Entertainment

Sep 11, 2012 5:33 PM by Lauren Molenburg

'Avengers' boss Whedon makes 'Much Ado' about bard

TORONTO (AP) -- Joss Whedon figures if Shakespeare were alive today, he might be writing superhero stories. Only better ones than Whedon and his colleagues are doing.

Whedon, the writer-director behind this summer's superhero sensation "The Avengers," has unveiled a passion project at the Toronto International Film Festival - his adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

Considering the fantastic worlds of ghosts, sorcerers and witches of Shakespeare's works, Whedon said the playwright might feel right at home working in a superhero realm such as the Marvel Comics universe of "The Avengers."

"Yeah, I think he very well might. He'd be doing it better than the rest of us. But he was not afraid of the big themes and the bigger-than-life characters," Whedon said in an interview at Toronto, where his "Much Ado" premiered over the weekend. "And his stuff was full of pop-culture references. I'm not comparing myself to him, but I am saying, yeah, I think he would have as much fun in the genre.

Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof from Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spinoff "Angel" star as the wily wits Beatrice and Benedick, who devote themselves to mocking each other even as friends and family scheme to make them fall in love during preparations for the wedding of Benedick's pal Claudio and Beatrice's cousin Hero.

The cast also includes Clark Gregg of "The Avengers" and Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher of Whedon's short-lived sci-fi series "Firefly" and its big-screen spinoff "Serenity."

Whedon uses Shakespeare's original language but updates the story to modern times, with the returning soldiers of Shakespeare's play now coming off as classy mobsters in business suits and town cars (Whedon shot in black and white because he wanted a film-noir feel despite the romance and comedy of the story). The characters knock back shots of liquor, crank up music and videos on their smartphones and party by a pool lit with tiki torches, while conversing in Shakespeare's clever, rhythmic dialogue.

It was a do-it-yourself affair, shot in just 12 days, with Whedon also producing and composing the music, as well as editing the film with a colleague during lunch breaks and weekends while he was finishing "The Avengers."

"It was the best vacation I ever took," Whedon said. "I've literally never been happier. Every day, my best friends that I hadn't seen since I'd been away doing 'Avengers' for so long came to my house to do my two favorite pastimes, film and Shakespeare. And then often dance all night."

More on Much Ado About Nothing

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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