From comic book movies to small-budget film adaptations of Shakespeare, Joss Whedon has a lot of creative irons on the fire. The director of "The Avengers" has been teasing his upcoming Marvel Studios "S.H.I.E.L.D." television show for months, even as his Shakespeare adaptation "Much Ado About Nothing" is set to hit theaters later this summer. Deadline caught up with Whedon at SXSW 2013, where the director had the opportunity to comment on a great number of topics, including "S.H.I.E.L.D."
"That was fun to do, but again, too much work," Whedon said of the pilot, which just wrapped shooting. "The idea of the Little Guy is something that I am very fierce about, and there has never been a better Little Guy than Clark Gregg. That intrigued me, this world around the superhero community. It's the people whose shop windows get blown up when the Destroyer shows up. It's the more intimate stories that belong on television that we can really tap into the visual style and ethos, and even some of the mythology, of the Marvel movies. I think we've put together another really great ensemble headed by Clark. And how much it's actually seeding or hinting or reacting to what's going on in the movies is something we'll let play out as we go. For me the most important thing is that people fall in love with it on its own merits, rather than constantly asking, 'Is there gonna be an Avenger?' Well, there's not gonna be a Hulk because that guy's too expensive."
Whedon also spoke briefly on his role as Marvel Cinematic Universe story consultant, a job he stepped in to following his work on "The Avengers."
"I understand what Kevin [Feige] is going for and where he's heading, and I read the scripts and watch cuts and talk to the directors and writers and give my opinion," Whedon told Deadline. "Occasionally there could be some writing. But I'm not trying to get in anybody's soup, I'm just trying to be helpful. Every time you work on a project it's a little vacation from the project you're working on the other 23 hours. That's the thing – it replenishes you to do something else. And they're very aware that if I'm too tired or busy to help with anything, that's fine. But if I can help and not get in the way of the actual filmmakers, that's what I'm going to do."
While Deadline's interview covered a number of other topics, including Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" and his history with DC Comics movies, one of the major subjects the director touched on was the difficulty in getting a "Hulk" standalone film off the ground post-"Avengers," a topic he's also addressed in the past.
"The Hulk is the most difficult Marvel property because it's always about balance. Is he a monster? Is he a hero? Are you going to root for a protagonist who spends all his time trying to stop the reason you came to the movie from happening? It's always a dance," Whedon said. "I don't think the first two movies nailed it, but I don't envy them the task. It was easier to have him in a group than to build everything around him. I don't think there would be any problem getting a movie together that had enough Banner, even if there was also Hulk. But if he was only Hulk for the entire movie I think Mark [Ruffalo] at some point would go, why am I here? I would be less inclined to pursue a storyline where the Hulk is only ever the Hulk. Mark [Ruffalo] and I loved the Hulk and went over and over the concept of rage and how it should manifest, and that part of it was fascinating to both of us. But when it comes time for the Hulk he has to put on the silliest damn pajamas you ever saw, a tiara made of balls, and a bunch of dots on his face and growl around like an idiot. The real heart of the experience ultimately becomes playing Banner. And people fell in love with Banner because I think Mark has you from the first time he shows up."