By now you’ve probably seen “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” — it’s opening weekend gross of $187.6 million was the second highest of all time domestically (right behind the first ‘Avengers’ film). You may love it or hate it or feel somewhere in between, and you might wanna check out our Good, Bad, Weird feature where we take a deep dive into what we thought worked and didn’t work.
Perhaps you took a quick look into Empire’s awesome podcast with director Joss Whedon posted this morning, or perhaps you saved it away for later. But man, if you like *spoiler talk* — presuming you’ve seen the movie, obviously — this is the podcast for you. Whedon goes to town and reveals a ton about his intentions for ‘Age Of Ultron,’ what was cut and why, and alternate versions we’ll see on the DVD. Here’s some highlights. Again, all spoilers from here on in.
1. Quicksilver is apparently a big “pussyhound”
According to Whedon, Piotr Maximoff likes the ladies and is pretty successful with them. But we obviously don’t see much of that in the movie. Indeed, the character winds up getting killed off, and the director explains the weight it carried. “It’s disingenuous to make, as I refer to it, a war movie and say there is no price,” Whedon said. “In this movie we’re saying, ‘prove to me that you guys are heroes.’ And [Quicksilver] is the guy who is the least… the most arrogant, the most annoying — if you watch the DVD extras, an incredible pussy hound — and Hawkeye genuinely hates him and that’s the guy who saves him. I knew that it would be resonant and it would make everything work and matter more.”
There you go. Whedon wanted to flip the idea of heroism with the least heroic character, who was also a cocksmith. But we’ll have to wait until home video to see it all.
2. Whedon Shot An Alternate Ending Where Quicksilver Lives And Becomes A New Avenger
The director said the first day he met Aaron Taylor-Johnson for the role of Quicksilver, he told the actor that he intended to kill the character and that he would stay dead… unless Marvel suits strongly objected. “I said, ‘The only thing that would keep you alive is if the Disney executives say, ‘Idiot, it’s a franchise and we need all these people and you’re not allowed to kill them,’” he said.
But alternate versions were shot, though Whedon doesn’t say whether they were at the behest of Marvel/Disney or not. “We did actually shoot him in the last scene, in an outfit with his sister,” he admitted. “And we did shoot him waking up from his, ‘Ahh! I didn’t really die from these 47 bullet wounds!’ but the intent was always that we were going to earn this and then you have to stand by it.”
Whedon hints at something else they shot with Quicksilver’s character, but didn’t reveal what it was. Whedon acknowledged that he was one of the reasons that Agent Coulson was revived for TV, and while he doesn’t sound like he regretted it, he didn’t want to repeat this with Quicksilver’s death. “It did take the truth out of [his death],” he said of reviving Coulson and how it affected “The Avengers” in retrospect. “And I’m responsible for having done that. I’m as guilty of bringing people back to life as I am of killing them.”
3. Whedon Wanted To Add Captain Marvel To The New Avengers Sequence At The End
Asked whether the New Avengers line-up at the end of the movie was Whedon’s desired team, the director said yes, but that he had wanted to include Spider-Man, along with another Marvel comic character. “I wanted all those people, but I said, ‘It would be great if we could add a few more [characters], if we could have a Captain Marvel there, now that you’ve made a deal,’ and they talked about it,” Whedon admitted.
But as previously reported, Kevin Feige had no intention of letting Captain Marvel happen in ‘Ultron.’
4. Whedon Also Wanted To Add Spider-Man, And Teases That Sony Reached Out To Marvel Before
The Sony leaks last year revealed that the studio reached out to Marvel in mid-2014 to discuss possible integration of the Spider-Man character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But when Whedon revealed that he wanted Spider-Man at the end of ‘Age of Ultron’ for that same New Avengers sequence, he divulged that Sony had started the conversation as early as 2012’s “The Avengers.”
“And I was like, ‘And Spider-Man, we could do that too, cause Sony had approached us during the first movie about a little integration. So I would have put both of [those characters] in, but neither of the deals were made,” Whedon said about integrating Captain Marvel and Spidey.
Later on, Marvel told Whedon, “ ‘We’re making a Captain Marvel movie and we’ve got ‘Spider-Man’ as a property,’ and I’m like, ‘I’ve already locked my film you fuckers! Thanks for nothing.”
5. Initially, Loki Wasn’t In ‘Age Of Ultron’ Because Marvel Couldn’t Make A Deal With Tom Hiddleston
Every Marvel actor is signed up for multiple film contracts, but even some of the six and nine picture deals actors have are semi-close to finishing up their runs. Tom Hiddleston is signed up for six as Loki, but since he’s done three movies (“Thor,” “The Avengers,” and “Thor: The Dark”) and has three more on deck (“Thor: Ragnorak” and probably both parts of the “Avengers: Infinity War”), that would max out his six appearances. Whedon doesn’t quite state this specifically — for example Jeremy Renner’s cameo in “Thor” apparently doesn’t count against his appearance contract with Marvel — but the filmmaker said the reason why Hiddelston isn’t in the film is because of contract reasons, even though the director wanted him.
“In Thor’s dream, I thought, ‘who’s going to walk him through his dream?’ and it’s gotta be Loki, he’s so important to the mythos,” Whedon said about his original intentions for the Scarlet Witch-induced fever dream. “But [Marvel] are like, ‘We can’t get Tom [Hiddleston], we can’t make a deal. You can have Idris [Elba].’”
Whedon then says he talked to Hiddleston. “I talked to Tom and said… ‘I would never pressure you, but I really feel like it would be great if you could do this, and he was like, ‘Sure.’” So Whedon did get his wish, but eventually cut Loki out of the film anyhow because the dream sequence wasn’t working (presumably Hiddleston had to agree to wave this appearance as counting against his contract).
Although, later in the interview Whedon suggests it was Marvel who took him out. “And we had Loki in the second part of [Thor’s] dream and [Marvel] was like, ‘Well that doesn’t work and we don’t want to introduce Loki’ this late,’” because the dreams were unpopular with the studio. Read on….
6. Marvel Wanted To Kill The Farmhouse Scenes & Each ‘Avengers’ Dream Sequence
It’s funny, you would assume that things like the New Avengers scene at the end of ‘Ultron,’ and the nightmare sequences in the film — filled with cameos from Idris Elba, Haley Atwell, and other MCU characters — would be ideas shoehorned in by Marvel, but you’d be wrong. All of it was Whedon’s idea. In fact, Whedon revealed that the two elements Marvel liked the least were the heroes’ dream sequences and the farmhouse scenes with Hawkeye and his family.
Whedon is extremely candid about his arguments with Marvel, and basically suggests the reason why the Thor subplot with Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) is so convoluted is because Marvel made him cut it down. “I do feel they threw out the baby with the pond water,” he said about that sequence. “The dreams were not an executive favorite either. The dreams, the farmhouse, these were the things I fought to keep.”
Whedon even revealed that Marvel had to kind of ransom some scenes. “With the cave [sequence with Thor and Erik Selvig], it really turned into: they pointed a gun to the farm’s head. They said, ‘give us the cave or we’ll take out the farm.’”
While that sounds harsh, Whedon adds that all these disagreements were “done in a civilized way. I respect these guys, they’re artists, but that’s when it got really unpleasant.” The filmmaker adds that at one point there was going to be no cave scene at all and Thor’s disappearance would all be done in dialogue. That obviously changed.
This is really just scratching the surface. It’s a terrific interview with Whedon, and it also includes a talk with Paul Bettany, who plays The Vision.
“Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is in theaters now.