a little bit bigger than life, but it’s very human.”