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Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers Age of Ultron.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joss Whedon
Produced by Kevin Feige
Written by Joss Whedon
Based on The Avengers 
by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • May 1, 2015 (2015-05-01) (North America)
Country United States
Language English

Avengers: Age of Ultron is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is intended to be the sequel to 2012's Marvel's The Avengers and the eleventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader, and Samuel L. Jackson. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers must work together to defeat Ultron, a technological enemy bent on human extinction.

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, with additional footage filmed in Italy, South Korea, Bangladesh, New York, and various locations around England.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled for release on May 1, 2015, in North America, in 3D and IMAX 3D. 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.

Premise

With S.H.I.E.L.D. destroyed and the Avengers needing a hiatus from stopping threats, Tony Stark jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping program, Ultron: a self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence. However, his plan backfires when Ultron decides that humans are the main enemy and sets out to eradicate them from Earth, leaving it up to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, along with support from Nick Fury and Maria Hill, to stop him. Along the way the Avengers encounter the powerful twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, as well as the familiar Vision.[1][2]

Cast

Cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International.
The co-leader and benefactor of the Avengers,[3][4][5] who is a self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with electromechanical suits of armor of his own invention.[6] 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."[7]
An Avenger and the crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.[8] 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."[9] 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."[10] 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."[5]
A genius scientist and Avenger who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated.[11] Ruffalo worked with motion capture performer Andy Serkis' The Imaginarium Studios in preparation for the role.[12] 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."[13] 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."[14] While filming in London, Ruffalo said that Whedon still had not given him any of the Hulk's lines.[15] 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".[16]
The co-leader of the Avengers[3][5] 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.[17][18] 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."[10] 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."[19] 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...'"[20]
An Avenger who formerly worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. as a highly trained spy.[21] Producer Kevin Feige stated that more of the character's backstory is explored in the film.[22] 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."[23] 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."[24] A mixture of close-ups, concealing costumes, stunt doubles and visual effects were used to help hide Johansson's pregnancy during filming.[25]
An Avenger and master archer who previously worked as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D.[26] 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."[27] 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.[16] 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."[20]
A newly recruited Avenger who initially allies with Ultron,[5] and the twin brother of the Scarlet Witch, who can move at superhuman speed.[30][31] 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.[32] 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).[33] 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."[5]
A newly recruited Avenger who initially allies with Ultron,[5] and the twin sister of Quicksilver, who can harness magic and engage in hypnosis and telekinesis.[31][34] 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."[34] Olsen drew on her relationship with her older brother and her sisters to prepare for the role,[34] as well as looking to the comics for inspiration.[5] 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.[35]
Bettany, who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark's A.I. companion, in previous films was cast again as Vision,[36][37] an android programmed by Stark and Banner to help the Avengers in their fight against Ultron.[38] 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."[39] On what intrigued him about 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".[39] 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.[39] Whedon stated he wanted to include 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.'"[16]
A former high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who now works for Stark.[40][41][42] 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."[43] 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."[44]
A pararescueman trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack and a friend of Steve Rogers.[45] Mackie initially stated that he would not appear in the film, saying, "In the comics, Cap would always call on the Falcon for help, and then they’d go their separate ways. Avengers 2 is one of those instances where Cap goes off and does his thing. Then, he’ll circle back around to get my help for Captain America 3."[46]
An artificial intelligence programmed with elements of Tony Stark's personality, who is overwhelmed with a god complex and desires to bring peace to Earth by eradicating humanity.[50][51][52] 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.[53] 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."[54] Extensive scans were taken of Spader's head and body in preparation for the role.[55] 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."[56] 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."[57] 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.'"[58] 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."[59]
The former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. who originally recruited the Avengers.[60] 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."[61]

Additionally, Tom Hiddleston[48] and Thomas Kretschmann[62] reprise their roles from previous MCU films as Loki and Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, respectively. Claudia Kim has been cast as Dr. Cho,[63] a friend of Tony Stark,[64][65] and Andy Serkis portrays Ulysses Klaw.[29][66] Avengers co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance in the film.[67]

Production

Development

"I have to make my movie assuming that people will only have seen the first one, or possibly not even seen the first one. I can't assume that everybody went to see Thor [The Dark World], Captain America [The Winter Soldier], and Iron Man [3] in-between. I have to go from one movie to the next and be true to what's happened, but not be slavish to it... The model I'm always trying to build from, my guiding star, is The Godfather Part II where a ton has happened in-between and it's a very different movie [from The Godfather], but you don't need any information: it's there in the film."

—Joss Whedon, director of Avengers: Age of Ultron, on balancing the film's accessibility and continuity.[68]

In October 2011, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios said, "Iron Man 3 will be the first of what we sort of refer to as phase two of this saga that will culminate, God willing, in Avengers 2".[69] In March 2012, Joss Whedon, director of the first film, stated that he would want a sequel to be "smaller. More personal. More painful. By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time. By having a theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself."[70] At the premiere of The Avengers, Feige said the studio had an option for Whedon to return as director.[71] In May 2012, after the successful release of the first film, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a sequel was in development.[72] Most of the film's cast members were under contract to potentially appear in the sequel; however, Robert Downey, Jr. was not, as his four picture deal with Marvel expired after Iron Man 3.[73]

At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Joss Whedon said he was undecided about directing, stating, "I have not come to a decision on directing Avengers 2. I am having too much fun with this [Firefly reunion] now."[74] However in August 2012, Iger announced that Whedon would return to write and direct the sequel and develop the Marvel television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for ABC.[75] Later in the month, Disney set a May 1, 2015 release date.[76] When asked about his decision to return, Whedon said, "Avengers 2, it wasn't a tough decision. For a long time I thought, 'Well, it's just not going to happen.' Then when I actually started to consider it, it became so clear that I desperately wanted to say more about these characters, it would've been an easy no and it was a spectacularly easy yes. There was no wrestling."[77] Whedon said that they intended for the film's production to not be as rushed as the first one.[78]

In December 2012, Whedon stated that he had completed an outline for the film.[79] In February, at the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Whedon said that death would play a theme in the sequel.[80] In March, Whedon said that he looked to The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II as inspirations.[81]

Pre-production

By April 2013, filming was scheduled to begin in early 2014 at Shepperton Studios in England.[82] At the Hollywood premiere of Iron Man 3, Whedon said that he completed a draft of the script, and had started the storyboard process and to meet with actors. Whedon also mentioned that he wrote with Downey in mind and included a "brother/sister act" from the comic books,[83] later confirming that he was referring to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.[84][85] During an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Whedon explained his rationale for including the characters in the film saying, "Besides the fact that I grew up reading them, their powers are very visually interesting. One of the problems I had on the first one was everybody basically had punchy powers... [Quicksilver]'s got super speed. [Scarlet Witch] can weave spells and a little telekinesis, get inside your head. There's good stuff that they can do that will help sort of keep it fresh."[30] Whedon later elaborated, "I fiercely dislike the idea of just throwing in more people for the sake of doing that. Last time I had all of Earth's Mightiest Heroes versus one British character actor, and I needed more conflict."[57] By May, Downey had entered negotiations to extend his contract with Marvel Studios and reprise his role as Iron Man in the film.[86] A month later, Downey signed on to return for the then-untitled Avengers sequel, as well as a third Avengers film.[6]

Whedon promoting the film at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International.

At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon announced the film would be subtitled Age of Ultron.[87] Despite the subtitle, the film is not based on the 2013 comic book miniseries Age of Ultron. Feige explained, "We came up with a few titles, but every month a new comic book appeared, and that's a great title. Age of Ultron is a great title. We had a few other 'Of Ultrons', but that was the best one. So we're borrowing that title, but taking storylines from decades of Avengers storylines."[88] Whedon added that Ultron's origin would differ from his comics roots, and that Hank Pym would not be involved with Ultron's creation. Whedon elaborated, "Of all the heat I’ve ever taken, not having Hank Pym was one of the bigger things. But the fact of the matter was, Edgar [Wright] had him first and by virtue of what Edgar was doing [in Ant-Man], there was no way for me to use him in this. I also thought it was a bridge too far. Ultron needs to be the brainchild of the Avengers, and in the world of the Avengers and the [Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)], Tony Stark is that guy. Banner has elements of that guy...It didn’t make sense to introduce a third scientist, a third sciencetician, to do that."[89] Whedon also said the film would have a darker tone due to Ultron's involvement.[90][91]

The title of the film came as a surprise to many fans who were expecting Thanos, the mastermind behind the events of the first film, to be the main villain in the sequel. When asked about Thanos' involvement, Whedon responded, "We have to stay grounded. It's part of what makes the Marvel universe click - their relationship to the real world. It's science fiction, and Thanos is not out of the mix, but Thanos was never meant to be the next villain. He's always been the overlord of villainy and darkness."[92] Commenting on finding the right balance between technology and fantasy based heroes in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Feige said "Iron Man is a very technological hero his movies are always technologically based. The first Thor was all about introducing Asgard and Thor in that more fantastical realm into the more reality-based MCU, and explain that obviously it might look like magic, but it's another form of science and technology. As we go into Ultron clearly he does come out of technology, but we're using all of our tools at our disposal that we've established so far as part of the MCU to build the storyline of Age of Ultron."[93]

Casting continued into August 2013, with the announcement that James Spader would play Ultron.[50] In November, Marvel confirmed that Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson would play the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively.[31] Taylor-Johnson had been in negotiations since as early as June,[94][95][96] while Olsen's potential involvement was first reported in August.[97][98] By the end of the year, Mark Ruffalo,[11] Chris Evans,[17] Samuel L. Jackson,[60] Chris Hemsworth,[8] Scarlett Johansson,[21] Jeremy Renner[26] and Cobie Smulders[40] were confirmed to be returning to their roles from the first film, and Don Cheadle, who portrayed James Rhodes in the Iron Man films, had committed to a part in the film.[28] In the early months of 2014, Thomas Kretschmann was cast as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker,[62] Claudia Kim was cast in an unspecified role,[99] and Paul Bettany, who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in previous MCU films, was cast as Vision.[37] Whedon said "juggling" all the characters in the film was "a nightmare" explaining, "They’re very disparate characters. The joy of the Avengers is they really don’t belong in the same room. It’s not like the X-Men, who are all tortured by the same thing and have similar costumes. These guys are just all over the place. And so it’s tough. Honestly, this is as tough as anything I’ve ever done."[100]

On January 24, 2014, the Forte di Bard Association announced that filming would take place at Fort Bard in the Aosta Valley region of Italy in March 2014, as well as other locations in Aosta Valley including Aosta, Donnas, Bard, Pont-Saint-Martin, and Verrès.[101] The next month, the Gauteng Film Commission announced that action sequences would be filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa and other locations in Gauteng, beginning in mid-February.[102] A few weeks later Marvel announced that portions of the film would be shot in South Korea. Feige cited the nation's "cutting-edge technology, beautiful landscapes and spectacular architecture" as ideal for the film.[103] Gyeonggi Province and its capital, Seoul were selected as filming locations with South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism reimbursing up to 30% of the studio's expenditures, as part of a state-funded incentive program.[64]

Filming

Members of the Korea Film Commission and executives from Marvel Studios signing a memorandum of understanding in Seoul in March 2014 with actress Claudia Kim (center) in attendance.

Filming began on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa, having been postponed that Monday.[102][104] Second unit crews shot action sequences without the main cast, to be used as background plates for scenes featuring the Hulk, in the Central Business District of Johannesburg for a period of two weeks.[105][106] By mid-March, principal photography, with cinematographer Ben Davis,[107] had begun at Shepperton Studios near London and was scheduled to film there for at least four months.[108][109] On March 22, production moved to Fort Bard, Italy and continued in the Aosta Valley region through March 28. The region doubled as Eastern Europe, with crews replacing local storefronts with Cyrillic script.[110] Filming in South Korea began on March 30 on the Mapo Bridge[111] and continued through April 14 at various locations in Seoul.[112] While in Seoul, the production was able to attach cameras to drones and race cars to get unique camera angles and footage.[113] An artificial island on the Han River known as the Saebit Dungdungseom served as the headquarters of an IT institute featured in the film.[114] Scenes involving Ultron's attack on parts of the city were shot in the Gangnam District.[112]

On April 8, shooting began in the Hawley Woods in Hampshire, England.[115] In mid–April, Hayley Atwell, who played Peggy Carter in previous MCU films, was on set at the Rivoli Ballroom in London to film a 1940s flashback sequence.[47] In mid-June, scenes were shot at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and at Dover Castle in Kent.[116][117] Filming also took place at a training facility for London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which doubled as a city in the fictional European nation of Sokovia;[10] in Chittagong, Bangladesh, including the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard;[118][119] and in New York.[120][121] On August 6, Whedon announced on social media that he had completed principal photography on Avengers: Age of Ultron.[122]

Filming at Shepperton as well as other locations in England allowed Whedon to get a "number of different looks and textures and moods" to give the film a different palette and fresh aesthetic from its predecessor.[57] Whedon also stated that "we shot this movie very differently [from the first film]. I was running a lot of cameras, I was shooting long lenses, which I don’t usually do," and that he aimed to shoot the film almost like a documentary.[100] Production designer Charles Wood built an enormous, new Avengers Tower set, one of the largest set ever built for a Marvel film. The set featured multiple connected environments and levels.[113]

Post-production

In February 2014, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) announced plans to open a facility in London, citing Avengers: Age of Ultron as a catalyst for the expansion.[123] ILM developed a new motion capture system for the film called Muse, which can better capture the actor's performance and combine different takes.[124] About the motion capture process, Rufallo said, "We've done a lot more with the motion capture. And because the face capture and the motion capture can now be put together, you get a lot more latitude as a performer... instead of it just being basically a place holder for CGI, it becomes more of a collaboration. And the actor really can add performance to it. Now the technology is taking another step forward... a lot of importance is put on the first unit, but now they're starting to look at motion capture in a equal sort of way... And so I see the motion capture as this incredible new place for us to go in performance that we never had before that's kind of a puppeteering. You know, you're no longer constricted by the attributes that you have as a person: your age, or weight, or size. None of that matters anymore. And so there's this whole exciting place to go that is kind of unknown."[15]

In June 2014, the IMAX Corporation announced that the IMAX release of the film will be converted to IMAX 3D.[125] In August 2014, Stellan Skarsgård revealed he would reprise his role as Erik Selvig.[49] In October 2014, executive producer Victoria Alonso stated she anticipated the film would have 3,000 visual effects shots, from seven to twelve visual effects companies.[126] In November 2014, Idris Elba confirmed that he would reprise his role as Heimdall along with Tom Hiddleston as Loki,[48] contradicting Feige's earlier assertion that Loki would not appear in Age of Ultron.[127] Additional scenes were scheduled to be filmed in January 2015 at Pinewood Studios.[128] In February 2015, Marvel confirmed through promotional material that Serkis would portray Ulysses Klaw in the film.[29] At the end of the month, Anthony Mackie was confirmed, via the billing block of the film's official poster, to be reprising his role as Sam Wilson / Falcon in the film.[45]

Music

In March 2014, Brian Tyler signed on to compose the film's score, replacing the composer for the first film, Alan Silvestri, while also marking his third film collaboration with Marvel following Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World in 2013.[129] Tyler stated that the score pays homage to John Williams' scores for Star Wars, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark and references the scores for the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America films in order to create a similar musical universe, saying, "That’s the goal for sure. You have to build in nostalgia and do it upfront so you can relate to it."[130] Additional music was composed by Danny Elfman.[131] Elfman used Silvestri's theme from the first film to create a new hybrid theme.[132]

Release

Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled for release in France, Italy, Norway and Sweden on April 22, 2015, with other territories seeing releases in the following days,[133] before it is released in North America on May 1, in 3D and IMAX 3D.[125][133][134][135] In September 2014, TNT acquired the US cable broadcast rights for Avengers: Age of Ultron to air two years after its theatrical release.[136] On March 4, 2015, ticket pre-sales for the film began. Variety noted "The two-month gap between advance sales and the release is much wider than normal and reflects the heavy fan anticipation for" the film.[137]

Marketing

At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, Joss Whedon introduced a teaser trailer for the film, which included a look at an Ultron helmet and a title treatment.[138] Footage of the teaser, as well as a brief interview with Whedon, was made available as part of Iron Man 3 '​s second screen companion app for its Blu-ray release on September 24, 2013.[139][140] On March 18, 2014, ABC aired a one-hour television special titled, Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe, which included a sneak peek of Avengers: Age of Ultron.[141] The special debuted concept art for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, as well as art of the Hulk fighting a "Hulkbuster"–like Iron Man suit.[142] Harley-Davidson partnered with Marvel to provide their first electric motorcycle, Project LiveWire, for use by Black Widow in the film.[143] At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, the cast was introduced to promote the film, along with screening footage from the film.[144] Avengers: Age of Ultron received the second most amount of social media mentions at the convention, following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but had a higher intend-to-see response.[145]

The first trailer was scheduled to premiere during the airing of an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on October 28, 2014.[146] However, on October 22, the trailer leaked online,[147] and within a few hours Marvel officially released the trailer on YouTube.[148] Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter noted the effective use of the song "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio (1940) in the trailer.[149][150] Scott Mendelson of Forbes felt the trailer was "such a textbook 'dark sequel' trailer that it borders on parody" but said, "it's a pretty spectacular piece of marketing, one that elevates itself both by the music choices and by James Spader's vocals as the title villain".[151] The trailer received 34.3 million global views in 24 hours, 26.2 million from Marvel's YouTube channel, which broke the previous record held by Iron Man 3 with 23.14 million views. In comparison, the original Avengers teaser received 20.4 million views in 24 hours after its debut.[152][153] In response, Marvel agreed to air footage from Age of Ultron during the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that was originally scheduled to premiere the trailer.[152] At the end of October, Marvel Comic's Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso stated there are comic tie-in plans for the film.[154]

In November 2014, ABC aired another one-hour television special titled Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop!, which featured behind the scenes footage of Age of Ultron.[155] Also in November, an extended trailer debuted on Samsung Mobile's YouTube channel, featuring product placement for various Samsung devices.[156] In December 2014, additional behind the scenes footage was released as a special feature on the Guardians of the Galaxy BIu-ray, highlighting the various filming locations for the film.[157][121] Also in the month, ABC announced that an episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would tie-in to the events of the film.[158]

In January 2015, a featurette focused on Ultron was shown at Samsung's "Night With Marvel" event at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).[159] Also at CES, Samsung revealed a selection of hardware inspired by the Avengers films, as well as a simulation of Avengers Tower via its Gear VR virtual reality device.[160][161] A second trailer premiered on ESPN on January 12, 2015 during the broadcast of the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.[162] Mendelson enjoyed the trailer, but wished it did not reveal as many story elements as it did. However, he added, "the marketing thus far [for the film] has been far superior too [sic] much of what sold The Avengers three years ago, both in terms of the specific footage and the artistic choices being made... I'm sold, and I imagine most of the general moviegoers are already onboard too."[163]

On February 3, 2014, Marvel "stealth released" a one-shot tie-in comic, Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude - This Scepter'd Isle. Written by Will Corona Pilgrim and illustrated by Wellinton Alves, it reveals how Strucker came into possession of Loki's scepter and the origin of the Maximoff twins' abilities.[164] At the end of the month, the film's official poster was revealed. Graeme McMillian of The Hollywood Reporter criticized it for its lack of originality, calling it "pretty much the poster for the first Avengers movie, except with added flying robots in the background" and the fact that it incorporated many of the same tropes the other MCU Phase Two film posters did. These included: the hero(es) staring off camera; destruction in the background as well as something occurring in the sky; and poor Photoshop on the poster, highlighting the fact that "Each of the shots have been taken in isolation and then composited together later, but in such a way that your eye can tell that none of these people were in the same place at the same time." McMillian concluded, "Marvel’s posters weren’t always like this; the posters for [many of the Phase One films] are more traditional in their layout and, interestingly, brighter in both tone and color. It’s possible that the grim, muted nature of everything that followed was intentional for the [Phase Two] era of the studio, and that we’ll see something else as we head into [Phase Three], but if not, let’s hope that Avengers: Age of Ultron will prove to be an end to this era of increasingly generic, boring posters."[165] Mendelson agreed with many of McMillian's observations, and called the poster "hilariously photoshopped".[166]

The final trailer was "unlocked" by fans on March 4, 2015, via the use of hashtags on Twitter, ahead of its broadcast debut during the series premiere of American Crime on March 5.[167] Mendelson felt "this [was] a fine final trailer, teasing what we already know, hinting at the scale and a few new action beats without telling us much we don’t already know" adding, "Here we have the fourth and final Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer and we don’t know all that much about what transpires in a moment-to-moment sense in the finished 150-minute feature. I have expressed my concern dating back to October that Marvel and Disney would release too many trailers and would by default give away too much plot and character information between October and May. But if this really is the final Avengers 2 trailer, then at least on the trailer front they have kept the film relatively unspoiled."[168] A week after the final trailer debuted, Marvel revealed that the trailer had "smashed records" with over 35 million views.[169]

Merchandise

In March 2015, Disney stated that they were planning to broaden their merchandising strategy with Avengers: Age of Ultron by expanding the target demographics to women and fans of the individual superheroes that make up the Avengers. Paul Gitter, senior VP of Marvel Licensing for Disney Consumer Products said, "For the first film, we primarily focused on the Avengers property and the group shots... Now we're broadening the line and scope to create skews that focus on the team and the individuals characters, as well." Disney Consumer Products partnered with Hasbro, Lego, Hot Wheels and Funko for action figures, playsets and other toys, apparel from Under Armour, and new partnerships in the food and packaged goods categories, including Sage Fruit, ConAgra, Crunchpak and Chobani.[170]

Reception

Box office

According to Boxoffice magazine, Avengers: Age of Ultron is projected to earn $217 million on its opening weekend in North America, surpassing the $207 million generated by The Avengers and making it the biggest feature-film debut of all time. Phil Contrino, chief analyst at Boxoffice, stated the projection was based on analyses of posts on Facebook and Twitter, with the number and intensity of positive posts on Twitter being the strongest researchers had seen for any movie since Boxoffice started monitoring the site. Additionally, Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen Group, agreed with Boxoffice '​s projection of the film earning over $200 million in its opening weekend, but felt that the total global box office earnings would not be as large as the $1.5 billion the first film earned.[169]

Sequels

In July 2014, Feige stated that there were "some notions" to where Marvel would want to take a third Avengers film and that the actors were under contract for Avengers 3.[171] In October 2014, Marvel announced a two-part sequel to Age of Ultron, titled Avengers: Infinity War. Part 1 is scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018, with Part 2 scheduled for May 3, 2019.[172] Filming for Part 1 and Part 2 was initially scheduled to begin in late 2015.[128] In January 2015, Whedon said that it was "very doubtful" that he would be involved in the two films.[173] In March 2015, Anthony and Joe Russo were confirmed to direct Avengers: Infinity War. Both parts will be shot back-to-back, and filming is expected to begin in 2016.[174]

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