Meet the Man Who Brought The Martian to the Big Screen
If you happen to see The Martian this weekend—and you really should—be sure to thank screenwriter Drew Goddard for every bit of banter and nail-biting suspense. Yes, you should thank author Andy Weir, too, but it’s Goddard’s adaptation of Weir’s book that really brought the story home.
And there’s a reason for that. Long before The Martian, Goddard spent years writing on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias and eventually became an It Guy after The Cabin in the Woods, which he directed and co-wrote with Joss Whedon.
To mark that ascension, he got green lights to write and direct a film adaptation of The Martian, create a Daredevil series for Netflix, and make a Sinister Six movie. Ultimately, not all of those things came together as planned. He ended up giving up the director’s chair for The Martian (luckily Ridley Scott filled the seat), becoming an executive producer on Daredevil, and writing a Sinister Six script that has yet to be made (though he’s hopeful).
All in all, that’s a pretty crazy couple of years. And now with the release of The Martian, Goddard is back in the spotlight. Here’s everything you need to know about the movie’s master adapter right now.
The Martian Script Is Goddard’s ‘Love Letter to Science’
When Goddard first met with Matt Damon about The Martian he told the actor that his script was his “love letter to science.” It was meant to not only excite people about space exploration and science, but also about scientists—and the sort of gallows humor that comes with the kinds of situations they occasionally face. “I grew up around scientists, I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, surrounded by rocket scientists and I just felt like Andy captured something that I didn’t normally see captured on screen in Hollywood,” Goddard says. “There’s something about the trial-and-error nature of science that leads to a sort of deadpan sense of humor. I just saw Andy capture that and this felt like an opportunity to put something on screen we hadn’t seen.”
No One’s a Better Fact-Checker Than NASA
Weir researched his book about survival on Mars as much as he possibly could for a guy working on his book in his spare time at home. But by the time Goddard started working on the script, NASA was on board to help. “Andy was my No. 1 resource; I would trust the book and then when I needed to know something that wasn’t in the book, I’d just call Andy and he usually had the answer,” Goddard says. “As I got the script done, we would send it to NASA and say ‘OK, tell us where we screwed up.’ It was a very organic collaborative process.”
Goddard Helped Get More Commander Lewis in the Movie
There is a camp of Martian fans (this writer included) who consider Commander Lewis (played by Jessica Chastain in the film) their favorite character after the movie’s lost astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon). Goddard is also in this camp, so it’s no surprise there’s more Lewis in the movie. “I just loved the relationship [between Watney and Lewis],” he says. “I also loved that it wasn’t romantic, you know? It just felt special. Hollywood’s instinct would be to make that a romantic relationship, and I just love that it wasn’t. It just felt more powerful in some weird way. So I definitely leaned into the two of them more.”
Netflix Lets Him Get Away With a Lot on Daredevil
The Daredevil comics were dark. The Daredevil show on Netflix, which Goddard created and executive produces, is similarly bleak. It’s a level of darkness he couldn’t even attempt in one of Marvel’s network TV shows or summer blockbuster movies. “Marvel sort of knew that Daredevil was going to work better on the small screen,” Goddard says. “With a place like Netflix, you can get a little more adult, because the comics are a little more adult. That was always what attracted to me about Daredevil, even as a kid. Netflix is incredibly supportive of that side of it, to push the envelope of what people are used to seeing with superheroes.”
Goddard Has Plans to Work With Joss Whedon Again
Goddard got his start working with Joss Whedon on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but the pair cemented their genius with the horror flick Cabin in the Woods. Even though they’ve both spent the last few years playing with superheroes, would they ever go back to work together again? Goddard says “yes,” but they haven’t figured out what they want to do—they just know they don’t want to do something that’s already been done. “We talk about it constantly. Joss is one of my dearest friends and we talk every week, and often every day,” Goddard says. “I think we got a little spoiled with Cabin and all the shows we got to work on, and now we’re trying to top that, which I think can get us into trouble.”
He’s Very Excited Spider-Man Is Coming Back to Marvel Movies
Earlier this year, Sony surprised everyone by announcing that Spider-Man, who has been owned by the studio for years, would begin appearing in Marvel Studios’ movies. http://www.wired.com/2015/02/spider-man-back-to-marvel/ No one is more excited about this than Goddard. “As a fan, I couldn’t be more excited to see Spider-Man show up and have scenes with Captain America,” he says.
…And He Hopes It Means Good Things for His Sinister Six Script
Goddard is especially interested in the re-emergence of Spidey because a while back he wrote a script for a movie about the Spidey’s supervillians, the Sinister Six. His flick, though originally slated to come out in 2106, has been put on hold, but he still thinks it could fit into Spidey’s new world. “Look, I love what I got to write, and if we get a chance to make it, great,” Goddard says. “But I get it. This is the nature of Hollywood, it’s volatile. But I’m huge fans of those guys over there at Marvel, so if there’s a way to solve it, there’s a way to solve it. We do know that it’s not going to happen any time soon. They have their plan, and it’s a very good plan. If it happens, it’s not going to happen for a few years. … But my career has been a series of long shots that came true.”