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August 23 2010

Joss talks Avengers storyline and the movie's female characters. Quotes from his recent Sunday Herald-Sun interview.

Yeah, hoping Paltrow reprises "Pepper Potts" for at least a cameo. Dunno if they should ask Liv Tyler back. I can sorta see Jennifer Connoley pairing better with Mark Ruffalo than Tyler. There's also room for ladies from Thor and Captain America, so the main cast of mostly males might be complemented by an all-star cast of mostly supporting ladies (maybe a few dudes as well ? Is Don Cheadle/War Machine from Iron Man 2 going to be in this?).

Fine with there being only one female Avenger in this first Avengers film. See what Joss produces with his lowest woman to man ratio'd cast yet. No room for inserting a young superpowered woman in this one either--like the multitude of them in Buffy, Cordelia & Illyria on Angel, River on Firefly, and arguably Echo on Dollhouse--unless one of the villains fills that role.
I was hoping the newspaper would put the interview online but no joy yet.
Well, Natalie Portman said she won't be in Avengers, and I don't really see anyone from Cap showing up (from the 40s) other than a quick "hey, I'm still young, and you're old!" scene. Maybe we'll have a lady villain?
Who's a quality heavyweight female villain from Marvel Comics ? (specifically a main adversary of The Avengers, I guess, since it'd be weird if they pulled from a pool of villains who mostly go up against the X-teams and Spider-Man. Sometimes the villain sharing works, like how Kingpin seems to be just as much Spider-Man's adversary as he is Daredevil's).

For a number of reasons (many due to Hollywood studio upper exec sexism, or their lack of trusting what the audience will buy into), I doubt Avengers will feature a main female villain. I'd trust Joss to break the mold if he wanted to, but in this case I imagine he's gotta run major decisions like that past the studio. Maybe if Joss' Avengers are up against a team of villains, instead of just one dude [plus maybe faceless minions/evil redshirts], then we'll see a female sidekick villain.

That's too bad about Natalie Portman (although I guess my enthusiasm about potentially seeing her in Avengers was reserved until witnessing whether her character in Thor is any good), but maybe her character dies in Thor ?

[ edited by Kris on 2010-08-23 15:10 ]
Oh how awesome would it have been it Natalie Portman worked with Joss? Incredible! Can't wait for Black Swan, should be amazing! Oh well, maybe someday...
Oh and if casting strong females in the background, let's get the obligatory reusing cast topic up and running; I vote Eliza for every character, even some of the men!
@Kris,
I believe she said she would return for Thor sequels if they ask her to, but not Avengerss.
I wonder how long this movie will end up being. I mean three hours seems reasonable with such a large cast and what's going to be an obvious epic storyline. There's nothing worse than a superhero movie that crams in a ton of characters and doesn't have room to breathe (I'm looking at you, X-Men 3). Then again, it's kind of annoying how most superhero movies have to be at least two and a half hours anyway when they don't have enough story to fill that up with (I'm looking at you Spiderman).

Of course, knowing Joss Whedon's luck it will just be canceled half way through. ;)
I'm surprised and a bit disappointed at Joss supporting making The Avengers film a sausage-fest with a token female. Why not have Ms Marvel (Carol Danvers)? I realize that Marvel has certain characters they want to promote with the Avengers movie - Cap, Thor, Nick Fury, & Hulk and they don't want to make the film overloaded with characters.

Marvel has always been lacking a "Wonder Woman" type A-list female character. If you see the Marvel school supplies (folders, notebooks) in the back to school sections of stores now, the artwork features Spidy, Wolverine, Iron Man, Cap and Hulk. Not a single female character. I'm not sure Black Widow is going to be that type of character, but Carol Danvers could.

Maybe Joss has other plans for her in later films, but considering his reputation, I figured he'd at least try to work in two female Avengers and not relegate the female characters to being girlfriends and secretaries.
Have you seen Iron Man 2, FaithFan? Black Widow kicks freakin' ass. I don't know anything about The Avengers, so that was a nice surprise - when she started kicking people in the face, it was my favourite bit of that movie.

As for the other female characters - do we really think Joss is going to make them one note girlfriends and secretaries? I'd say gotta get some faith, FaithFan - but somebody already made that joke here once.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-08-23 17:46 ]
I love how they call Joss "King Browncoat".

didifallasleep, it will be canceled even before they start shooting. ;)
Some thoughts...

Um, we don't actually know what the roles of the female characters are going to be. The writer of the interview offered up their own supposition, but according to the teeny tiny scrap of interview, all Joss actually said was that there was going to be one female Avenger and there would be other female roles. I also find the idea of the only other women in the movie being "girlfriends" irksome, but that again was the writer speculating and not from Joss. I do realize though that the reason it bothers me so much is that in my mind I can't help affixing an "only" in front of that word "girlfriends." (Bad me for assuming.) There is no real reason a girlfriend can't have an important and pivotal role depending on how the script is written.

I'm unclear on exactly how the Marvel studio machine works, but I somehow assumed that they were the ones deciding on which characters were going to appear in the movie and that Joss had little or no say in the choice of Avengers. I assumed this because based on stuff I read here, (a mistake, mayhap?) Marvel seems to have a "grand plan." I didn't go out of my way to find out anything else on my own however, so I/we could be wrong.

Marvel may not have a Wonder Woman, but they have a lot more interesting, and fully realized female characters than DC. (I agree though, they really should have at least a Storm lunch box--because she's been my fave ever since her mohawk/loss of powers phase. ~_^)

I disagree with using the term "token woman" to describe the Black Widow just because she is the only female superhero in the movie. To my mind a "token woman" is only token if:

1. Her character/role could just as easily have been a man.
2. None of her actions or inactions have any bearing on the over all plot and she could just have been written out entirely with out the plot suffering.
3. Her existence in the plot is to merely provide some sort of motivation or justification for a male character to do whatever it is he needs to do. IE: "I was gonna let it slide, but you messed with my girlfriend/wife/mother/daughter and you've now crossed the line."
4. Her character does not reflect her experience as being the only woman working in a group of men. Stuff like this matters and to ignore its existence negates her as a person.
With the way Marvel has set things up, with each Avenger getting their own movie before pooling into the Avengers, I'm not sure there's much room for Joss to add extra female Avengers. However, if Avengers proves to be a big success and Joss is on board for a sequel, I imagine he would have more creative room to add new Avengers characters.

Marvel might actually be looking for new characters to pop-up in the Avengers to judge their popularity before they get their own spin-off movie. Similar to the way Deadpool was popular enough in the Wolverine movie, that people began talking about that spin-off shortly after the Wolverine movie came out.

If anyone is interested, here's a list on Wikipedia of Avengers characters. However, some of the mutants might fall under the X-men license which Fox still retains. Example Scarlet Witch is one of the more well known female Avengers, but I think she might fall into the X-Men license (her father is Magneto).
Sadly, the best female villains I can think of from Marvel are A) not available to Marvel Studios and B) only intermittently villainous anyway.
Hayley Atwell is playing Peggy Carter in Captain America:The First Avenger.I could maybe see her also playing Sharon Carter in The Avengers and future Captain America movies.Besides being Capt's sometimes modern love interest,Sharon Carter is also Agent 13 of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Also last week,news broke that Alice Eve who was one of the finalist for the Peggy Carter role but lost it to Haley Atwell dropped out of X-Men:First Class which begins filming next week.Alice Eve was set to play The White Queen/Emma Frost in the Bryan Singer produced and Matthew Vaughn directed X-Men prequel.The reports say she asked to be released from her contract because she wasn't happy with the script changes the movie has been going through.She is being replaced by January Jones in the role.

The reports say Marvel is now looking at her for a villlain role in the Avengers.It's a minor role but it ties together with another of their properties; since this villainous character is most notably featured in Thor.The speculation is The Enchantress.
Who's a quality heavyweight female villain from Marvel Comics ?


You could always go for Veranke.
Simon, I wonder if they'd be willing to bring aliens into the picture, in time. There'll be gods, with Thor, so it should be even less of a stretch for general audiences to introduce ETs (casual or regular Marvel readers, or fans of the Buffyverse, will be used to heavy sci-fi elements & fantasy/mythological/religious icons existing in the same 'verse). Doubt the first Avengers film is the place to do the Skrull Invasion storyline (if it's at all a good idea for non-TV-serialized filmed adaptations), better to see the team coming together and functioning for one film before you start with the body doubles/character death fake-outs.

FaithFan said:
"I'm surprised and a bit disappointed at Joss supporting making The Avengers film a sausage-fest with a token female."

Black Widow's only a token female if she ends up written badly (and unfortunately, aside from being hot--Johanssen's been a good actor in many other films--I found her kinda plot-useless in Iron Man 2, but I was way less a fan of that sequel than the original overall, it wasn't just that character). For all we know, she could totally steal the show in Avengers.

If there's only one character of a non-white ethnicity in a drama or comedy, they don't automatically deserve "token" status (even if the network might've cynically required their role for that sort of demographic-reaching reason/press-friendly posturing). Not if they're a fully realized character and they contribute to the plots (good example: Gunn on Angel, IMO. If there'd been no Zoe in Firefly, Book. Bad example: Pete Ross on the first three seasons of Smallville). Same with genders in film.

The chances of more female Avengers would've gone up if at least one had received their own headlining film. None have, Black Widow was added to the Iron Man 2 story. It's probably more a problem rooted in the fact that Marvel comics doesn't have a standalone female Avenger (one recognized almost exclusively as an Avenger. I know even She-Hulk has been an Avenger at one time), so the issue goes back to the source material. There's Ms. Marvel, sure, but Marvel and studio execs probably did the math and figured that starting with all their male heavyweights (Iron Man/Cap/Hulk/Thor, with Nick Fury throughout) was more lucrative. Long as Avengers does good business (along with the rest of the single superhero films leading up to it), we'll definitely get more female co-leads sharing screentime with the dudes. And hopefully one headlining her own film in not too many years (I know it was slammed critically, but did Elektra bomb horribly profits-wise ? Maybe that's why Marvel is hesitant about including/promoting female heroes--no excuse if the film was badly made/written, but the most likely explanation).

Matt_Fabb said:
"Similar to the way Deadpool was popular enough in the Wolverine movie, that people began talking about that spin-off shortly after the Wolverine movie came out."

Heh, the early scenes with Deadpool in the Wolverine solo/origin flick were popular, due to Ryan Reynolds playing the heck out of him. When he showed up later all mute and mutated...no one enjoyed that bastardization of the character (you take away his motormouth quips and it's pretty much character assassination). I guess the Deadpool film will take place between Wolverine's time with him in that black ops organization and pre-no-mouth (I know the character's supposed to get uglied up at some point--or maybe has been since he was introduced--but not that badly).

But yeah, that's probably what Marvel's hoping will happen with any new characters or tiny cameos Avengers introduces.

Awesome news that January Jones from Mad Men ("Betty Draper") will be playing Emma Frost/The White Queen. Long as she can pull off the accent, I can definitely see it. She's a great visual match, very icy-looking.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-08-23 22:23 ]
"You really have to cull from the original and The Ultimates"

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

More than 40 years we wait for an Avengers movie and it's not even an Avengers movie, but a hybrid with the Ultimates? :(
I'm guessing we'll see a female SHIELD agent in the form of Maria Hill or the previously mentioned Sharon Carter.

And, Risch22, I'm not sure how you can be remotely surprised by the quote about the Ultimates. Sam Jackson is playing Nick Fury, that alone makes it a hybrid of the original Avengers and the Ultimates.
I'm not actually surprised WindTheFrog, just very disappointed. It's like when a favorite show gets canceled. Even if you knew there was a good chance it might happen, you can still be in denial, and it can then suck when you see it officially in writing.

Sam Jackson as Nick Fury was always a concern, but I had a small bit of hope that they would use the 616 character, and just have him be black and played by Jackson instead of white.
Scarlett Johanssen's kick ass scene in IM2 and due to the fact that Joss is writing/directing gives me confidence she'll hold her own with the guys and not get lost in the action and drama.
I forgot about how Sharon Carter looks like her aunt (or grandmother in some circles) who was the previous love interest of Captain America. Thanks for that Buffyfanatic! That could be an interesting turn.
As someone mentioned before, based on the success of the first film I'm sure more Avengers members will be brought on, both male and female. :)
(Apologies mods for double posting this story! My bad.)
Well I don't see why the Ultimates is in anyway a bad thing if Joss is just cherrypicking [the best?] ideas.

I am vaguely disappointed that Widow's the only lady-Avenger though, I just always hoped there would be more, just they don't have all the pre-film buzz, having been introduced to movie audiences already, so they'd be some sort of surprise or prelude to a full on heroic transition.

Would it be too daring to go for a lady Loki already?
"I'm surprised and a bit disappointed at Joss supporting making The Avengers film a sausage-fest with a token female."

But, isn't that basically The Avengers in a nutshell? ;)

In all seriousness; I'm all for girl power for sure, but The Avengers is a mostly male comic for a mostly male audience. Why should the movie be any different?
Surely Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne will eventually show up. Since there's been talk of an Ant-Man movie for some while, perhaps in Avengers II they can have them show. Maybe they could cameo one or both of them in The Avengers' end-credits. Wouldn't take much, just one of the characters swatting at something buzzing around their head followed by a tiny voice saying "Hey! Watch it!"

Problematically, they could have Spider-Woman show for a moment if they're planning the Skrull Secret Invasion story for later, but I say problematic because: Black Widow, Wasp, Spider-Woman... Seems a bit of a dangerous bug theme there, yeh? Ms. Marvel would be good, but to explain her you'd have to do Mar-Vell, and he's much too much of a big story hero to be passed off as just a guy who's already dead. I'd say She-Hulk would be a great one to have in, since they can explain her easily enough and can start her off as a lawyer for the Avengers (gotta be one on staff if there's things and people getting broken). Also because she's good for smashing, snarking and teh secksay.

O, and as an aside: Mr. Whedon, sir... I respect and trust you as a storyteller, and you don't and really don't need to know, owe or care frak-all about me or my opinions (also I know you're only tweaking the Captain America script and will have to deal with what direction has been already taken for his character), but since the mention of Ultimates was made in the article, I must implore: Please-oh-please-oh-please do 616 Cap, not Ultimate Cap. 616 Cap, the real Captain America, is an idealistic, earnest, genuine hero who leads because even egoes like Tony Stark and a Norse god are overcome by his wisdom and genius for exemplary leadership, his clear and level-headed thinking and his compassionate but faultless moral compass which he doesn't use to overbear and negate so much as bolster and inspire when faced with differing opinions. He's a soldier, yes, but that comes from within him, and isn't just a job (to paraphrase what a certain former Evil lawyer said on a recent episode of his new series, as a real soldier he'd die defending others' rights rather than kill to protect his own). 616 Cap makes people want to be him, or perhaps hate him merely because his example makes them too aware of their own shortcomings. Ultimate Cap is an asshole. I'm all for realism, but Captain America shouldn't be a reflection of America, he should be what inspires reflections. Since they brought the character back in the 60's as a man out of time, forcing him to examine his beliefs and role, he's been not about nationalistic jingoism but honorable integrity, even when the general populace and the government wasn't able to appreciate him. Likewise should be for the moviegoing audience. Thank you.
The Avengers is a comic that is written for men & boys. I say this as a woman & a feminist: it doesn't feel honest to integrate women into this mostly male fantasy world. Just let it be a movie for men. (With Miss Scarlett thrown in for a little bit of gender balance & for eye candy.)

[ edited by stellabee on 2010-08-25 03:40 ]

[ edited by stellabee on 2010-08-25 03:54 ]
"Well I don't see why the Ultimates is in anyway a bad thing if Joss is just cherrypicking [the best?] ideas".

On one level this does sound very reasonable orangewaxlion, but for some fans (whether it's reasonable or not), The Avengers = The Avengers and The Ultimates = A Pale Imitation that is relatively recent.

In the same way, say that the Kuzui's succeed in making a Buffy movie without Joss.
Then say that sometime 10 or 20 years later, someone makes a new version of Buffy, integrating the best ideas from both versions (Whedon + Kuzui). Theoretically, that might make the most sense. But in the same way I believe that some fans would object to combining Joss' version with the Kuzui's. I probably would.
The Avengers have included quite a few female members over the years and several have served as leaders of the team.

Based on this history, the objections to the gender imbalance among this cast make quite a bit of sense.
@Risch22--But isn't there usually (not always, but usually) just one female character at a time in the Avenger array?
@ stellabee, That was true in the beginning (1960's and some of the 1970's) but really hasn't been true past that. And when that has been the case in the time since, then it's due to the cast being in transition and is not the status quo for very long.
@Risch22--That's good to know. Thanks for the info. I've only ever looked at a half a dozen or so Avengers comics...So maybe I wasn't looking at the right ones!
This is going to be the best movie EVER! I can't wait to be in the theater, watching it. :)

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