Sam Mendes Was Turned Off When Pitched Marvel's 'The Avengers'
By now, everyone knows Joss Whedon, partially for his work on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," but mostly for directing Marvel's The Avengers and now shepherding Phase Two of Marvel's cinematic universe leading up to The Avengers 2. But before Whedon became a fanboy's dream for directing the superhero ensemble, plenty of big name directors were pitched the project. One such name was Skyfall director Sam Mendes (the James Bond film gave him his own blockbuster to be proud of now), but he ended up not being impressed with the pitch for one reason with which cinephiles will agree. More below!
In an interview with Moviefone (via The Playlist), Mendes said he was sent a package to consider directing The Avengers (something plenty of other directors received), but he was less than impressed, and actually even annoyed. Mendes commented on being sent a batch of comic books without a script:
"With a lot of these movies, the date’s announced before anything exists, let alone a script. But the cover letter said 'Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ will be released on May 3, 2012' or whatever it was. That was the first sentence of the cover letter. Not, 'We have the pleasure of enclosing the materials…' or 'Here is the script for…' but the release date. That was the first sentence.
I wasn’t interested. I mean, that’s not my world particularly. I’ll go see it, particularly with my kids, but I didn’t want to make it."
Obviously Mendes doesn't have a problem with blockbusters now that Skyfall is in his backpocket (check out our interview with Mendes here), but it's the pressure from having a release date to meet before you have a script, an integral piece to directing a quality film. Meeting a release date is a business move and the fact that it's set long before a script is finalized or a director hired is more than disconcerting. These kind of movies will get an audience no matter what, and a release date shouldn't hold priority over getting all the pieces in place to make the best film possible. Skyfall is proof that Mendes made the right decision, and he still got the big action film he wanted to make on his own terms. Plus, I'm not sure his style lends itself to a movie like The Avengers anyway. What do you think?