This sceptred isle will soon be a Chitauri sceptred isle if Joss Whedon has any say in the matter. The Anglophile writer/director of Avengers: Age Of Ultron has established his production base in England, and, in between popping out for teabags and catching up on MasterChef, he took time out to enthuse about his new home and offer Empire some insights into his biggest bad.
Age Of Ultron, of course, involves a certain criss-crossing of villainy. Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) are all on hand to ramp up the menace levels for the Avengers, with James Spader's Ultron delivering megalomania galore. For Whedon, though, each character has a carefully designed place in the story; none is superfluous or there as fan bait. "I fiercely dislike the idea of just throwing in more people for the sake of doing that," he stressed. "But last time I had all of Earth's Mightiest Heroes versus one British character actor, and I needed more conflict."
So what of his uber-bad, then? "I'm having a blast with Ultron," Whedon said. "He's not a creature of logic - he's a robot who's genuinely disturbed. We're finding out what makes him menacing and at the same time endearing and funny and strange and unexpected, and everything a robot never is."
It's certainly a departure for a Marvel character who probably wouldn't list a 'GSOH' on his dating profile. Then again, we think he might scare potential Mrs Ultrons away anyway, what with the daddy issues and the pathological hatred of humanity.
As for the movie's UK locations, Whedon explained how he plans to use them to give his sequel a fresh aesthetic. "The number of different looks and textures and moods we're getting from the British locations is stupid awesome", he enthused, "because this, palette-wise, is very different. I'm trying to make a different film. Because why would you make one movie twice? That seems weird."
Avengers: Age Of Ultron is out on April 24, 2015. For much more on the movie – and many other movies – pick up a copy of Empire’s June issue now.