Joss Whedon talks the secrets of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

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Avengers 2! It’s done! Dusted, finish en’ klaar as they say in the shadier parts of the industry. A massive film, with a ton of build-up, Avengers: Age of Ultron was a million parts coming together to create on awesome adventure.

But you may have missed out on a few visual ideas, elements and story beats as you watched Earth’s mightiest heroes tear through Ultron drones like an upset stomach after sampling Mexican cuisine. And director Joss Whedon was happy to share those secrets, as he spilled the beans to Empire in a podcast. Needless to say, there’s a ton of spoilers below, so you might want to avoid this if you haven’t seen the flick yet.

Bruce and Natasha’s relationship was a natural progression from the first Avengers film

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“I didn’t [plan it it initially]. But when we shot that scene together [in the first film], when she goes to recruit him, we did go, ‘They’re awfully good together’. But you can really trace the evolution of that storyline. Somebody put a crib in that set without my knowing. They dressed the set, I walked in to prep the scene and I had already written the line – I don’t get what I want every time. I said to Mark [Ruffalo], ‘How would you feel about giving that little cradle a push when you say that? It’ll give it a slightly different resonance.’ And he was cool with it. I thought, ‘A lot of people won’t even notice’, and I wasn’t thinking of that when I devised what happens in the second one. But I look back and think, ‘Christ, we were really just barreling right towards it all along.’

Bruce originally rejected Natasha

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“A lot got changed. In the bedroom scene – and this is going to be on the DVD – when we first shot it the question was answered and he rejected her. It’s some of the most beautiful stuff and I hated to cut it. But when they suggested it, the reasoning was that you shouldn’t answer the question until the end of the movie. I thought that was interesting. But it’s difficult because Scarlett [Johansson] had been playing that this happened, so we had to reshoot some stuff.”

Hints at Hawkeye dying

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“I leaned so hard into that. It was a joy. I would cackle with delight. I would say, ‘Let’s have a shot of him looking at a picture of his family!’ Then, ‘Tony should say, “One of us is definitely going to die!”‘ And I’d laugh and laugh.

He tells his wife, ‘I’m going to fix this when I get home…’. I shot that scene two ways. I had written as, ‘Go save the world, honey, and come back home to me!’ Then I thought, ‘Oh! I hate this.’ But the studio quite liked it, and it wasn’t bad and Linda Cardellini is the secret weapon of this movie. I thought they shouldn’t say any of those things, they should just know she doesn’t want him to go. I’d shot some footage of him fixing something, a little bit on the railing… So it’s the old ‘I can’t say goodbye’ and she says, ‘You’ll find something else to tear apart’, and he goes, ‘Last project, I promise.’ He’s basically saying, ‘I won’t do this again, I’ll come home to you darling.’ You know, ‘One more job, it’s perfectly safe, and then I’ll retire!’ I really couldn’t have had more fun with that.”

Quicksilver almost surviving

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“I am trying to remember the ‘why’ of [Quicksilver’s death]. I think, ultimately, of Seven Samurai. The old guys make it through; it’s the young guys that tend to miss the mark. I also wasn’t going to kill the only other woman in the series! (Laughs) But I knew right away that this was what I wanted to do. I know I’ve got this reputation, and some people were going to say, ‘There he goes, again with the killing!’ But I play on that reputation with Hawkeye. And you can’t control the publicity. I wanted them to announce Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s nine picture deal, and for them not to announce Jeremy was going to be in the next movie, and all that good stuff.

But it felt very disingenuous for me, especially the second time around, to make what I refer to as ‘a war movie’ and say that there is no price and everybody walks away. In this movie, we’re saying, ‘Prove to me that you guys are heroes.’ And he’s the guy that does it. The most arrogant, the most annoying one. If you want the DVD extras, [you’ll see that] he’s the biggest pussy hound. Hawkeye genuinely hates this guy, and that’s the guy who saves him. I knew it would be resonant, and make everything else work better and matter more. The city in the air, that’s just an explosion – Wanda’s grief, that’s extraordinary. When the Vision comes to save her… that’s the part that matters to me. I said to Aaron, ‘The only way you’ll stay alive is if the Disney executives say, “Hey idiot, this is a franchise, and we need all these people and you’re not allowed to kill them off!”‘ We did actually shoot him in the last scene, in an outfit, with his sister. We also shot him, waking up, saying, ‘Ah, I didn’t really die from these 47 bullet wounds!’ Actually, we shot something else with that, but… maybe I’ll let you know about that later. But the intent was to earn this, and then you have to stand by it.”

Thor’s dream sequence would have revealed more

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“Thor is the hardest guy to integrate. Originally it was Thor looking through library books; I really didn’t have anything visceral. Then I came up with what I felt was a huge win: it’s about Thor getting answers without having to answer the questions, and Chris gets to do something exciting as an actor and he’s got his fucking shirt off, so everybody wins! It’s amazing how many people had to be on set that day. I do feel like they threw out the baby with the pond water, because I tried to set it up so people would accept it when it happens. Instead, we split the dream up, and then we had Loki in the second part of the dream, but then they were like, ‘That doesn’t work, do we want to introduce Loki now, this late?’

Loki almost made it in. We even had a little reference to the fact that he’s taken the throne, which was Tom doing his Anthony Hopkins impression when Thor says, ‘Oh, what would father say?’ Then Tom does his Hopkins impression, and Thor’s like, ‘That is uncanny!’ It’s sort of like his subconscious is telling him that Loki was imitating his father. But he would never make that connection. Anyway, the dreams were awfully long, even though I only got a day to shoot each one, because I made the most out of them. There’s a lot of fun stuff that fell.”

Vision being “worthy” was a last-minute idea

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“That came from a ‘Do you know what would be cool?’ moment. It’s the cheer moment of the film. And what’s great is that, like the Hawkeye thing, we’d set it up – we’d unknowingly set it up, just by having that [‘Who is worthy enough to Mjolnir?’] sequence, then with Quicksilver as well, trying to grab it and it throws him off. Both of those things were in the script before I came up with the idea of [the Vision lifting Mjolnir].”

The last line of the movie was never going to be “Avengers, assemble”

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“I made sure that we never shot Chris Evans saying [the ‘assemble!’ of ‘Avengers assemble!’] I was positive that some executive was gonna go, ‘You forgot to put in the last word!’ I was like, ‘With my dying breath…’ I don’t have to say that a lot, but sometimes I’ll turn to [Marvel head honcho] Kevin [Feige] and say, ‘With my dying breath…’

As much as I was like, ‘We didn’t get this, we didn’t get this, this is sloppy, and I’m not happy with that music cue…’ With all my complaints, it was in the script exactly as you see it. ‘He draws breath to say the next word. Blackout.’ So to know that we landed exactly where I wanted to go, however many stumbles along the way, was extremely gratifying. As was Chris Evans’ reaction when I told him what we were going to do in the second movie, at the MTV movie awards, when we won for the first movie – he lost his shit. (Laughs) It was great.”

Spider-Man and Captain Marvel almost made it into the new Avengers team

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“I said, ‘It would be great if we could add a few more. If we could have a Captain Marvel there…’ And they talked about it. And Spider-Man, because Sony had approached us during the first movie about integration, so I would have put both of them in, but neither of the deals were made, and then it’s, ‘We’re making a Captain Marvel movie, and we’ve got Spider-Man as a property!’ I was like, ‘I’ve already locked my film, you fucks. Thanks for nothing!'”

The idea of Planet Hulk was toyed with throughout the movie

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“I specifically put in the line, ‘Where in the world am I not a threat?’ I wanted to leave people with the idea that if this is the last movie, that he may have left the world behind. Because I think there’s something enormously poetic about that, but there’s also something enormously misleading about that. We don’t plan to make Planet Hulk, as far as I know, so they were like, ‘Just sky, no stars!’ which was less poetic, but very beautiful and there’s no better way to express the beauty of it than when Scarlett came in to do some ADR and saw the sequence shot together for the first time. She saw that last shot when he’s sitting [in the Quinjet], and the camera’s drifting away from him, and she just goes, ‘Oh! It’s so sad! Fat man in a little car…’ And that’s the only thing I call that sequence now.”

 

Last Updated: May 7, 2015

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