Sam Mendes Explains Why He Passed On THE AVENGERS

Skyfall director Sam Mendes was one of many that Marvel approached to direct The Avengers. In a recent interview with Moviefone, Mendes explained the package Marvel sent him to try to spark his interest, and why he turned it down. 

With a lot of these movies, the date’s announced before anything exists, let alone a script. The funniest letter I got -- they were sending [a packet for] 'The Avengers,' right? For directors to pitch -- and I got a package, which was full of comic books, but no treatment; there was no script. But the cover letter said 'Marvel’s 'Avengers' will be released on May 3, 2012' or whatever it was. That was the first sentence of the cover letter. Not, 'We have the pleasure of enclosing the materials..." or "Here is the script for...' But the release date. That was the first sentence.

It really is kind of silly for any studio to set a release date before anything has even been started, but I guess Marvel has been pulling it off. I just can't help but think though... how much more awesome would these movies be if they spent a little more time developing them. I'm still incredibly happy with what Joss Whedon did with The Avengers, and I can't imagine anyone else taking it on. I just think it's funny that Mendes turned it down due to the studio's lack of preparation for a movie they already set a release date for. Mendes was then asked how he feels about being compared to Christopher Nolan to which he replied,

Well, he’s the man, isn’t he? I think he’s amazing. This movie would not have been possible, I think, at least in the way that it is, without 'The Dark Knight.' We’re living in a world now where movies are either tiny or huge and there’s nothing in the middle. I mean, the movies that I made for ten years, I can’t make those anymore. I couldn’t make 'American Beauty,' I couldn’t make 'Road to Perdition'; they just don’t make those films. [Nolan] showed that you could make a movie -- that is a world class movie, that has in it some sense of reaction, reflection of the world that we live in -- without being ponderous or po-faced or take itself too serious. And it had great acting, and I mean that. I mean, Heath Ledger, that is a great performance. That was a game changer for me, as an audience member. I just thought, 'Wow. That’s a proper movie.'

Mendes is a great director, and I've enjoyed all of the films he's made over the years. I can't wait to see what he did with Skyfall for myself, but I hear it's amazing. What do you think about Mendes and the reason he turned down The Avengers?