We spoke to Joss Whedon just before the Comic-Con panel where he announced his “Victorian female Batman” comic, Twist. He told us more about on what’s in store for that project... and we picked his brain on superheroes, storytelling, and what he really thought of the Black Widow controversy.
io9: Our first question was going to be, ‘Are you done with superheroes for now?’ But now that we’ve just heard you have a new comic in the works, is that question already answered?
Joss Whedon: Well, I don’t think I’ll ever be done with superheroes, because I feel like I was writing about superheroes before I realized that I was. Everything sort of falls in that category. The new thing is called Twist, it’s Victorian story about a chambermaid who becomes a superhero, because I don’t get tired of that.
It’s a little dark and a little strange. I have license to sort of go to different places. I’m not beholden to the 40 years of this comic that existed before. But it is kind of classical in structure in the sense that it’s about women and men and power, culture and money and all the things I always like to nudge in.
This is a comic—but maybe with potential to be a movie or TV show?
It’s a Dark Horse book, probably like six issues with the potential to be more. Unless I kill everyone, because you know me [laughs].
What do you think is the difference between a good idea and a cool story?
For me, it’s the difference between a moment and a move. I’ve had both, and I’ve seen people work on both, and pursue both. When you have a cool story, it’s like “Yeah, wow, neat!” and you sort of play it out, but you’re not engaged. It’s like math. In this version, cool story is not as important as good idea for me, because for me, a good idea is a moment. It’s like, “Oh god, that hurt. That kills me. I need to tell that.” That’s the only thing we start talking about when we have a writer’s room. You fall in love with moments, not with moves. Because, the moves, you know: [affects dramatic voice] “He has an evil twin!” Okay, but why? How does he feel about it? What would that be like? That’s the stuff that I build from.
The new project has what sounds like a strong woman at the center. Was that a choice you wanted to make at this point?
[Deadpan] It’s a departure for me. You know, that’s a story that’s always compelling to me. Somebody to whom nobody would pay attention, who suddenly becomes worthy of notice. Her own identity is a different voice to put this to. Although, like I said, the structure is kind of classical in the way that I like, it has a much more of a weird, dark Victorian tinge to it.
Were you bothered by the criticisms of how the Black Widow character was portrayed in Age of Ultron?
Yes ... I did not like that. It was not fun for me.
Were you surprised?
Yeah, I was. My political opinions have never gotten me that much hate! You know, ultimately everybody’s entitled to their opinion. Sending me pictures of nooses and things was maybe a little too entitled. I disagree. It’s very simple. This is the way that I see it. The way I liked it. When I pitched it, the Marvel guys were like, “Yes.” It never occurred to us that would happen. And then, people went bonkers.
In particular, the thing with Clint [Hawkeye], where they’re like, “Oh ... but those two!” You know. For me, that’s an outright “No. You’re wrong.” I mean, things could go any way, but that, for me, is a much more powerful and even much more romantic statement: that those people would die for each other, but they’re not trying to sleep with each other. That’s something about men and women that I wanted to say. So I’m not backing down on that one. I think they’re wrong.
Top image: Joss Whedon at his Comic-Con panel on July 11, 2015, in San Diego, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)