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Joss Whedon on why Avengers: Age of Ultron addresses the cost of destruction

05.04.2015

If you saw AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON this weekend, and the box office returns indicate you probably did, you likely noticed multiple scenes in the film that address the potential casualties as a result of Ultron's actions as well as those of the Avengers themselves. This is a stark contrast to the events in both MAN OF STEEL and THE AVENGERS, two films criticized in different ways for the way they tackled the civilian body count in their respective scenes of city-wide destruction.

In an interview with Vulture, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON director Joss Whedon responded to why they felt it was necessary to represent the carnage responsibly.

"Absolutely, yes. Something that Kevin and I talked about from the start was that we'd seen a little bit of a trend in movies where the city gets destroyed and the heroes say, 'We won!' And I'm thinking, Define 'win.' [AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON] gets back to what's important, which is that the people you're trying to protect are people. We knew that we wanted to play with a lot of big, fun destruction, but at the same time, we wanted to say, 'There's a price for this.' So we got very specific about it, because whether the Avengers are heroes or not is called into question in this movie, or whether the hero as a concept is still useful for society. It sort of becomes the central issue in the final battle, and it's also a good way for Earth's Mightiest Heroes to be put at a disadvantage."

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON definitely drives this point home which makes the stakes in the sequel feel very different than in the last film. Indications from the BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE trailer are that Zack Snyder's sequel will also respond to this same question in it's own way. So, the next time you think that filmmakers are not listening to audience feedback, keep Whedon's words in mind.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is now playing.

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Source: Vulture

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10:57AM on 05/05/2015
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5:34AM on 05/05/2015
Actually, this could be a good PrEaster Egg reference to the upcoming Civil War movie. The Super-Human Registration Act was imposed because of the destruction that Nitro caused at Stamford, Connecticut with Speed-Ball being the only survivor (sort of - Nitro survived as well, but got away) of the battle. This was the beginning of civilians wanting super-hero's and villains to take responsibility for the damages and deaths that they caused due to their battles. With Speed-Ball as the lone
Actually, this could be a good PrEaster Egg reference to the upcoming Civil War movie. The Super-Human Registration Act was imposed because of the destruction that Nitro caused at Stamford, Connecticut with Speed-Ball being the only survivor (sort of - Nitro survived as well, but got away) of the battle. This was the beginning of civilians wanting super-hero's and villains to take responsibility for the damages and deaths that they caused due to their battles. With Speed-Ball as the lone survivor, he was immediately the poster-boy of super-hero's/villains having to accept the consequences of their actions.
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12:32AM on 05/05/2015
Avengers deal with villains who are a bit like the monologuing fools from the Incredibles, and it is all great fun and drama. Superman's foe was as powerful as he was, he wasn't alone, and he didn't waste much time talking. Was Superman supposed to have asked Zod for time out to save some people?
Avengers deal with villains who are a bit like the monologuing fools from the Incredibles, and it is all great fun and drama. Superman's foe was as powerful as he was, he wasn't alone, and he didn't waste much time talking. Was Superman supposed to have asked Zod for time out to save some people?
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4:25AM on 05/05/2015
I hear you. Having said that, regardless of what the why's and wherefores are, the movie needs to be entertaining. I was lost in the third act. Just found it oddly numbing and uninteresting. I love action don't get me wrong, but I lost sight of the heart of the film. That was my personal experience anyway.
I hear you. Having said that, regardless of what the why's and wherefores are, the movie needs to be entertaining. I was lost in the third act. Just found it oddly numbing and uninteresting. I love action don't get me wrong, but I lost sight of the heart of the film. That was my personal experience anyway.
5:00AM on 05/05/2015
Well Superman probably shouldn't have taken Zod from a middle-of-nowhere farmland, right into the heart of Smallville, smashing him through a cooling tower and (most likely pedestrian full) petrol station. Perhaps instead of spending time making out with Lois in the destruction, he could be lifting buildings off of the thousands that lay dying around him which he could most definitely hear. Even Perry White managed that.

The only reasons Superman saved virtually nobody in Man of Steel, is
Well Superman probably shouldn't have taken Zod from a middle-of-nowhere farmland, right into the heart of Smallville, smashing him through a cooling tower and (most likely pedestrian full) petrol station. Perhaps instead of spending time making out with Lois in the destruction, he could be lifting buildings off of the thousands that lay dying around him which he could most definitely hear. Even Perry White managed that.

The only reasons Superman saved virtually nobody in Man of Steel, is because he was written badly. Superman fought 3 Kryptonians in the middle of metropolis in Superman II, but at no point did I feel like he didn't give a shit about the people.
5:34AM on 05/05/2015
Agree with Guy on this.
Agree with Guy on this.
5:49AM on 05/05/2015
I love Terence Stamp's Zod, and the Avengers and certainly the Incredibles. But in spite of it's faults I really appreciate Henry Cavill's Superman dealing with a superpowered militaristic attack almost as if we were watching live news. I wouldn't want to change the innocent way of it, but if Hulk had battled the Hulbuster in one of our cities, there would have been a lot of collaterals very damaged.
I love Terence Stamp's Zod, and the Avengers and certainly the Incredibles. But in spite of it's faults I really appreciate Henry Cavill's Superman dealing with a superpowered militaristic attack almost as if we were watching live news. I wouldn't want to change the innocent way of it, but if Hulk had battled the Hulbuster in one of our cities, there would have been a lot of collaterals very damaged.
7:34AM on 05/05/2015
I don't mind seeing a realistic and dark interpretation of a massive terrorist attack being stopped by someone who eventually causes the same amount of destruction, I just don't want that from the iconic character who represents the complete anti-thesis of that.

Also this doesn't explain him just ignoring the corpses surrounding him after the battle, regardless of of how much he wants to kiss Lois, that just cemented that this wasn't written for him to be struggling saving civilians with his
I don't mind seeing a realistic and dark interpretation of a massive terrorist attack being stopped by someone who eventually causes the same amount of destruction, I just don't want that from the iconic character who represents the complete anti-thesis of that.

Also this doesn't explain him just ignoring the corpses surrounding him after the battle, regardless of of how much he wants to kiss Lois, that just cemented that this wasn't written for him to be struggling saving civilians with his first big fight, it was just that the writers didn't understand the character.

And there was collateral damage in the Hulk/Iron Man fight, all those bleeding crying civilians Hulk spotted when he came to his senses, the people Hulk blatantly killed during his initial rampage (although off camera of course) the country thinking about putting out an arrest order, and Banner pretty much mortified on the plane and running away at the end of the movie.
11:37PM on 05/04/2015

The thing that pissed me off

Was that man of steel once the machine was destroyed everyone was smile Supes got to kiss the girl(with the stupidest line ever) and all I can think was "they're basically standing on a mass grave" That dust they're breathing in isn't dust, it's people that have been pulverized into particles. But hey he saved Lois Lane and that's all that matter.
That's what set both avengers films apart was that they focus on saving people and showing the city recover. Not just destruction for destruction
Was that man of steel once the machine was destroyed everyone was smile Supes got to kiss the girl(with the stupidest line ever) and all I can think was "they're basically standing on a mass grave" That dust they're breathing in isn't dust, it's people that have been pulverized into particles. But hey he saved Lois Lane and that's all that matter.
That's what set both avengers films apart was that they focus on saving people and showing the city recover. Not just destruction for destruction sake.
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5:03AM on 05/05/2015
Plus afterwards, Ruffalo looked practically mortified every single time Hulk did his business, even when fighting purely villains.
Plus afterwards, Ruffalo looked practically mortified every single time Hulk did his business, even when fighting purely villains.
10:08PM on 05/04/2015
I didn't mind the destruction in avengers or mos. That being said I enjoyed the efforts to save innocent bystanders in aou. It made the team more honorable and gave us another reason to root for them.
I didn't mind the destruction in avengers or mos. That being said I enjoyed the efforts to save innocent bystanders in aou. It made the team more honorable and gave us another reason to root for them.
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9:43PM on 05/04/2015
I read somewhere that the reason for addressing it was also to help tie it to Civil War, as one of the reasons for Super Hero Registration is to hold them accountable for damage and destruction they cause. Presumably Civil War is going to feature some super hero/super villain catastophe to kickstart the plot, and instead of putting the whole registration act into play due to one event they can now say the New York, Sokovia, and South Africa.events also played a factor.
I read somewhere that the reason for addressing it was also to help tie it to Civil War, as one of the reasons for Super Hero Registration is to hold them accountable for damage and destruction they cause. Presumably Civil War is going to feature some super hero/super villain catastophe to kickstart the plot, and instead of putting the whole registration act into play due to one event they can now say the New York, Sokovia, and South Africa.events also played a factor.
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5:37AM on 05/05/2015
Lol... I just posted basically the same thing before reading this. Great minds think alike.
Lol... I just posted basically the same thing before reading this. Great minds think alike.
9:42PM on 05/04/2015

It a movie for Christ sake.

For the love of god it's a movie let there be destruction, it's fantasy if this were real life and this went down far more people would die than any movie ever eludes to. If your the sensitive bleeding heart type maybe you should watch steel magnolias instead. I hope the movie San Andres gets a bucket load of whiny criticism about all the destruction and poor not real people dying lmao.
For the love of god it's a movie let there be destruction, it's fantasy if this were real life and this went down far more people would die than any movie ever eludes to. If your the sensitive bleeding heart type maybe you should watch steel magnolias instead. I hope the movie San Andres gets a bucket load of whiny criticism about all the destruction and poor not real people dying lmao.
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10:51PM on 05/04/2015
Depth and detail sir.
It gives a more interesting story to tell.
Depth and detail sir.
It gives a more interesting story to tell.
4:13AM on 05/05/2015
Same response as with Rebel Devil.
Same response as with Rebel Devil.
4:27AM on 05/05/2015
Except San Andreas isn't a SUPERHERO movie. If even one person dies, then you fail. The whole point of the Superhero fantasy is that it's designed to inspire us to be better people that try to do the same (we'll fail but hopefully we'll fail less)
Except San Andreas isn't a SUPERHERO movie. If even one person dies, then you fail. The whole point of the Superhero fantasy is that it's designed to inspire us to be better people that try to do the same (we'll fail but hopefully we'll fail less)
8:29PM on 05/04/2015
I blame every douchebag who complained about the destruction in 'Man Of Steel'. The fact that they went out of their way multiple times in 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' (the bio scan for life forms, evacuating Skovia, Iron Man catching the elevator) to show that they were trying to save people slowed everything down for me. It definitely seemed like they saw the backlash 'Man Of Steel' got and was trying to avoid it by reiterating over and over the cost of fighting on such a massive scale. It's
I blame every douchebag who complained about the destruction in 'Man Of Steel'. The fact that they went out of their way multiple times in 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' (the bio scan for life forms, evacuating Skovia, Iron Man catching the elevator) to show that they were trying to save people slowed everything down for me. It definitely seemed like they saw the backlash 'Man Of Steel' got and was trying to avoid it by reiterating over and over the cost of fighting on such a massive scale. It's just annoying that everything has to be explicitly shown or pointed out because otherwise people will complain about things that shouldn't even matter. I'm tired of everyone bitching about wanting more realism in movies and grounding everything in reality. I thought the whole point of movies was to entertain you. Not tiptoe around your bullshit beliefs so that you can continue to distort the entire world in order to make it more kid-friendly. Not everything has to be for everyone. People die. If The Avengers didn't exist in their world, even more people would. Not every movie has to deal with the consequences. I can't wait till they start fighting off-world. Then maybe all of these bitches can stop whining about fictional cities getting destroyed.
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4:02AM on 05/05/2015
Hi Red Devil. With absolute respect to your comment I humbly disagree to a point. I, like you do not want my super hero movies to be overly gritty and realistic. I go to these movies for escapism. I mean I suppose it can be something of degrees depending on what the overall vision is. I loved Nolan's trilogy and Marvel are a flip-side to that coin where their movies are really fantastical. I love both. For me though, whether light or dark in the story telling, a defining characteristic
Hi Red Devil. With absolute respect to your comment I humbly disagree to a point. I, like you do not want my super hero movies to be overly gritty and realistic. I go to these movies for escapism. I mean I suppose it can be something of degrees depending on what the overall vision is. I loved Nolan's trilogy and Marvel are a flip-side to that coin where their movies are really fantastical. I love both. For me though, whether light or dark in the story telling, a defining characteristic of a hero is that he exists to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.

I don't think this is a new trend. Recalling the original Superman movies (granted only the first two were good), I remember as a child how invested I was when I saw him trying to defend the citizens of Metropolis against Zod. Donner made such a point of it in the script that Zod saw how much Superman cared through observing his actions (not just discussion) and began using it against him. Far from being over PC it added layers to Superman's character. He had a code - a value for human life and a way to defend it. That was also there up to a point in MOS but somehow got lost once the action of the third act got going. For me (on a purely personal level), the problem has arisen because now we can put anything on screen. In the old series they were limited by the effects of the time. The scale of the battle was therefore lessened and allowed for more intimate moments of heroism. I know Superman is ultra powerful in the comics but this does not necessarily translate well on screen (depending on how its done). The degree of destruction in MOS for me was numbing. I just didn't feel excited by it. What can I do? Those emotions I had for the Donner movies were not evoked in me. Instead my experience was of destruction pornography. I'm all for something different of course but for me this just wasn't better. I could not get a sense of the characters in the third act. They became lost in mayhem. One could argue that this is what warring god like aliens would look like. Okay. Is it entertaining? It should be and I understand for some it may have been. For me it looked like paint drying. Well maybe I'm being a little mean but the point is I couldn't feel it. I could not feel the tension, the jeopardy, the characters. I couldn't connect with the realism or the fantasy.

In the Avengers of course there was plenty of destruction BUT it also had those moments of heroism when they did their best to save civilians - those more intimate moments that allow the character of the hero to shine through. These moments for me added to the heart and values of what the characters stand for, and I feel that is a crucial aspect to being a hero. If it is absent or is lost in the mix of extravagance, I can no longer relate. Sometimes less or at least pause is more.
7:33PM on 05/04/2015
I didn't mind the destruction in Man of Steel because it was Clark's first big fight and moment as Superman, so I just took it as him being inexperienced and having to learn how to be Superman while being a Superman. You know he wasn't going to be the perfect hero that he ultimately becomes in the comics in the origins film. And storywise it made sense too, considering how the mass destruction plays a pivotal role in Batman vs Superman.

But it was refreshing to see it in Age of Ultron and
I didn't mind the destruction in Man of Steel because it was Clark's first big fight and moment as Superman, so I just took it as him being inexperienced and having to learn how to be Superman while being a Superman. You know he wasn't going to be the perfect hero that he ultimately becomes in the comics in the origins film. And storywise it made sense too, considering how the mass destruction plays a pivotal role in Batman vs Superman.

But it was refreshing to see it in Age of Ultron and seeing each Avenger clear the city as a team while fighting Ultron and his army.
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7:32PM on 05/04/2015

The sad part is.....

That the movie was so overstuffed and rushed, they barely addressed the people the Avengers were trying to save (other than the really hot redhead in the window and the little boy, no civilian was shown for more than a fraction of a second, so there was no particular reason to care about them.

Still hoping the blu-ray fixes the problems of half-finished storylines.
That the movie was so overstuffed and rushed, they barely addressed the people the Avengers were trying to save (other than the really hot redhead in the window and the little boy, no civilian was shown for more than a fraction of a second, so there was no particular reason to care about them.

Still hoping the blu-ray fixes the problems of half-finished storylines.
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6:02AM on 05/05/2015
The sad part is that you actually compared it to Transformers, didn't you?
The sad part is that you actually compared it to Transformers, didn't you?
7:14PM on 05/04/2015

I call bullshit

They probably wanted to give themselves an out after fanboys who hated on Man of Steel were looking for complaints. What comic book movie doesn't involve a massive level of destruction? Also, if Stark can afford 700 titanium Iron Man suits and to essentially fund S.H.I.E.L.D., he can afford a few skyscrapers.
They probably wanted to give themselves an out after fanboys who hated on Man of Steel were looking for complaints. What comic book movie doesn't involve a massive level of destruction? Also, if Stark can afford 700 titanium Iron Man suits and to essentially fund S.H.I.E.L.D., he can afford a few skyscrapers.
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3:08AM on 05/05/2015
I think that a defining characteristic of a hero is that he is a protector. The issue imo is less about the cost of destruction and more about minimizing lives lost. Its good to show the hero caring about this.
I think that a defining characteristic of a hero is that he is a protector. The issue imo is less about the cost of destruction and more about minimizing lives lost. Its good to show the hero caring about this.
2:34PM on 05/05/2015
Darth Jeff...you got it right on. While I Was watching the movie. It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO DISTRACTING that they would sacrifice 5 mins of screentime of battle to show people being evacuated and saving [link]
Darth Jeff...you got it right on. While I Was watching the movie. It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO DISTRACTING that they would sacrifice 5 mins of screentime of battle to show people being evacuated and saving [link]
7:04PM on 05/04/2015
"Something that Kevin and I talked about from the start was that we'd seen a little bit of a trend in movies where the city gets destroyed and the heroes say, 'We won!' And I'm thinking, Define 'win.'"

I enjoyed Man of Steel, but I'm glad someone with creative control over these movies is thinking this way.
"Something that Kevin and I talked about from the start was that we'd seen a little bit of a trend in movies where the city gets destroyed and the heroes say, 'We won!' And I'm thinking, Define 'win.'"

I enjoyed Man of Steel, but I'm glad someone with creative control over these movies is thinking this way.
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6:28PM on 05/04/2015
Who gives a shit. It's a movie. We don't have to address this.
Who gives a shit. It's a movie. We don't have to address this.
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6:18PM on 05/04/2015
I'm surprised you lumped in Avengers with Man of Steel, as in Avengers they basically had no choice, an alien army was attacking the city, and they tried to contain it even then. In Man of Steel Superman easily could have taken the fight outside the city but didn't.
I'm surprised you lumped in Avengers with Man of Steel, as in Avengers they basically had no choice, an alien army was attacking the city, and they tried to contain it even then. In Man of Steel Superman easily could have taken the fight outside the city but didn't.
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7:04PM on 05/04/2015
The world engine landed in the middle of the city. What was he supposed to do?
The world engine landed in the middle of the city. What was he supposed to do?
6:24AM on 05/05/2015
In Man of Steel, Superman actually threw Zod into space at one point, but Zod flew back and pushed them both back into the Earth's atmosphere, so really, not so easy to take the fight out of any populated area with these type of god-like powers.
In Man of Steel, Superman actually threw Zod into space at one point, but Zod flew back and pushed them both back into the Earth's atmosphere, so really, not so easy to take the fight out of any populated area with these type of god-like powers.
6:31AM on 05/05/2015
And at the speed they operate, populated areas are just a couple of blinks away from the farmland
And at the speed they operate, populated areas are just a couple of blinks away from the farmland
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