Joss Whedon explains that Avengers: Age of Ultron shocker, reveals alternate ending

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May 4, 2015, 5:50 PM EDT (Updated)

The stakes were as high as ever in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and director Joss Whedon has opened up to explain the film’s final-act shocker.

Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Age of Ultron!

The latest Avengers film introduced a few new heroes into the mix, but one of them didn’t survive the epic faceoff with Ultron and his unstoppable horde of robot warriors. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver/Piotr Maximoff gets a hero’s sendoff after sacrificing himself to save Hawkeye (who, himself, was trying to save a kid from a hail of gunfire), opening the door for his sister Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) to officially join the team’s updated roster.

Whedon is famous for killing our darlings, and he opened up during a fantastic podcast with Empire to explain exactly why Quicksilver had to die — and that there was a chance he could’ve actually survived. According to Whedon, they needed to prove the war had stakes, and the only way to do that is to have a real casualty. Admittedly, the last time he tried that they ended up bringing Coulson back for TV, but we see his point.

The even crazier part? Fearing Marvel brass could potentially overturn his decision, Whedon actually shot an alternate version where Quicksilver miraculously survives the 20+ bullet holes and joins Scarlet Witch, Vision and the rest of the gang in that final training shot with Cap. Check out the choice excerpt below:

"It’s disingenuous to make, as I refer to it, a war movie and say there is no price. In this movie we’re saying, 'prove to me that you guys are heroes.' And [Quicksilver] is the guy who is the least… the most arrogant, the most annoying — if you watch the DVD extras, an incredible pussy hound — and Hawkeye genuinely hates him and that’s the guy who saves him. I knew that it would be resonant and it would make everything work and matter more…

I said, 'The only thing that would keep you alive is if the Disney executives say, 'Idiot, it’s a franchise and we need all these people and you’re not allowed to kill them.' … We did actually shoot him in the last scene, in an outfit with his sister. And we did shoot him waking up from his, 'Ahh! I didn’t really die from these 47 bullet wounds!' but the intent was always that we were going to earn this and then you have to stand by it."

The full podcast is well worth checking out, and touches on everything from Whedon’s battle with Marvel brass to keep in certain scenes (namely the farmhouse visit and dreams) to why they didn’t cram Captain Marvel and Spider-Man into the mix (the upcoming standalone film, and the protracted Sony/Marvel deal, repectively).

What did you think of Quicksilver’s death? Would you have liked to see him stick around for a sequel?

(Via The Playlist)