‘He’s a D*ck’: OG The Avengers Writer Gets Candid on Joss Whedon Drama
Turns out there was a huge drama not only in the first Avengers movie, but also behind the scenes.
- Joss Whedon replaced Zak Penn as The Avengers’ screenwriter.
- Whedon didn't even contact Penn, making it clear that he didn't care about Penn's years of work on the script.
- Whedon's reputation has long been ruined by numerous scandals.
Joss Whedon was destined to be a screenwriter. The Whedon dynasty of screenwriters began with his grandfather John in the fifties and continued with his father Tom. Joss' brothers Jed and Zach also carried on the tradition.
What’s Going on With Whedon and the MCU?
The real breakthrough for Joss came with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. And it's hard not to respect him at least for these works. But one person doesn't have warm feelings for Whedon. Actually, there are many such people. But this one, Zak Penn, has his reasons.
One day, Joss received an offer he could not refuse. Marvel Studio invited him to work on the centerpiece of their cinematic universe – The Avengers, which brought together Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and other superheroes.
The Avengers’ First Script Was a Mess
Producer Kevin Feige was not satisfied with the first Avengers script written by Zak Penn. But Joss, not one to correct other people's mistakes, told Feige that this script was beyond salvaging – it needed to be completely rewritten, not fixed. He sketched out his vision for the movie, which was so successful that Whedon became the director and screenwriter of The Avengers.
Feige demanded that the main points of Penn's plot be kept: the villain would be Loki, the Avengers would bicker before becoming a team, and the final battle for Earth would take place. Joss was fine with that – essentially, Feige broke the movie into three acts for him. In addition, Whedon had to keep to a tight schedule: no more than 92 days were allotted for shooting.
As we already know, The Avengers grossed over a billion at the box office and became one of the highest grossing films in history. But let Marvel worry about financial success. What's important to us fans is that the universe was tied together by a great movie – exciting, vibrant, and funny.
Zak Penn Shocked by Whedon’s Behavior
But what about Zak Penn, the original writer of The Avengers? He talked about how he was replaced by Whedon in the recently released book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios and how Joss treated him beyond rudely.
According to Penn, Whedon didn't even contact him after taking over his seat. Zak felt that the whole situation made Joss uncomfortable and he just didn't know what to say to the man he replaced. As it turned out, Whedon was not embarrassed, but simply did not care to contact Penn in any way.
Zak Penn had been working on the Avengers script for years and was shocked by the abrupt change. It's no surprise that Penn is no longer a fan of Whedon's. He added:
“I think he's a d*ck. I think he's a bad person, and it was really surprising. Remember, my bonus is based on my credit. So literally millions and millions of dollars, which is not the issue here, but that just came out of my pocket and went into Joss's pocket.”
Joss Whedon’s Numerous Scandals
Penn isn't the first to reveal ugly truths about Whedon; in fact, this confession looks like the final nail in the coffin. In 2017, Whedon's now ex-wife Kai Cole called her husband a hypocrite – Joss cheated on her while espousing feminist ideas. She filed for divorce right after learning of his numerous infidelities, including on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Three years later, another, much louder scandal erupted: Justice League actor Ray Fisher accused Whedon of rude, completely unacceptable behavior, followed by criticism from Gal Gadot.
For the past few years, Whedon has been in therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his troubled childhood, and is also being treated for sex addiction. His friends no longer call him, he has no job, but who knows, maybe someday he'll rise from the ashes like Mel Gibson.
Source: MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios