Last year, Joss Whedon needed a break. The 51-year-old screenwriter/director had just finished the exhausting process of bringing a second Avengers movie to the screen. He was horrendously overworked, deeply disillusioned and his interviews during the press tour smacked of a man who didn’t allow himself enough breathing space.
Ultimately, Avengers: Age of Ultron was met with lukewarm reviews, still taking in a massive $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office. However, it was universally regarded as a letdown compared to its 2012 predecessor. Whedon himself was critical of the final product and didn’t hold back when discussing his unpleasant stand-off with Marvel executives about which scenes to include and exclude in Ultron.
He said at the time: “The dreams were not an executive favorite either — the dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought to keep … 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.”
Now, a year has seemingly made an enormous difference for Whedon. Resurfacing at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday evening, the filmmaker sat down for a live Q&A session with Avengers star Mark Ruffalo. Whedon seems to have emerged from a rather dark period in his life and proclaims that, in spite of its faults, he is proud of Ultron.
“People just ran with that and it became, ‘Well, it’s OK. It could be better, but it’s not Joss’ fault,’” Whedon said. “That isn’t fair to the movie and to the studio and to myself. It was not the right move, because I am very proud of it. The things that are wrong about it frustrate me enormously.”
Whedon also admitted that Ultron “didn’t meet my expectations of myself” and he was “beaten down by the process” of making it.
“I got to make, for the second time, an absurdly personal movie in which I got to talk about how I felt about humanity and what it means in very esoteric and bizarre ways for hundreds of millions of dollars,” Whedon said.
“The fact that I come off of it feeling like a miserable failure is also bonkers, but not in a cute way. That becomes problematic. … I took my first vacation ever after that movie. And I don’t mean ‘ever,’ but the first vacation that was for more than two weeks in 25 years.”
Most importantly, Whedon appears to be refreshed and primed to return to the world of filmmaking. Ruffalo said to him during the session that he began to worry him, to which Whedon replied: “I’m back.”
It’s good to have you back, Joss.