If you thought that scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) in the cave felt tacked on, you have a pal who agrees with you and his name is… Joss Whedon? Yep, apparently the mastermind had other masters to mind at Marvel while making the movie, which he discussed candidly with the Empire Film Podcast (via Heat Vision, The Playlist). Needless to say, spoilers ahead.
“The dreams were not an executive favorite — the dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought to keep,” Whedon said of the horrific visions induced by Scarlet Witch and the rural sequence with Hawkeye’s family. “With the cave, it really turned into: they pointed a gun at the farm’s head and said, ‘Give us the cave, or we’ll take out the farm,’ — in a civilized way. I respect these guys, they’re artists, but that’s when it got really, really unpleasant.”
Ironically, after the scene was shot and integrated into the film, test audiences didn’t respond well to it — as most regular audiences experienced this weekend as well — and Disney execs wanted it excised entirely, with Thor’s absence referenced verbally but not visually.
Whedon admits, “I was so beaten down at that point that I was like, ‘Sure, OK — what movie is this?’ And the editors were like, ‘No. You have to show the [events in the cave]. You can’t just say it… I do feel they threw out the baby with the pond water.”
Marvel demanded a drastically-reduced version of Thor’s cave bath included so as to allude to the Infinity Stones that will play a critical role in the franchise’s future but do not have much bearing on the events of Age of Ultron. Whedon also wanted to include Captain Marvel and Spider-Man, but studio politics prevented that from happening in time, so Captain America has to make do with a new Avengers roster that includes Black Widow, The Falcon, War Machine, The Vision and Scarlet Witch.
“I wanted all those people, but I said, ‘It would be great if we could add a few more [characters], if we could have a Captain Marvel there, now that you’ve made a deal,’ and they talked about it,” Whedon said. “And I was like, ‘And Spider-Man, we could do that too, ’cause Sony had approached us during the first movie about a little integration. So I would have put both of [those characters] in, but neither of the deals were made.”
Later in post-production Marvel told Whedon, “‘We’re making a Captain Marvel movie and we’ve got Spider-Man as a property,’ and I’m like, ‘I’ve already locked my film you f**kers! Thanks for nothing.”
Earlier this week, Whedon also made reference to a scene he shot with Tom Hiddleston as Loki walking Thor through his dream that was excised, saying, “I really wanted to have Loki in it but I understood the decision.” That language makes it sound like it was not his decision to make, which apparently it wasn’t.
“He’s so important to the mythos, and they’re like, ‘We can’t get Tom. We can’t make a deal,” Whedon recounts. “‘You can have Idris!’ I was like, ‘Oh, I love Idris! This is great!’ And then I talked to Tom and said… ‘I would never pressure you, but I really feel like it would be great if you could do this, and he was like, ‘Sure.’ And they’re like, ‘But we already have Idris!’ And again, I had no problem there. Everybody’s in! We had Loki in the second part of [Thor’s] dream and [Marvel] was like, ‘Well that doesn’t work and we don’t want to introduce Loki’ this late.’”
Whedon goes on to describe the scene fully: “We even had a little reference to the fact that he’s taken the throne, which was Tom doing his Anthony Hopkins impression when Thor says, ‘Oh, what would father say?’ Then Tom does his Hopkins impression, and Thor’s like, ‘That is uncanny!’ It’s sort of like his subconscious is telling him that Loki was imitating his father. But he would never make that connection.”
Lest you think poor, beleaguered Joss Whedon did not get his way on anything, he fought the good fight to have Quicksilver die and got his wish in the final cut, although scenes that depicted Aaron Johnson’s speedy Pietro Maximoff as a fast operator with the ladies were lost, possibly due to time constraints.
“It’s disingenuous to make, as I refer to it, a war movie and say there is no price,” Whedon stated. “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 p**sy 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 [to Johnson], ‘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.’”
Preposterous as it sounds, those scenes WERE shot, though.
“We did actually shoot him in the last scene, in an outfit with his sister,” Whedon admits. “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.”
Joss also recently abandoned his Twitter account, which some speculate was due to rampant hate Tweets (and moronic death threats) from a sub-movement online of those disgruntled at Black Widow’s portrayal as a “damsel-in-distress” in the movie.