Joss Whedon Brutally Rejected the Original Avengers Script

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Joss Whedon Brutally Rejected the Original Avengers Script

Avengers Assemble

It appears Whedon's cutting assessment of the original script helped him land the job directing the film.

While Marvel's The Avengers was both a critical and financial success, it started out in terrible shape. Apparently set to shoot with an absolute dog of a script written by X-Men: The Last Stand scribe Zak Penn, one of director Joss Whedon's first orders of business was to ditch that script and rewrite the whole thing himself. At least, that is, according to Amy Pascale's upcoming book, Joss Whedon: The Biography.

"I don't think you have anything...." Whedon reportedly told Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige. "You need to pretend this draft never happened." Whedon, who wasn't even signed on to direct yet, went home, wrote a five-page draft outlining what his plans were for the movie, and even came up with the tagline: "The Avengers: Some Assembly Required," an obvious reference to the "Avengers Assemble" slogan from the comic books.

Whatever Whedon showed Feige clearly did the trick: Marvel quickly signed him to write the script and direct the film. The only stipulation the studio had was that Whedon had to include The Avengers, Thor's nemesis Loki, a battle among superheros in the middle, a full-fledged brawl against the villains to cap of the movie, and that the film meet its targeted May 2012 release date.

Like Feige, the actors liked the script too. "[The script] was funny and still tongue-in-cheek and really got the tone, the Tony Stark tone of the Marvel universe, and still furthered and explored each one of those characters and those relationships," said Clark Gregg, who portrays Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel-verse. "I found out later from other people involved that had the same reaction-like, oh, wow. Oh, wow. Everybody gets to play. Everybody gets to play, and it's going to be better than anything we reasonably hoped for."

As for Penn, who still received a "story by" credit in the finished film, isn't too sore over having had his work thrown out. "We could have collaborated more, but that was not his choice," Penn told GQ. "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...That was an unusual one. This was more normal." Penn refers here to Ed Norton, whose attempts to assert a high degree of control over The Incredibly Hulk reportedly contributed to Marvel's decision to replace him with Mark Ruffalo.

Meanwhile, just this weekend, Whedon practically confirmed that JARVIS and The Vision are connected in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Could Whedon strike gold again in the sequel or will it be harder for him this time since the expectation is much higher compared to the first Avengers film?

Source: Business Insider

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I think Avengers 2 will be just as good, if not better than the first one.

See DC? That's what you do when someone turns in a rubbish script. You don't just roll with it under the belief of "Eh, whatever."

That's how we ended up with Man of Steel.

"X-Men the Last Stand, Hulk (2008) and Elektra" Why do they keep this guy?

Not saying that Hulk was bad, but there's barely anything there that I remember over the actor's performance. And Last Stand/Elektra, nothing need to be said.

I am relatively clam about the spelling error of calm, but it does exist at the time of now.

I kinda want to see the original script now just to see how badly Zak Penn messed it up, though I'm glad that Marvel listened to Joss and only had a few minor stipulations about what "had" to be in the script, the movie we ended up with was the one that comic and film fans could enjoy and definitely the movie Marvel deserved for taking such a risk to even do it in the first place

Soulrender95:
I am relatively clam about the spelling error of calm, but it does exist at the time of now.

I kinda want to see the original script now just to see how badly Zak Penn messed it up, though I'm glad that Marvel listened to Joss and only had a few minor stipulations about what "had" to be in the script, the movie we ended up with was the one that comic and film fans could enjoy and definitely the movie Marvel deserved for taking such a risk to even do it in the first place

Bwahahaha! Thanks! Fixed now. :D I'm clam about it, too. ;)

So you're telling me that the guy in charge of the most anticipated superhero movie in human history didn't want a script by the writer of one of the most disappointing superhero movies ever?

image

Thank you, Whedon. I would rather Penn not have tainted yet another movie. Zak is just not a good writer.

Zak Penn sucks at writing, so thank god Wheden rescued the film.

So what was that about the leading actor replacing Penn on Hulk? I am intrigued.
Also did Penn only do The Incredible Hulk and not Hulk? In my mind, that makes perfect sense.

...The last stand?...Chortle! Whatever made them think he could handle Avengers?

Xsjadoblayde:
So what was that about the leading actor replacing Penn on Hulk? I am intrigued.
Also did Penn only do The Incredible Hulk and not Hulk? In my mind, that makes perfect sense.

...The last stand?...Chortle! Whatever made them think he could handle Avengers?

He was referring to Ed Norton who "wrote" the Hulk film he starred in. Apparently, this was a big issue and one of the reasons why he was replaced.

Alex Co:

He was referring to Ed Norton who "wrote" the Hulk film he starred in. Apparently, this was a big issue and one of the reasons why he was replaced.

Ah, cheers. I didn't realise Ed Norton did much writing for his work. That might explain the inexplicable respect i have for him. Penn should probably find a different creative outlet if his sole attempts are getting him in these awkward situations. Some IMDBing shall be done, later!

Who is this Zak Penn and why does he still get jobs if getting replaced seems to be a common occurence in his career?

Please could we not have unrelated spoiler-ish information on the next film at the end of the article? 'Meanwhile, just this weekend, Whedon dropped some hints about Avengers: Age of Ultron' would have worked just as well. I'm looking to go into the next film with as few details about the plot as possible...

(Also, while I'm nitpicking, I think there's some past tense trouble in the sentence 'Joss Whedon didn't step in and completely rewrote the script.' I feel it should be 'rewrite'.)

ANYWAY: I'd love to see that first script, just to see what it was that made Joss so completely reject it. But yeah, of the two, I have a lot more faith in Joss Whedon and his ability to consistently produce geeky-fun movies that are still high quality. The Avengers are in good hands with him. Zak isn't terrible, but he isn't exactly stellar either.

tlgAlaska:
Who is this Zak Penn and why does he still get jobs if getting replaced seems to be a common occurence in his career?

His signature is actually a blank space, so other people keep signing over him.

Dear god. Imagine if the Avengers was written by Zak Penn.

*shudder*

If the Avengers was a bad film I would imagine that it would have probably killed the MCU then and there. Super glad that Joss Whedon practically saved the film in the end, otherwise it would have been dreadful.

Alex Co:

Xsjadoblayde:
So what was that about the leading actor replacing Penn on Hulk? I am intrigued.
Also did Penn only do The Incredible Hulk and not Hulk? In my mind, that makes perfect sense.

...The last stand?...Chortle! Whatever made them think he could handle Avengers?

He was referring to Ed Norton who "wrote" the Hulk film he starred in. Apparently, this was a big issue and one of the reasons why he was replaced.

Norton is a great actor, but stories like this do tend to reinforce the notion I have that he's really tough to work with some times.

Of course in this case it was for the best. Of the Penn films listed The Incredible Hulk is the only one that's actually watch-able.

Soulrender95:
I kinda want to see the original script now just to see how badly Zak Penn messed it up, though I'm glad that Marvel listened to Joss and only had a few minor stipulations about what "had" to be in the script, the movie we ended up with was the one that comic and film fans could enjoy and definitely the movie Marvel deserved for taking such a risk to even do it in the first place

Seconded. I'd really like to see the original script, or at least get a brief synopsis.

Grabehn:
"X-Men the Last Stand, Hulk (2008) and Elektra" Why do they keep this guy?

Not saying that Hulk was bad, but there's barely anything there that I remember over the actor's performance. And Last Stand/Elektra, nothing need to be said.

I hate to have to say it, but I'm not sure how this guy still gets work. Any script he's been involved in that I'm familiar with that didn't basically have Bryan Singer and David Hayter reigning him in has been absolutely awful.

Soulrender95:
I am relatively clam about the spelling error of calm, but it does exist at the time of now.

I kinda want to see the original script now just to see how badly Zak Penn messed it up, though I'm glad that Marvel listened to Joss and only had a few minor stipulations about what "had" to be in the script, the movie we ended up with was the one that comic and film fans could enjoy and definitely the movie Marvel deserved for taking such a risk to even do it in the first place

Yeah, it sounds like the original Avengers was essentially going to be Iron Man 2.5: The Tony Stark Show. Keeping the same major elements but having a multiple-hero movie actually feature multiple heroes is what makes it a strong movie, not because it's a showdown in New York with lots of Bay-splosions.

Now seriously seeing the disastrous record of movies of Zak Penn, (lets not kid ourselves they were horrible) who though it would be a good idea to hire him?. I'm honestly curious, does he have some powerful connections or something like that?.

Firanai:
Now seriously seeing the disastrous record of movies of Zak Penn, (lets not kid ourselves they were horrible) who though it would be a good idea to hire him?. I'm honestly curious, does he have some powerful connections or something like that?.

He's cheap, he' savailable. Like most Hollywood writers any ego has long since been beaten out, and here's the really really sad thing, those utterly awful Zak Penn movies you mention? Last Stand? Hulk? Elektra? Yeah while not over the top runaway hits, they all made money. In Hollywoodland quality is measured by money returns, not actual you know, being good or anything.

I thought Zak was funny in "The Incident At Loch Ness".

I'm not sure if he had a hand in writing it, though... one sec... yes, he did! A brilliant mocking of modern hollywood filming, and a found-footage horror movie to boot. Directed it as well, which is a bit more surprising to me.

I think I chatted with him once on IMDB...

faefrost:
Last Stand? Hulk? Elektra? Yeah while not over the top runaway hits, they all made money. In Hollywoodland quality is measured by money returns, not actual you know, being good or anything.

They all made short term money. X-Men: The Last Stand was really damaging to the X-Men franchise, has struggled in DVD and Blu-Ray sales. Elektra was even more poisonous to the Daredevil franchise than Daredevil was, and has done even worse in DVD and Blu-Ray sales.

A smart studio isn't just looking for enough money now to fund their next film. They're looking for something with long-term sales potential well after its theatrical run. And that doesn't just come with making an entry in a popular franchise; that comes with making a good movie.

P.S. Thanks

Xsjadoblayde:

Alex Co:

He was referring to Ed Norton who "wrote" the Hulk film he starred in. Apparently, this was a big issue and one of the reasons why he was replaced.

Ah, cheers. I didn't realise Ed Norton did much writing for his work. That might explain the inexplicable respect i have for him. Penn should probably find a different creative outlet if his sole attempts are getting him in these awkward situations. Some IMDBing shall be done, later!

Word on the street is, he didn't do much writing to begin with, but has the star power to force his way into various stages of production. His contract specifies minimum time of screen time and he even has final cut in many of the movies he is in.

In other words, he changed the script so he could appear some more on the movie and, because of that, he got "screenplay polisher" credit and the hatred of many people involved which, on the other hand, barred his chances of being in The Avengers...

faefrost:

Firanai:
Now seriously seeing the disastrous record of movies of Zak Penn, (lets not kid ourselves they were horrible) who though it would be a good idea to hire him?. I'm honestly curious, does he have some powerful connections or something like that?.

He's cheap, he' savailable. Like most Hollywood writers any ego has long since been beaten out, and here's the really really sad thing, those utterly awful Zak Penn movies you mention? Last Stand? Hulk? Elektra? Yeah while not over the top runaway hits, they all made money. In Hollywoodland quality is measured by money returns, not actual you know, being good or anything.

Don't forget: he is reliable, obedient and fast.

In Hollywood land, writers are rated by how professional and on time they are at work. Many times, they are sent to ongoing productions to "polish" a screenplay of a movie while its still being shoot. Those that can juggle the many egos involved and deliver something workable in time are highly regarded by producers, regardless of quality.

Those that take too long or try to confront those egos don't get more jobs, no matter how great the screenplay they delivered was...

2 things I remember hearing about script-wise that weren't mentioned:

1) I'm pretty sure there was also a stipulation for including the Helicarrier, which meant A) Loki is suddenly fake-captured in his convoluted plan to break up the team even though he's ultimately what brings them together, and B) Having sweet trailer-friendly military stuff that does nothing except get compromised/fall out of the sky.

2) I definitely know there was an interview just after an Avengers screening in Hollywood where Joss mentions his first draft was going to have Wasp - in fact, he confesses he wrote way too much for her and made it sound like she was practically going to be the main character. Granted, she's one of the founding members of the team, but still - introducing a brand-new (to the film series) character and having her suddenly be the most important one in the movie would've been jarring at the very least.

Yeah, thank god Whedon came along with his extremely generic and overly punny Avengers script.

Also, to me the Hulk seemed a lot better than X3 and Elektra, the first being a disappointment and the second one of the worst movies I've ever seen. While none of the three are great flicks, they're not equally garbage.

Is The Incredibly Hulk a movie, or was that just a typo? Cause I'm honestly not sure either way.

Script by the guy who did The Last Stand was beyond terrible? Why am I so not surprised?

Alex Co:
Penn refers here to Ed Norton, whose attempts to assert a high degree of control over The Incredibly Hulk reportedly contributed to Marvel's decision to replace him with Mark Ruffalo.

Haha, that typo makes it sound like a movie about wrestlers more than anything. ;)

Good on you Joss Whedon, do it your way and it's bound to succeed.

God, I wish Whedon would have said the same thing about Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. What an embarrassingly bad show. They're one David Hasselhoff-as-Nick-Fury away from being a Saturday morning cartoon for pre-teens.

As said above, guys like Zak Penn and David S. Goyer are two of the worst writers in Hollywood but they have resumes and they've made money. That's all the matters. Which is why I have to give Marvel credit for largely going after hungry writers and directors like Whedon and James Gunn rather than Penn and Goyer who just regurgitate crap for the paycheck.

Ok I now want to read the abandom script to see how bad it was! Surely it can't be as bad as that failed Superman and Batman script?

I actually liked the Last Stand, and I loved X-Men Origins Wolverine.

Oh Lord! Is there something wrong with me?!?

So Zak Penn can't write his way out of a paper bag, get's replaced by whoever is walking by at the moment, doesn't even care and still gets hired. This ain't right.

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