Whedon On 'The Avengers' Screenplay

AVENGERS_4_WJoss Whedon opened up to SFX about his process while writing and preparing to direct Marvel Studios’ THE AVENGERS.

“I’m feeling that everything that I have done before has prepared me for this, besides the fact that I’ve been reading The Avengers since I was 11.”

He acknowledges the difficulty in integrating the various heroes, some grounded more in science fiction, others more in the realm of fantasy.

“’By the way, there’s a thunder god. You guys are cool, right? This guy is big and green and this character wears an American flag. It’s all good, right? It’s totally REAL WORLD.’
Finding the tone and plots that are coherent is what I go to bed thinking about and wake up thinking about, but it’s doable.”

The fact that some very good actors are involved makes him have to use self-discipline to avoid the temptation to write lengthy dramatic scenes and dialog ala GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS, and to keep a balance of action and story flow to the ensemble film. He also affirms his enthusiasm in having Mark Ruffalo playing Bruce Banner/The Hulk, asserting that the actor was his first choice for the role.
Read the lengthier piece at the link above.

Capt. America Tidbits – Plus Clip

Here’s some news from behind the scenes of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.
First off, fansite EarthsMightiest spoke with THE AVENGERS writer/director Joss Whedon, who revealed that he did a little “script doctor” work on CAPTAIN AMERICA.

“I just got to make some character connections.”The structure of the thing was really tight and I loved it, but there were a couple of opportunities to find his voice a little bit — and some of the other characters — and make the connections so that you understood exactly why he wanted to be who he wanted to be. And progressing through the script to flesh it out a little bit.”

Being a script doctor can be a frustrating exercise, because you’re working on other people material and ideas, often without credit.  However Whedon seemed to enjoy this stint. 

CaptainAmerica_M“It’s fun in this case because, A, they’ll actually use the things I wrote, which is rare; and, B, it’s a fun puzzle to go in and say, ‘Okay, this is what works, this is what needs to be connected, and here are some key moments.’ Then the third thing is that it takes place in the ’40s, so I got to write ’40s dialogue, and that’s never not fun!”

Aceshowbiz.com featured a behind the scenes video tour from Hey UGuys! of a CAPTAIN AMERICA location in England that was used as a US Army encampment. the elaborated dressing included tents, tanks and a USO stage, on which the star-spangled avenger appeared.
Note: this Vimeo video may take a long time to load and play.

Mark Ruffalo Signed as Hulk

mark_ruffaloDeadline is claiming that they can confirm that Mark Ruffalo has signed to play Bruce Banner in Marvel Studios THE AVENGERS.
No official announcement has yet been made. Will update when official comments are forthcoming, perhaps tonight at Comic Con.
UPDATED: Mark Ruffalo was confirmed as Bruce Banner at Comic Con’s Marvel Studios panel, as was Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye.

Joss Whedon To Direct THE AVENGERS

joss_whedonFanboys & fangirls rejoice – fresh from Comic Con comes the announcement that Joss Whedon (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, FIREFLY, DOLLHOUSE) will be directing Marvel’s upcoming THE AVENGERS movie. In terms of his approach to the multi-superhero flick, he had this to say:

I’m still writing the outline. I am at the stage where I am reworking and reworking. What I love about this is that there is no way that these people should be in the same room together, let alone the same team. And that, to me, is the definition of family.

He has a lot of work and great expectations ahead of him. Here is to hoping the outline turns into something great!
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Could Adrien Brody be Marvel's Ant-Man?

Adrian Brody in PREDATORS (2010)
Adrian Brody in PREDATORS

Unconfirmed reports from John Campea and El Mayimbe at LatinoReview.com claim that Adrien Brody may be in talks to play Ant-Man in Marvel’s upcoming project THE AVENGERS, which is set to be directed by Joss Whedon. Following rumors that others including Nathan Fillion might be called upon to play the role, the latest buzz is that Brody’s agency has been pursuing it.
El Mayimbe was adamant that he is only relaying information that he received from contacts at Brody’s agency and that he does not intend to pass it off as fact. Let’s just say that reliable sources have confirmed that Brody’s people are in talks with Marvel, but we don’t know the outcome of those talks for certain just yet. Can you see Adrien Brody in the role of Ant-Man?

'Avengers' & 'Capt. America' Casting

jeremy_rennerAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Studios is in negotiations with Jeremy Renner (28 WEEKS LATER, THE HURT LOCKER) to play the role of Hawkeye in THE AVENGERS.
Marvel’s interest in the actor is not news, online sources have mentioned the rumors since last fall, the piece notes.
Hawkeye is the purple & blue-clad Clint Barton, master bowman, simliar to DC’s Green Arrow. Though not a founding member of the group, Hawkeye — a misguided villain-turned-hero — actually joined The Avengers fairly early in the book’s run. (Avengers #16, 1965)
THR believes the Joss Whedon-helmed film will feature Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), War Machine (Don Cheadle), The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
Having War Machine AND Iron Man seems redundant, as they’re both guys is different colored high-tech armor. Perhaps Tony Stark will be an advisor, as suggested in IRON MAN 2, and not suit up until the final battle.
The Hulk may appear, though no deal with Ed Norton is known to be in place. Since the Hulk is essentially a CGI character, it may not be necessary to see his alter-ego Bruce Banner in THE AVENGERS.
In other Marvel movie casting news, Neal McDonough (TIN MAN) NUP_106739_0036 is said to be in talks for the role of “Dum Dum” Dugan For CAPTAIN AMERICA: The First Avenger.
Dugan was the red-haired, handlebar mustache-sporting, bowler hat-wearing right hand man of Nick Fury’s WWII ‘Howling Commandos’ in the comics.
How the film with handle any time period/continuity troubles is anybody’s guess, at this point.

Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods a creature feature?

Cabin in the Woods (2010)Producer Josh Whedon (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) and director Drew Goddard have been secretive about the plot details for CABIN IN THE WOODS, the horror film they co-wrote, but SciFi Wire posted an item the other day suggesting that the film would be a “creature feature.” At WonderCon last week, actress Amy Acker said:

“There’s a lot of scary monsters,” Acker said in a group interview while promoting the upcoming ABC TV series Happy Town. “It’s a scary movie.”

This seems somewhat at odds with the plot description over at WorstPreviews.com:

The film will revolve around two “white collar” characters who lure five college-type kids to a cabin in the woods. The cabin is rigged with carefully selected props, gimmicks and cameras that allow the overseers to spy and interfere with the kids. The mysterious organization behind this scheme is doing this in order to hold a sweepstakes on just how everything will pan out.

Acker makes the film sound like THE EVIL DEAD. WorstPreviews makes it sound like VACANCY. Which is it? Or is it some weird hybrid?
Which ever the film is, the tagline of the poster suggests a tongue in cheek approach: “If you hear a strang sound outside…have sex.” The film was completed in time for a planned 2010 release, but the date was pushed back to allow for post-production conversion to 3D (yuck! haven’t they seen what happened with CLASH OF THE TITANS?).

Dollhouse – Blu-ray Review

We were as surprised as anyone to see Joss Whedon back at Fox with a new series after the FIREFLY debacle of a few years back. And for a while last season, it looked like DOLLHOUSE might suffer the same fate; iffy ratings and a difficult-to-quickly-impart concept has spelled doom for more series than we can count. But what DOLLHOUSE has that FIREFLY didn’t is a Fox-friendly sexiness that the network has been emphasizing heavily in its ads. Eliza Dushku is a decent actress when given the material, who possessed an amazingly mature face even during her early appearances as Faith on Whedon’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Her strong presence can be largely credited for the undercooked TRU CALLING lasting for two full seasons from ’03-’05, and was responsible for bringing Whedon on board for DOLLHOUSE.
Dushku plays Echo, an employee (for lack of a better word) of a shadowy organization called the Dollhouse. The numerous ‘dollhouses’ across the globe employ a group of ‘actives’ who have agreed to a 5-year contract, during which their own memories are removed and stored, allowing them to be used as virtual blank slates by well-to-do clients and have whatever memories (and skill sets) temporarily implanted. The existence of the Dollhouse is kept a closely guarded secret; not just from the general public, but from various state and federal law enforcement agencies for obvious reasons. In addition to Echo, we’re introduced to Sierra (Dichen Lackman), November (Miracle Laurie) and Victor (Enver Gjokaj). Working the back office for Dollhouse are a team of handlers who guide and monitor each of the actives while on assignment, including Echo’s particularly busy handler, Boyd (Harry Lennix). There’s also scientist Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) who handles the memory implants, and the Dollhouse’s showrunner, Adelle DeWitt (the fabulous Olivia Williams, looking sexier at 40 than her co-stars at nearly half that age.) Were also introduced to an FBI agent (Battlestar vet Tahmoh Penikett) who knows that Echo used to be a girl named Caroline and has reason to believe that she’s in danger.
The episodic nature of the setup allows for a syndication-friendly run, and Whedon has proved his acuity at meshing strong self-contained plotlines within larger story arcs. This gives star Dushku the chance to show more range then almost any other actress on television, with the literal possibility of playing a new character every week. But this also will present a challenge to Whedon and the writers to build her character out; even though we’re already seeing elements of previous personalities surviving Echo’s end-of-show wipe, Whedon will have to be careful measuring this out to retain the integrity of the series.
It’s unknown if Fox renewed Dollhouse out of faith in Whedon, but it would be nice to think that after the networks appalling treatment of Firefly, they may have learned a lesson about allowing a potentially strong show the time to find its footing. A full second season should tell the tale, and we will be there watching.

BLU-RAY DETAILS

Fox’s 3 disc Blu-Ray set contains all 12 first season episodes of Dollhouse, including a scrapped pilot episode (sections of which were used in subsequent episodes) and an unaired 13th episode, “Epitaph One,” which is apparently exclusive to the Blu-Ray set. We get the sense this episode was being held in reserve in case the show wasn’t renewed, as it’s near apocalyptic tone seems designed to give closure to the fledgling show.
The episodes are presented in their correct 1.78×1 aspect ratio. We saw most of these episodes on the FOX HD channel when they originally aired, but the quality of this Blu-Ray presentation dwarfs the compressed cable signal in terms of quality. Color and detail are simply superb, and the disc presentation equals the best current television drama crop. We found the lighting during the set-bound scenes to be a bit on the flat side, but location photography – “The Target” for example – can be breathtaking, and Fox’s Blu-Ray delivers a wholly accurate image.
The Dollhouse episodes run just under 50min each, which we were very happy to see. It wasn’t long ago that the average running time for a network drama was peaking at 43min, and we hope this is indicative of fear on the part of the major networks of forever losing the hour drama to cable television
Several episodes – including the pilot, “Ghost”, the superb “Man on the Street”, and “Epitaph One” – feature commentary tracks. Whedon flies solo on “Man in the Street” and delivers the most useful information; he’s joined by Dushku on “Echo” for a giggly love-in that tests patience, and writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen (son of Joss and wife of son of Joss, respectively) chime in on “Epitaph One”.
Next up is just under a half hour of deleted and extended scenes, providing some extra character moments, and will certainly be good for a quick run-through. There’s also a series of typical production featurettes, though footage of the initial table read in “Making Dollhouse” is quite interesting.
UPDATE: This review was originally posted under an incorrect byline.
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Serenity (2005) – Film & DVD Review

[NOTE: The “Collector’s Edition” DVD of SERENITY comes out today. Unfortunately, the new disc was unavailable on deadline, so we offer this review of the original DVD release.]
Writer Joss Whedon’s feature film directing debut – based on his canceled television series FIREFLY – is an inspiring triumph of an artist preserving over adversity to keep his dream alive even when it seemed impossible. Unfortunately, that triumph extends only to the behind-the-scenes story of how Whedon managed to get the film made; the film itself is a negligible piece of entertainment, competent but forgettable—basically, a made-for-television movie with delusions of grandeur. If not for the saga of how Whedon resurrected the failed series (thanks to personal perseverance and fan enthusiasm), the film would no claim to fame at all.
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