What really happened behind the scenes of Age of Ultron

When studios want to make a successful movie, they hire a successful director. It's why Marvel hired Joss Whedon to helm Avengers: Age of Ultron after he did such a good job on The Avengers. But for some reason, the studio didn't make it easy for him. In fact, Joss Whedon faced more than a few problems while making Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Restrictions of interconnectedness

All of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's films are pieces of one huge puzzle. Because of this, all of the movies must refer to each other in some way. This pays off for the fans intent on watching all the movies Marvel releases and helps cross-promote future films. However, for the directors of these films, it can be problematic. It means Whedon couldn't fully make the movie he wants. He had to make sure Age of Ultron, like its predecessor, not only tied up all of the films that led up to it but had teasers and Easter eggs for future Marvel movies. While Whedon never said anything about this, it must've been tedious.

The pressure of living up to the first one

Not only did Whedon have to make another Avengers movie, he needed to make a sequel that lived up to the mega-popular original. But Whedon's ideas veered away from what the original was. Whedon wanted to use the movie "to explore the pathos of its heroes," according to Entertainment Weekly. In other words, he wanted to make a film that was a bit smarter than the first one. In and of itself, that's a bit risky. It means less time spent on action and more time spent on character development, which usually doesn't happen with blockbusters. And this led to the struggles Whedon had with the studio—the kinds of struggles that create supervillains.

Dream sequences

One way Whedon explored the pasts and personalities of the Avengers is through the dream sequences resulting from the Scarlet Witch's psychic attacks. It's a pretty clever narrative device, because not only does it allow for these dream sequences, it also explains the Witch's power and shows how much of a threat she is. It also allows for some Black Widow backstory, who has yet to have her own film or any major character development. However, according to Whedon, the execs disliked the dream sequences, and Whedon had to fight to keep them. According to Entertainment Weekly, he was only given one day to film each sequence. This may not seem like that much, and it isn't: many people, parts, and places need to be coordinated in order to film each scene. The less time for coordination, the more difficult filming becomes. Of course, Marvel had more misery in store for the Buffy creator.

Hawkeye's family

Another segment of Age of Ultron the bigwigs at Marvel cut was the extended farm sequence featuring Hawkeye's family. Like Black Widow, Hawkeye will probably never have his own movie. So any way to show Hawkeye as more than just a guy with a bow has to be done in the Avengers movies. Just like the Scarlet Witch's dream attacks, Whedon had to fight to keep the farm sequence. But instead of only giving him a day to shoot everything, Marvel forced him to compromise. As Whedon told The Hollywood Reporter, "They pointed a gun at the farm's head and said, 'Give us the cave, [the sequence with Thor and Dr. Selvig] or we'll take out the farm.'" And so Whedon went ahead and put the cave sequence in, and yet things still didn't work out right.

No Loki

Whedon had intended for Loki to appear in Age of Ultron, albeit in the form of a cameo. He even shot scenes with Hiddleston in full Loki guise. In the end, Hiddleston's appearance was cut from the film. Whedon told ET Online, "The movie has so much, we didn't want it to feel overstuffed." Continuing, "I really wanted to have Loki in it, but I understood the decision." While he's not coming out and explicitly saying it here, his use of the word "we" makes it sound like the decision came from well-above Whedon's head on the company ladder. But some of the blame for the lack of Loki may lie with Idris Elba, who appears in a cameo and let it slip in an interview that Loki was (originally) going to be in the film. Loki may have been cut to prove the spoiler wrong.

Thor's cave sequence

So Whedon went ahead and filmed the aforementioned cave sequence with Thor and Selvig like the studio wanted, or at least a version of it. The version in the script had Thor possessed by a Norn, a type of Norse goddess, but they wound up shooting something different. When that something different wound up not working well with test audiences, the scene was almost cut completely. But the editors on the film insisted that the cave sequence had to stay. The dizzying ordeal left Whedon bewildered and exhausted, or as he told The Hollywood Reporter, "Sure, OK—what movie is this?" Nothing's worse than bosses who can't make up their minds. Unfortunately, Age of Ultron felt like a missed shot for Hawkeye and a thud for Thor.

Captain Marvel and Spider-Man

There were two more things that Whedon had to leave out of his idea of what Age of Ultron should've been: appearances by Captain Marvel and everyone's favorite wall-crawler, Spider-Man. Whedon wanted them in the ending with the rest of the MCU's version of Cap's wacky group because he wanted to connect the movie to more of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, you'd think this was a good thing. Whedon was essentially trying to be a team player here. But the execs said no to that, and the characters were cut from the script. However, there were some good reasons for these cuts. For Captain Marvel, the actress wasn't cast by the time Age of Ultron was in development. And Marvel had yet to reach a deal with Sony to use Spider-Man. Still, Whedon was left a little displeased.

Avengers assemble

All in all, the whole experience of making Age of Ultron was an unpleasant experience for Whedon. It's probably why he told The Guardian he's unlikely to return for another Avengers movie. But he did manage to vent a little bit of frustration within the final few seconds of the film, when Captain America is cut off from saying the iconic comic book catchphrase of "Avengers Assemble!" Speaking with the Empire Film Podcast, Whedon said, "I made sure that we never shot Chris Evans saying it, because I was positive that some executive was gonna go, 'You forgot to put in the last word!'" It sounds like Whedon got the last word in…by leaving the last word out.