I think we all got the feeling around the time that Avengers: Age of Ultron came out that Joss Whedon was done with Marvel. The sequel didn’t sound like an enjoyable experience for him, and on his way out the door, Whedon took a few veiled-and-not-so veiled shots at management. He openly mourned the loss of Edgar Wright’s Ant Man. He complained about Marvel’s choices with Daredevil. He complained about the resurrection of Agent Coulson on Agents of SHIELD and just, generally, grumped about the state of Marvel. He even quit Twitter before the release of Ultron, probably because he didn’t want to have to answer for the film’s problems, most of which revolved around the need to fit within the MCU.
Whedon, who has been mostly quiet in recent months, is speaking out again in an Q&A interview with the Oxford Union.
On if he’s involved in Marvel anymore:
You know I was their sort of conciliary for a while… We do not discuss our thing… [audience laughter] But, I sort of had my finger in all of the films in the second phase, but then I just had to concentrate only on Ultron, and sort of know when it was done I was just going to stop. So I made a completely clean break - not because we had a falling out - just because I was like, “I can’t…” If I was still there going, “Well, here are my thoughts on this film,” I’d be there every day. I wouldn’t do anything else because there are a lot of films, and it is a lot of fun. It’s very seductive. When you can put your little fairy dust on things and just improve them slighty, and they actually listen to you… I was a script doctor for a long time, and the part where they listen to you was very rare; so it was very important for my own self to go ‘we can still be friends,’ but…
As for how he dealt with the criticism of Ultron, Whedon was very frank:
Ultron has been the most complicated response I’ve gotten, and the way I deal with it is becoming fetal for about eight months [audience laughter]. I fucking have no spine or self-identity or anything, and it’s horrifying. It sucks… But I’ll be okay… Later…
He also noted that he has more than one therapist, that he could relay his entire 25-year career in rage, and he’s been “stewing” about disappointments since the very first Buffy movie didn’t come out the way he’d hoped.
He also added, on the notion of creating cinematic universes that it “takes the soul out of a film if it’s in service of so many other things … and it doesn’t feel like I’m watching a film, it feels like I’m watching an agenda.” On the other hand, he says, he can get excited about connected storylines (he loves the Suicide Squad trailer), but “I can be kind of an idiot,” he said.
In short, Whedon seems as though he’s still processing his break-up with Marvel (mutual though it may have been), but I think we’re all hopeful that once he gets through it, he can get back to making beloved but under-appreciated films and television shows that are quickly cancelled and mourned for years!
Here’s the entire Q&A: