When Avengers Age of Ultron director said working with Marvel was ‘really, really unpleasant’

Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon left a trail of no-holds-barred interviews during the publicity tour of the film, detailing the altercations he’d had with Marvel while making it.
Director Joss Whedon on the set of The Avengers.
Director Joss Whedon on the set of The Avengers.
Updated on May 11, 2020 01:29 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

Director Joss Whedon delivered one of the biggest films of all time with the first Avengers movie. It came as a surprise to no one that he was swiftly roped in to oversee the Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and direct Avengers: Age of Ultron. But his experience working on the sequel wasn’t easy. The filmmaker left a trail of no-holds-barred interviews during the publicity tour for Age of Ultron.

Whedon detailed the creative battles he’d had with Marvel in an appearance on the Empire podcast in 2015, and said that he had to fight to keep certain scenes in the film. “The dreams were not an executive favourite either — the dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought to keep,” Whedon said. “With the cave, it really turned into: They pointed a gun at the farm’s head and said, ‘Give us the cave, or we’ll take out the farm’ — in a civilised way. I respect these guys, they’re artists, but that’s when it got really, really unpleasant.”

He said that there was additional footage shot for the cave sequence, which involved Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Dr Erik Selvig, played by Stellan Skarsgard. But the scene was edited because test audiences didn’t respond to it. At one point, Whedon said, the entire scene was removed because Marvel executives said so.

He continued, “I was so beaten down at that point that I was like, ‘Sure, OK — what movie is this?’ And the editors were like, ‘No. You have to show the [events in the cave]. You can’t just say it.’”

Joss Whedon on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Joss Whedon on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Also read: The real reason why Andrew Garfield was fired as Spider-Man, replaced by Tom Holland

Whedon also wanted Captain Marvel and Spider-Man to make cameo appearances towards the end of the film, but Captain Marvel was yet to be cast, and the deal that allowed Marvel to use Spidey in the MCU was still a few months away.

“With so much at stake, there’s gonna be friction,” Whedon told Vulture in 2015, and added, “When I watch it, I just see ‘flaw, flaw, flaw, compromise, laziness, mistake.’”

The filmmaker told BuzzFeed, “I made the idiotic mistake of trying to make a great movie. I was like, ‘I want this movie to be great. I’m just going to go ahead and say it, even though I’m a WASP.’ And then I feel like I’ve been punished for that for the last two years. I put a level of pressure on myself that I’ve never done before. I’ve been a sketch artist, and now I’m painting. And then also to know there are not millions, but billions of dollars riding on your artistic decisions? Sometimes you wish you could forget that.”

But the filmmaker always maintained that he’s proud of the movie.“Is it perfect? It is not,” Whedon told Vulture. “Is it me? It’s so baldly, nakedly me. To do something that is as personal as this movie is — on that budget, for a studio that needs a summer tentpole — is an extraordinary privilege.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron is generally considered to be inferior to the first Avengers film, but it was a box office success, making $1.4 billion worldwide. With an estimated net production budget of $365 million, it is the second most expensive film ever made.

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