Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers Age of Ultron Set

The camera zooms in on a hectic street scene as percussion-soaked discordant rhythms elevate your blood pressure. An eerie green sail is lifted to tribal beats. A human the size of an ant side steps the rubble and faces forward. Everything is blurry at first, but as the clouds begin to lift, we can finally recognize a figure efficiently, almost poetically, hosing down a street. Is it a commentary on the deep dichotomy between the hurry up and wait boredom of a movie set and the end product made of pure excitement? Is it a mirror held up to our own voracious fan tendencies? Is it an indictment of movie website culture where bold names are heralded daily and ad nauseam no matter how uninteresting their latest still shot or promotional video may be? Undoubtedly, yes. Like Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” Mattia Renaldo (the well-respected video artist who’s dabbled in special effects-laced political commentary) has gone behind the scenes of Avengers: Age of Ultron in order to show us how the spandex sausage is made. Not content simply to show filmmaking at its most naked, he’s placed intense backing music to underscore and parody how thrilling we often imagine the creative process to be, despite the eye-gougingly dull reality. The juxtaposition is striking in every frame.

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Marvel Hulkbuster Iron man

Last night, ABC aired a special on Marvel Studios called Assembling a Universe, in which its past, present and known future were laid out. There weren’t any big revelations, but there were plenty of new images to gaze upon, including cool concept art from Avengers: Age of Ultron. Check out our gallery of all the necessary bits by clicking on the image above or clicking right here.

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kretschmann

You didn’t think that Ultron would be the only villain in the next Avengers movie just because it’s called Age of Ultron, did you? Heck no. With the try-to-top-this attitude that these big, bombastic superhero movies—and really all summer movies in general—have fully embraced over the last decade or so, any movie you try to sell to a summer audience is going to have to be bigger, louder, packed full of more heroes, and more fully swarming with ever eviler villains. To that end, Age of Ultron writer/director Joss Whedon has decided to super-size his superhero sequel by augmenting the evil robot at the heart of his film with one of the most despicable villains both in modern fiction and in modern history—the Nazi. Or, in this case, an ex-Nazi turned current head of HYDRA. That’s right, Age of Ultron is going to include that monocled, bald-headed, Satan-Clawed king of evil, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, and it looks like Whedon and company have found the actor with enough darkness inside of him to bring the guy to life.

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The holiday season is finally upon us. A time to reflect on days gone by and days yet to come. A time spend with friends and loved ones. A time to scream yourself hoarse at a computer screen because an X-Man is being left out X-Men: Days of Future Past. Although I guess “X-Woman” is a little more accurate, technically speaking, because the character getting the boot is Anna Paquin‘s Rogue. Director Bryan Singer recently revealed to EW that an action sequence featuring Paquin and a few of her X-cohorts has been cut from the film (Singer explains it in less-than-thrilling terms: “Through the editing process, the sequence became extraneous”). Yet this particular chunk of celluloid made up the entirety of Paquin’s role in Days of Future Past, so with a flash and a puff of smoke, she’ll disappear completely from the finished film.

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elizabeth-olsen-cannes-festival-25

At the end of August, Elizabeth Olsen was reported to be in final negotiations to play Scarlet Witch for Avengers: Age of Ultron. According to Samuel L. Jackson, those final talks are now finalized. Here’s what he told The Wall Street Journal: “I don’t think we begin shooting before March of next year. I know we’re shooting in London, that James Spader is Ultron and going to be the bad guy, and that we added Ms. [Elizabeth] Olsen [who will play the Scarlet Witch], but I don’t know what she’s doing, if she’s on the inside or the outside. I haven’t seen a script.” Not only is it great news that she’s definitely in the film, I also like to think that Jackson will continue not seeing a script until the day he shoots. Or never. I want to believe Jackson rolls up in his own good time, knocks out some signature cool, breaks some people’s concentration and then heads back to smash mailboxes with Snoop Lion. Obviously the guy is a dependable workhorse actor with a metric ton of professionalism under his belt, but it’s the scenario I like to imagine. With this reassurance on the table, the next question is whether Aaron Taylor-Johnson is going to indeed be Quicksilver — Witch’s brother and the other new addition to the franchise — or whether the role is going to someone else. As they push toward filming in the spring, look for a lot of new information to come out.

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James Spader

In news that makes perfect sense when you think about it, Marvel has announced that James Spader has been cast as the maniacal sentient robot Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. This comes as a different sort of role for the actor, who generally plays maniacal human beings. Marvel did not reveal whether or not Spader would be performing motion-capture, as Mark Ruffalo does to play The Hulk or Vin Diesel will do for Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, or just providing his voice to the character. Regardless, it’s sure to be unnerving. Slap a cardboard box robot costume on Spader and it would probably still be an effective villain. Spader seems well-suited for the role, which writer-director Joss Whedon modified just a bit (as our own Scott Beggs recently wrote about). Think of Ultron as artificial intelligence with a God complex. He’s a robot with feelings. Horrible, horrible feelings. But he’s also no longer magical: “He’s always trying to destroy the Avengers, goddamn it, he’s got a bee in his bonnet, Whedon said. “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. So we’ll take away some of those powers because at some point everybody becomes magic, and I already have someone [a new character, Scarlet Witch] who’s a witch. As a character I love him because he’s so pissed off.”

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Was Loki your favorite part of The Avengers? Do you have fond memories of seeing the Asgardian villain create chaos everywhere he went, trying to take down the intrepid band of superheroes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents while also getting pummeled by the Hulk? Well too bad, because Tom Hiddleston just confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the god of mischief will not be appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Apparently, he and writer-director Joss Whedon are in agreement that Loki’s story was played out to completion in the first film, and the sequel to the 2012 hit will focus on a new villain for the Avengers to battle. Hiddleston’s fine with it – no, really. “When I think of all the things I loved as a child, for example, Hans Gruber wasn’t in Die Hard 2. And in Indiana Jones, by the time he moved from the Lost Ark to the Temple of Doom, there was a whole new bad guy. I think keeping it fresh and new is good for The Avengers even though it’s a shame for me,” he tells EW.

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Ultron

Now that Marvel has announced the villain for the next Avengers movie, it’s time for the flurry of questions to begin in earnest. Good news for people who love speculating, dreamcasting (Doug Jones for Ultron!) and ignoring rumors. Fortunately, Joss Whedon hung out with Marvel Live! to dispel a few of those whispers (and launch a thousand more). Will Henry Pym/Ant-Man be involved in Age of Ultron? Will Hawkeye get to be a good guy for more than 15 minutes? Will there be multiple versions of Ultron? All these and more get answered in the video below:

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Marvel Studios Panel At Comic-Con

We could write all about the Marvel Studios Comic-Con panel from yesterday. We could dig through Twitter and the coverage from other sites and our own chats with some of the Marvel stars (coming later today) and give you a list of things we learned. Or we could just publish this video of the panel and let you make your own conclusions. That second option sounds great, as there is no perfect way to explain what happened when Tom Hiddleston took the stage in full character and turned a 6,000 person Hall H crowd into an army of loyal followers. Apparently we all just want to be ruled. All that trouble in The Avengers for nothing. So sit back and enjoy the Marvel Studios panel from the comfort of your own home. You’ll get updates on the more medieval Thor: The Dark World, the S.H.I.E.L.D.-heavy Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the out-of-this-world Guardians of the Galaxy and a little update about something called Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Right at the end of their Comic-Con panel — just after Captain America: The Winter Soldier topped Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy topped them both — Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige brought out a familiar face for a brief, special announcement. When Joss Whedon took the stage, the buzz around the room and all over Twitter was electric. Marvel had saved something for last. As it turns out, it was a teaser that showed Iron Man’s helmet morphing into that of Ultron, revealing the title for the planned Avengers sequel: Avengers: Age of Ultron is due in 2015. Get excited.

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