Sam Mendes Was Turned Off When Pitched Marvel's 'The Avengers'
by Ethan Anderton
November 9, 2012
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?
Irony. Is he made the exact type of film with skyfall, that Whedon did with Avengers. Superfluous, generic, predictable. Skyfall has forever tainted his filmography. Like how do you explain to future generations that the guy who made Road to Perdition is the same guy who made SkyFall lol
VVS on Nov 9, 2012
There will be more pressing matters for future generations to ponder about besides something as useless as that.
Neuromancer on Nov 9, 2012
zitira on Nov 9, 2012
Most underrated post ever.
Roc on Nov 9, 2012
actually, i can proudly explain to my children/grandchildren that the guy who made RTP was the same guy who made Skyfall. I'll even mention you for good measure. lol
vince on Nov 9, 2012
Dad there are much more pressing issues than that =]
Tmac on Nov 9, 2012
I can understand his apprehension. It's like the studio is annoncing that they'd be a struggle to work with, right off the bat
Richie G on Nov 9, 2012
I understand the whole being put off with the release date and all but Joss Whedon directed AND wrote the Avengers. I think they were looking for a writer director to take on the project which is why they didn't have the script ready and instead he got sent the source material. Plus the article didn't even say when he got the package? Was it 2010? 2011? 1999? that would also seem to justify his annoyance a little more if it was a longer turnaround.
Kyle Bianchini on Nov 9, 2012
I think it's an wonderful concept to commit to a release date before there is even a script. Now excuse me while I hop in my time machine to 2008 to go see Sin City 2 on it's opening night.
Akirakorn on Nov 9, 2012
One thing's for sure - release dates can't be changed. Once a date is set, it's set in stone. Oh wait . . . .
racquetman on Nov 9, 2012
good on him!
A5J4DX on Nov 9, 2012
Has anyone else been having difficulty re-watching The Avengers? Its not aging well...imo.
Xerxexx on Nov 10, 2012
Not aging well? It came out in May. Of this year. Maybe you just didn't like it that much to begin with...
kitano0 on Nov 10, 2012
Perhaps you're right...I enjoyed it very much the first time...I think its re-watchability isn't working for me.
Xerxexx on Nov 10, 2012
I absolutely agree. I loved the film in the theater, but after trying to get through it two times since then and failing I have to conclude that it has no rewatchability for me. Which is weird cause I've enjoyed rewatching both Iron Man and Thor a couple of times, both of which I enjoyed less than Avengers the first time I saw them. Weird.
Finntroll on Nov 11, 2012
I don't think it's an issue of aging well, it's simply an issue of, well, being re-watchable. The first viewing you are bombarded with hectic action, quite amazing visuals, the introduction/'recap' of all the characters, and you have no time to really analyze anything while your being shock and awed into amazement. It really is an amazing exhibitionist film, but when the 'Holy cow!' factor wears off, you begin to notice that it has a number of weaknesses, too.
Wafffles on Nov 11, 2012
Every movie has a number of weaknesses. To be honest, I feel that it has great replay value because there are a lot of details to notice. The films where I feel the biggest disparity in quality between the first time I watch it and all subsequent viewings...it's the Transformers films. Big action, corny jokes, etc the whole 'ride' aspect the first time...after that, you feel the bad pacing, the jokes that were barely funny to begin with just come off as dumb, etc. With The Avengers, it's a quality film with a great sense of character, and it has a charm that makes it last.
Chris Groves on Nov 12, 2012
... first time I saw it I thought "Now that's dumb fun, I can see why most people loved it" by the third time I was like "Now that's plain dumb and not even funny, I can't believe so many people fell for this" It's a fine film but since the story and characterizations are so paper thin of course and repeated watchings it's going to lose its appeal.
Yahzee on Nov 12, 2012
It's too bad he didn't direct The Avengers, that was a really bland film.
Rob on Nov 10, 2012
Rob is being sarcastic
si1ver on Nov 14, 2012
The thing is...Avengers could've been much better movie...
David Darida on Nov 11, 2012
With infinite time and money...every movie could be much better. That's not the way the world works though. You get X amount of time to make the best movie you can make then it's done. I'm sure a college term paper could be perfect if you worked on it for 2 years...but realistically, you don't get that opportunity. The Avengers is a hell of a lot better than the VAST majority of action/blockbuster/ensembles out there.
Chris Groves on Nov 12, 2012
I get what you're saying...However I don't know if Avengers would be better with more time and money...well, maybe it would look visually better (yes, VFX were not that perfect). With more time, more ideas come until it becomes a mess. The problem with Avengers and all similar big mash-up movies is to figure out the perfect story for everyone to shine. Avengers' story wasn't great, it was made for the characters so everyone get their minutes. Someone needs to realize that sometimes it's better to give one character more time to shine if that character is more interesting, and not trying to explain boring/annoying characters. Hawkeye, Black Widow and Cap were characters which I really wasn't interested in. Of course, they had to satisfy the fans, but I don't think regular people were that amazed. The same problem was with X-men: The First class. All the ''kids'' were unimportant. That movie would be brilliant just with Magneto, Prof. X and Bacon's character(forgot the name). But, at least X-men was mostly a character based story(Magneto's) which is better than the Avengers' one.
David Darida on Nov 13, 2012
Yep, he has a great point. It's unfortunate. I remember the making of docs detailing the turmoil that was making Alien 3...and someone remarked 'They were trying to make a release date, not a film'....which is a shame. Clearly it all worked out for The Avengers as a film in the end...but some aspects of it were probably rushed. To be honest, some of the CGI isn't QUITE as amazing as it could be. One ILM guy even noted that they could have made Hulk look much more impressive if they had the time to do it.
Chris Groves on Nov 12, 2012
No news here. The Avengers was obviously a real hack job.
TheTruth on Nov 12, 2012
Love Sam Mendes. Road to Perdition is criminally underrated, but he would have been a terrible choice for the Avengers. Stylistically he is a miss even if you can get past the fact that he did not want to do it.
ND from NJ on Nov 13, 2012
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