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Before he stepped behind the camera for Skyfall, Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes was best known for stage musicals like Oliver! and Cabaret and films like American Beauty (his feature debut) and Road to Perdition. But before MGM and the James Bond producers decided he was the right choice to helm an action-packed spy film, Marvel Studios came knocking. Or at least writing.
“With a lot of these movies, the date’s announced before anything exists, let alone a script,” Mendes tells Moviefone. “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.”
Asked whether he considered pitching for the superhero blockbuster, Mendes replied, “No. I wasn’t interested. I mean, that’s not my world particularly. I’ll go see it, particularly with my kids, but I didn’t want to make it. But I was probably one of 50 that got sent it; they didn’t target me specifically.”
While the director might’ve seemed like an odd choice for the effects-heavy superhero movie, he would be keeping with Marvel’s approach to its adaptations: Jon Favreau had limited directing experience (Made, Elf and the box-office flop Zathura) before being tapped for Iron Man; actor-director Kenneth Branaugh was best known for his Shakespeare adaptations before being selected for Thor; Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo work largely in comedy; and Joss Whedon, who of course was ultimately hired to helm The Avengers, had directed just one other movie, Serenity.