This hour-long panel that Joss Whedon did at Oxford has been making the internet rounds; it’s quite dense, full of Whedon’s dry observations about his successes and failures and the struggles that creative people face with having to change their work in order to suit the institutions that fund it. About five minutes in, Whedon responds to a question about the lack of women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by quipping, “Well, I think they could do better!” He went on to clarify, “The money guys were the people who would say, ‘This is what we’re willing to do. This is what audiences will accept.'”
Whedon’s attitude throughout the interview seems a bit world-weary, but he doesn’t sound completely fatalistic. He mentions in passing that he has an idea for a ballet he’d like to direct “that is very much meant for the stage” — yes, a ballet. He also makes it very clear that he has no interest in returning to direct more movies within the MCU:
I sort of had my finger in all of the films in the second phase, but then I just had to concentrate only on Ultron, and sort of know when it was done I was just going to stop. So I made a completely clean break — not because we had a falling out — just because I was like, “I can’t…”
If I was still there going, “Well, here are my thoughts on this film,” I’d be there every day. I wouldn’t do anything else because there are a lot of films, and it is a lot of fun. It’s very seductive. When you can put your little fairy dust on things and just improve them slightly, and they actually listen to you… I was a script doctor for a long time, and the part where they listen to you was very rare; so it was very important for my own self to go “we can still be friends,” but…”
The interview delves a lot more into some of Whedon’s non-Marvel films, such as his low-budget experiment Much Ado About Nothing, plus his own thoughts on creativity and staying positive even when ideas get rejected or panned. It makes for a compelling watch, even if you’re not a huge fan of the projects that Whedon’s helmed lately (a.k.a. if you are me).
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