Having discussed his forthcoming Shakespeare adaptation in Part 1, Joss now talks Avengers, in Part 2 of our interview prior to Much Ado’s UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival.
Making The Avengers, do you feel like there’s any pressure on you because you have such a big studio behind you?
The only time I felt any pressure was at the very beginning of Avengers. I had a little moment, and thought ‘Oh my God it’s bad…I have a lot of money…’ And, my wife said, ‘It’s just a story’, and the moment she said that I was done with worrying, and I never have since. The flip side of never worrying, is that when it blows up huge, you don’t really get to go ‘Yay’, because you think ‘That was the point. Wasn’t that what we were trying to do?’ And it did, more than I could have hoped. But, that’s because I didn’t hope. I couldn’t afford to think about numbers, because that would hamper my storytelling. All I can say is the first three weeks of doing The Avengers this was more like doing an internet musical than anything I’ve ever worked on: nothing was ready, the actors weren’t available; everything was being juggled at the last minute. Yep, here we are, it’s an internet musical. So you’re always one step ahead of the reaper, or the giant Indiana Jones ball. No matter what you’re working on. Any schedule will give you just not enough time.
What kind of changes have you noticed between this period setting up Avengers 2 and the period setting up Avengers?
Well, we had more lead time. S.H.I.E.L.D ate up some of that, I’m sorry to say, but when I came in on Avengers the first time, the script had to just be thrown out. And so we were under the gun, with storyboarding sequences that I hadn’t even written yet. Which was frustrating, because you cannot let the ball overtake you. As talented as these people are – being some of the best in the business – your job is to be the storyteller, and you’re gonna get something generic if you don’t stay in front of it. Now, I feel like I have an opportunity to design scenes and set-pieces. Not that I didn’t design the ones that are in the first film, but now in a much more relaxed and holistic, and even possibly artistic way.
Is that what you call ‘Getting to the Buffy of it’?
Getting to the Buffy of it is more about the emotion of the thing, saying ‘Well why are we here, why does it matter?’ And that’s been the easiest part. And what’s been the easiest part of the first one, well, ‘Why do I care about these characters?’ Because they’re not okay. They’re not one of them, a well-rounded person. And that’s a thing that I can write. So, that’s finding the emotion of the thing. I don’t remember when I didn’t have it. For a long time I didn’t think I was gonna make a second one, and then when it finally seemed like ‘Well okay, I should consider this’, I was actually in London, and I said ‘Okay. We know that there’s a deal to be made, and now that we know that, I’m actually going to go and think about: do I have a story to tell’. What I didn’t want to do was fall in love with a story and then be like ‘I can’t do it, I need to concentrate on something else’. So I just let it go. I was also exhausted. Then I was like: ‘Okay. Gosh, if I was gonna do Avengers…Then I went to the pub, and half a pint later I had a notebook full of scribbles, and I sent a text to my agent going: ‘Oh my God, I have to tell this story’. I’m so excited about it, I wish I could tell you about it, but I super can’t.
Can you tell us anything about S.H.I.E.L.D? How’s that going?
We just shot the pilot, and we sent a preliminary cut to the studio. So it should be finished in a couple of weeks…and then hopefully it will become a television show. But that has not happened yet.
Would you consider doing another Shakespeare?
Oh yeah. For years I wanted to do a film of Hamlet, until everybody else was, and so I tabled it. It would be delightful to do another film, with this exact cast, in that exact style; but I feel like part of the attraction of it was that it was something I had never done. It is no longer something I have never done and so my heart sort of goes more towards things that are untested, because one wants to challenge oneself, as one realises that one’s life is dwindling.
Finally, if you could live the life of one of your characters for 24 hours, who would it be?
Well…Benedick gets to make out with Beatrice a lot…Gosh. I think I would probably go with Tony. His life doesn’t suck. I’m already as messed up as he is, so I may as well have a cool flying little suit.