When “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” can open to a massive $201.2 million internationally before it even bows a single U.S. screen, it speaks to the current power of the franchise. And to borrow a line from another comic book movie… with great power comes great responsibility. Indeed, the more lucrative the movie, the more every decision is going to be vetted and vetted again — no one wants to be responsible for doing something that hamstrings a franchise from performing at its fullest potential. And while he understands the process, it would seem Joss Whedon had his toughest time yet at Marvel in making ‘Ultron.’
“[Kevin Feige] wants to get his fingers into everything. Some directors, he makes them crazy; some directors he works fine with,” Whedon told Rolling Stone. “Kevin’s incredibly smart about rearranging things and finding not just problems but solutions, which is even better. When he and I are in pursuit of the same thing, it’s great — and when we’re not, it’s tough. There’s no way you make this movie without a certain amount of friction, and I respect the friction because I usually find that the best work comes out of that. It’s like when an actor has opinions about his role, and we’re like yeah, you’re supposed to. So this movie was tough. Because I was fighting for some things that are a bit different and that I believe in.”
And while he doesn’t elaborate on what those things were, Whedon does say that going back to the first “The Avengers,” he couldn’t use Hulk as much as he would’ve liked due to Marvel’s budget-conscious approach. “The thing that was great about this time with him was that the first time we had to be extremely parsimonious about how much Hulk we had,” Whedon said. “With this one, we had more leeway, and I got to do what I wanted to do, which was shoot him like a character. We have shots in this movie where I just shoot over your shoulder and you have a fuzzy Hulk shoulder in the frame — that would’ve been out of the question before. That’s expensive, to have a fuzzy Hulk shoulder in the frame, and to let him just be a character in the piece, instead of it being just special effects.”
Indeed, Whedon admits an approach to ‘Ultron’ leans toward realism stating, “Everything in the first was very deliberate, and in this one, I said I want to go multiple cameras, a lot of sort of documentary-style footage, and worry less about the 3-D.” And he found an unlikely source of inspiration to serve as a “visual model.”
“There are always several movies in my head. I have to say for both ‘Avengers,’ the movie that ended up sort of overshadowing all others would probably be ‘Black Hawk Down,’ where [director Ridley Scott] is just incapable of shooting an unattractive frame,” Whedon shared. “It never looks like he’s trying to prettify things. You just really feel the weight of what these guys are going through, and that’s the thing I’m always trying to evoke, is that sort of a toll that it takes.”
And so, with what looks like another smash hit on his hands, Whedon is stepping away from Marvel and onto the next thing, whatever it may be. But yes, Marvel did try and court him to stick around to make “Avengers: Infinity War,” which has since been assigned to Anthony and Joe Russo. “They very sweetly asked me and I’m like, really? No. It would set me for life — and that life would be about five years long. It’s only going to have more characters and be longer and be a bigger movie. That doesn’t mean it can’t be great; a part of me is desperate to do it. Because I still have enormous love for these characters and want to shepherd them through all other things. But the fact of the matter is, it’s been over five years really since I created something. I mean, I created the S.H.I.E.L.D. show, but based on their universe, you know.”
“Avengers: Age Of Ultron” arrives stateside this Friday.