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|Avengers: Age of Ultron
Theatrical release poster
by Stan Lee
|Walt Disney Studios
The sequel was announced in May 2012, after the successful release of The Avengers. Whedon, the director of the first film, was brought back on board in August and a release date was set. By April 2013, Whedon had completed a draft of the script, and casting began in June with the re-signing of Downey. Second unit filming began in February 2014 in South Africa with principal photography taking place between March and August 2014. The film was primarily shot at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England, with additional footage filmed in Italy, South Korea, Bangladesh, New York, and various locations around England.
Avengers: Age of Ultron premiered in Los Angeles on April 13, 2015, and was released on May 1, 2015 in North America, in 3D and IMAX 3D. Upon its release, the film received positive reviews and has grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film of 2015 (behind Furious 7) and the fifth highest-grossing film of all time. Two sequels, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2, are scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019, respectively.
PlotIn the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra outpost led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker's experiments – twins Pietro, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and project energy – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki's scepter.
Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter's gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark's "Ultron" global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark's A.I., J.A.R.V.I.S., and attacks the Avengers at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker's Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. Having killed Strucker, he recruits the Maximoffs, who hold Stark responsible for their parents' deaths by his weapons. Together, they go to the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in an African shipyard to obtain Wakandan vibranium. The Avengers pursue them, but Wanda subdues the heroes with haunting visions, causing the Hulk to rampage until Stark stops him with his anti-Hulk armor.2
A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda's hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at Barton's safehouse. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination, while Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after realizing a mutual attraction. However, Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, Ultron forces the team's friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic-tissue technology, together with vibranium and the scepter's gem, to perfect a new body for him. As Ultron uploads himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn on Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton find Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.
The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body, explaining that the gem on its brow – one of the six Infinity Stones, the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. This "Vision" and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine to lift a large part of the capital city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground to cause global extinction. Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron's army while Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to evacuate civilians. Pietro dies when he shields Barton from gunfire, and a vengeful Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron's primary body, which allows one of his drones to activate the machine. The city plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the landmass. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron's last remaining body.
Later, with the Avengers having established a new base run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark and Barton also leave, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, the Vision, Sam Wilson, and Wanda.
In a mid-credits scene, Thanos, dissatisfied by the failures of his pawns, dons a gauntlet3 and vows to personally retrieve the Infinity Stones.
- The benefactor of the Avengers, who is a self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with electromechanical suits of armor of his own invention. On how his character evolves after the events of Iron Man 3, Downey said, "...it kinda reminds me of like all that stuff particularly as you get a little older or if you have any existential queries whatsoever. It's like why aren't I dealing with that which is going to destroy me any second anyway? And then the armor was kind of an extension of that. And also there was just so many suits, but I think he realizes that tweaking and making all the suits in the world—which is what he has been doing—still didn't work for that thing of his tour of duty that left him a little PTSD. So his focus is more on how can we make it so that there's no problem to begin with. That, you know, there's a bouncer at our planet's rope. That's the big idea."
- An Avenger and the crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name. About Thor's place in the film, Hemsworth said, "Well, Thor stayed on Earth from [Thor: The Dark World]. So he's here. He's part of the team. This is his home for the moment. So the initial threat of attack from Ultron is personal. Thor then begins to see a bigger picture about what this threat could potentially be and it begins to tie into all of our films." Commenting on his portrayal of the character, Hemsworth said, "What becomes a challenge is trying to not repeat the same thing all the time. So you've got to work that bit harder to see what else you can do with the character." He added, "...it was just lightening up a bit. It gave us room to kind of make him a little more grounded and human and have him in some civilian clothes and mixing it up at a party. I want to do those scenes more. It's what I loved about the first [Thor film]. There was an innocence and naïveté to him, which as he matured into the king of the second [Thor film]—or the rightful king—we sort of lost a little bit of that." Hemsworth noted that this is the first MCU film in which he did not work closely with Tom Hiddleston. "I was interested to see what was gonna be his conflict or his motivation, because he was sort of driven by that relationship previously. I love working with Tom, and I think there's always room for more Thor and Loki stuff, but it's nice to do something completely different."
- An Avenger and a genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. Ruffalo worked with motion capture performer Andy Serkis' The Imaginarium Studios in preparation for the role. Ruffalo added, "[My role's] even bigger than last time, and it's more complex and it has more layers and a bit more arc. Not only that, but it seems that the motion capture process is becoming a whole lot more agreeable second time around. I'm really tripping on the technology of this motion-capture stuff... now I just completely embrace it and see it as this other exciting place we can go as performers." Describing the relationship between Banner and Hulk in the film, Ruffalo said, "I think there's a whole relationship with Banner and Hulk that needs to be discovered. There's a very cool thing happening: Hulk is as afraid of Banner as Banner is afraid of Hulk." Ruffalo added, "Both of these guys are obviously the same guy, and they have got to come to peace somehow with each other. And I think that this confrontation is building along the lines of this film." While filming in London, Ruffalo said that Whedon still had not given him any of the Hulk's lines. Whedon later explained that he writes the Hulk's dialogue spontaneously, saying, "What makes the Hulk so hard to write is that you're pretending he's a werewolf when he's a superhero. You want it vice versa. You want to see him, Banner doesn't want to see him, but you don't want Banner to be that guy who gets in the way of you seeing him. So the question is, how has he progressed? How can we bring changes on what the Hulk does? And that's not just in the screenplay, that's moment to moment."
- The leader of the Avengers and a World War II veteran, who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum and frozen in suspended animation before waking up in the modern world. Describing his character's place in the film, Evans said, "He's still looking for a home, probably a metaphorical home. He's always felt comfortable as a soldier. And he likes structure. He works well taking orders. But when that dynamic turned on him, he's now left to depend upon his team, the Avengers. There really is no one above them telling them what to do. They're kind of having to operate independently. So there's a lot of leaning on one another, but there really isn't a kind of clear chain of command. And I think Cap looks for that. I think he's looking to understand where he belongs, not just as a soldier, as Captain America, but as Steve Rogers, as a person." Evans said that he was able to maintain the strength he built up for Captain America: The Winter Soldier by working out up to an hour a day. Evans said, "...you pull the plug about two to three weeks before you wrap. When you see the finish line coming, you are so glad to not have to think about the gym. But we are starting Avengers 2, so over the past month, I have been hitting it pretty hard." Regarding Captain America's fighting style, Evans said, "You just can’t be Jason Bourne. We gotta see this guy do stuff that’s like, yeah, he deserves a spot on this squad. In [Winter Soldier] he’s pinballing off of jets and doing unbelievable things. I don’t wanna take a step back, so we gotta make sure that he’s continuing training. His fight style needs to advance a little bit. I don’t wanna go full Bruce Lee, but there needs to be more than just haymakers and fun kicks. There needs to be a consistent display of strength. Utilize your environment in a way that’s like, 'That’s right, he can pick up a motorcycle with one hand...'"
- An Avenger who formerly worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. as a highly trained spy. Producer Kevin Feige stated that more of the character's backstory is explored in the film. Johansson elaborated, "In Avengers 2 we go back... we definitely learn more about Widow's backstory, and we get to find out how she became the person you see. All of these characters have deep, dark pasts, and I think that the past catches up to some of us a little bit." On where the film picks up Widow's story, Johansson said, "At this stage, when you see the Widow, she's—especially in Avengers, these characters all have a past, and hers is a very complex one, where she's realizing—and it's kind of a continuation of [The Winter Soldier]—'I've never made an active choice. I'm a product of other people's imposition.' That's going to catch up with her. That's bound to have a huge effect. There's got to be a result of that realization... You'll see her actively making some choices in her life, for better or worse." A mixture of close-ups, concealing costumes, stunt doubles and visual effects were used to help hide Johansson's pregnancy during filming.
- An Avenger and master archer who previously worked as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. Whedon said that Hawkeye interacts more with the other characters in the film, as opposed to the first film where the character had been "possessed pretty early by a bad guy and had to walk around all scowly." As the character did not appear in any other of Marvel's Phase Two films, Whedon stated Age of Ultron sheds light on to what the character was doing since the end of The Avengers. About the character, Renner said, "[Hawkeye] is kind of a loner anyway, and he’s a team player only 'cause he sort of has to be. He’s not really a company man. Captain America can be that guy. In [Age of Ultron] you'll understand why [Hawkeye] thinks the way he thinks."
- Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine: An officer in the U.S. Air Force and Tony Stark's close personal friend who operates the War Machine armor.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver:
- The twin brother of the Scarlet Witch, who can move at superhuman speed. About the character Taylor-Johnson said, "Him [sic] and his sister [Scarlet Witch] have been abandoned by their parents and their father, and they grew up in Eastern Europe defending and looking out for themselves and each other... His sister really is his guidance—emotionally she's the one who looks after him, and vice versa. He's very overprotective physically—he doesn't want anyone touching her." Taylor-Johnson also said that Quicksilver has "real anger frustration" and is easily bored due to a short attention span. Feige stated exploring Quicksilver's relationship with his sister and his backstory growing up in Eastern Europe would help differentiate the character from Evan Peters' version in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Taylor-Johnson stated that the running style for Quicksilver went through multiple iterations, saying, "The running style we tested early on was just very one-dimensional and boring to look at, but if you try to do free running, like parkour, then that's very much Captain America's style... You have to find your own place in the stunt world." Much of Taylor-Johnson's scenes were filmed outdoors to give "life" to his running, as opposed to running on a treadmill in front of a green screen.
- The twin sister of Quicksilver, who can harness magic and engage in hypnosis and telekinesis. Olsen said, "The reason she's so special is because she has such a vast amount of knowledge that she's unable to learn how to control it. No one taught her how to control it properly. So it gets the best of her. It's not that she's mentally insane, it's just that she's just overly stimulated. And she can connect to this world and parallel worlds at the same time, and parallel times." Describing her character's mind control powers, Olsen said, "I am able to go into someone's head and they'd never see. I can feel and see what they feel and see. So it's not just me manipulating them. What I love about her is that, in so many superhero films, emotions are kind of negated a bit, but for her everything that someone else could feel—like their weakest moments—she physically goes through that same experience with them, which is pretty cool." Olsen drew on her relationship with her older brother and her sisters to prepare for the role, as well as looking to the comics for inspiration. Olsen revealed that Whedon was inspired by dancers as a way to visually represent how the character moves. As such, Olsen mostly trained with a dancer in lieu of traditional stunt training. Olsen is signed for this film and another.
- Bettany, who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark's A.I. companion in previous films, was cast again as the Vision, an android created by Ultron. About the casting, Bettany said, "I got a call on a Friday night from Joss going 'Do you want to be the Vision?' I can't explain the amount of luck that went into that. And frankly for ages, because I understood once you were one character in a Marvel series and never another, I understood that was my thing. I'd be J.A.R.V.I.S. and get my bag of cash and go." On what intrigued him about the Vision, Bettany said, "The thing that appealed to me is that this sort of nascent creature being born, being both omnipotent and totally naive, the sort of danger of that and complex nature of a thing being born that is that powerful and that created in a second and the choices he makes morally are really complex and interesting. They've really managed to maintain all of that". Bettany also stated that the Vision feels paternal and protective to a number of people in the film, particularly Scarlet Witch, and has the ability to change his density. Bettany did wire work for the part. Whedon stated he wanted to include the Vision before he signed onto the first film, explaining, "I said, 'Well, I don’t know if I'm right for this or if I want it or you want me, but in the second one, the villain has Ultron and he has to create the Vision, and then, that has to be Paul Bettany.' It took me three years before I could tell Paul that I'd had that conversation, but after that, I stopped. I was like, 'That would be cool if there’s you have Ultron and you have Vision and Paul played him.'"
- A former high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who now works for Stark. Describing Hill's situation in the film, Smulders said, "I think, you know, after [Captain America: The Winter Soldier]...you're sort of left a bit shell shocked, and I think we're coming into this movie where we don't really know who's a good guy and who's a bad guy and she's trying to figure out that throughout this film." She added, "She's not getting any sleep. She's doing all the work. She doesn't have the kind of manpower that she had in S.H.I.E.L.D." Elaborating on this, Smulders later said, "She’s working for Tony Stark, yes, but they shot so many locations all over the world and this team is out doing all sorts of things. So I like to think that Maria is at headquarters, trying to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. And working for Tony Stark is a whole other ballgame. She doesn’t have S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel to back her up at her disposal, so it’s an entirely different vibe for her."
- A pararescueman trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack and a friend of Steve Rogers. Discussing the relationship between Wilson and Rogers, Mackie said, "With Falcon and Cap, what's so great is there's a mutual respect. There's a soldier respect. What's great about Age of Ultron and [Captain America: Civil War] is you get to see their relationship grow."
- Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter: A retired officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve and a co-founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., who is a former love interest of Steve Rogers.
- Idris Elba as Heimdall: The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the mythological deity of the same name.
- Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig: An astrophysicist and a friend of Thor.
- James Spader as Ultron:
- An artificial intelligence repurposed by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner for a pilot peace program that is overwhelmed with a god complex, and now desires to pacify the Earth by eradicating humanity. Director Joss Whedon stated that Spader was his "first and only choice" for the role, because of his "hypnotic voice that can be eerily calm and compelling" while also being very human and humorous. Feige clarified, "We'll be capturing his face and his body to create a whole performance... We did not hire James Spader to do a robot voice." Extensive scans were taken of Spader's head and body in preparation for the role. About the character Whedon said, "He's always trying to destroy the Avengers, goddamn it, he's got a bee in his bonnet. He's not a happy guy, which means he's an interesting guy. He's got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff." Whedon added that Ultron is "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." Whedon compared Ultron to Frankenstein's monster, saying, "It's our new Frankenstein myth [...] We create something in our own image and the thing turns on us. It has that pain of 'Well, why was I made? I want to kill Daddy.'" Spader called the character "self-absorbed" and added, "I think he sees the Avengers as being part of a problem, a more comprehensive problem in the world. He sees the world from a very strange, [biblical] point of view because he's brand new, he's very young... He's immature, and yet has knowledge of comprehensive, broad history and precedent, and he has created in a very short period of time a rather skewed worldview."
- The former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. who originally recruited the Avengers and continues to be a mentor and leader for the team. Jackson described the role as a cameo, saying, "I'm just kind of passing by there ... Because, it's another one of those 'people who have powers fighting people who have powers'. That's why I didn't get to New York in The Avengers. There's not a lot I could do except shoot a gun."