The Avengers sequel didn’t quite stack up to the original Avengers, from 2012—depending on whom you talk to, it was either a little disappointing, or a major letdown. But I’m willing to bet that the original, longer cut of the film fixes most of the biggest problems. And Marvel should put it in theaters now.
Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot going for it. It manages to give a number of characters decent arcs, and packs in a lot of robot-uprising goodness. But it’s also kind of a muddle, with too many subplots, and the longer I think about it, the less the film’s big deus ex machina solution feels earned. (It’s almost literally a deus ex machina, and it feels a bit cheap.) And then there’s Black Widow. Joss Whedon continues to insist that this film is a weirdly personal one for him, and that he feels like he got to make a huge-budget blockbuster that was still about his own intimate concerns—but he’s also said that he had to cut a ton of important connective tissue, to make the film a minute shorter than the original Avengers.
Originally, we were told there would be an extended cut of Age of Ultron on the DVD—but at Comic-Con, Whedon said he doesn’t want to make an actual “director’s cut” of the film, according to Collider:
It has always been my ambition never to do a director’s cut of anything, and always to make the movie with the studio that we both want to make. Ultron was very complex. There was a lot of back-and-forth. My instinct is no. Just as an artist, I’m super fucking lazy and that sounds like it would be hard. I don’t think there’s interest in it, right now. You’ll see a bunch of stuff on the DVD in extras that were meant to be there. But the narrative came together very close to the way that I hoped it would, and I don’t think it needs me to constantly tweak it. I feel you put something out, and there it is. The first time I ever heard a re-mix, I was 13 and I was listening to the radio. I heard a song that had been re-mixed and it freaked me out so much that I turned off the radio and never listened to it since, literally. That is an actual truth. I felt like, “Wait, that was the song. You can’t do that.” Our entire culture consists of doing exactly that, but I’m not for it. If I tell a story, I want that to be the story I told. Ultron may have some transitions that I’m not 100% on board with. It’s also one of the most ridiculously personal things I’ve ever put on screen. The fact that Marvel gave me that opportunity and supported it, I’m very happy and very proud of everybody that worked on it. I don’t feel the need to go in and fix. I feel like, there she is.
So the DVD extras will include a lot of sequences that were “meant to be” in the film, until they were cut for running time. But I’d still love for Marvel to put the longer cut of Ultron in theaters, just for a week, sometime in September, when Ant-Man has already had a good run and the movie theaters are kind of dead in any case. (This assumes the effects were finished enough for it to run in theaters, which seems reasonable—considering a lot of that deleted material appeared in the trailers.) I have a feeling that the film’s ending would feel more supported, if more of the scenes leading up to it were restored, and it might lead to people re-appraising this movie and finding a new appreciation for it. If Whedon’s main argument against doing a director’s cut is that “I don’t think there’s interest in it,” I suspect that he would quickly find that he’s wrong.
Marvel still looks nigh unbeatable at the movies—but compared to last summer, when we had the one-two punch of Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s not looking quite as invincible this year. Letting us all get another chance to appreciate Age of Ultron on the big screen, in a version that takes its time to tell the full story, might just change that.