Joss Whedon Talks Women in Superhero Films, Creating His Own New Universe

By February 2, 2015

It’s a phenomenon in the [film] industry that we call ‘stupid people.’ There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on. You hear ‘Oh, [female superheroes] don’t work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago’, there’s always an excuse.

These words, uttered by Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon in an interview with Digital Spy (published last week Wednesday), went absolutely viral. However, those words were said last summer while Whedon was working on Age of Ultron and before Marvel Studios announced the Captain Marvel film. It was also before Warner Bros’ announced they were moving forward with Wonder Woman directed by Michelle MacLaren and starring Gal Gadot.

Who sits on a Joss Whedon interview for THAT LONG? Way to click bait, Digital Spy. Shame on you.

Anyway, moving on…

On Thursday, Buzzfeed caught up with Whedon by phone where he said that while he thought he “sounded very harsh” in the Digital Spy interview, “And then [Marvel announced], ‘We’re going to make Captain Marvel. We’re going to make Black Panther. We’re going to shake it up.’ I was just like, great! Now I just sound mean and bitter. But, you know, there’s a lot to be mean and bitter about.”

Whedon also said that while he was ‘aware’ of the talk of a Captain Marvel movie last summer, he didn’t think it would “get any traction,” and feels last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy may have helped show Marvel that anything is possible when it comes to a hit film.

Honestly, you know, Guardians [of the Galaxy] might have helped it, just because that was outside what was considered to be their box and did so well that— Well, let’s put it this way: If a raccoon can carry a movie, then they believe maybe even a woman can.

Whedon also expounds on his comment that “Fox owns the rights to a LOT of the best female characters in the Marvel Comics universe.”

The X-Men was the next evolution of the Marvel paradigm back when I was reading it. And, you know, because of the metaphor [of] they were dealing with these oppressed people … there really wasn’t a gender bias in the books. As soon as Marvel [Girl, aka Jean Grey] became Phoenix, the most powerful person in the universe, everything was on the table. It was all multicultural and there was no real question of gender in the book. Now, you can look at it and say, ‘Well, this attitude is dated.’ I’m sure that’s the case if I went back to them. But the fact is it was kind of a utopia. I didn’t know it at the time, because I just assumed that’s how things should be done.

I do remember very specifically my best friend and I trying to find a girl in the comic books to have a crush on because we were that desperately nerdy. We were like, well, there was that one girl in that one issue of Swamp Thing who seemed cool. Literally. We were fighting over the girl from the one issue of Swamp Thing for our pretend girlfriend. And then Kitty Pryde [came along].

Whedon also goes on to say that while he still stands behind his belief that there needs to be more female-driven or female women in superhero films — something he’s said for years, by the way — he also reiterates he’s eager to take a break from the comic book universe (where tweaking of source material can be a double-edged sword) and get back to creating his own universe among the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (film and series), “Firefly”/Serenity, “Dollhouse,” etc.

I’ll say one other thing. I don’t want to sound like I’m just dissing on my tribe. The source material is great, but ultimately, we know we can only draw on the resonance of the stuff that we knew as kids for so long. It’s about whether or not they come to life in the movies. That’s still the storytelling thing. That’s why I’m excited to go and create something that isn’t based on resonance, because then, you have to earn it more.

What are your thoughts on this whole thing? Do you agree, disagree, need a hug?

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee
  • Vegemite

    Spoken like a true redheaded stepchild

  • David Johnson

    Words from the Master. Buffy& Dollhouse where way ahead of there time, & of course really didn’t get the studio backing they should have!!

  • David Johnson

    Oh & a hug sounds nice. 😉