Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t the movie that broke Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it’s the movie that broke its director, Joss Whedon. After helming one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, Marvel’s The Avengers, the beloved filmmaker returned for the sequel, only this time the pressure, responsibilities and his inner perfectionist got inside his head like a Maximoff twin.
Whedon’s exhaustion throughout making Avengers 2 has been widely reported, but he more recently spoke with The L.A. Times’ Hero Complex and came up with more dramatic word choices. Whedon said:
This isn’t to say he though the entire experience was unbearable. As he said, he had an amazing crew and cast to work with, and the second time around brought a lot more understanding from these figures in regards to what Whedon was trying to accomplish. He told Hero Complex that his main goal was to up the ante, so to speak, to make a better film than The Avengers -- which is not an easy task. That’s when his doubt began to surface, something, he says, he hasn’t really felt before to such an extent. He began second guessing himself, on top of which came the impossibility of creating such an ambitious film, as well as pressure from the Marvel higher ups.
Whedon spoke about the ongoing back-and-forth between him and the studio. He explained that the process became "unpleasant" when he began fighting to keep the scenes involving the Scarlet Witch-infused dreams and the farmhouse. Marvel eventually let him keep these aspects, but he had to compromise by giving the studio that scene involving Thor and the mystical pool of memory, something that many critics said seems out of place when compared to the rest of the film. If you recall, Edgar Wright was in a similar situation with Ant-Man, though he dropped out way before the film entered production.
Avengers 2 is still making big bucks at the box office, but several critics have said on record they believe it’s lesser than Whedon’s first Avengers. When you factor in all this pressure from outside and internal forces, you begin to see why. Aside from being a sequel to The Avengers, Whedon's Age of Ultron included loads of Easter eggs and teasers for Marvel movies to come: the Ulysses Klaw scene and Wakanda name-drop point to Black Panther, the Mind Gem points to Avengers: Infinity War, the wood-chopping feud points to Captain America: Civil War, Thor’s vision points to Thor: Ragnarok, and even Scarlet Witch’s mystical mojo is preparing us for more magic to come in Doctor Strange. This is on top of all the new characters Whedon introduced.
It's astounding that Avengers 2 turned out as fun as it is, but do you think the Russo brothers will become as burnt out as Whedon? They directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, are currently directing Civil War, and they will return to direct the two-part Infinity War. Stay hydrated, boys!