No wonder Joss Whedon wrote and directed such a fantastic movie in “The Avengers” and pulled off an even harder feat with “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” as well as orchestrating the development of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Whedon, born in 1964, has been a huge Marvel fan since first encountering comics in the early 1970s when his scriptwriter father, Tom, brought home comics to prepare for a Spider-Man segment on “The Electric Company.”
“I was like nine, and I’m like, ‘What’s all this? What’s all this that will now obsess me for the rest of my life?'” Whedon told Amy Pascale in “Joss Whedon: The Biography.”
Whedon started reading comics constantly and soon started writing them.
When he and a friend didn’t like how an “Incredible Hulk” story ended in 1976, they “took matters into their own hands and rewrote the story,” writes Pascale: “This evolved into staging elaborate scenes in their apartments, as the future director/screenwriter and playwright strung up action figures and sent them flying across the room.”
As Whedon grew up, he continued to take inspiration from comics.
Notably, his breakthrough 1990 creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was inspired by Kitty Pryde of the X-Men: “If there’s a bigger influence … I don’t know what it was,” he told New York Magazine’s Gavin Edwards. “She was an adolescent girl finding out she has great power and dealing with it.”
It so happened that Marvel was also obsessed with Whedon, as the company struggled to reach older audiences.
“The Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show became [Marvel VP Bill] Jemas’s shorthand for what he was looking for — a continuing series with young, attractive stars and a rich backstory that nevertheless was accessible to a new audience,” Sean Howe writes in “
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.”
And so began a decade-long courtship between the man and the company.
Whedon, a proven script doctor, was hired to help with Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” movie in 2000. He had also reportedly been considered to direct that movie and its sequel, and in 2001 he was in talks to direct an “Iron Man” movie, which never materialised (he also almost made several DC superhero movies).
He even wrote some real Marvel comics when he authored an acclaimed 2004 run of “Astonishing X-Men” and a few others.
Whedon finally got his Marvel movie in 2010, when Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios, approached him about directing “The Avengers.” The lifelong fan couldn’t say no, and the rest is history.
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