Joss Whedon has been peeling back the layers on his working relationship with Marvel, basically confirming more of what everyone already knew: they didn't exactly get on so well during the production of Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
Whedon appeared at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan as part of Tribeca Film Festival's Talk series, and expressed what sound distinctly like regrets over what he said to the press as Ultron was rolling out into cinemas.
"Ultron, Im very proud of. There were things that did not meet my expectations of myself and then I was so beaten down by the process. Some of that was conflicting with Marvel, which is inevitable and a lot of that was about my own work and I was also exhausted, and we right away went and did publicity. I created the narrative wherein Im not quite accomplished at and people just ran with (about Ultron) Well its OK, it could be better, but its not Joss fault and I think that did a disservice to the movie, and to the studio and to myself. Ultimately, it wasnt the right way to be because Im very proud about it."
He's right: the criticism of Age Of Ultron - a movie with a 75% Fresh rating that make an astronomical $1.4bn - is baffling, and frankly disrespectful, and it is rather unfortunate that his comments on the press tour fed into that.
It has its flaws, but the way fanboys took to the Internet to beat their chests and complain about it said more about them than it did it about the movie. But then perhaps that jubilation to tear the film down after Marvel's cumulative successes to that point was exacerbated by what was perceived as abuse by Marvel of Whedon the king of the geeks?
For Whedon, the film wasn't perfect, but it was brave and a massive accomplishment, despite the reported frictions, and he seemingly wants his comments and his experience removed from the way the film is appreciated. Clearly, those feelings have been mended and he's not against giving Marvel praise, despite how seemingly fashionable it is to think of him at loggerheads with the studio:
"The things about it that are wrong frustrate me enormously, but I got to make an absurdly personal movie about humanity and what it means in a very esoteric and bizarre ways for hundreds of millions of dollars. The fact that Marvel gave me that opportunity twice is so bonkers and beautiful and the fact that I come off as a miserable failure is also bonkers, but not in a cute way."
A miserable failure? Hardly.
It feels like Whedon is channelling some residual disappointment for the Ultron working experience into the final product, or at least his perception of his and its reception. Aside from the inevitable DC fanboy finger-pointing and that certain element of Marvel fans who take every opportunity to revel in the slightest dip in quality (the same people who love a Pixar "bomb"), the film is duly loved. It could have been more, but over-reaching would have killed it, and we should be thankful it avoided any of the issues that ruined Batman v Superman.
As spectacles go, it's great; it boasts one of the most memorable villain performances in any comic book movie; and the drama within the Avengers themselves is well-written and convincing. The fact that people continue to bash this movie is just beyond logic, and it should be considered wonderful news that Whedon reportedly remains open to working with Marvel again.
So no, Joss Whedon, neither you, nor Age Of Ultron is a "miserable failure".