Back in December,Â AvengersÂ director and Marvel Studios Phase TwoÂ consiglieri Joss Whedon stopped by the Oxford Union to talk about a range of topics, from his workâ€™s impact on the lives of his fans toÂ the lack of female representation in Marvel movies. (He blames the â€œmoney men.â€)
The whole chat is worth watching, but around the nine-minute mark, the conversation turns to Whedonâ€™s future with Marvel Studios, or lack thereof. With the hiring of Joe and Anthony Russo for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, it became apparent that the Whedon Era had officially ended, and the BuffyÂ andÂ FireflyÂ creator makes it clear that the break was amiable, along the lines of â€œWe can still be friends.â€Â
â€œI sort of had my finger in all of the films in the second phase but then I just had to concentrate only on Ultron and sort of know that when it was done, I was just going to stop. So I made a completely clean break â€” not because we had a falling out, just because if I was still there going, â€˜Well, here are my thoughts on this film,â€™ Iâ€™d be there every day,â€ he said.
But itâ€™s Whedonâ€™s explanation for why the separation needed to happen thatâ€™s fascinating. Instead of rambling off a few canned talking points, he offers some insight into what drives him creatively and what it means for him to create.Â
â€œItâ€™s important to me, not just to have my own thing and do something smaller, but also to create a new challenge for myself because I will start to repeat myself. I think Steven Soderbergh during one of his â€˜Iâ€™m retiringâ€™ moments said, â€˜Iâ€™m finding the same solutions for problems. I found myself in the same way. I need to increase my vocabulary because Iâ€™m now at a place where enough people know what I do and Iâ€™ve done it enough where I could just sort of vaguely do that, and that is how you become old and obsolete. As an artist â€¦ I need to make it harder for myself, so Iâ€™m working on a few personal projects that I canâ€™t describe. But I can tell you that theyâ€™re really hard, and Iâ€™m totally failing, and it feels great.â€
Thatâ€™s a much better explanation than â€œIt was time.â€ For all of the Whedon fans out there, this should be incredibly exciting news. No, the Avengersâ€™ witty repartee probably wonâ€™t be as witty, but this is the mindset of people who want to continue to make great art. The Whedon moments that shocked and delighted us didnâ€™t come from complacency, and neither will the ones in the future.Â