‘Iron Man’: Kevin Feige Wanted Joss Whedon to Direct the Marvel Hit, but Then September 11 Happened

Actors in the comic book movie world continue to call out Joss Whedon. The famed creator has tried to clear up some of the claims, saying things like Gal Gadot misunderstood his “flowery speech.” Still, Whedon remains known as one of the best superhero movie directors out there. In fact, Marvel CEO Kevin Feige wanted him to helm Iron Man. So how did the September 11 attacks change that?

Kevin Feige wanted Joss Whedon to headline the first ‘Iron Man’ movie

Joss Whedon at the 'Iron Man 3' premiere
Joss Whedon at the ‘Iron Man 3’ premiere | Steve Granitz/WireImage

Development for Iron Man began many years before the film kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In June 2001, when New Line Cinema controlled the IP, the studio started talks with Whedon to direct the superhero flick. And the timing was strange.

“The first meeting we were going to have with him we had to reschedule because it was September 11, 2001,” the CEO explained in Joss Whedon: The Biography. Whedon even wrote something for the movie that received approval from the studio. However, he had to back out due to his commitment to other projects. 

Feige kept Whedon on his radar as Marvel Studios began creating its own films. He says he “was a very, very big fan” of the creator. So when his name came up ahead of The Avengers, Feige jumped at the chance to work with Whedon finally. 

Whedon clashed with execs during the production of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

The 2012 movie, The Avengers, was the first film to bring all the major MCU together. Whedon took the reins after resisting for a while. “I got that bug,” he said while helping with an early draft. Ultimately, the film received rave reviews.

Feige remained confident in Whedon. “In the cast of the Joss choice, it was unanimously positive for the decision,” he said of bringing him on. After The Avengers swept the box office, it was no surprise Marvel gave him its sequel after his “very impressive” work.

Marvel then brought him back to direct the second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, things got “really, really unpleasant” on the Age of Ultron set when Whedon and the studio disagreed on several scenes. He told Empire Film Podcast (via Vanity Fair) he “fought to keep” Clint Barton’s farmhouse and the dream sequences brought on by Scarlet Witch. Unsurprisingly, the relationship between Whedon and Marvel ended there.

Whedon faces controversial allegations

From Marvel, Whedon switched to the DCEU. He took over for Zack Snyder directing Justice League, leading to what’s become known as one of the most controversial film sets in comic book movie history. In 2020, one of its stars, Ray Fisher, accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” treatment during filming. Later, Gadot joined the chorus. 

While actors from Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer days chimed in to share their own stories, the MCU stars remained quiet. Since many of the original Avengers, like Robert Downey Jr., have played their characters for the last time, perhaps they feel the past is in the past. 

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