Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Scariest Joke just got even scarier thanks to Joss Whedon’s apology earlier this year about his toxic masculinity.
In the preparation of Avengers: Age of Ultron In 2015, Marvel Studios faced a public relations debacle when Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner had to apologize for making derogatory jokes about Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Renner called her a “bitch” while Evans called her a “whore” in an interview, drawing fury from fans who saw it as sexist and misogynistic behavior. They were forgiven, but the movie featured an even more nasty moment in an extended scene where Earth’s Mightiest Heroes came together for a downtime in the opening act. Unfortunately, given the recent circumstances with director Joss Whedon and him trying to defend his own scandal, Age of UltronThe scariest joke just got even scarier.
Now the avengers The franchise already had a not-so-PG moment in the first movie (written by Whedon and Zak Penn) when Loki called Natasha a “mewling quim” — a nasty comment about women commonly used by Brits. The western hemisphere wasn’t all that familiar with the insult, so it flew under the radar at first. When the truth came out, however, people didn’t appreciate its use in a kid-friendly franchise. So when the Evans/Renner problem arose, many saw it once again as a macho and condescending attitude that needed to be countered.
In the Age of Ultron scene in question, that same overly compensatory vibe kicked in when the Avengers tried to lift Thor’s hammer to see who was worth it. On the big screen and in the extended version, Tony made jokes about how they wouldn’t hold him against Clint if he “couldn’t do it” after a tough week and how Iron Man himself- even was “never one to back down from an honest challenge”. It was quite juvenile and unwarranted in a family film, particularly under the Disney banner, but the truly caustic remark came in the form of a rape joke.
In the longer version of the scene, Tony insisted that if he raised Mjolnir and managed to rule Asgard, he would “restore prima nocta”, which is the historical right of a lord in medieval Europe to ‘insist on fornication with any wife under his rule on her wedding night to someone else. That was pretty rude, because it meant the lord was basically calling the woman, which was something Brave Heart approached with a vindictive King Edward. The thing is, once again, some viewers didn’t understand it because it was in Latin. And while he shouldn’t have gotten a pass, it’s even more alarming given the #MeToo scandal Whedon, who was the sole writer and director of Age of Ultronfound himself in it.
Whedon has been accused of inappropriate behavior with cast and crew in past productions, as well as using his influence and power to manipulate women in the industry. His ex-wife, Kai Cole, has addressed his secret affairs and called him a hypocrite posing as a feminist, and earlier this year his past was unearthed again in an interview.
In it, Whedon attempted to portray her story as naive and someone unaware of her behavior, but this joke insists otherwise. This qualifies his apology as insincere, compounded by the accusations of on-set abuse he’s been leveled at by the likes of Ray Fisher and Gal Gadot on Justice League and Charisma Carpenter of buffy the vampire slayer. The fact that he was also accused of being physically abusive to someone from the costume department didn’t bode well for him, trying to say he didn’t want people to bend to his will. As such, this Age of Ultron joke goes from bad to worse and a reminder that studios need to better check scripts for hidden crude jokes, especially those that advocate men forcing themselves on women.
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