Joss Whedon has been wanting to make an Ultron movie since the moment he got the initial gig to direct The Avengers — so, what does he have to say about the upcoming sequel he always dreamed of making?
Whedon did a roundtable interview as part of an Avengers: Age of Ultron set visit, and the embargo has finally lifted and /Film has pages upon pages of Whedon-y goodness. We’ve pulled a lot of the good bits below, but we highly recommend you check out the full interview. It’s loaded with geeky fun.
First up, Whedon talked about introducing new characters and the overarching theme of the film, explaining how Elizabeth Olson’s Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch really embodies the entire concept of the story. Considering this is the man who brought us such damaged heroines as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s no surprise he cracks wise at the connection:
“Well, you know, ‘strong but damaged by power’ describes every person in this movie. It may, in fact, describe what the movie is about. You know, the more power that we have, the less human we are. [Wanda’s] damage pre-dates her power, and these kids they’ve had a rough history. Is she in an idiom with which I am comfortable? Why, yes sir, she is. [LAUGHS]… [T]hat was a concern for Marvel for a long time (introducing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch organically), but a lot of the working out of the story was how do we get these things to connect. I’m not going to explain that, but it’s very important to me that they do feel like part of the same story, and part of the same universe. And they’re all… All their origins are all tied up in each other…
Before I took the first job, I said, well, I don’t know if I’m right for this or if I want it or you want me, but in the second one, the villain has to be Ultron, and he has to create the Vision, and then, that has to be Bettany. It took me three years before I could tell Paul that I’d had that conversation, but after that, I stopped. I was like, that would be cool if you have Ultron, and you have Vision and Paul played him… And Scarlet Witch and Pietro, definitely. They’re from my era, they’re very different, their powers are different, it’s not all punching, it gives a different palettes and we can do more interesting things. It’s fun; those things were all absolutes.”
There’s also the matter of balancing all these characters and dealing with how they’ve changed in their own subsequent standalone films in the time since The Avengers (except for the Hulk), respecting those developments and still trying to make a film that’s accessible to new viewers:
"Well, I wasn’t the one who said don’t make a Hulk film or anything like that. It was, Kevin said to me, we think right now it’s good to have somebody who could only be in the Avengers. Everybody loves Mark. He’s phenomenal. But the fact that there hasn’t been a Hulk [movie] since that Hulk, it doesn’t suck. My job is hard enough, you know. Cap’s had a movie, Thor’s had a movie. Everyone’s gone through big changes, Iron Man had a movie, and so I have to juggle everybody’s perception of that while still making a movie that you can see having not seen any except the first Avengers, or not even that."
Last but not least, the reason for all the excitement in the first place — Ultron. Considering it's one of his favorite comic villains, and they have the scarily talented (and just generally scary) James Spader in the title role, Whedon had a lot to say. He positively gushed about Spader’s performance as the evil robot baddie, and it’s interesting to hear how they shot the film to ensure Ultron was disconnected from humanity (a theme we've already gleaned from the debut trailer):
“Well, Ultron feels a certain distance from humanity, and the day Spader got here we put on the mocap pajamas, a giant thing with red dots on it for his eye line, giant pack, and a helmet with two cameras in his face with lights to record his performance, he then did a scene with Scarlet. But not look him in the eye because she was looking up in his eye line, and nor could he see her because he had two lights shining in his face, and he had his glasses on.
Therefore, he has a certain distance from humanity, too. And god bless him, he was wonderful. And very game. He has been the whole time. Very interested in the mechanics, to find the humanity. He and I share a genuine love of this version of Ultron, and he has an innate eccentricity in delivery that is everything that I had hoped Ultron would be…
You know, for me, there’s always a point where I’m writing where [I go], you know, they’re right! The Avengers sucked! Got to do something about that. We got to take care of these guys. Hopefully, you will come out of this, if not agreeing with him, [at least] getting him, and getting his pain, which leads to a lot of damage, and some humor, and how’s he different. I mean, villains are different from each other. The important thing for me is he’s not this external thing. He’s not Independence Day. I’m not criticizing that movie, but I’m saying that it’s not like we spent some time on the alien going, oh, I hate that Will Smith! Punched me right in the face! The first day there! When he’s in his scenes, you want to feel like he will never understand that he’s not the hero.”
Yeah, we know that’s a lot to digest. But the more we hear, the more excited we are to actually see this film. If it’s geeking Whedon out, you know it should be up to snuff.
Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1, 2015.