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Joss Whedon's Batman, How Black Widow Nearly Got The Axe & 15 More Revelations From 'The Avengers' Press Tour

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 4, 2012 at 12:00PM

If it's somehow escaped your notice, "The Avengers" is in theaters today. One of the biggest gambles in blockbuster history, it looks to have paid off: the reviews have been hugely positive, it's already closing on $300 million from the international box office, and stands to break records over this weekend in the U.S. too.
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Whedon Didn't Worry About Imitating His Predecessors Too Slavishly
One of the more interesting things about the Marvel movies so far is the way each have had their own visual palettes. Whedon studied them, but had no desire to imitate them. He tells Movies.com: "Visually, I wasn’t going to look to these movies for my cues, except in as much as Iron Man tells me that because he’s the sort of the daddy of all of them that we need to be grounded in the real world to an extent. But then a beautiful Joe Johnston frame is not to be sneezed at and the sort of grandeur of Thor, that’s got to be worked in there too, but I'm not going to go and try and figure out how to ape those guys. I have my own way of shooting. Luckily it kind of contains all those elements. It’s supposed to be sort of naturalistically florid, and so I just felt comfortable with the way I shoot and the way I plan to shoot for 3D as the way to unite all the different styles without just trying to copy them."

Chris Evans Felt Like A Kid On Set
It's not just the audience who'll feel like children again during "The Avengers" -- the cast had the same feeling making it. Chris Evans told Empire: "The first time I came on set and saw other people in costume, it was a night-time scene in the woods and it involved myself, Chris Hemsworth and Downey Jr. I had just seen 'Thor' maybe two nights before, so I got on set and I saw Hemsworth in the cape and immediately thought, 'God, there's Thor, I'm looking at Thor' and then I saw Downey Jr in the suit. It's amazing. The kid in me would say, 'I didn't get to act with Robert Downey Jr. I got to act with Iron Man.' I 'd never had that before, where I had seen actors in a film that I was not a part of and then come to work and help them to extend that character's life. It's like being a little kid."

The Avengers Thor Agent Coulson
The Biggest Problem On Set? The Cast Got Along Too Well
When Whedon got involved he must have been worried that wrestling with star egos would be half the job. In fact, it turned out that having the actors in the same room was an issue, but not for the reasons you might expect. "When I had everybody on screen," he told Empire, "you really saw an uglier side of all of these guys, because they would not stop chatting. Giggle giggle giggle, chat chat chat. Literally the only time I raised my voice when we were filming was because these guys would not shut up and we had to roll. Don't get me wrong -- you would see them standing next to each going 'Is his costume cooler? Are his muscles bigger?' But every single one of them was rooting for the other."

Whedon Had To Strip Himself Out Of The Film
Being such a recognizable writer, some were concerned that Whedon's voice would overwhelm the finished product. Among them, Whedon, who realized after shooting his upcoming version of "Much Ado About Nothing" that he needed to strip back his own idiosyncrasies from the original three-hour cut. He told Wired, "I care about these people, about the fact that they’re isolated,” he says. “But I’m also telling Marvel’s story. 'Much Ado' allowed me to realize that taking away some of the Joss is going to make this a better Avengers movie.” Ultimately, he realized it was better to show than to tell: "You don’t have to say what you’re trying to say. You can just do it, and then people will feel it. The more I hone this and just focus on the Avengers as they relate to one another, the better it works. That’s painful, but it’s a reality.”

The Avengers Mark Ruffalo
There Aren't Any Easter Eggs To Be Found Hinting At Future Movies
Leading up to "The Avengers," Marvel have played the long game, dropping hints to S.H.I.E.L.D and the Cosmic Cube and many other things from "Iron Man" to "Captain America." But Marvel head Kevin Feige told Badass Digest that you shouldn't expect similar nods here. "I find that they're distracting. Joss finds that they're distracting. Frankly we want Avengers to work as its own movie, as a part one. If you keep saying 'Oh look, it's Janet Van Dyne!' everything collapses. I took out some Easter Eggs in 'Thor' because they were getting too [involved]." That being said, there are nods to earlier films, says Feige, "When Tony Stark throws up the screens after Coulson gives him [the dossiers on the other Avengers], those are Easter Eggs for people who haven't seen the other movies. They're clips of Thor and The Incredible Hulk and Captain America on those screens. Those are the Easter Eggs." And fans will notice set-up for a potential sequel mid-way through the credits...

Harry Dean Stanton Plays A Crucial Role In The Film
There's one cameo that will particularly delight cinephiles (although the brief appearance by Polish director, and co-writer of Roman Polanski's "Knife On The Water," Jerzy Skolimowski, is also fun): that of 85-year-old character actor veteran Harry Dean Stanton. Whedon tells Badass Digest that few actors could have pulled off the needs of that cameo: "I needed to get Banner from the horror of what he had done and almost killing Scarlett -- or Natasha, I should say -- in to, you know, a place where he was prepared to go back into that [Hulk] state. He needs somebody who will just accept him. I sort of got [Stanton] stuck in my head and I was like who is more accepting than Harry Dean Stanton? And, so I got to write this weird little scene -- which when I wrote it was not little, it was about 12 pages long. I was like oh, this is great, Banner falls into a Coen Brothers movie! The fact that they even let me keep that concept and that we actually landed Harry Dean to play it was very exciting."

The Avengers Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson Would Like To Do A Bourne-Style Black Widow Movie, Has Talked To Kevin Feige & Marvel About The Possibility
While pretty much everyone in the cast has earned praise along with the film, Scarlett Johansson impressed fans as Black Widow, particularly as her brief turn in "Iron Man 2" was not nearly as memorable. But as an integral player in "The Avengers" the actress and character steps it up, and ScarJo is already toying with the idea of a standalone movie. "I personally think there's an awesome Black Widow movie in there that is like a kind of Bourne type of film, that would take the whole comic book genre in a completely different direction," she told ScreenRant. I've spoken to Marvel about it and Kevin Feige and there's so much story there to draw from, I think it would be totally awesome." 

To Relax, Whedon Murders Homeless People
Well, at least according to his Q&A in The Guardian, anyway...

"The Avengers" is in theaters today.

This article is related to: The Avengers, Features, Joss Whedon, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Marvel


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