Here's the movie Joss Whedon says is his "guiding star" while working on Age of Ultron

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Jan 24, 2014, 9:26 PM EST (Updated)

When you've got to make a successful sequel to one o the highest-grossing films of all time, it's important to keep in mind those who have succeeded in the past. 

There's a short list of iconic films whose follow-ups are considered in some corners to be superior. Aliens, Terminator 2, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the list goes on.

OK, we may be stretching it with Gremlins 2. Seriously, though, in its defense, Robert Picardo does get it on with a lady gremlin. Also, Christopher Lee is there.

But we digress.

Joss Whedon has a huge task before him in topping Marvel's Avengers with Age of Ultron. If you thought all those films that will have come out between Avengers movies would make that job easier, Joss Whedon doesn't agree with you.

The events of Captain America will definitely affect the world of Avengers 2. But at the end of the day, I have to make my movie assuming that people will only have seen the first one, or possibly not even seen the first one. I can't assume that everybody went to see Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man in-between. I have to go from one movie to the next and be true to what's happened, but not be slavish to it.

Short version: If Age of Ultron is the first movie you see, it still has to make sense. Which, yes, is incredibly difficult when there's so much backstory not only in film but on TV and in decades and decades of comics. So what's a Joss Whedon to do? Well, you look to your greatest influences to guide you.  Remember when we were talking about sequels that are arguably better than their predecessors?

The model I'm always trying to build from, or my guiding star, is The Godfather: Part II where a ton has happened in-between and it's a very different movie [from Part I], but you don't need any information. It's there in the film about what's happened since, what's different, and why is this a different film; why is it a different kind of structure, and why is it darker. It's all there, you're in the vernacular of the first movie and you're just ready to pick up in this new place, and hopefully that's what will happen with my movie.

While we don't necessarily think anyone should watch Godfather II without seeing the original, you certainly could and still enjoy what's happening. And if we're being honest about the movie industry, there is that overwhelming drive to cast the widest net possible and make something that appeals to absolutely everyone. For better or worse, that's the state of things.

The good news is, Godfather II succeeded at that. The bad news is, very few other films have since.

Can Joss Whedon follow in Coppola's footsteps? Guess we'll find out in 2015!

(via Comic Book Movie)