By any standard — critical or commercial — not only is “The Avengers” a megahit, which by the end of this weekend could be looking at $585 million worldwide, it’s also considered by many to be the best Marvel movie to date. And when the dust clears and the money is counted, Marvel and the fans will have one person to thank: Joss Whedon. While it seems like a no brainer to give the fanboy favorite Whedon the keys to their biggest movie to date, Marvel was taking a bit of a risk. For Whedon, it was his first venture with an expensive, tentpole movie with a lot riding on it, but not only did Marvel have faith he could pull it off, they let him write the damn thing too. But it could have turned out much differently.
GQ recently sat down with Whedon to talk about this career and the film and he candidly reveals that he tossed aside a script that was penned by Zak Penn to start from scratch. “There was a script. There just wasn’t a script I was going to film a word of,” he bluntly stated. Ouch.
But perhaps fans should be happy. While the scribe did write the celebrated “X2” (or at least has a “story by” co-credit) Penn was the scribe behind lesser-celebrated comic book movies like “Electra,” “X-Men 3: The Last Stand” and “The Incredible Hulk” (in which he was famously outmuscled by Edward Norton, who revised chunks of the script). And no matter how good Penn’s script might have been, it’s hard to argue that Marvel and Whedon didn’t make the right choice by choosing to start fresh, though Penn wishes he would’ve been involved.
“We could have collaborated more, but that was not his choice. He wanted to do it his way, and I respect that. I mean, it’s not like on the ‘Hulk,’ where I got replaced by the lead actor,” Penn said. “That was an unusual one. This was more normal.”
So, just a chunk of trivia to take with you to the theater this weekend. Penn retains a story credit, but clearly, it’s an all-Whedon world up there on the big screen. “The Avengers” opens on Friday and don’t forget to stay after the credits.