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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"He'll be an empty-headed robot, wandering around Hollywood. He'll be fine."
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May 04 2015

Joss Whedon on the big moments in Avengers: Age of Ultron. This half hour Empire Magazine podcast interview with Joss is the nearest thing you'll get to a director's commentary until the DVD comes out. Some of Joss' comments you will have read before but there's a lot of new material here (pairings, what Joss fought to keep in the movie, the cut scenes, the actual length of the original cut, the last line etc). A transcript can be found here (you'll see a lot of websites recycling the comments made in this interview).

This is fantastic! I've been dying to get some real insight from Joss and not just the typical promotional interview. It's going to be great hearing him continue to discuss the film now that it's out and can be talked about freely.

I'm still listening at the moment, but I just had to call out something he says early on about Black Widow's arc. There's been a lot of criticism and discussion regarding her romance with Banner and whether that hurt her character overall. The fact that, when push comes to shove (har har), she's still an Avenger first and forces Banner to become "the other guy." I think that really does show that she's not simply driven by a "need" for this guy. She's still there to save the world too. She just wants a relationship...like every other Avenger!

Honestly, I don't think the romance was handled perfectly. There are certain lines that seem a little out of character for her and I think there's too much going on in the film to really do this budding romance justice...but her desire to have a relationship is not by itself some detraction of her character.
So I guess if doesn't matter if you write and direct one of the biggest films of all time, you still have to fight tooth and nail to keep scenes its sequel. It sounds like Joss had to compromise quite a bit which is a real shame.
Great interview. I had a feeling there was a lot missing from that Thor scene...
Awesome interview. It's really nice to hear him talk about the movie so openly.
And so he says his cut would probably be 2 minutes longer, but not more. So I still don't know what to make of the rumors about the extended cut. But I'd be very curious to know what those 2 min are.

In any case, this interview confirms that there were definitely several disagreements between Joss and the studio, a lot more than for the 1st movie it seems. It really sounds like the few issues I have with the film (that I loved) are a result of Marvel 's doings.

But then I think about how incredibly difficult it must have been to conceive this movie. And most of it works beautifully. I think it could have been an absolute classic if Joss was given more time and more freedom, but what we got is already wonderful.
@banner, I know Joss keeps saying he doesn't believe in Director's Cuts, because he thinks you should get THE movie on the screen, but I wonder if he truly feels that way in this situation. There was clearly A LOT cut out, and I'm sure some of the cuts do indeed make for a better film, but if he could have kept 2 or 3 more scenes...I wonder if he would have.

After seeing the deleted scenes from the first Avengers, I think much of what was cut belonged that way. However, there was an extension to the security guard scene (played by Harry Dean Stanton) that I would love to see added back into the movie. I think it really adds another layer to what Banner is feeling at that point. I'm sure there are a few scenes like that for Age of Ultron...I would not be disappointed to hear about an Extended Cut (for real, not just rumors), but I won't hold my breath.
He did basically confirm that there is indeed an alternate ending (as suggested by the widely reported amazon email) in which Quicksilver survives and joins the Avengers. Not sure I'd like to see that put into any potential blu-ray cut of the movie, but that Thor scene sounds really cool, and I do think I got a little lost by the truncated version of it we saw. Quicksilver being a "pussy hound" sounds like a hoot too, and some added characterization like that could have added to the impact of his sacrifice.
And cutting Loki out still doesn't quite make sense to me. Regardless of whose decision it was, I don't see how it would have been a detriment to have him appear.
@SuperScuba I would love a Director's Cut but agreed its unlikely to happen. I like getting deleted scenes and look forward to what we get this time round but it really does sound like this wasn't Joss vision. I guess its the one weakness of the way the MCU functions, is that compromises have to be made for the greater cinematic universe but it still sucks a little.
Great information... and bonus for Joss's particular glee in how he delivers that information. Every interview and commentary is like part of a master class in moviemaking.
An entertaining listen - enjoyed it. Frankly I didn't get the sense there was an particularly significant butting of heads, just the usual producer/director note comparisons. Interesting that they revolved around the Thor cave scene, which I thought was a weak link, and Joss' pure view of it may have been even more disruptive. On the other hand he was absolutely right on the effectiveness of the House Hawkeye stuff - played perfectly.
Ha, I saw the film at the same screening as Joss (sat a bit further back) and yeah.. the audience was a strange one as I got the feeling there were people there who weren't entirely the target audience. Or in other words when the credits started people started leaving, then when Thanos appeared everybody left went "Huh?", and I'm just like.. oh joss.
My audience oohed and aaahed at Thanos.
This thread should probably get a spoiler tag, not for the article itself, but for some of the comments here.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2015-05-04 19:42 ]
@the ninja report, you're right. About the comments AND the podcast. Joss is fully discussing spoilers for sure (which is why several of us have been freely throwing them around in the comments).

While I'm very curious to see the Thor stuff that was cut...I'm not sure that plotline really belonged in this movie. I know they have to do SOME setup for future films, but having Thor completely leave for a while just seemed a bit too disconnected. I realize that it plays into the creation of Vision, so I'm not sure how they would have gotten around it, but I almost wish it was cut out completely and we could have spent more time with Widow/Hulk or the origins of Ultron (which were ZOOMED through and reduced some of the impact for me when he was first revealed).
@banner. What I have heard Joss say about Director's Cuts is that it implies that the director did not get to tell the story as he or she intended. Which is sort of a tautology, if you consider it.

What is really astonishing to me that there appears to have been significant and ongoing pushback from Marvel on Joss's direction and vision for the movie. The script appears to have been set from early in the process. So there should not have been any surprises there.

The idea that Joss had to make major alterations to his film based on a bad reaction by a single focus group screening (as seems to be indicated by comments from Joss and others) seems incomprehensible. "Yes, you had the third highest box office of all time in your last film for us, but we prefer to take the word of a hundred random people who came in to get out of the rain."

It seems like a parody of the image of out of touch, idiotic, ossified Hollywood Exec decision making. But I guess that may be exactly how Disney will strangle the Marvel golden egg laying goose.

[ edited by RobynH on 2015-05-04 20:16 ]
@RobynH, I'm also getting some mixed signals from Joss regarding how much "fighting" there really was with the studio. This podcast seems to make me think there was quite a bit, but he's quick to spin it in a positive way. I do think he enjoys working for Marvel for the most part, otherwise why would he have agreed to do another movie? And when he keeps saying how his goal was to have the second film be shorter than the first...how could he have accomplished that if they didn't lose A LOT of what was shot? So unless he was trying to say "let's cut this fight scene down" and the studio was saying "no, let's get rid of Thor's plot," then I'm not thinking the whole process was all that "combative" so much as "collaborative"...even if there were one or two ultimatums laid down by Marvel.
In movie development you test screen and then tweak. It happens. There's a huge amount of money at stake and, yes, some suggestions/demands will be good and some not so good. Test screenings can actually help as you will learn things you didn't expect.

I do agree the movie could have done with another minute or two, as there's a couple of things, from reading online and talking to my partner, people haven't quite picked up on well enough. But other than that it felt tight and I liked that a whole lot. Any movie over 2 hours is too long for my life.
Btw Empire now has a feature based on the podcast, so if you don't have time to listen what he said you can now at least read it.

http://www.empireonline.com/features/joss-whedon-avengers-ultron-secrets.
I read that last link rather than sit and listen to the whole thing. I have to say that the biggest reason that farmhouse stuff dragged for me is I could see how hard it was trying to set up the fake-out. The clunky hard sell on Clint having a life is precisely what told me it was never going to be him, which made a lot of that stuff a bit interminable for me.
I think people are over blowing things on other places on the internet. Any movie like this is going to have struggles between studio/director. You want to see real bad stuff like that watch some of the documentaries on Alien3. :/

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