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. Whats to hate about the Avengers? Sure it has some problems like every other movie ever made but it was awesome, beautiful looking, fun, great action, great characters. And Age of Ultron seems its gonna be escalating that and giving us something new and edgier as the same time. Super excited.

    • There is nothing to hate about Avengers. It was a great fun movie and I’m looking forward to the sequel. Unfortunately the world is full of overreacting fans who confuse passion with stupidity. There will always be a fringe element that will hate just for hating…

      • Who said anything about hate? I enjoyed The Avengers a great deal, but I do not think that it is a perfect film, “the best ever” or could not be improved on.

  2. I would gladly sit through a five hour movie if he decides that’s what’s best heck make it a two part movie if the hobbit can do it to the second book why not the avengers

    • +1

    • Except, The Hobbit couldn’t do it.

      • No, no, The Hobbit could have done it, they just didn’t.

        • Possibly it could have, but arguably it was a stretch (literally and figuratively) all along to do what they are attempting with The Hobbit.

      • Indeed

  3. Love this guy’s honesty. There’s a vulnerability to him that’s quite disarming. It shows in his works, interviews and even his tweets lol

    • I hear he’s single….

  4. Not a fan of whedons comedy but i love his press answers to that. They way he talks about his film is very humble and refreshing

  5. Gotta love this guy. I’m sure he’ll do something great with Age of Ultron.

  6. I think Whedon is a little hard on himself. The Avengers was great film despite flaws which any film has. The way he talks honestly about it, im sure he’ll up the stakes for the sequel.

    • It’s good to be hard on yourself sometimes. It makes you strive to do better.

  7. I loved the Avengers and can’t wait for AoU, which should be even better given that Joss will have more experience making a major blockbuster. I also love the way Joss is never satisfied with his work and is always looking for ways to improve upon it which is the mark of a truly great artist. I have every bit of confidence in him that he will make the sequel truly astonishing. My only hope is that we eventually see Black Panther somewhere down the line

  8. Really cool interview.

  9. I’d rather watch a 2.5 hour Joss Whedon Avenger movie then a 9hour Peter Jackson rambling Hobbit movie, that’s for damn sure!

    • I´d rather watch a 2.5 hour long Whedon interview than any Peter Jackson movie. Just saying.

      • I’d rather watch a film that has as much story as it has running time, than whatever the massive fail Jackson’s pulling on his Hobbit “trilogy”.

        Pretty sure Whedon knows better than to split stuff into parts because of the grossly mistaken idea that “more is always better”.

        • *cough* transformers

        • I haven´t seen The Hobbit, but I find it ridiculous that they made a book with less than 500 pages into a trilogy, with each film having a 2 hour runtime.

          • It’s just a cash cow. They’re milkin it for all it’s worth.

            • I can see that being the reason. One more movie equals almost one billion dollars more box office. Still wish they kept it as a 2 part series ><.

          • They used 120+ pages of appendices and also filled in some gaps that were in the original story and fleshed out the characters a little more.

            Some people thought the first film was too long, and some people didn’t. YMMV.

          • I thought it would’ve worked much better as 2 films. So much filler in the first film, it was actually hard to enjoy it at some points.

    • Amazing how there’s still so much ignorance on why The Hobbit was made the way it was. People just love to hate on things if they aren’t done *THEIR* way. The guy’s a brilliant Oscar winning film-maker, and if you watched the behind-the-scenes featurettes for the Hobbit or LOTR films, you’d see how much dedication he has to his films and how he wasn’t just in it for the money.

      He may not have pleased the more cynical in the crowd, but the film made over a billion dollars so some people must have liked it. We’ll see how the second one does in order to determine if it was just a fluke or not.

      • Well said my man. Peter Jackson is one of the greatest directors out there. I’m a huge Tolkien fan too and have read everything he’s ever written and I have absolutely no problem with the Hobbit being 3 films.

        Cynics have the simplistic view that because The Hobbit is a relatively short book that therefore it should be one movie. The thing is, The Hobbit is NOT written in the same style as the Lord of the Rings books. It is aimed towards children, almost like a fairytale, there’s lots of unexplained gaps ( e.g .Gandalf just leaves for no reason half way through the book) with very little character depth or development (some of the dwarves don’t even have one line in the book. SPOILER SPOILER – the character Bard the Bowman who ultimately kills Smaug, isn’t even established or doesn’t even have one line either.)

        Another example, near the end of the Hobbit novel there’s an event called ‘The battle of the Five armies’, It’s essentially bigger than any battle in the LOTR movies, yet it gets about 5 lines of text dedicated to it.

        When translating to the big screen all these these things have to be fleshed out and addressed.
        Jackson is also combining The Hobbit with events from The appendices to help explain things better and to give the overall story more depth and help it tie in more with the LOTR movies. (how people see this as a bad thing is beyond me)

      • I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy but I still thought The Hobbit had way too much filler. Spending almost 50 minutes in Baggins’ house watching them eat was much too long. There were some excellent parts to the film but some parts were just put there to make the film longer. They’re trying to make the trilogy as epic as The Lord of the Rings, which it has no chance of being for the sole reason that it’s based on a book that’s barely a third of the size of the Lord of the Rings. No matter how much material they grab from other books, I still can’t see it being as large as the Lord of the Rings.

        • You’re entitled to that opinion, but I didn’t think the intro was too long at all. It wasn’t just him living his boring life. It was establishing that he was comfortable in his life and didn’t want it to change, which impacts his decision to leave, and also gives more weight to him not leaving the elves and going home like he almost did. At the same time, it also showed the jolly nature of the elves (e.g. the song when cleaning the dishes, which was in the book) and how they were like a tornado coming in and upsetting his ordered little life.

          So all those scenes had a point to me, and were not filler at all. But then again, I’m used to the extended LOTR films, and seeing it as part of the whole.

          Anyway, I didn’t want to turn this into a discussion of PJ films on an article about Joss Whedon.

          • Sorry, meant to saw dwarves, not elves above.

            • Say, not saw. Haha, man I need a nap (or conversely, Screen Rant really needs an edit feature).

      • I was very impressed with the LOTR films, but having watched The Hobbit, I have a very hard time believing that the strategy of the 3-film adaption is being pursued for the right reasons. An Unexpected Journey was very, very padded with awkwardly slow pace in the beginning. They are basically trying to make another LOTR trilogy. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter for debate.

        Personally, I would prefer an adaption of The Hobbit was based solely (or nearly so) on the book itself. That could realistically be 2 films.

        If being disappointed that The Hobbit was being used as a surrogate for attempting to make another Fellowship of the Ring, with the result being a film that IMO was not anywhere near as well-made as Fellowship and of course not a faithful adaption of The Hobbit itself – is that being cynical?

        • There’s nothing inherently wrong with feeling like that and I wouldn’t call it cynical necessarily. But the thing is that when assumptions are made that go against facts that were stated by the film makers and never bothered to look into it, then that’s being ignorant (whether you believe the statements or not is another story).

          I didn’t feel like it was padded, and enjoyed the intro part (except maybe for the dishes song, but I can understand that it was part of the book and goes along with it’s ligh-hearted tone). Reactions to films are generally subjective though, so I can’t say that your feeling about the film was “wrong”. I guess we’ll be able to judge it more completely when all 3 films are released though.

  10. Whedon:
    Kill Thor. Dont touch anyone else.

    About the Avengers.. Everything good except Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig turned to the dark side for a very long time. that was so stupid/boring/cheesy. I´d buy it for a marvel cartoon, but to actually watch that in a movie? Awful.

    • are you serious?kill thor? thats crazy

    • no, kill jane, and a bunch of other friends of the heroes

      • As much as I and everyone else loves the character, I think killing Pepper would be a perfect catalyst to get Tony back in his suits, and get every audience member to hate Ultron.

    • And the invading army being somehow killed then the spaceship was destroyed?? Think that was a pretty awful ending if I am honest…..

      • **when**

    • Kill Cap! Have Bucky be Captain America in CA3 and then bring Steve back in Avengers 3.

      And The Avengers wasn’t great. It was good, but not great. Lots to improve. Move away from the Disney-esque crap that we’re starting to get and focus on drama and character development.

  11. Get rid of Thor?! You’re crazy dude!

  12. I think the Avengers couldve had so more scenes making/giving the individuals cool shots such as the roudabout shot of them standing altogether.
    Think like a focus of them standing over destruction or just looking cool.

    • plus the cinematography just seemed pretty plain, the tv criticism of whedons directing.

  13. did any body see james spader in blacklist premier and jos whedon was right that guy was the best and first choice to play the crazy robot ultron he has an electrifying which is both calm and chilly and this guy laughs it really has eeery feeling about it

  14. what i think lacked in the avengers was each character wasn’t given an equal amount of time on screen. i would’ve loved to see more about the Hulk and captain america and even thor.. I hope they make up for all of it in the sequel

  15. That’s what Superhero movie sequels should be! Bigger, better, badder! Unlike Iron Man 3 that went a step or two lower than its predecessors. Ugh.

    • “Iron Man 3 that went a step or two lower”

      I bet you left the cinema before the final fight, huh?

      • Uh, no I think his comment seems to imply he watched the whole film alright.

        • Isn´t it funny that everybody complains about Iron Man 2 and the “weak” story and the lackluster fight with Vanko and the drones, but now we´ve got Iron Man 3 with a cool story (yes, I liked the Mandarin twist), well written characters and a extremely cool end fight, and people still complain?

          • Proof that you can never make a fan boy happy.

            • I think all the iron man movies are awesome.

              • Me too, except for 2, which was just okay to good.

            • True. But I was almost satisfied. The only complaint I have is, that they didn´t do some Demon In The Bottle stuff.

          • +10000

  16. On the same topic. Not a single character truly has to die in the upcoming sequel. Not for the sake of it being “dark and gritty”, at least. Seriously, we had enough of those elements. Besides, “death” in the Marvel-universe is comical at best.

    • That has me wondering, after the Coulson thing, would the general audience even buy a character death? They’ll all be like “Ok I wonder how they’re gonna bring him back.”

      • And then be disappointed when they don’t bring him back.

  17. Honestly I loved everything about avengers from top to bottom. Can’t wait for age of ultron. 2015 can’t get here fast enough.

  18. H kind of gave away who the potential kill offs could be. He said

    “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!””

    “Potential franchise” Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are already established franchises so that leaves them out. Only Hawkeye and Widow don’t have their own franchise yet but still could. It could also be Fury or one of the new heroes from Winter Soldier.

    As for Hulk, nobody has the balls to try and kill off Hulk.

    • I personally think Nick Fury should be the one killed off. Jackson is pushing 70. Having everyone’s fearless leader killed off would effect the whole team.

    • I think they should kill off Banner. Or send his butt to space “Planet Hulk” style.

      Don’t touch Thor or Captain. And Stark just finished his trilogy.

      I agree about Fury, Sam Jackson is an old fart.

  19. Sure, the Avengers didn’t break any new ground in storytelling, but were people really expecting it to do everything? The Phase 1 films practically gift- wrapped it for success, but Whedon should congratulate himself and his crew for being able to manage well the spectacle of superheroes coming together for the first time in cinema.

    • Actually I consider The Avengers to retroactively make Phase 1 films seem successful and better.

      The Avengers was able to overcome the weakness of some of the Phase 1 films and make those films clear and purposeful. The film took the time to explore and establish the characters deeper as much as it can. Thus, why the film feels things happen for the sake of things happening rather than stemming from the characters and their arcs.

      Now with the characters firmly established and/or redeemed, The Avengers 2 would be able to use the characters to set up a more encompassing arc.

  20. It’s obvious that he’s putting everything he’s got into Avengers II. He needs to get someone else to take the helm of AoS & make it better – cuz it’s apparent that he doesn’t have the time to invest in it.

    • he helped create the show and directed the pilot. i think his direct involvement is over, for now. i suspect he will direct another episode or 2 down the road.

    • He has…. his brother Jed and his wife.

      They’re going to be doing the majority of the writing, dunno about directing. Joss will come in for mid and end season two parters

  21. I think that A2 should be split into two parts. Ultron has a big story line, it should be split up instead of trying to fit so many things into one movie. Im sure it will still be a good movie, but it would be better split up.

    • No, not really.

  22. don’t think folks were exactly expecting “the matrix” or “the godfather part II” lol but it’s good to hear he is constantly critiquing himself which means he is constantly improving. i tend to lean more towards the character driven hero movies of DC but I thoroughly enjoyed the avengers and will be in line like everyone else for the next one!

  23. The Avengers was amazing the first time I saw it, but after I questioned whether what worked in the Avengers was only superficial. Thankfully over time I began to notice the small details that made the first viewing, and subsequent ones, so enjoyable.

    I will agree with Joss that while the seams connecting the overall story- Loki’s plan, the nice wrap-up with the nuclear missile, and the Tesserect- it is the details, the subtle character dramas and interaction, that really elevated scenes and entertainment.

    Personally I feel that Joss didn’t have the necessary time and influence to really carve out the story he wanted to tell, and thus focused on making the best summer film possible.

    One look at the deleted scenes definitely shows the type of film- one that is more character centric- that Joss wanted to write up. But he had to focus on truly getting the characters and their interaction right. In some cases he has to redeem some of the characters from underwhelming solo films.

    These comments show once again Joss Whedon intent of creating an all encompassing arc that really explores the characters and their mythos. Essentially bringing those small details of the first to the frontline.

    Joss Whedon, no matter ones feelings and opinion, is humble and recognizes his limitations on the first film and seems to be taking full advantage to truly deliver the Avengers film he as a fan always wanted to see.

    I expect the Avengers: Age of Ultron to truly exceed its predecessor if the deleted scenes, commentaries, and the small details of the Avengers are any indication

    • +1
      Age of Ultron is going to be a great movie. I hope he gets to do everything he wants to with it. As much as I’d like to see more adherence to comic canon, I know Whedon won’t disappoint when it comes to delivering a good story.

    • Yes, there are a lot of little things. For Tony to know that Banner was coming back and then send a alien supercreature right towards his Avenger pals means he had so much faith/knowledge in what Banner could do (and how quickly) its ridiculous.
      And near the end when he is talking about getting Schwarma he is looking over his right shoulder and saying it. He is looking and talking to the “mindless” beast and saying we should go get fast food. Tony had it going on! All this after being brought back from the dead. Awesome scene!
      And Hulk is just playing with these baddies. Imagine what his strength limit is. Puny god!
      Picture the level of guts Steve Rodgers has in getting in between Iron Man and Thor when he has never fought them before. Where will this courage take him in the future.

      • “Where will this courage take him in the future.”

        To his grave. I bet Cap is the one who bites the dust. Then Bucky takes over and Rogers returns in Captain America 3.

    • Im gonna have to disagree with the nuclear bomb, it was the poorest part of the whole film. To think that some shadowed figures would bomb one of the most populated cities in the u.s without even thinking is retarded. Then nobody even cared that they were about to be bombed by their own government. Imo marvel doesnt captilize on logical story details that could add some gravitas to emmensly enjoyable films.

  24. This movie should be even better than the first one, of that I am confident. I also can’t wait to see the rest of Phase 2 and how they tie in with the next Avengers movie.

    • I’m sure it will be much better. I thought one thing that The Avengers lacked was Whedon’s awesome stories (not saying Avenger’s story was bad by any means, I thought it was only solid). With Age of Ultron, now that he has a full grip on it, I think he’ll blow the audience away much more than The Avengers did.

  25. He’ll kill someone off but, I guarantee you they’ll come back in another movie or T.V. show…look at Coulson. What would be a shocker is if they killed off a major player (RDJ) and kept them dead (at least till they rebooted there franchise). Either way this movie will be a 1up.

  26. I just hope he thinks twice on where to place the camera. I know they were minor, its just that some camera angles just pulled me out from their amateurish execution that left me questioning Whedon. “You have this huge room. Why shoot Cap and Fury from behind the seats?” Also the POV shots of cars blowing up felt like I was watching TV.

    • Nitpick much? You know what would be really fun? If you directed your own movie so we could rip it and your nonexistent directing skills apart.

      Yep, good times.

      • Sorry if I came off nitpicky, I just want Whedon to make the perfect Avengers movie with no weird little camera angles that stick out to me. Everything else was great though. I still love the movie and appreciate the spectacle Whedon gave. And yes, I am a film student. So you just might get your good time one day.

        • I figured as much… yeah, let us know!

          Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a perfect movie, but I think Whedon did pretty well considering everything that he had to tie together from the other Phase 1 movies. I also think he’s come a long way since his previous movies/TV shows.

          I liked some of the weird camera angles because they reminded me of a comic panel. If you’ve ever read comics, you can tell the cockeyed camera angle and others were paying homage to comic books… at least in my opinion anyway.

    • Maybe it was shot from behind to showcase the size of the table and how many more Avengers we can expect to see in the future in a regular roster?

  27. It was 10 times better than Iron Man 3.

  28. They ought not to kill anyone. Ultron will give them a hard time but it would be a grave mistake if they kill anyone.

    In the worst case scenario, they could kill someone like Thor. He is then taken before Hela where he must fight for his soul. In that way they could introduce Surtur or Thanos.

  29. Joss is such a down to earth guy I like his point of views. A woman I know used to date his brother and new Joss very well he is till the same as she described, he loves what he does and doesn’t let money and fame get to him. That is true passion for the art you create and true passion for the game. Stay fly Joss!