With over $700 million in ticket sales and abounding critical praise, Joss Whedon, now over 20 years into a Hollywood career that's had its ups and downs, could be excused for basking in the spotlight and even getting a big head. But the writer-director of The Avengers didn't build a passionately devoted fan base through arrogance, and in a new letter to those fans, he makes it clear that he isn't letting the blockbuster success of his Marvel film change him.
Whedon on very early Wednesday posted a long note to his core supporters on the fansite Whedonesque.com, thanking them for their loyalty through thick and thin -- with the trademark pop culture references, asides and sarcasm that helped win them over in the first place.
"People have told me that this matters, that my life is about to change," Whedon writes. "I am sure that is true. And change is good -- change is exciting. I think -- not to jinx it -- that I may finally be recognized at Comiccon. Imagine!"
After a few more jokes and sarcasm -- including a promise to reboot the Air Bud franchise -- Whedon gets serious.
"What doesn't change is anything that matters. What doesn't change is that I've had the smartest, most loyal, most passionate, most articulate group of -- I'm not even gonna say fans. I'm going with 'peeps' -- that any cult oddity such as my bad self could have dreamt of," he says. "When almost no one was watching, when people probably should have STOPPED watching, I've had three constants: my family and friends, my collaborators (often the same), and y'all."
Whedon says that while many profiles about his career published in the run up to Avengers have described his bad luck and seeming fallow years as a "dark period," he's never felt the sort of sadness or failure that is insinuated in the articles.
"I have people, in my life, on this site, in places I've yet to discover, that always made me feel the truth of success: an artist and an audience communicating. Communicating to the point of collaborating," he writes. "If you think topping a box office record compares with someone telling you your work helped them through a rough time, you're probably new here."
Further down the line, in a FAQ section, the writer-director-producer says that he is now turning his attention to his home-spun adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and will continue pursuing his adaptation of the comic series Wastelanders and a sequel to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
As for the upcoming Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, which could potentially top The Avengers' record $207.4 million opening weekend, Whedon has only praise for the project's director, Christopher Nolan.
"I will feel sad," if the film eclipses his box office record. "But let's look at the bigger picture, and I can't say this enough: THIS IS NOT A ZERO SUM GAME. Our successes, whoever has the mostest, are a boon to each other. We're in the business of proving that superhero movies aren't just eye-candy (they're eye-TRUFFLES!). People seem intent on setting us against each other, and though I'm proud to be Woody Strode to Nolan's Kirk Douglas, I think they're missing the point. Whatever TDKR does on its first weekend, the only stat that matters to me is the ticket I'M definitely buying."
To read the entire letter, click over to Whedonesque.com.