Joss Whedon on How ‘Avengers’ Could’ve Been Better & Plans for ‘Age of Ultron’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated September 27th, 2013 at 9:51 am,

Joss Whedon Avengers Age of Ultron Joss Whedon on How Avengers Couldve Been Better & Plans for Age of Ultron

Between his popular TV shows and the blockbuster success of The Avengers, Joss Whedon has earned a well-deserved place in the hearts of nerds everywhere. But the 49-year-old director hasn’t let the fame go to his head. Rather, Whedon has managed to keep a nuanced and critical perspective on his career, both in his successes and his failures.

In a recent talk with Entertainment Weekly, Whedon opened up on a wide range of topics, candidly speaking about everything from his first staff writing job on Roseanne to his surprisingly depressing perspective on the fate of humanity. Whedon also talked about what he felt could’ve been better in The Avengers and how he plans to improve its sequel, The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

If you have the time, we recommend checking out the whole EW interview, but in the meantime we picked out some of Whedon’s most interesting quotes.

Iron Man Battles Chitauri Leviathan in The Avengers Joss Whedon on How Avengers Couldve Been Better & Plans for Age of Ultron

One of the most intriguing parts of the interview was when Whedon talked about The Avengers, which is arguably the director’s greatest triumph. Though Whedon professed to be proud of the movie, he didn’t hold back on his criticisms. According to Whedon, The Avengers wasn’t a “great film” and he explained why:

“When I think of a great film, I think of something that’s either structured so perfectly like ‘The Matrix’ or made so lovingly like ‘The Godfather Part II.’ There was haphazardness in the way it comes together – not just the people, but the scenes. I don’t think you’d look at it and go, ‘This is a model of perfect structure.’ You’d go, ‘This is working.’ I like it. I’m proud of it and I like its imperfections. The thing I cared most about – making a summer movie like the ones from my childhood – is the thing that I pulled off.”

Though many fans would argue that Whedon is being a bit hard on himself, he makes a compelling point. Though The Avengers hangs together fairly well, the plot structure of the movie is fairly superficial. That is to say that, while there aren’t any major plot holes, some of the plot strains credibility. Things seem to happen because they need to rather than out of any clear motivation or intention from the characters.

Fortunately, the movie is so entertaining that these issues don’t weigh it down. As Whedon said, it’s a great “summer movie” that people were excited to see (to the tune of more than $1.5 billion worldwide). That being said, no true artist is ever really satisfied with his work, which is why Whedon is focused on bringing greater clarity to The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“I want to be clearer about how I engage the audience, and where I take them. I want more control visually, more time to prep it. Not that I didn’t dictate every shot—I did. But there’s only so much you can do when you’re making a summer film when the ball is already rolling as fast as it was when I got in. Why do it again if you can’t do it better?”

So what does this mean for audiences? Reading into Whedon’s comments a little bit, it’s reasonable to assume that Age of Ultron will not only deliver a more cohesive narrative, but also one that ups the stakes significantly for the characters. Whedon wants to be more deliberate about where he’s going to “take” the audience, meaning we’re not just going along for a ride, but we’re (hopefully) going to fully understand the story and what the consequences are for each scene.

avengers 2 age ultron Joss Whedon on How Avengers Couldve Been Better & Plans for Age of Ultron

Could some of those consequences be death for certain characters? Whedon was non-committal, but did leave open the possibility.

“I’d have to have a really good reason, a really great sequence for [Marvel executives] to go, ‘We’ll cut off a potential franchise, that’s fine!’ They know, as any good studio does, that without some stakes, some real danger, how involved can we get? We don’t just rule it out across the board, but neither is the mission statement ‘Who can we kill?’ We try to build the story organically and go, ‘How hard can we make it on these people?’ You go to movies to see people you love suffer—that’s why you go to the movies.”

Of course, before Whedon can kill off any characters, he needs to finish the script. And if he’s going to deliver on his promise of a clearer narrative, he’s going to have work on reining in his current draft. The director told EW that the current script is more than 150 pages long (which would equate to a more than 2 and 1/2 hour movie). As he explained, however, the length is by design.

“There’s a point at which I’m not holding back; I’m going to put in everything I like. Then there’s a point where it’s: ‘Okay, what do I like best.’”

What do you think of Whedon’s comments on The Avengers? Do you agree that the first film was “haphazard” and, if so, how could the sequel improve? Also, what do you think about killing off a main character? Is it too big a risk, or something that should happen in The Avengers: Age of Ultron?


The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases May 1, 2015.

Source: EW

Follow Rob Frappier on Twitter @robfrappier
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  1. i have no problem with the marvel cinematic universer other then i would like to see them putting their own twists and spins on the characters. i would like to be so impressed that i feel moved to actually buy a marvel movie that stays closer to the source material. i dont like hearing the possibility of a franchise being put on a slab.

    1. the red tide better be a smokescreen for AIM or HYDRA or other well
    known organizations. the tide sounds more like the 5th column from V.
    2. leave the origins of quicksilver and scarlet witch alone so the possibility of using magneto as their father and the word mutant can
    come to a frutition in future.
    3. do not copy the stupidity in the sony’s version or fox’s version of
    marvel, something iron man 3 did very well with the stupid twist.
    4. and please scrap sharon carter’s possible useless show.
    5. and Marvels agents of shield needs recognizable characters and no
    more made up characters and organizations not found in marvel universe.

    • Why do you say you want them putting their own twists and spins on the characters but then you say you want to be “moved to actually buy a marvel movie that stays closer to the source material?” What red tide are you talking about?

      • Yeah, I agree, you seem to be saying “I want A” but then “I hated when they did A”.

    • Very Well said on everything!!!

    • This a new universe, it is not the original universe…realize that.

  2. No one was expecting godfather part 2 LOL. I think this is a terrific superhero film. It knew what it wanted to be and had action and humor balanced.

  3. IM2 was waaaay better than IM3.

    *BTW, I didn´t get surprised by Matrix reference. I havent seen God daddy 2.

    • IM3 grand finale was totally ridiculous, but overall it was a better movie than IM2 – Which had two memorable scenes: Monte Carlo, and Black Widows hallway fight scene. IM2 not using Demon in a bottle story was a bigger fail then the Trevor Slattery.

      • Trevor Slattery was an absolute triumph of a twist on a second-tier villain.

        • Triumph of a twist? Trevor Slattery was an absolute waste of Ben Kingsley and was frankly, lazy. Bringing the Mandarin to the screen was always going to be a challenge, but instead of rising to it, they basically wasted a good set-up and passed in favor of a dismal amalgamation of characters in Killian made worse by Pierce’s ham-fisted performance. The end-game was a mess and the resolution even moreso.

          Comparing IM3 to IM2 is like asking which turd stinks less.

          • I’ll thumbs up that.

  4. There is no reason to kill off a character. The whole “noble sacrifice” thing has already been done to death. Plus the audience has already been burned with that with Coulson. So if they kill someone it has to be permanent which means a none important character or a character they don’t want to use for awhile (bring him not her back a few years later and people won’t conplain).

    • I wasn’t burned. I’ve been reading comics for over 30 years. I knew when Fury threw the cards on the table Coulson wasn’t dead.

      Nor am I going to be surprised if, several years down the line, it turns out that Killian was just another pawn of Mandarin, and simply hired someone to impersonate his master.

      The thing about comics, especially Marvel, is you know most of these people (especially the heroes) aren’t going to die permanently. It was a clone, or a doppleganger, or some time/reality shift restores them to life.

      • wasn’t there a character in Iron Man comics acually called The Actor who tricked Tony a few times?

        am i losing it or not? it’s been awhile since i read the old books

        • Yep there was a villian in the early days of Iron Man called Actor. He only appeared once in Tales of Suspense #42 in June 1963. He was a Communist spy and was skilled at impersonations. So you’re not losing it bro lol

  5. I loved the Avengers. Just a great and fun film.

    It forced them to up the ante on the solo outings too and I think Ironman 3 pulled that off in spades. Here is hoping for Captain America and Thor.

  6. doesn’t matter who gets killed off some one some where will complain

  7. I agree about The Avengers. It is super enjoyable, and was a blast to watch as a summertime theater experience, but I have never considered it a masterpiece. It works for what it is, and works very well at that. But there is definite room for improvement.

    I am fine with having a major character get killed off. Or not. Whatever serves the story logically. If Joss and Marvel have the guts to do something serious, it will pay off for them.

  8. I say Josh Whedon should stick to what he already has in mind and deliver another movie that I will love. I don’t know of anyone that was expecting Avengers to be like Godfather II or greater, that’s on them. I was expecting to see a CBM and I got one, works fine by me. No matter what he does to improve the AoU, fanboys will cry, DC fans will cry, Haters will cry and pick on every thing they can pick on as a reason why this movie isn’t worth it in their books.

    I love most of Josh Whedons work that I’ve seen. I have faith in Whedon and don’t care if he kills a character or not. It’s a movie, fantasy and meant to be enjoyed.

    • *slow clap*

      Very well said.

  9. Having just seen the Shield premier and taking into account that Josh has repeatedly said that a lot of what happened good in the Avengers was luck or happy coincidence it makes me very worried about Avengers 2.
    If Shield is Josh “in control” and Avengers was “just luck” I don’t see good things happening with Avengers 2 if Josh is “in control”.

    I am wondering if the fact that the Avengers superhero characters that had their own franchises also had their directors and costume, etc.. on board in Avengers gave it the cohesiveness with disparity that we all enjoyed. Maybe that is why it worked and Shield the TV show worked “not so much”.

  10. The things I want to see done better is the plot, I want to be able to understand what is going on instead of asking why did that guy do that when he could have just did this, and continuity needs to be focused on bring in the Leader he was created in the Hulk film. Also the cheesy one liners need to be cut down and the film should go a bit more seriouse. Lastly I want a threat Avengers 1 the army was simple and something we see every summer in all their films lets see something new, have the villain beating the hero’s down, Avengers 1 we saw every hero take a shot and beat down Loki this needs to e reversed. Also want to see more of the dark Hulk we saw chasing Black Widow. Let the fans tear me down now,but that’s how I felt it was like watching Transformers, Battleship, (etc) but a bit better.

  11. Wanna make Age of Ultron better? Put Pym BACK into the equation as one of the Avengers first members (founding member sadly past us now) and Wasp while we’re at it. Then kick Black Widow to the curb and let her go back to more mundane espionage tasks.

  12. I loved what Joss Whedon did with ‘The Avengers,’ but some of the cut/deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray were actually decent especially the Captain America one that I think would have helped moved the movie more. With that being said, any true artist will always pick apart his work, that means that he’s growing as an artist. I really hope his idea of Ultron not being made by Hank Pym will pay off, it’s a risky move. I have faith in Mr. Whedon, his witty dialogue always keeps me interested in whatever he works on.

  13. I’m pretty sure Thanos will do the most killing.

  14. It’s Marvel, people. If it’s an important character that gets killed, they’re coming back. This is why you can’t even crush drama into Marvel movies. There’s nothing at stake. Like Peter Griffin on Family Guy said at the end of one EP, “and nobody important got killed.” Might as well be the mantra of every Marvel movie ever made. That’s not only not going to change just because that’s the way comics have always been, now we have Whedon himself telling us the real reason. “Don’t want to kill off an entire (potential) franchise.”
    MONEY, in other words. Yay for out of control capitalism.

  15. I have a feeling Captain American and Iron Man are going to die in Age of Ultron.

  16. As much as I love Josh Whedon’s work, And I really do, it worries me when I hear a director say something along the lines that He mentioned about; “I want to be clearer about how I engage the audience, and where I take them.” While I like the idea of something a lot more in depth, get concerned that we get something so much more character driven, that the whole idea of a great action upper hero film is lost. I was perfectly happy as a filmgoer and a very long time comic book reader, with he way The Avengers played out. I had a smile form ear to ear. That doesn’t always happen. He knows what he wants to and where he wants to go with his story, so I do trust him. I just want him to continue to do what he does. Make good stories.

  17. I love how Whedon is looking back on his work to see what he can improve on thats a terrific quality he has.

  18. Doesn’t matter who they kill since they’ll only end up bringing them back.

  19. Its good to know that Whedon is taking an interesting look at his work and trying to figure out a different way to do it I admire that he always sounds like he’s out for improvement. I love the Avengers flaws and all but I really think that Whedon and the crew can make the entire sequel even better I don’t wanna get ahead of myself but maybe (and a part of me is hoping for this to) Age of Ultron will be like the Empire Strikes Back for the Avengers.

  20. The only thing wrong with the “Avenger ” is that they should have let Edward Norton reprise hie role as the HULK/Bruce Banner