During an interview at the Tribeca Film Festival yesterday with the current Bruce Banner/Incredible Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon got a bit confessional about his experience on the Marvel mega-sequel, per Variety:
“I think that did a disservice to the movie and the studio and to myself,” Whedon said. “It was not the right way to be, because I am very proud of it. The things about it that are wrong frustrate me enormously, and I had probably more of those than I had on the other movies I made. But I also got to make, for the second time, an absurdly personal movie that talked about how I felt about humanity, and what it means, in very esoteric and bizarre ways, for hundreds of billions of dollars. The fact that Marvel gave me that opportunity is so bonkers, and so beautiful, and the fact that I come off of it feeling like a miserable failure, is also bonkers, but not in a cute way.”
If you’ll recall, I considered Age of Ultron one of the bigger disappointments of the Marvel big-screen canon, with messy antagonist motivations, subplots for characters that meander, and action sequences that are far too tedious. He clearly had some level of auteur vision and personal moments for its players that he wanted to introduce, but those stood in direct opposition to the big action sequences and table-setting requirements that are par for the course in a production like this. The balance between the two never got struck, and thus we have the movie as it stands.
Whedon stepped down from his architect role at the studio, where he did first pass work on all the Marvel scripts during his time there, following completion of the film. During production, Buzzfeed produced a terrific interview with Whedon where his struggles with the Marvel machine were highlighted, and some of that same feeling was reiterated yesterday:
“I was so beaten down by the process,” Whedon said. “Some of that was conflicting with Marvel, which is inevitable. A lot of it was about my own work, and I was also exhausted.”
In the end, I think everyone is coming off a winner, Joss gets to do more original work (I’d love another Cabin in the Woods-type effort) and the Russos are now at the helm, a better fit for where Marvel Studios is right now.