WHEN Joss Whedon returned to write and direct The Avengers’ next adventure, he decided to expand the characterisations.
“It is about finding darkness and finding their weaknesses,” says Whedon, a writer/director who rose to prominence on hit TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “They are enormously strong and they are a team, so you have to dig the knife in where you can and sort of dismantle them a little bit. It is a more personal film than the first. We have more opportunity, now that they have met and the audience has met them and understands their world, to dig into their psyches, and not everything in there is pretty.”
Whedon knew that S.H.I.E.L.D was going down in Marvel’s movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and that worked for him in developing the storyline for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
He says: “It meant the Avengers were free agents and that’s a different paradigm. You have to explain it to people who haven’t seen the other movies, but people have to know that it’s a new world. There’s no more S.H.I.E.L.D. The Avengers are cleaning up the mess made by S.H.I.E.L.D and by the Chitauri fallout, and by everything that came before and there are new players out there.”
Avengers Age of Ultron spoiler free review
One of the most difficult tasks for Whedon was to balance all the characters and do justice to them. “I swear I keep saying my next film is going to be To Build a Fire. It’s one guy and a dog — and I might cut out the dog,” says Whedon.
“It is very difficult, but the point of the thing is that everybody matters and their interactions — when they conflict, when they work together —highlight who they are as much as anything. It’s difficult to make sure everybody shines, but, at the same time, it’s glorious, because everybody does.”
Whedon has to avoid leaning towards the characters he likes the most. “The temptation to play favourites is a problem, but it’s usually that I want to play favourites with whomever it is that I’m writing,” says Whedon. “I really do love each of them. They’re very different. Their voices are very different, their histories, their pain, their humour — all the things that interest me. They’re very different. The fun of the film is how you juxtapose these people, who are literally from different eras and different worlds.”
Avengers: Age of Ultron brings to the big screen one of the greatest Avengers villains for decades: Ultron. “Even before I took the first film, I knew in the second one we had to have Ultron. He has got great power. He is a robot, but he doesn’t behave like one, necessarily. He is much more interesting than that and has a lot of rage issues and daddy issues. So, he is formidable and he can recreate himself, which means he comes with an army. So, he seemed like the only guy that can really give the Avengers a run for their money,” Whedon says.
The film was shot in multiple locations around the world, including Johannesburg, Seoul and England. “It was important for me, because in this story the Avengers are dealing with the world’s perception of them and the world’s perception of their intrusion into world politics and on the world stage. Obviously, they’re not addressing the UN; they’re fighting bad guys. But there is this thing where they have to deal with the issue of their being a global entity, so we wanted to expand locations from the first one.”
Whedon is clear about what he wants the movie to deliver: “I want humanity. I want texture. I want ideas. I want the movie to be about something. It’s very important for me to have something to say. I don’t just want to point a camera at something pretty.
“I don’t want to amuse people and then have them forget that I did. I want people to incorporate what they saw into their own mythos and for that to go forward. Every artist, I think, wants that, but just to make a long summer entertainment is a waste of the ridiculous amount of talent coming from that cast and that crew, and the potential of this movie.”
Of what audiences can expect, Whedon says: “What was so grand about this weird, disparate group coming together is that we also know that nothing lasts forever and that there is a dark side to everything. It’s going to be a little more grown-up than the first one. A little scarier. A little funkier. But, in the end, it’s got the same values; it’s got the same extraordinary characters and a lot of humour. And, yes, there may be some punching.”