This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon is the man at the center of the Marvel Universe and has been since he brought Earth’s Mightiest Heroes together in The Avengers. But with his time in the MCU coming to a close (sort of) and his blockbuster sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron just days away from hitting UK theaters, he’s starting to open up about a few inside details regarding his relationship with these films.
Amidst the stunning visual effects, catchy one-liners and Shawarma meals, one of the most emotionally-driven and talked about moments in Avengers was the death of Agent Phil Coulson at the hands of Loki. However, the sadness among Marvel’s vocal fan base over the loss of the “Super Nanny” loving agent was quickly alleviated when it was revealed that Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. (co-created by Whedon) would be starring none other than Phil Coulson. Since AoS would be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was heavy speculation as to whether or not Coulson would return in Age of Ultron.
Whedon recently discussed that issue, and what they chose to do about it. FINAL WARNING – Avengers 2 SPOILERS Follow!
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Whedon had this to say about the return of Agent Coulson:
“As far as I’m concerned, in this movie, Coulson’s dead. If you come back in the sequel and say Coulson’s alive, it’s like putting f***ing John Gielgud in the sequel to ‘Arthur.’ It mattered that he’s gone. It’s a different world now. And you have to run with that.”
While that may stand to reason when talking about individual films as standalone works, it does arguably present another continuity snag for the MCU; after all, if Ultron is the global threat that the he seems to be, it seems kind of strange that Phil Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (both factions) would simply ‘sit this one out.’ And the question still remains: If Coulson’s death was such a pivotal event for the team, when/where will they learn it was a farce, and what impact will that have on them, and/or their relationship with Nick Fury? And with AoS handling something as big as the introduction of The Inhumans, the show will need some more direct MCU movie ties sooner before later.
Whedon went on to discuss a complicated relationship he’s had thus far with AoS. Specifically he spoke in regards to his original plan to be a showrunner on the series with his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, saying:
“They didn’t actually want me to make it. It’s like, ‘Uh, Joss, we really wanted you to do [‘Age of Ultron’]. Instead you created a TV show, you moron.’ ‘I thought you wanted me to!’ ‘No, we just wanted you to make a movie.’ ‘Oh. My bad.’ … It went from being absolutely 100 percent the driving force and totally hands-on to ‘That sounds great, Jed! You should do that!'”
There was never a real debate over who would be the best person to pen the pilot of AoS besides Whedon; as the man who seamlessly put six super heroes together in one movie while making sure the dialogue, action, through-lines and character arcs were all present, he was always the one for the job—same goes for AoU.
But with Whedon’s recent announcement about wanting to create a universe outside of Marvel, it’s been interesting to hear what he has to say about his past experiences with this franchise—never saying anything bad (although he does talk about seeing flaws in Avengers)—but with a lot of the focus of the conversation leaning toward him leaving.
Filmmaking becomes a bit tricky once you cross the threshold of a shared universe, especially one that ties together with a TV show (or multiple ones in Marvel’s case). Decisions are no longer made solely revolved around making the best individual film as possible, but how to make each installment connect with one another. What Whedon was able to do with The Avengers was a marvelous feat, not only because it tied together the five films that came before it and created a perfect set-up for the future, but because it stands alone as its own film—arguably one that can be watched and almost fully understood without seeing any other movie in the MCU.
Yes, Avengers prepares you for future installments and opens itself up to be taken into any direction, but the story also comes to a close. By the time the credits roll—and before Thanos makes his cameo—there aren’t any, “Oh, this whole thing was a set up for the next movie” moments. That’s really hard to pull off, and it seems that Whedon isn’t the biggest fan of tailoring a movie to accommodate the needs of a future one; so it’s understandable why he would have trouble directing something like Infinity War – Part 1 and Part 2—two films that will include more characters and storylines than ever before.
Until Age of Ultron hits theaters, it will be hard to fully grasp what Whedon has been talking about of late, so we’ll have to wait until then. But with the press tour well underway, there’s sure to be more information revealed about the MCU as a whole.
NEXT: Avengers 2 Early Reviews
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters May 1, 2015.