Joss Whedon reckons the scale of the Marvel universe took the pressure off him when writing "Avengers: Age of Ultron", but he's still looking forward to "a long rest, and then eternal rest."
Whedon and the cast of the "Avengers" series assembled at a press conference in London today ahead of the film's premiere this evening. The film reunites Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson as Marvel's leading superteam. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Andy Serkis join the cast, with James Spader providing the voice of the villainous Ultron.
Whedon describes how making a film that's part of a shared Marvel universe actually takes some of the pressure off. "A lot of the questions have already been answered," says Whedon. "It's a bit of a comfort...the page is not so blank."
Asked whether the pressure to deliver a billion-dollar movie could ever become overwhelming, Whedon answers, "If I had a key on my computer that said 'a billion dollars' I would press it, but I just write."
"I decided to have Ultron in the second movie before we made the first movie," said Whedon of the movie's titular robotic villain. "He's angry, he's metal, and he can take on these guys. He's been angry for so long he might be a little unhinged, and I thought: I can write that."
Whedon also definitively nixed that leaked clip that apparently showed Spider-Man making a cameo in a post-credit sting for "Age of Ultron". Unlike previous Marvel movies that have featured a small clip at the end of the credits teasing the next film, "Age of Ultron" doesn't have anything following the credits except the words "The Avengers will return".
This is Whedon's second and final "Avengers" film. Following "Age of Ultron", he plans "a long rest, then another rest, and then eternal rest." But with a whole slew of Marvel and DC movies on the slate, Whedon believes the superhero genre still "has legs...as long as someone who cares is in charge and it doesn't become a formula."
Star Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, says that the Marvel movies "feel like a family, or a high school reunion", both in front of and behind the camera.
British actor Paul Bettany has been a part of the Marvel cinematic universe playing Iron Man's computer JARVIS, a part that saw him appear only as a disembodied voice. "I had the superpower of turning up after shooting was finished, and if anything was still unclear I could clarify it by talking. It would take two hours and then I go home with a big bag of cash."
But in his new role as the Vision, Bettany finally appears in the flesh, an experience he describes as "hot".
"It was nice to finally meet these people I've supposedly been working with for 10 years," says Bettany. "They're a lovely bunch of happy well-paid actors, and that's a lovely environment to be a part of."
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" opens this weekend in the UK. Look out for our superpowered spoiler-free review later today.