Here's the Real Reason Joss Whedon Quit Twitter After 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

by John Boone 10:51 AM PDT, May 06, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm, Avengers disassemble?

One day after Avengers: Age of Ultron officially earned the second-highest domestic opening weekend ever (after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), director Joss Whedon deleted his until-then regularly active Twitter account without nary a warning or goodbye. So what happened?

Rumor had it that “militant feminists” angry with how Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was depicted in Ultron drove Whedon off Twitter. His notifications were supposedly flooded with death threats from other fans too -- a result of a particularly nasty and unproductive period of backlash to the Marvel cinematic universe that we’re currently entering. But Whedon says none of that is the reason.

“That is horsesh*t,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I have been attacked by militant feminists since I got on Twitter. That’s something I’m used to. Every breed of feminism is attacking every other breed, and every subsection of liberalism is always busy attacking another subsection of liberalism, because god forbid they should all band together and actually fight for the cause.”

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Photo: Marvel Studios

The real reason Whedon quit Twitter is far less dramatic. Now that he has publicly stated that he’s stepping away from the Marvel world to focus on creating original work (Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo will take over for the two-part Avengers: Infinity Wars instead), Whedon says he just didn’t need the distraction.

“I just thought, ‘Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place,’” he explained. “And this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life. … It’s like taking the bar exam at Coachella. It’s like, ‘Um, I really need to concentrate on this! Guys! Can you all just…I have to…It’s super important for my law!’”

Though, if he were to abandon the Twitter ship because of hate tweets, could you blame him? There’s a way to discuss Black Widow and (SPOILERS) her storyline involving her tragic past as a child spy and forced sterilization that doesn’t include the phrase “f*ck off and die.” Anyway, for what it’s worth, Johansson herself said the only person she trusts to do a solo Black Widow movie would be Whedon.

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Photo: Marvel Studios

Even before Whedon logged off, one of his Avengers was at his defense: Mark Ruffalo, who also found himself at the center of the Black Widow controversy, considering Bruce Banner’s romance with Widow in Age of Ultron.

Ruffalo, who has consistently been awesome throughout this press tour (instead of doubling down on calling Widow a slut like some of his costars, he instead answered all the sexist questions Johansson is usually asked during one interview), did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today and had a thoughtful response to the backlash against Whedon:

“I think it's sad. Because I know how Joss feels about women, and I know that he's made it a point to create strong female characters. I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don't have as many women as we should yet, they're very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now. But I think what's beautiful about what Joss did with Black Widow -- I don't think he makes her any weaker, he just brings this idea of love to a superhero, and I think that's beautiful.

If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it's a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there's not much else to compare it to.

So I know Joss really well. I know what his values are. And I think it's sad, because in a lot of ways, there haven't been as many champions in this universe as Joss is and will continue to be. And I know it hurts him. I know it's heavy on him. And the guy's one of the sweetest, best guys, and I know him - as far as any man can be a champion for women, he is that."

“I just don't think that people should get personal with Joss,” Ruffalo said. “Because he really is -- of anyone -- an advocate for women. He's a deeply committed feminist.”

Now, find out what secrets ET learned behind the scenes of Age of Ultron: