Sam Mendes Explains Why 'Preacher' Never Happened, Says He Turned Down Chance To Pitch 'Avengers'

After 2009's Away We Go, Sam Mendes took a little bit of time in choosing his next picture — which, as we all know now, turned out to be Skyfall. But during that gap, there were other projects he almost wound up helming.

One was Preacher, which Mendes had actually been attached to in 2008 before he dropped out to pursue Bond instead. Another, much less solid possibility was The Avengers, for which Mendes turned down the invitation to pitch. While doing press for Skyfall, Mendes explained what happened with both of those movies. Read on after the jump.

"It's off my radar because the muscle that I wanted to kind of flex, the urge to do something like that, went into [Skyfall]," he said. "For a while I wanted to do something on a bigger scale, I wanted to try and tackle a movie that wasn't entirely real and I wanted to see whether I was capable of directing action, so I feel like I've done a lot of it in this movie."

The bigger issue, though, may be that Mendes never quite figured out how to make Preacher work:

The other problem was I could not find a way of making Preacher—tonally it's a very difficult thing to make work, and there's a reason why it's struggled so much. It's a brilliant graphic novel, I loved it, but a lot of it takes place in the real world and we're surrounded now by fantasy and superhero genre pictures which are full of eye candy. And actually, Preacher is much more real world, it's more of a Southern Gothic with elements of the fantastic in it; it's a quite difficult thing to balance. So it wasn't just that I sort of walked away from it because they wouldn't pay for it or anything like that, it was because I couldn't really make it work, I couldn't find a way of defining what it was onscreen. My strong suspicion is someone will come along who has a really good take on it and is able to do it.

That's a disappointment for fans of the Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon comic series, but I suppose it's for the best that he's moved on if he was never able to crack it.

While talking to Moviefone, Mendes also revealed that he (along with many others) had been invited to make a pitch for The Avengers. He denied that he'd ever considered it, for the pretty basic reason that he wasn't interested. "I mean, that's not my world particularly," he said. "I'll go see it, particularly with my kids, but I didn't want to make it."

His comment on receiving the packet for The Avengers, however, indicates that he may have also been turned off by the studio's release-date-first approach:

With a lot of these movies, the date's announced before anything exists, let alone a script. 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.

It's fun to imagine what Sam Mendes' Avengers might've been, but considering that Joss Whedon's version and Mendes' Skyfall have turned out to be two of the year's best films, I'd say that all's well that ends well.