MCU: 10 Fascinating Facts Behind Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain Marvel’s cameo, Wakanda and how Ultron IS Joss Whedon
While some suggest that the second Avengers movie is vastly inferior to the first, the reality is that it is still a hugely entertaining movie. It is heartfelt, has great set-pieces and it advances certain key ideas – particularly for Tony Stark – that will come back into play in a big way at the culmination of the Infinity Saga.
Sure, it has its sloppy moments and its missed opportunities, but it’s important to remember that this movie was also one of the most meddled with in terms of studio pressure on the director. We know there was an entirely different vision for this film at times, which is ironic, given the story is about a creator realising his Vision, and for the studio-approved version still to do so well is remarkable.
It didn’t just make money, either, it still has a lot of very enthusiastic fans. It just had a VERY high benchmark to aim for, too.
As we count down to Avengers: Endgame, we’re looking back at the point where Thanos said “fine, I’ll do it myself…” with Avengers: Age of Ultron…
10. Captain Marvel Was Supposed to Debut
While she debuted properly in the MCU in her own movie in 2019, Captain Marvel almost appeared a lot sooner in this franchise. Director Joss Whedon initially wanted to add her to his second generation of heroes in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he was writing it.
Whedon went as far as shooting test footage fopr Captain marvel with Kevin Feige confirming that the director had launched FX plates of her in the final sequence showing Cap and Black Widow assembling the “New Avengers” team. She wouldn’t have appeared anywhere else in the movie apparently, and ultimately it was decided that she deserved her own solo debut to actually mean something.
“..It would have done that character a disservice, to meet her fully formed, in a costume and part of the Avengers when 99% of the audience would go, ‘Who is that?’ It’s just not the way we’ve done it before.”
9. Joss Whedon Did NOT Enjoy Making It
Somewhat notoriously, Joss Whedon really did not have the best time making Age of Ultron. He called it “the hardest work I’ve ever done” and sees it as a failure:
“When I watch it, I just see ‘flaw, flaw, fla, compromise, laziness, mistake.’ The reason I set out to make another film is because I wanted to make one that was better, and I wanted to up my game as a shooter an work harder on every aspect of it and sort of give myself up to it in a way that’s ahrd for me, because I have a family. I started as a writer in low-budget TV, and there was always this element of, ‘This is good enough.’ And with this movie, I never wanted to say , ‘This is good enough.'”
His first cut came in at nearly three and a half hours before he and Kevin Feige worked together to get it down to 142 minutes. It came at a cost though, and Whedon had to compromise on things he wanted to include. “With so much a stake, there’s gonna be friction. It’s the Marvel sway to sort of question everything. Sometimes, that’s amazing. And sometimes that’s amazing [said with a growl].”
Ultimately, when he’s talked about the movie, it seems to be with a sense of sadness, though he does take one major positive from it:
“I tried and I had a terrible time… Is it perfect? It is not. Is it me? It’s so baldly, nakedly me. To do something that is as personal as this movie is – on that budget, for a studio that needs a summer tentpole – is an extraordinary privilege.”
8. The Influence of Westerns
According to the audio commentary included on the blu-ray, Whedon turned to the Wild West for inspiration for Age of Ultron. he revealed that the film includes a number of hat tips to some of the greats of the genre:
“[One] shot, some of you may know from The Searchers. I realized that I needed that moment for Cap. It’s very central to his whole theme about not being able to be home and live a normal life. I mentioned it to [producer] Jeremey Latcham, who was like, ‘Don’t say it!’ But, as long as I don’t say anything on the DVD commentary, I should be fine and no one will know that I’m a thief.”
He also borrowed a shot from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly when Robert Downey Jr steps into the barn on the Barton farm:
“Sergio Leone! There, I said it!”
7. It Almost Included A Wakanda Sequence
While we didn’t visit Wakanda until the post-credits scene of Captain America: Civil War, it was officially introduced in Age of Ultron with the use of Vibranium as the key ingredient to Ultron’s physical evolution. Whedon actually planned to take the film there physically too:
“We were originally going to Wakanda, but, because we weren’t using anybody from ‘Black Panther,’ we kept going less and less to Wakanda until I referred to it as ‘Wakinda’. You know, it’s sort of on the outskirts. It became a tease and not worth it, but we wanted the Vibranium dealer and the arms dealer and all that. So Klaue was the suggestion.”
Interestingly, Whedon also revealed that Andy Serkis’ casting as Klaue came form the most unlikely of places – a fantasy fancasting online:
“When we thought of it, Jeremy [Latcham] went through and looked at images of Klaw online. Some fan had put out Andy Serkis as Klaw and, obviously, we were already working with Andy. He and his Imaginarium were guiding Mark [Ruffalo] and James [Spader] in their movement.”
So, as well as making his own mark as Klaue, Serkis also had another role to play on the film, helping the mo-cap actors to realise their performances with his vast experience in that film.
6. The Wolf, The Ram And The Hart
During Thor’s confusing vision when Scarlet Witch uses her powers on her, he’s taken to a grotesque version of Asgard where he briefly sees three men wearing masks that look like a wolf, a ram, and a hart (more commonly knows as a “stag”).
This is a very subtle Easter Egg reference to Whedon’s other big franchise – the Buffy universe and specifically Angel, where The Wolf, The Ram and The Hart are three ancient demons masquerading as a law firm called Wolfram & Hart who are the chief villains of the show:
“I try not to be self-indulgent. I just had a feeling that there was a connection between the evils of this world and the evils of all worlds. There is that one shot in Thor’s dream that is in an archway with three guys wearing three masks. The masks are very expressionistic. It might be hard to see exactly what they are and we only held on them for a moment. But they were originally seen over a line of Thor’s that was taken out where he says, “It’s been a long journey and dark forces followed me.’ …basically, though expressionistic, they are based on three animals. A wolf, a ram and a hart. Some of you might know what that means to me.”
5. You were MEANT to Think Hawkeye Was Deadmeat
Almost since the first Avengers, we’ve been primed to expect at least SOMEONE to be killed off and naturally, the hierarchy of the heroes has led lots of people to suspecting that Hawkeye would be the one to go. He began without a real backstory, he wasn’t a “real” hero in the same way that most of the others were and he didn’t seem to have as many personal ties to the other Avengers.
When it came to Age of Ultron, that feeling was amplified even further. It was like he was walking around with a target on his back, carrying a metaphorical picture of his “best gal” waiting for him at home after the war. When he didn’t die, it was a major shock, but that was all down to Whedon’s story-telling craft. We were SUPPOSED to think he was done for, partly to help hide the fact that Quicksilver was going to die:
“That scene between the two of them was obviously part of my ongoing campaign to ensure the belief that Hawkeye is a dead man. Even to the point where he says that’s his last project at the house. Meaning, ‘It’s my last mission.’ He might well say, ‘Don’t worry honey. It’s just one more job. It’s perfectly safe.’ And then walk under a ladder. He’s like Dead Meat in Hot Shots. It’s all a ruse.
4. It’s a Frankenstein Story (And Tony Is The Villain)
If you picked up heavy Frankenstein vibes from the film, it wasn’t accidental. Whedon revealed as much in his commentary, revealing that he’d drawn from J. Searle Dawley’s 1910 silent adaptation of the story:
“I like robot stories because they’re like Frankenstein stories. As you can see, I leaned pretty heavily into that. [The first Ultron] I always think of as resembling the very first movie of Frankenstein, which I’ve only ever seen a still from. It’s the weird, screaming almost mummy-like kind of guy with strings of tattered cloth coming off his arms. As much puppet and as much scary robot, we wanted to evoke that first Frankenstein film.”
He also reveals why he turned to the story at all:
“It all has to do with the central human question: ‘Why am I here? What is this place?’ Because we all have to ask that. We all have to feel the pain of being brought into a world that was mot made to accommodate us. The Frankenstein story and most robot stories – where the robots are anything other than just a killing machine – explore that… The way it gets simplified in a robot story is really fascinating. We can really ask what it means to be human when we take away all the things that it means to be human except for one.”
And just as Dr Frankenstein’s over-reaching is the issue in the story, Tony Stark is the real villain of Age of Ultron. Or, at least that was Whedon’s intention:
“One of the things that also sort of hit me late in the game is that you can look at this film and straight up say, ‘Tony Stark is the villain.’ It’s not just the beard. He’s a good man who is corrupted by his own anxiety. He has this vision of a disaster and makes what is obviously a really bad decision. I spent so much time during the writing process and during filming trying to protect Tony Stark and to make sure he was still a heroic figure. At one point, I watched the movie and went, ‘You can just go ahead and lean into this. He has now evolved into a villain.”
3. Tony’s Other AIs
When JARVIS ends up lost and seemingly destroyed by Ultron after Tony and Bruce stupidly unleash the new creation on the world without a firewall, Stark is left with a vacancy for a new AI in his Iron Man suit. It turns out that JARVIS has merely cleverly hidden himself in an effort to help thwart Ultron, but when he does return, he gets his evolution by turning into Vision and Tony is still left without a digital helper.
In the sequence in which he picks FRIDAY as JARVIS’ replacement, it’s actually revelaed that Stark has developed a number of AIs. One is named TADASHI in honour of Big Hero 6’s tragic older brother figure Tadashi Hamada, whose name is also the AI chip that powers Baymax.
The other is called JOCASTA in honour of the android Ultron created in the comics and eventually married. Probably for the best that Tiny didn’t pick that one.
2. Ultron IS Joss Whedon
Intriguingly, when Whedon talks about Age of Ultron being a deeply a personal experience, he seems to mostly be talking about the characterisation of Ultron.
He revealed min the wake of the release that he poured himself into the character and the ideas of creation and destruction definitely do resonate with Whedon as a film-maker. He also says there’s an even more personal parallel than that:
“Ultron’s pain is very, very real to me. He can’t control the way his pain makes him behave. And I can relate to that.”
That’s surprisingly candid and somewhat chilling given accusations levelled at him. But one character Whedon says he could not relate to was Thanos, who he chose to avoid entirely despite setting him up in The Avengers. He helped James Gunn integrate Thanos into the rest of the MCU, but admitted Thanos was “really difficult to write for,” which goes some way to explaining why he turned down the chance to make Infinity War:
“They came to me about the movie, and what I said was, ‘I’m tapped out’… and I think they knew that even if I could give them something, it wasn’t going to be anytime soon.
1. The Endgame Quote
Remember that awful time when we didn’t know what Avengers: Endgame was going to be called and all was speculation and sadness? Well, we had a hint in Avengers : Ahe of Ultron all along.
When Doctor Strange explained to Tony Stark that he had to give up the Time Stone, he did it by reflecting one of Tony’s own lines back to him. “We are in the end game now.” With those words, he set the title but that line mirrored what Stark had said in Age of Ultron, when Stark was confronted by the other Avengers for creating Ultron and accidentally endangering the world:
“A hostile alien army came charging through a hole in space… we’re standing 300 feet below it. We’re the Avengers. We can bust arms dealers all the live-long day but… that up there? That’s the end game. How we’re you guys planning on beating that?”
The end game. Not only did Strange use his words against him for forgiveness, but he also echoed a line that reflects everything about Endgame’s narrative. Whatever it takes. Just as Thanos would do whatever it takes,m just as Tiny created Ultron as a means of doing whatever it takes, just as the Avengers will now do whatever it takes.
Original article at What Culture