"Avengers: Age of Ultron" director Joss Whedon has long been a champion of feminism and female super heroes, so it was no surprise when he took Hollywood's lack of equal gender representation to task in an interview with Digital Spy.
"It's a phenomenon in the [film] industry that we call 'stupid people'," Whedon said. "There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on. You hear 'Oh, [female superheroes] don't work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago', there's always an excuse."
To put the quote into context, it was given during an interview last summer while "Avengers: Age of Ultron" was in production -- meaning that it came before Marvel gave the go-ahead to "Captain Marvel" and Warner Bros. announced "Wonder Woman," and it came before the massive box office success of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" and "Lucy." Stating that his comments now make him sound "mean and bitter," Whedon elaborated on his views in a new interview with Buzzfeed.
Whedon revealed that he was aware that a film starring Carol Danvers was int he works when he talked to Digital Spy last summer, but he was also "not expecting it to get any traction, honestly. That's something that [Marvel Studios chief] Kevin [Feige] has been working on for a while. And I obviously was a cheerleader, but he had to get all the ducks in a row and get all the minds in agreement. I think being a part of Disney maybe makes it easier, because they're open to it. And Marvel now is in a position to shake up its own paradigm, because it's got such a success record."
Whedon added that "Guardians of the Galaxy's" surprise success despite being a complete unknown with mainstream audiences probably helped "Captain Marvel's" chances. "Honestly, you know, 'Guardians [of the Galaxy]' might have helped it, just because that was outside what was considered to be their box and did so well that -- Well, let's put it this way: If a raccoon can carry a movie, then they believe maybe even a woman can."
Buzzfeed asked Whedon if he'd be up for directing Marvel's first solo female hero film since it looks like he may not return to helm the two-part "Avengers: Infinity War."
"I would never rule anything out, because I like working here," said Whedon. "By the same token, the biggest thing for me is that I need to do something that I create myself. It's been way too long since I created a universe."
Whedon talked a little bit about the character, revealing that a lot of his knowledge of her comes from her '70s days as Ms. Marvel. "Captain Marvel I don't know as well. There have been a few [versions] of her. I have the first issue of 'Ms. Marvel,' back when she was that, and had the Farrah hair. My only issue with her is that she always felt sort of on top. She was very driven. A winner. I always like to dig into the soil of things to find my heroes, if I can."
Fox's X-Men property came up, as its home to many notable A-List female heroes -- Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Jean Grey, Mystique -- that Marvel Studios cannot use. "The X-Men was the next evolution of the Marvel paradigm back when I was reading it," said Whedon. "And, you know, because of the metaphor [of] they were dealing with these oppressed people ... there really wasn't a gender bias in the books. As soon as Marvel [Girl, aka Jean Grey] became Phoenix, the most powerful person in the universe, everything was on the table. It was all multicultural and there was no real question of gender in the book. Now, you can look at it and say, 'Well, this attitude is dated.' I'm sure that's the case if I went back to them. But the fact is it was kind of a utopia. I didn't know it at the time, because I just assumed that's how things should be done."
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" opens on May 1.