It seems inconceivable that anyone would ever leave a two hour and 21 minute film and feel that something was missing. But many people walked out of Avengers: Age of Ultron feeling exactly that.
It appears that those people are exactly right. Joss Whedon spoke with Empire Magazine’s podcast and listed the cuts he made, many on the urging of Marvel, from the final film. The result is that the final product might have been a lot different, if not better, if they were included.
Since this will be really spoiler intensive, let me throw this up:
Bruce Banner rebukes Natasha earlier
The will they, won’t they flirtation between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanov is the many driving force of characterization the two had during the movie, but the inevitable answer of “won’t they” originally came a lot earlier in the film.
A lot got changed. In the bedroom scene – and this is going to be on the DVD – when we first shot it the question was answered and he rejected her. It’s some of the most beautiful stuff and I hated to cut it. But when they suggested it, the reasoning was that you shouldn’t answer the question until the end of the movie. I thought that was interesting. But it’s difficult because Scarlett [Johansson] had been playing that this happened, so we had to reshoot some stuff.
In this case, Marvel was right. Saving the final decision until the end made the final break more poignant. Now if only they explained the attraction more.
Quicksilver was originally supposed to survive
It can’t be a Joss Whedon vehicle if one of the characters doesn’t get killed off. But that’s exactly what might have happened. We know know that Quicksilver gets shot down in the line of duty, but he made it to the end in an alternate cut of the film.
We did actually shoot him in the last scene, in an outfit, with his sister. We also shot him, waking up, saying, ‘Ah, I didn’t really die from these 47 bullet wounds!’ Actually, we shot something else with that, but… maybe I’ll let you know about that later.
However, Whedon decided to
slake his rampant bloodlust show the horrors of war, so Quicksilver had to remain dead.
Marvel made him cut Thor’s cave scene, Loki’s cameo
If you remember the trailer to the film, there was scene with a woman in a cave. But in the final film, no such scene exists. That’s because she was part of the second Thor dream sequence which originally supposed to play out much differently.
There was a 195-minute cut of this movie. The original scene was that Thor went to speak to the Norn and how it would work was that he’d go in the pool and the Norn possess him, basically, and Erik Selvig asks all the questions, and the Norn, speaking through Thor, give the answers. So Chris [Hemsworth] got to do something different, and he really threw himself into it, and he did a beautiful job, but it wasn’t well regarded by the test audiences and I feel it’s probably largely because it was a rough cut with no effects, but also because it’s something that in a Thor movie would work brilliantly, but in this movie is just a little too left of centre.
Yes, it was negative responses from test audiences that made Marvel push for the scene to be cut. And they did it in the most shady manner.
The dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought [for]. With the cave, they pointed a gun at the farm’s head and ‘Give us the cave’. They got the farm. In a civilized way – I respect these guys, but that’s when it got really unpleasant. There was a point when there was going to be no cave, and Thor was going to leave and come back and say, ‘I figured some stuff out.’ And at that point I was so beaten down, I was like, ‘Sure, okay… what movie is this?’ The editors were like, ‘No no, you have to show the thing, you just can’t say it.’ I was like, ‘Okay, thank you, we can figure this out!’ You can tell it was beaten down, but it was hard won.
Are you beginning to see the reason why Joss Whedon will not be back for Avengers 3 & 4?
The final result is that the scene feels truncated and we are cheated out of the way Thor found the the answers he was looking for. But that wasn’t the only thing we were cheated out of by Marvel’s executives.
I came up with what I felt was a huge win: it’s about Thor getting answers without having to answer the questions, and Chris gets to do something exciting as an actor and he’s got his fucking shirt off, so everybody wins! It’s amazing how many people had to be on set that day. I do feel like they threw out the baby with the pond water, because I tried to set it up so people would accept it when it happens. Instead, we split the dream up, and then we had Loki in the second part of the dream, but then they were like, ‘That doesn’t work, do we want to introduce Loki now, this late?’
Yes, not only did Marvel make the film weaker, it cost us a cameo by the fan-favorite Loki and more shirtless Chris Hemsworth. Thank you, Marvel. Thank you very little.
But what would Loki be doing there?
Who’s going to walk him through his dream? It’s going to be Tom [Hiddleston] as Loki. He’s so important to the mythos, and they’re like, ‘We can’t get Tom. We can’t make a deal. You can have Idris!’ I was like, ‘Oh, I love Idris! This is great!’ And then I talked to Tom, saying, ‘Just so you know, I feel bad not telling you, and I would never pressure you, but… I really feel like it would be great if you could do this…’ And they’re like, ‘But we already have Idris!’ And again, I had no problem there. Everybody’s in!
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. Anyway, the dreams were awfully long, even though I only got a day to shoot each one, because I made the most out of them. There’s a lot of fun stuff that fell.
Strangely enough, the word “Assemble” wasn’t cut
The film ends with Captain America about to address his new team of Avengers. He says “Avengers–” then the screen goes black. I actually cursed out Whedon for denying me the legendary “Avengers Assemble” catch phrase from the comics. Turns out I was right for cursing him out.
I made sure that we never shot Chris Evans saying [the ‘assemble!’ of ‘Avengers assemble!’] I was positive that some executive was gonna go, ‘You forgot to put in the last word!’ I was like, ‘With my dying breath…’ I don’t have to say that a lot, but sometimes I’ll turn to [Marvel head honcho] Kevin [Feige] and say, ‘With my dying breath…’
As much as I was like, ‘We didn’t get this, we didn’t get this, this is sloppy, and I’m not happy with that music cue…’ With all my complaints, it was in the script exactly as you see it. ‘He draws breath to say the next word. Blackout.’ So to know that we landed exactly where I wanted to go, however many stumbles along the way, was extremely gratifying.
Damn you Whedon.
Spider-Man and Captain Marvel might have been in that final scene as well
We all know that Captain Marvel was supposed to be in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but a certain webhead might have been in there too.
I said, ‘It would be great if we could add a few more. If we could have a Captain Marvel there…’ And they talked about it. And Spider-Man, because Sony had approached us during the first movie about integration, so I would have put both of them in, but neither of the deals were made, and then it’s, ‘We’re making a Captain Marvel movie, and we’ve got Spider-Man as a property!’ I was like, ‘I’ve already locked my film, you fucks. Thanks for nothing.’
This kind of goes against the reason Kevin Feige gave for Captain Marvel not appearing in the film (namely, they didn’t want a cameo to be the first time audiences see her). But each man could be right.
Marvel made him downplay the possibility of Planet Hulk
The biggest rumor surrounding the Hulk’s fate at the end of the film was that he would be shot into space and either A) travel to Planet Hulk (as per El Mayimbe) or B) join up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (as per Drew McWeeny). However, the Hulk’s fate at the end of the film, while still ambiguous, seems to be earthbound. It appears that that’s the way Marvel wanted it.
I specifically put in the line, ‘Where in the world am I not a threat?’ I wanted to leave people with the idea that if this is the last movie, that he may have left the world behind. Because I think there’s something enormously poetic about that, but there’s also something enormously misleading about that. We don’t plan to make Planet Hulk, as far as I know, so they were like, ‘Just sky, no stars!’ which was less poetic, but very beautiful…
I used to mock El Mayimbe when he said that Marvel would change its long-range plans just to spite him, but it appears, and lord does it pain me to say this, he might be right.
Additional sources for this story include Collider, The AVClub, and Vulture.