After the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon detailed some of the clashes he had with Marvel Studios over the film's production. He was clearly frustrated, and his comments seemed to paint Marvel as hard to work with and lay the problems with Age of Ultron right at the studio's feet. A lot can happen in a year, however.
Speaking with actor Mark Ruffalo onstage at the Tribeca Film Festival, the year-older and year-wiser Whedon seemed to paint a different picture. While he still defends the film he wanted to make, he admits that airing Age of Ultron's dirty laundry like that might not have been the best option.
After the comments he made a year ago, Whedon took a two-week vacation from work; according to him, it was the first vacation he'd taken since the four-month stretch where he worked on the 'Once More With Feeling' musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He mentioned his "super good" new project without revealing much about it, and talked about growing up in Manhattan as the son of a TV writer. As one might expect, however, the topic of Age of Ultron and Whedon's departure from Marvel came up.
Admitting that his comments about Age of Ultron weren't the best that he could have made, Whedon explained:
"Ultron, I’m very proud of. There were things that did not meet my expectations of myself and then I was so beaten down by the process. Some of that was conflicting with Marvel, which is inevitable and a lot of that was about my own work and I was also exhausted, and we right away went and did publicity. I created the narrative — wherein I’m not quite accomplished at– and people just ran with (about Ultron) ‘Well it’s OK, it could be better, but it’s not Joss’ fault’ and I think that did a disservice to the movie, and to the studio and to myself. Ultimately, it wasn’t the right way to be because I’m very proud about it."
Upon reflection, Whedon seems to place a lot more of the blame on himself than he did a year ago. Continuing to talk about the film and its fallout, he added:
"The things about it that are wrong frustrate me enormously, but I got to make an absurdly personal movie about humanity and what it means in a very esoteric and bizarre ways for hundreds of millions of dollars. The fact that Marvel gave me that opportunity twice is so bonkers and beautiful and the fact that I come off as a miserable failure is also bonkers, but not in a cute way."
After the session with Ruffalo, Deadline briefly spoke with Whedon about his relationship with Marvel Studios. He admitted that he's not closed-minded about directing another Marvel movie, and that he hoped that Marvel would be willing to work with him again as well. For those who enjoyed Whedon's work with Marvel, this is hopeful news. While nothing may come of it, he's at least willing to come back to the Marvel universe at some point if the opportunity comes along.
This assumes that Marvel would be willing to work with him again, of course, though there's little reason to believe that they wouldn't if the right movie came along. Personal feelings aside, the return of Whedon to the Marvel universe could be huge from a marketing standpoint and "From the director who brought you The Avengers" would likely be a key part of trailers. The larger problem is that Marvel is seeking out a wider range of directors to give their unique "voices" to the ever-expanding Marvel universe, and it might be harder to find a spot for Whedon than it was when Avengers was still coming together.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital. Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.