Technically, once Supreme Geek Overlord Joss Whedon has only directed two Marvel movies, but not only were those two the biggest they had ever done, but he also contributed in some form or another to just about every other project they had going on. And then Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, some people had some issues with it, Whedon revealed that even he had some issues with it but was kinda strongarmed by the Marvel execs into following the plan, the internet exploded, and Joss Whedon quit Twitter. Somewhere along the lines he also stated that he was going to have to take a break from big cinematic universes and just get back to doing the small stuff again.
And it turns out that when he says break, he means of the “clean” variety as the fan-favourite filmmaker recently revealed that he now no longer has anything to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all. This admission came during a very candid and lengthy interview he conducted with Oxford Union (via Reddit), in which he spoke about numerous topics. One of the biggest was explaining just why he called it quits on the MCU, stating that the split was pretty amicable, despite what it may have looked like at the time.
“You know I was their sort of consigliere for a while… We do not discuss our thing… [audience laughter] But, I sort of had my finger in all of the films in the second phase, but then I just had to concentrate only on Ultron, and sort of know when it was done I was just going to stop. So I made a completely clean break – not because we had a falling out – just because I was like, “I can’t…” If I was still there going, “Well, here are my thoughts on this film,” I’d be there every day. I wouldn’t do anything else because there are a lot of films, and it is a lot of fun. It’s very seductive. When you can put your little fairy dust on things and just improve them slighty, and they actually listen to you… I was a script doctor for a long time, and the part where they listen to you was very rare; so it was very important for my own self to go “we can still be friends,” but…”
And as previously mentioned, Whedon didn’t exactly go out on the highest of notes. While I personally felt that Age of Ultron was certainly a good movie that just didn’t match the brilliance of his first Avengers effort, others were not so kind. And then there were those who loved the hell out of it. Reactions were pretty much across the board really, and Whedon most definitely noticed.
“Ultron has been the most complicated response I’ve gotten, and the way I deal with it is becoming fetal for about eight months [audience laughter]. I f**king have no spine or self-identity or anything, and it’s horrifying. It sucks… But I’ll be okay… Later…”
Aw, shame. That kind of makes me sad. Until I remember that he probably cries himself to sleep on a pile of money. (Yes, okay that was a bit mean, I know.)
Besides tweaking their movies (he added ideas/rewrites to the script of practically all the Phase 2 movies), Whedon also helped Marvel launch their now very successful TV universe when he co-created and directed the pilot episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.… which led to another controversy: In the first Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is killed by Loki. This is a big deal, as it’s his death that gives the team of heroes a reason to band together. But in Agents, Coulson was famously resurrected, sort of undercutting that sacrifice. What made things weird is that the movies – including Whedon’s own Age of Ultron – has just seemingly ignored Coulson’s return, something that Whedon himself said that he would do as he now regrets bringing the character back.
But in the interview Whedon explained that his “regret” may have been misrepresented on the internet, and that he thinks the problem is not as big as some make it out to be.
“You know who loved hearing that was Clark Gregg [audience laughter]. He was super thrilled. I do think that there is an element for somebody who consumes all the Marvel product that it might take the punch out, but generally I feel like the SHIELD audience and The Avengers audiences are not actually the same group, necessarily. No, I don’t regret bringing back Phil Coulson because he’s Clark Gregg, and he’s so bad ass.
That was an aspect of it that became a headline in the internet, because that’s what they do. It was sort of, ‘Oh, that’s the meanest thing he’s said, let’s use that.’ You have to go, ‘Well, okay, if you take it back in TV, does it take it back in film?’ That was the the thing, because it came from, ‘Why wasn’t he in the second film?’ I’m like, ‘Because I have time to explain that [sarcasm].’ It’s like, ‘In addition to introducing nineteen new characters, this [snaps finger] guy’s alive again .’ I couldn’t do that, so… It’s an aspect of it, but it’s a small one. It’s not how I feel about it.”
But even with no regrets, Whedon is not blind to the fact that Marvel are keeping all their big guns for the movies while the TV shows get “leftovers” (though Daredevil and Jessica Jones might have something to say about that).
“With a TV show, you just have to – [deep breath] – you just have to be careful. Which, unfortunately just means the TV show gets, you know, leftovers. One of the first things they said was ‘We got a great idea! We’ll use Loki’s scepter!’ And I’m like ‘Yeah … um, hold that thought.’”
You can check out the full interview below. It’s just over an hour long but totally worth it if you’re even remotely interested in Whedon’s work or colourful personality. Some other highlights include Joss’ thoughts on female superheroes in movies, his favourite comic book work, how he studied the Quicksilver sequence in X-Men: Days of Future Past to make sure he wasn’t doing the same thing with his version of the character, how he identifies with Ultron “cause he’s right”, and much more.
Last Updated: January 5, 2016