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updated: 6/5/2013 10:17 AM

Bard inspires Josh Whedon's superheroes

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  • Writer-director Joss Whedon's latest film is an independent adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

      Writer-director Joss Whedon's latest film is an independent adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Some might find it strange that Joss Whedon's first movie since "The Avengers" -- his 2012 megahit about a team of Marvel Comics superheroes -- is an independent adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." But it makes perfect sense to him. The man who created TV hits like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spinoff "Angel" says his dramas all have a bit of the Bard in them.

"When you're working in Marvel Comics -- whether it's comics or the cinematic universe -- you're cribbing from Shakespeare," Whedon said in a recent interview. "The big themes, the big emotions, its kings, and betrayal and love and tragedy and that good stuff, and even in the way I write, any time you get to write about an Asgardian, there's going to be a touch of the Elizabethan in there."

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While "Much Ado" debuts in theaters Friday, Whedon's focus is already on "Avengers 2" -- due out in 2015 -- and his upcoming Marvel-based TV series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," which premieres on ABC this fall.

Whedon acknowledges he does feel "pressure" to follow up on the success of "The Avengers" -- the third highest-grossing film ever.

The comic book enthusiast says "The Avengers" seems perfectly normal to him -- a world where Thor, Iron Man and Captain America "hang out" -- and he was able to readily convey that to a wider audience. "This is how the world meant to be. These guys are going to hang out and save the world and then they're going to get really mad at each other."

Whedon says -- like with Shakespeare -- the comic book language is "so familiar" to him that he's not scrambling to figure "this superhero thing out. We were only scrambling to make sure other people know what we already know."

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