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Joss Whedon’s Advice For A ‘Justice League’ Movie & More From The Cast Of 'The Avengers'

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by Jeff Otto
May 3, 2012 10:03 AM
21 Comments
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After years of rumors, what ifs and hearsay, perhaps the most unlikely -- and certainly the most ambitious -- comic book movie of all time is finally hitting theaters this weekend. Beyond the mere logistical nightmare of pairing this massive cast with the equally massive budget required for such an undertaking, the green light for an “The Avengers” movie was dependent on the success of five other films before it. But here we are, the movie set to take North America by storm with hugely positive buzz and fanboys salivating for the penultimate moment when they finally hear “Avengers assemble!” echo across the megaplex.

The Playlist was on hand for the often chaotic “The Avengers” press festivities in Los Angeles this month. All the major players showed up for the party (minus Scarlett Johansson) and did their best to convey what it was like to shoot one of the most expensive and highly anticipated films of all time. One thing that was clear in the interaction amongst the big group was that, in light of everything it took to achieve this lofty goal, everyone had a pretty fun time making the movie.

Here are five things we learned about “The Avengers” from the director, producer and cast.

1. Robert Downey Jr. Was Glad To Have Some Other Superheroes To Share The Load
Every team needs a leader, whether that’s on the screen or off. And while Joss Whedon and Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige were clearly calling the shots, the cast also wound up looking to a veteran member of the team known just as much for his clever comic quips as his superhero know how. “Yeah, we needed it,” deadpans Robert Downey Jr. to press. “I offered rides back and forth from Albuquerque on my private jet. Going back to 2007 when when I was cast in ‘Iron Man’ and Feige over there said this is all going to lead to where we’re going to have all of these franchises come together… And we’re gonna do something unprecedented, we’re gonna make this ‘Avengers’ movie. And I just remember I would get nervous about it and excited about it and doubtful of it. By the time we were shooting I already had a history with Sam [Jackson], and I was really wanting to capitalize on that. Chris [Evans] and Chris [Hemsworth] had launched their individual franchises with success and charisma. And by the time we had Mark [Ruffalo] I was like, ‘Wow, you know what, this is really gonna happen.’ So just being a worker amongst workers is kind of where I started out. And it was nice to not really have to carry a movie. I think everyone is really equal in this venture”

2. The Long, Challenging Road To The Avengers
Kevin Feige has been a man on a mission since he first joined Marvel in 2000. $4.8 billon in worldwide box office grosses later, his loftiest plan is about to come to light. And if early tracking numbers hold up, his impressive box office tally will cross the $5 billion mark and then some before all is said and done. So how long has Mr. Feige been working on “The Avengers” movie in some form? “Well, one answer is my whole life, just 'cause I’ve been a nerd my whole life and wanted to see this movie made for my whole life,” says the producer with a big smile. “The real answer though is sort of towards the end of production of ‘Iron Man' when Sam [Jackson] was gracious enough to spend three hours on a Saturday to come and break into Tony Stark’s house wearing an eye patch and tell him and the world that he was part of bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet. And when that movie succeeded is when we realized, ‘Wait a minute, we actually have the opportunity to do it.’ And the only challenge was to try to make all the movies live on their own, even if we weren’t leading towards an ‘Avengers’ movie. If they’re all just interconnected puzzle pieces, that’s not as fun. They need to be movies beginning to end. So, I would say that was the biggest challenge.”

3. Captain America & Thor, Fish Out Of Water
Nick Fury, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Black Widow are a pretty confident bunch. They know what they’re up against and are always at the ready. And sure, Bruce Banner has some mental issues and anger problems, but the big green guy usually comes along and takes care of any trouble his puny human gets into. But in the case of Captain America and Thor, the modern world and, in the latter’s case, Earth, is a relatively new experience to deal with on top of Loki’s whole plot to destroy humanity. “That’s Cap’s role,” says Chris Evans. “That’s kind of why I like it because I am used to kind of leaning on cracking jokes and being a wise-ass. So it’s nice to kind of play it straight a little bit. And I think even in this film more than the first ‘Captain America,’ Steve Rogers has some trouble given the fact that he is a man out of his time. But given who he is as a man, his nature, he puts that second. He puts the mission first and he’s just selfless.”

“We all kind of fell into the fish-out-of-water category,” adds Chris Hemsworth. “Joss said it early on, the dysfunctional family, and we somehow belong amongst the fact that we don’t belong anywhere else. Thor, yeah, he’s from another planet. I guess his motivation through the conflict and the villain was far more personal than the rest of them because it was his brother Loki. It was nice to have already shot that film and have that relationship with Tom [Hiddleston]. That was sort of my focus anyway. We all kind of didn’t get along at the beginning. And certainly we’re from some other planet or some other world, so it was fun to play that dynamic.”

4. What Makes Each Avenger Special to Play?
With the exception of Ruffalo, each of the cast members of ‘Avengers’ has spent a good deal of time in their character’s shoes. We asked them what traits they liked most about their respective heroes.

Mark Ruffalo on Bruce Banner/Hulk: “We’re all told to be so well-behaved and I think we all sometimes are bursting at the seams to let it rip. Bruce Banner gets that moment. And I think part of the joy for people is to actually see that happen. It’s exciting for us. It’s a nice way for us to blow off steam watching movies and, yes, especially for me.”

Chris Evans on Steve Rogers/Captain America: “His heart, his selflessness. He wasn’t born a super hero. This didn’t happen to him by accident. He was chosen, and it was for those reasons, values, and morals. He puts other people, other causes, ahead of himself. It’s something to aspire to.”

Robert Downey Jr. on Tony Stark/Iron Man: “He didn’t really set out to do anything noble so he’s kind of in transition. And so there’s something kind of a little more Han Solo than Luke. And also the fact that he can pull off wearing a Black Sabbath tee shirt for the better part of the film.” (Laughs)

Chris Hemsworth on Thor: “I like the sort of visceral sort of gut instinct that Thor has. There’s a bit of childlike quality in the sense that he believes in something. He does it and says it. It’s surrounded by bravado and strength and all that but, end of the day he’s pretty true to who he is and what he wants to do. And I think that was fun to play with.”

Samuel L. Jackson on Nick Fury: “I just like the fact that Nick Fury believes that these unique individuals deserve the love and admiration of the world. We pretty much owe everything to them because there are things out there greater than us.”

5. Joss Whedon's Advice On Justice League Movie
In light of all the early skepticism and requisite message board razzing, it looks quite likely that Joss Whedon has pulled off a feat many believed could never be done. Over on the DC side of the comic world, a “Justice League” movie has been discussed now and again for years. Whedon was asked what advice he might offer to get that similarly ambitious project off the ground. “Call me,” jokes Whedon. "It's enormously difficult to take very disparate characters and make them work. DC has a harder time of it than Marvel because their characters are from an old, bygone era where characters were bigger than we were. Marvel really cracked the code in terms of ‘Oh, they're just like us.’ Marvel really started with ‘Iron Man.’ I think you need to use that as your base.”

“The Avengers” opens in theaters nationwide May 4th, 2012.

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21 Comments

  • Steven Dunetz | July 19, 2012 7:47 PMReply

    Tom Welling is your man for Justice Movie. he proves that for 10 years on Smallville! That series could have ran for 2-3 more years! Now a comic book in his image! No-Welling-no more Superman for me! No more flops- Tom Welling is your guy!!!

  • It may not or may will work | June 5, 2012 10:23 PMReply

    how a Justice League Film would work

    1. Solo Films on The Flash (With Ryan Reynolds as the Scarlett Speedster), Wonder Woman and Aquaman (Do an a bit of their Origin what made them into becoming the Heroes they are)

    2.Leave Batman and Superman out for a Solo-film for a while but give Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent small Cameos (The people know them we don't need a Solo Film giving us their Origins cause we know what made them Heroes) Leading on to us they are going to make a Justice League

    3.Do a Green Lantern Reboot (With Nathan Fillon) and Flash Sequel leading to a Justice League where the Main Villain revealed would be Lex Luthor who finds the appearance of these Heroes to be a threat to his plans

    4. This is Where Batman and Superman Come in, it's during Justice League we finally get to see them. and the Film's Villain indeed is Lex Luthor who becomes the Prime Target of Batman's Suspicion when Lex,the man who does so much to kill Superman for the past five years , is running a campaign to become President which of course becomes a ploy cause in truth Lex is just using it to hide the real truth (and it doesn't involve just killing off his long time enemy either). now as for the Heroes meeting each other, Batman and Superman already know each other so but as for the other Heroes Wonder Woman and Aqua Man will be like Fish out of Water, WW doesn't have the full trust of men, Aqua Man is still anger that the surface dwellers are constantly polluting the Ocean but both have no choice but to work with them in order to save themselves and the people involved. Green Lantern and Flash become pretty good friends when they meet but that Doesn't mean Batman will go on trust everyone, and for good reasons like with Superman he will be suspicious about each of them cause of their powers which is one of the key elements of the film which is the Drive to Lex Luthors plans. during the Film we get to see Deathstroke as a secondary Antagonist hired by Lex to well assassinate a few select people (his appearance will give us a hints of the Teen Titan's Existence but none involvement) and of course being Lex Luthor should Deathstroke Fail, the man of science will have enough power to destroy the heroes and at the same reek havoc around Metropolis which would promote the Heroes to band together to stop him.

    6.I like Nathan Fillon to be Hal Jordon, and I Like Ryan Reynolds to be Barry Allen (something about them both appearance and personality gives them that feel that they are those people, even Though Ryan is in fact the Perfect guy to play Deadpool), for the others not sure but I'm wanting Tom Weilling to come back as Clark Kent and Superman only a little Older (man of Steel will be it's own Film alone with the other guy) as for Batman we don't know cause for sure Bale will not want to don the suit again after TDKR.

    7. not sure, it could either be a Solo Film on the Green Arrow with Black Canary serving as both the ally and love interest or a Film about the Huntress, Doctor Fate, the Martian Manhunter, or heck DC would bring back Captain Marvel either way one or two of these Heroes will get a Solo Film which would Lead to another Justice League which the Villain will either be Darksied or Brainiac

  • YEAH NO | May 29, 2012 10:35 AMReply

    They should really do a J'onn J'onzz movie, even though not many people know who he is, I think his story would make for a great movie.

  • heroes for hire | May 26, 2012 2:17 AMReply

    I was thinking the other day that if DC wanted to do a Justice League movie to capitalize on the Avengers success than they need to use the same formula that Marvel used and put little snip-pits at the end of every DC movie that leads to something BIG happening in their universe. The 3 major things DC needs to work on is Story (motivation for the Characters) Characters (develop the personality, this is what Robert Downey Jr. has done so well) and make it believable in today’s world (again Marvel hit a home run with this). They already have the final Batman coming out (but with the whole team leaving its time to re-invent Batman for a bigger role and universe) Now Superman has a movie coming out next summer and with Henry Cavil playing the Man of steal. they don’t have to look any further for then the first instalment to see if this could work but they really need to add something to it to develop a story here. Now with Green Lantern already introduced to the general public they can move in a different direct with the character (I believe that different directing and better acting is desperately needed here, along with dose of seriousness from Ryan Reynolds not everything in Green Lantern’s life has to have a joke attached to it). If they decided to do away with Reynolds and maybe go the route of Jon Stewart as GL than they could use a guy like Laz Alonzo who would be a good fit for the character. Even Michael Jai White he definitely can handle the physical and he has the look. But if you wanted BIG go big get Dwayne Johnson his acting ability has really grown (even for the haters).
    Batman, Batman, Batman. He has been reinvented a couple of times and this one could be very tricky with so many people falling in love with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale’s version of the Bat. Joe Manganeillo has the look and I think he could pull off a Bruce Wayne/Batman. He has personality and presence. This could be the new Batman…….
    Now moving on to who could be one of the other major stars of the movie Wonder Woman I believe that you need a strong character person to play not only a physically strong woman but a strong and confident Amazon princess. There are a few that come to mind that could handle the characters physical demand as well as the emotional load that would come (Kate Beckinsale , Milla Jovovich , and even Jessica Biel ). These 3 ladies would be great choices for the role and would add a lot in terms of character which is what DC needs to bring to the table.
    Now for the Flash, with Justin Timberlake starting to come into his own as an actor he seems to have the type of personality that could work for the Flash. He can be funny but serious when he has to be. But he cant be an after thought. But maybe even a role reversal for Ryan Reynolds he definitely has the character side (comedy at a whim) down and could make for a pretty good Flash
    And Aquaman. Looking at who could suit the character Kellun Lutz would fit the look and he is from the Twilight Sega or even Rick Malambri from step up 3D but ideally Chris Pine the Star Trek star would be a great fit for the role. This could easily branch off into an Aquaman movie all it’s own with the tales of Atlantis being a major theme. Could also add a completely different element than the Avengers.

    There is one last character to be cast and that would be the Martian Manhunter, J'onn J'onzz, Eric Bana could play the quiet demeanour of Manhunter but still give off enough presence when needed to be a key role. Yes we all know he played the Hulk and was the villain in Star Trek. That aside he would fit right in.
    others like Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Green Arrow, and even Firestorm, or Cyborg would be good additions to the team but to many would kill the movie and there is already a lot riding on the main 3 (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman).
    Yes there are lots of others that could be cast but these are just examples for now.
    This movie needs to be amazing but to be amazing it needs great actors to pull the unbelievable into the world of believable in order to make us the fans love them. Start with Story and motivation to drive the characters into an adventure of a life time.
    Justice League it’s time…Make us Believe.

  • C | May 8, 2012 8:15 AMReply

    Honestly a JL movie would suck! Who would be the platform/base, Superman or Batman? Superman is too powerful with only one stupid weakness, and Batman is too weak period! For it to possibly be a good movie, there should be a Flash and Wonder Woman solo movie debut first. In addition, we would have to fall in love with another character besides Batman. Personally, I would only watch it if Superman dies and/or I actually like one of the other "superheroes" and Green Lantern isn't cutting it.

  • YEAH NO | June 1, 2012 6:27 PM

    Yeah, until someone grabs some kryptonite and makes him totally useless, that stuff is literally everywhere. Hulk/Thor don't have that massive glaring weakness that Superman does.

  • JLA | May 31, 2012 9:28 AM

    The poser who thinks Superman is weaker than Thor and Hulk, go grab a superman comic and start reading. Superman power to an extent can destroy the whole universe, he can grab black holes and eat it...-_-

  • Yeah No | May 29, 2012 10:32 AM

    Superman is weaker than Thor and Hulk and Batman is stronger than Hawkeye, Black Widow, so yeah. Plus Batman is the mind behind the League, not just an afterthought.

  • Adrian | May 18, 2012 12:34 PM

    Obviously, you never read the Morrison run on JLA :)
    You should try it, it's almost the only comic who showed a great balance of characters in DC :)

  • Dan | May 5, 2012 11:09 PMReply

    Why the f would DC listen to Whedon's comment. They have no choice about Whedon doing the movie, it's entirely WB decisions.

  • moviefan | May 4, 2012 11:26 PMReply

    enough talking! justice league needs to be made. the avengers was very good but in my opinion the justice league, if done right would set new records at box office.with that being said it would be nice to finally see.

  • drewl | June 2, 2012 3:46 AM

    too bad your opinion is worthless.

  • da master | May 3, 2012 11:39 AMReply

    DC, if you ever read this comment and are actually willing and wanting to do a justice league movie, follow whedon's advice and hire him to write/direct it

  • Dan | May 5, 2012 11:09 PM

    Why the f would DC listen to Whedon's comment. They have no choice about Whedon doing the movie, it's entirely WB decisions.

  • Tony Chu | May 4, 2012 12:36 PM

    Agreed. Avengers worked and it was awesome.

  • Monica | May 3, 2012 1:22 PM

    I don't want the film of the League is a silly as TA.

  • KT | May 3, 2012 10:54 AMReply

    “DC has a harder time of it than Marvel because their characters are from an old, bygone era where characters were bigger than we were. Marvel really cracked the code in terms of ‘Oh, they're just like us.’ Marvel really started with ‘Iron Man.’ I think you need to use that as your base.”

    WRONG. They're not just like us; D.C.'s characters are gods AMONGST us.

  • Ron | May 3, 2012 12:36 PM

    I feel like you just wanted to make a comment. Seeing how your "WRONG. They're not just like us D.C's characters are gods AMONGST us." was 100% Whedon's point.

  • Monica | May 3, 2012 10:30 AMReply

    this guy is full of himself. lol

  • Nathan | May 7, 2012 11:01 PM

    a JL movie could work, but the problem is for whatever reason the writers they get to write the scrips keep trying to change the character. That mess years ago with wanting to change superman (having a kid?! wtf) or worse yet before that wanting to take away the suit.. why?! Producers screwed the pooch even before that in not doing a "Death of Superman" movie based on the comics.. millions of people were begging for that movie to be made and they nixed it because "Batman and Robin" did not do so well? worst decision in movie history.. im hoping this next reincarnation of Superman is done right.. the character does not need changing .. stay true to the source and you will make money

  • Steve | May 6, 2012 4:27 PM

    Shouldn't he be? He pulled off something with The Avengers no one could imagine possible with unbelievable panache and wit. WB are the ones who ensure a DC League film failing. Their over-budgeted GL movie was a flop critically and financially. They also massively failed by having Whedon write a Wonder Woman script that he worked on for over a year and then firing him (a character who btw has similar elements to both Thor and Captain America, which were successful Marvel films in their own right). It seems the only smart move DC/WB has made in over a decade was to hire Nolan to do Batman. Whedon would NEVER work for DC/WB again. I especially love the way he gave the middle finger to DC by writing Thanos into the script nearly ensuring WB can't use Darkseid. There is great power in beating others to the punch.

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