X-Men writer Zak Penn breaks his silence about adapting The Avengers

Screenwriter Zak Penn is already scratching his head about how to piece together and overlap stories from three, maybe four or more movies as he sits down to write The Avengers this summer, based on the Marvel Comics superheroes.

Penn was on a panel Tuesday night called "Graphic Explosion" at the Los Angeles Film Festival in the Westwood Village area of Los Angeles, along with History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson and Radical Publishing co-founder Barry Levine. During the question-and-answer segment, Penn answered some questions he said "I might get in trouble for."

Penn said he ran into frustration while writing the last two X-Men movies because he wanted to include a few of the other characters—the Fantastic Four, for instance—but was prevented by studio executives. That, perhaps, led to the ho-hum response to his Incredible Hulk movie.

But Penn is aware that Marvel movies coming up—with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America—will precede his Avengers film (slated for 2012), so he has to figure out how all the movies fit together. Now that Marvel is itself producing movies as a company, Penn said, "It is a world of difference; it is a lot easier to do things like that, and they encourage it."

Penn said he is meeting this coming week with the team writing the other movies so they can piece together storylines and overlap some of the film plots.

"They're doing Captain American and Thor first, and then Avengers is coming out," Penn said. "They want to see that they're all connected, not like the Fantastic Four can't come into the X-Men world, like I was told. I'm taking a meeting next week with the Thor and Captain America people, and we are all going to get together, and I will see what is going to happen. I'll see where they are leaving the characters; it's pretty complicated. ... There's a board that is tracking what is happening. [We'll see] how this movie overlaps in that movie. ... Marvel is autonomous now. It is night and day: Everyone has read every comic. They know how to make a cool movie."

And although Penn holds the responsibility for bringing all the characters of the other films together, he remains insecure. "It's hard to make a good movie," he said. "We all have the best intentions, and it still might suck."

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