Joss Whedon Thought Filming Scenes With A Whole Bunch Of Avengers Arguing Was Hard. Then He Got To The 'Cars Exploding'

 Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers and Robert Downey Tony Stark in The Avengers (2012) .
Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers and Robert Downey Tony Stark in The Avengers (2012) .

Joss Whedon was already well-versed in the world of genre storytelling going into the 2010s, having been the creative mind behind TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse, as well as having written movies like the original Buffy, Alien Resurrection, and Serenity, the latter of which he also directed. The Avengers, the sixth of the Marvel movies in order, was a different beast though, because this was his first time helming a superhero movie. While Whedon thought filming scenes with the Avengers arguing was hard, he was really in for it when he got to the “cars exploding.”

To be clear, The Avengers was not Whedon’s first superhero movie experience, as he previously did uncredited rewrites on 2000’s X-Men. But directing an entire production centered on superheroes on top of writing the script is obviously more demanding, and as the filmmaker explained when previously speaking with Yahoo, he underestimated which scenes were going to be harder to pull off. When asked by the outlet “what was the more sort of intimidating tasks,” between these giant action sequences involving “100 cars blowing up” or tacking the group scenes involving “eight major characters” all talking to each other, Whedon started off by saying:

I had one week where we shot basically the entire team arguing. I was like, ‘If I can get through this week, no bullet can harm me.’ And that week actually was complex, but went off really, really well.

Remember, in addition to Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye comprising the original Avengers lineup, The Avengers (which has some fascinating behind-the-scenes facts) also featured people like Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in prominent roles. Presumably the scene Joss Whedon is referencing is when Fury and all the Avengers except for Hawkeye arguing with each other after discovering Fury had weaponized the Tesseract’s energy, and I can understand why he was relieved when that scene was finally in the can. Then came those cars exploding, with Whedon continuing:

Then we got to the cars exploding, and I realized, ‘Well, this is actually much harder.’ And what's harder about it was that, trying to keep action from being generic -- from being the same gag over and over and over -- it's extremely tough. Because we have a go-to, and it's the cars flip over and blow up. And to take that and go, ‘OK, well, how do I contextualize this? How do I make it matter, and how do I make it different, and how do I differentiate all their powers and their actions?’

I can see where he’s coming from, because at a certain point, the audience would recognize that the cars are exploding/being flipped over in the same manner. So in addition to merely shooting these sequences to fulfill their narrative purposes, care also needed to be taken to ensure that the action beats themselves were done uniquely, which required him to flex his writing muscles in a way he wasn’t as accustomed to doing. In his words:

I ended up spending as much time writing the stunts as I did writing the dialogue. Just trying to keep track of who everybody was, what they were capable of, and keeping it from being repetitive. So the thing that I feared was, it's never the bullet that you see coming.

Clearly Joss Whedon and his team nailed the end result, as The Avengers was met positive critical reception upon its release in May 2012 and went on to collect $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing movie of that year. Whedon would then return to write and direct 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and then he stretched his superhero muscles again doing major rewrites on 2017’s Justice League and helming its significant reshoots following Zack Snyder’s departure.

Like the majority of the MCU’s offerings, The Avengers can be streamed with a Disney+ subscription. As always, continue checking in with CinemaBlend for the biggest news about upcoming Marvel movies and upcoming Marvel TV shows.