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Joss Whedon Talks Avengers, Female Characters, and Machoness
by Alanna Bennett | 11:52 am, July 28th, 2011
In an interview with i09, Joss Whedon talked about his hesitation with taking on such a huge project. “My question wasn’t, ‘can I get The Avengers?’” He said, “My question was, honestly, “Can The Avengers get me?’ Is there a reason for me to tell this story? Cause if there’s not, then I don’t want to waste their time and I definitely don’t want to be away from my family. And I thought about it, and I said ‘These are the most dysfunctional people on the planet; they’re my people…They could not be more ill-fitted. What better definition of family? What better way to describe a family and to show one growing? It has been so much fun seeing their differences and using them to create the narrative.”
As we all know, he said yes to the project in the end, but there were still a few misguided people out there who thought Whedon wouldn’t be macho enough to take on The Avengers.
In their interview with Whedon–the full video of which can be found here–io9 starts out with a question I’m sure Joss Whedon’s heard hundreds of times before:
Interviewer: One of the things we love about you is that you know how to capture the real female voice, the real woman. So what’s it like now working with a predominantly male case?
And while Whedon does have a very impressive track record in creating diverse types of female characters whose voices stick with us years after their shows are gone, it just brings back to mind one of Whedon’s more famous quotes. When asked in an interview years ago why he writes these strong female characters, he simply responded “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
It’s a very interesting conundrum, because while Whedon has without a doubt been responsible for some of the more compelling female characters of the past fifteen years (as much for their flaws as for their ability to kick some ass), he has also been responsible for some of the more iconic male characters. There’s a pretty simple explanation for this: the dude’s just a really good writer. Just as it took convincing himself the Avengers was a story he could connect with to get him to sign on for the project, it’s presumably the same with the characters he’s created in the past; the characters of his that we as an audience connect to the most are the ones that, male or female, have the most to say.
On his machoness, and the task of balancing the Avengers movie with only two women in prominent roles, he said:
I don’t think it’s going to feel too male in the sense of being sexist or empty, and it won’t feel like too much like histrionic, like a woman’s picture from the 40′s. I’ve been accused of not being macho enough to direct The Avengers. Oh yeah, that’s right. Well guess what: I happen to be very macho, so if you see me in a bar and you don’t think I’m macho, don’t talk to me. You walk away unless you want a cosmo all down your shirt. ‘Cause I will. I will pour it.
How’re you establishing your machoness on the set, in scenes?
By blowing shit up. The fact is, there is so much action in this movie, and there is a lot of testosterone just in these characters. The actors themselves are much more giving than the characters are. The cast is a much better team [in real life] than the Avengers are. But the fact is, at the end of the day, everybody is posturing, everybody is trying to one-up the other person, whether it’s a conversation or a fight or the movie as a whole, so it’s a very macho thing. Although there is a lot of angst and a lot of human drama — which are the reasons you go to the movie, but you’re not supposed to talk about them in an action film, there’s also a lot of expression of this human drama through hitting each other in the face and blowing up cars, so I think everybody’s going to win.
The bottom line: Joss Whedon is a storyteller, through and through, who just happens to respect women as a valuable part of humanity.
Also, this movie is going to be freaking awesome.
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