Contains spoilers for Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Avengers: Age Of Ultron is a divisive chapter of the Marvel cinematic universe among critics, but nonetheless a box office behemoth which is well on its way to toppling the hefty total of its predecessor. Unlike most Marvel Studios films, Age Of Ultron didn’t have an end-of-credits sting (“we just didn’t have anything we loved” writer director Joss Whedon told us), but it did have a mid-credits Thanos tease and a memorable end to the film itself.
In case you need reminding: the pre-credits stage of the film concluded with Black Widow and Captain America recruiting a new team of Avengers comprised of Scarlet Witch, The Vision, and Falcon (last seen in full flying-about action during Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
They need a bit of whipping into shape, we’re told, but that doesn’t stop Cap from calling them “Avengers” before opening his mouth to unleash “assemble” … only to be interrupted by some cheeky editing as the credits cut him off. The film wasn’t always going to end exactly like that, though, as has become apparent in the latter stages of Joss Whedon’s promotional tour for the film.
Here’s how it could have been different…
Here’s a potential change that you might have heard of already – Whedon was all set to include Captain Marvel (due to become Marvel’s first film-fronting female with her own movie in July 2018) in that same new-team-recruiting scene. If you’re not familiar: the cinematic Captain Marvel will be a superheroine by the name of Carol Danvers, endowed with super strength, flight and more.
How would her inclusion in Age Of Ultron have worked? Well, it seems like Mr Whedon was planning on plonking her into the final scene in full costume, with no hint of an explanation. Mr. Whedon told us:
“I never decided not to [include Captain Marvel]. Um, they haven’t cast Captain Marvel! I said, the one thing at the end would be if we saw, because we keep referring to this wider universe, and we meet these two people with new powers, and all the new characters were saying ‘we’ve never done this before, in the Marvel cinematic universe’ – the game is changing and the old guys are the dinosaurs.”
“Which is great, because I love westerns. It’s the old guy that matters. They don’t make a lot of movies where the old guy matters any more. So, I said it would be fun when we see a bunch of new people, if we see someone that we just don’t explain. They’re just there and we say ‘look, we’ve reached into the future of Marvel! We’ve reached other studios, and we’ve done all that stuff’ and then they’re like ‘we’ve got a Captain Marvel movie coming out, and we’ve got Spider-Man,’ but I’m like ‘my film is locked – you have failed me!’”
“I just thought it would be an extra kick, at the end of the day, but the scene still says what I want it to say.”
Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige also touched upon the lack of Captain Marvel, in an interview with MTV, saying “we didn’t want to introduce her fully-formed flying in a costume before you got to known who she was and how she came to be.”
It was surely a tough call to make, as Whedon’s idea of an unexplained cameo certainly sounds like an interesting way to change things up. It also hints at the wider super-powered world that is often implied within the movies. Mr Feige has a point, though – including this idea might have also made the task of scripting a cohesive Captain Marvel solo script much more difficult. You can understand the reasoning, then, whether you agree with it or not.
As Joss Whedon mentioned in that quote from the section above, Spider-Man has joined the ranks of eligible Avengers within the Marvel cinematic universe recently, thanks to a game-changing deal between Sony (who own the big screen rights to Spidey) and Disney (who own Marvel Studios’ cinematic output).
The wall-crawler could have had a brief slot in Whedon’s super-team sequel, too. The internet has such an appetite for this idea that some savvy YouTubers even went to the effort of lampooning us all by making their own Spidey-starring credits sting. You can see the impressive fan video here.
We could have legitimately witnessed something along those lines, though, according to Whedon’s recent interview with the Empire Podcast. Speaking on there, here’s what he said:
“I said [early on in production], ‘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 [later on], ‘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!’”
It looks like we’ll have to wait until Captain America: Civil War before Spidey swings into the MCU, then, but the fact that he nearly appeared in Age Of Ultron is enough to get us excited, after years of thinking the franchises could never mix. It’s a big step, especially considering that they couldn’t even successfully share a building in the first Avengers film (the Oscorp Tower was meant to appear in The Avengers, but timing issues got in the way).
This one’s the biggie – Mr Whedon’s decision to kill off Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Quicksilver wasn’t always set in stone. Speaking again to Empire, Whedon explained that Quicksilver nearly appeared in that final new Avengers scene regardless of the whole riddled-with-bullets thing:
“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.”
He did also mention, though, that keeping Quicksilver dead was always his preferred option:
“It felt very disingenuous for me, especially the second time around, to make what I refer to as ‘a war movie’ and say that there is no price and everybody walks away. In this movie, we’re saying, ‘Prove to me that you guys are heroes.’” “And [Quicksilver’s] the guy that does it. The most arrogant, the most annoying one. If you want the DVD extras, [you’ll see that] he’s the biggest pussy hound. Hawkeye genuinely hates this guy, and that’s the guy who saves him.”
“I knew it would be resonant, and make everything else work better and matter more. The city in the air, that’s just an explosion – Wanda’s grief, that’s extraordinary. When the Vision comes to save her… that’s the part that matters to me. I said to Aaron, ‘The only way you’ll stay alive is if the Disney executives say, ‘Hey idiot, this is a franchise, and we need all these people and you’re not allowed to kill them off!'”
So, Captain Marvel and Spidey are being saved for another day, and Quicksilver is definitely dead…for now. It’s intriguing to think, though, that the footage is still out there of Whedon’s “something else” that brought Quicksilver back to life. Could it be something to do with his sister’s “weird” powers? Or Coulson’s similar Tahiti-based anti-death solution? Or the tissue-making super healing machine that was used on Hawkeye earlier in the film? Mr Whedon does have a point – those execs could still bring Aaron Taylor Johnson back if the story allows it.
Perhaps it’s worth noting that there was no funeral scene, so the door has sort of been left open. It’s a similar idea to that stated by the Star Wars story team – “Boba Fett is both simultaneously alive and dead in the Sarlaac Pit until a story pulls him out.” (See here for further reading on that front).
The same applies to Quicksilver, arguably – we can’t help feeling that a Coulson-esque revival could still be on the cards for the speedster, should the right story come along. After all, the Tahiti project from Agents of SHIELD was designed for fallen Avengers, and Nick Fury is still around to tell people about it, even though Coulson still hasn’t reunited with the Avengers and we’re meant to think the project was shut down.
As it stands, though, the fun final scene of Age Of Ultron still delivers the same message: from here on in, the Avengers line-up will be looking very different from that which we were introduced to in 2012. With all these new heroes knocking about, we’re certainly looking forward to finding out who is on whose side when Civil War rolls around…