The Avengers 2 / Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Fast and Furious 7 PosterRelease Date: May 1, 2015

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Written by: Joss Whedon

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and James Spader

Synopsis:

Earth’s mightiest heroes reassemble with the help of new allies to take on a new enemy in the form of the sentient robot known as Ultron.

feature summer winners iron man 3

By now, we’ve all probably picked out our favorite moment (or moments) from that first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer (I’m going with that final Ultron reveal, although Hulk booping Black Widow’s nose is a close second). But there’s one chunk of Ultron’s world debut that not a single person enjoyed: the jokes. Because those were conspicuously absent from this very dark and stormy Avengers reveal. Rest assured: there will be jokes in Age of Ultron. Just as there have been jokes in every single MCU film to date, plus basically every episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and One-Shot short film. Just as there were plenty of jokes in the footage of Age of Ultron that screened at this year’s Comic-Con (wherein a bunch of sloshed Avengers tried to lift Thor’s hammer, Captain America kinda does, and Thor briefly loses his shit). But Marvel has deemed that laughter and lightheartedness should not be present when the world takes its first look at Age of Ultron; instead, our first impression of the film should be that it is dark and sad and yes, awesome, but awesome in a very non-Avengers-banter way. And it might just have something to do with Iron Man.

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Avengers 2 Ballerinas

There they are, stuffed between a dozen action sequences and even more shots of Avengers looking sullen: ballerinas. To be exact, it’s the 1:36 mark of the new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. They jump to their toes after Black Widow touchingly goes palm to palm with Hulk but before snow-ready soldiers fire a host of large guns. The question is what ballet students are doing in the middle of Marvel’s superhero movie. Hopefully, the answer is Black Widow (unless Tony Stark is about to get a surprising new addition to his cinematic origin story). In the comics, Black Widow has a fairly complicated backstory involving manufactured memories growing up as a ballerina (which explains why she can knock a person down with her hair). She also appears as one during the “Winter Soldier: Black Widow Hunt” series as a direct callback to her youth.

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Hulkbuster in Avengers 2

Earlier this evening the first teaser trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked onto the internet. In a move that makes sense, but is still unexpected based on the way most studios handle leaks, they bypassed the chasing down of legal notices and getting leaks pulled from YouTube and just released the official version. What does this mean for me and you? It means we’ve got our first look at Avengers: Age of Ultron! Official, polished, and in glorious high definition. Overwhelming excitement is the appropriate reaction here.

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king kong vs godzilla 1962

Some things should be left to the message boards. Or at least to the comic books. The question of “Who would win in a fight between…” probably goes back millennia. Prehistoric man would look at two different beloved cave drawings and ponder a battle between a bear on one wall and a lion from another. Maybe an early storyteller came up with the tale of this match, concluding the narrative with the animals teaming up and going after a common enemy: humans. Or, because they were man’s villains, the story probably went the other way, with the bear and the lion being manipulated by their prey to fight each other, the result being a draw where they both lose. The latter is basically updated in the movie Freddy vs. Jason. The former story is more apt for one in which two heroes are pit against each other. The upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is assumed to be that sort. The title characters are expected to fight — unless there’s a bait-and-switch a la Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever — and then of course wind up joining forces to at least form the Justice League. One of the most anticipated parts of Avengers: Age of Ultron, meanwhile, is the promise of an Iron Man vs. Hulk scene, which will have to be a brief obstacle for these characters before they reunited as Avengers and go after Ultron.

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Avengers Age of Ultron Poster

How about that Avengers: Age of Ultron plot synopsis, eh? Shockingly generic? Yes it is. They might as well have said, “The Avengers are getting back together because the world is even more threatened this time, and you know you’re going to see it anyway you have your alarm set for May 2015 so why do you keep asking us for a plot synopsis?” In other words, it’s an excellent synopsis that doesn’t give everything away or deliver pure fan service to the faithful. It’s also kind of pointless, so to make it more useful, let’s play Avengers: Age of Ultron Plot Synopsis Mad Libs. Here’s how: Choose a noun, a plural noun, the name of someone in the room, a verb that ends in S, the name of your favorite person, an adjective and one more noun. Plug them (in order) into this handy be-underlined paragraph, and you’ve got the makings of your own superhero film!

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The best posters of Comic-Con 2014

Much of the press from Comic-Con comes in the form of descriptions of moving images. Everyone wants to hear about the footage being shown in the cavernous Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center. But there’s so much more to the annual geek culture event, including plenty of great memorabilia releases, a slew of awesome comic art and panels (because what would Comic-Con be without actual comics) and some great film art, as well. Galleries such as Mondo, Bottleneck, Gallery Nucleus and even movie studios bring awesome poster releases to the event every year. To celebrate this explosion of art, we’ve rounded up the best and brightest of Comic-Con 2014’s movie poster selection.

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Marvel Studios

Updated: New posters are being released throughout the weekend. As they become available and form a larger poster, we’ll update this page. One of the studios expected to take this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con by storm, as they have in years past, is Marvel Studios. While other studios seem to be avoiding the convention and its droves of buzz-spreading fans — namely 20th Century Fox not bringing Fantastic Four or any new X-Men news — Marvel is doubling down on the place that seemingly launched its success (see: Iron Man in 2007). This year their big panel is the crown jewel of Comic-Con’s Saturday programming, but that won’t stop them from starting early. As they did for The Avengers, they have begun releasing character posters for Avengers: Age of Ultron that will probably all fit together nicely as one big spread. First up: Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlett Witch, Captain America and a lot of Ultrons. A lot of Ultrons. There’s also a very cool Ant-Man poster, in case multiple Avengers isn’t enough for you.

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Andy Serkis Smeagol Hobbit

When the biggest movie of the calendar year is a nearly three-hour festival of noise starring automotive robots, it’s easy to fear that the human element of filmmaking is slowly being lost to digital effects and bottom line corporate interests. But the career of Andy Serkis provides a powerful demonstration as to how the human capacity for imagination and feeling can work with, not against, the utilities of motion picture technology towards groundbreaking ends. Serkis considers himself an actor first and foremost, but he occupies a unique and privileged place across so many film properties that could otherwise easily be bereft of inspiration, content to live in the uncanny valley of requisite CGI. Serkis’ work requires his presence during all levels of production, and in so doing he operates as a medium between a filmmaker’s vision and their collaboration with cast and crew both in front of and behind the camera. His body is, in summary, the place in which the material and immaterial aspects of 21st century filmmaking play out. So here is a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the guy who only sometimes plays a human being.

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Agents of SHIELD Turn Turn Turn

Using an iPhone for the first time required twenty minutes that felt like a full day of setting up, retrieving and resetting passwords in order to order a pizza. Downloading Angry Birds, not to mention calling anyone, meant connecting one device to four others. There are benefits  to that interconnectivity. No doubt. It’s also about stickiness — once someone is plugged into more than one product or service, it makes it a lot harder for them to change horses. That’s why your bank forces you to have a savings account and debit card in order to get a checking account. In the midst of praising Marvel for creating an expansive movie universe that weaves small details into itself and has now injected latex into a weekly television presence, the potential negatives of its interconnectivity have flown under the radar. All the positives are still there — it creates a great sense of community, rewards fans for being invested and is responsible for 1000% more people using the phrase “easter egg” — but the stickiness of it also threatens non-obsessive viewers with gaps in plot understanding. That’s why seeing the headline “How Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Now Setting Up Avengers: Age of Ultron” gave me flashbacks to screwing up my iPhone registration.

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The Avengers

In his most recent cinematic appearance, Captain Steve Rogers (best known as Captain America) was called “The First Avenger,” as per the subtitle of the 2011 film. But did you know that he wasn’t the first Avenger according to the comic books? Of course you did, as you are all nerds. That said, below you’ll find a new infographic chronicling the history of Marvel’s Avengers. From the fact that the original team’s line-up didn’t include Steve Rogers to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe and its billions of dollars worth of box office sales, it shows us a bird’s eye view of the legacy of The Avengers. As Captain America gets ready to move the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward next month in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, let’s take a moment to look back over the history of the team that has led the way for Marvel for decades.

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Warner Bros and DC have their shiny new Lex Luthor, and along with him, firm control of the current superhero spotlight. Will he be bald? Will he be Zuckerberg-like? Will he be an ex-gang leader with a bajillion tattoos? This new Luthor’s the talk of the town, and Marvel doesn’t like that one bit. So naturally, they’ve fired back, announcing one official and one potential addition to their current stable of superheroes.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been hovering around the role of Quicksilver in The Avengers: Age of Ultron since July, but yesterday came the official confirmation we’ve all been expecting for roughly half a year. The Wrap has the big news, along with the reason why such a super-speedy character was cast at a Mr. Magoo-like rate. It seems that Taylor-Johnson had already been booked up for some time with his Godzilla publicity tour, and it’s taken some time to ensure the actor will be able to both join the Avengers and tell the world how he was almost stepped on by a giant lizard. Elizabeth Olsen, strangely enough, is also a part of Godzilla and Age of Ultron, yet according to Samuel L. Jackson she was good to go a month ago without all these negotiating dilly-dallies. But now it’s all been worked out, and including Jackson’s slip about Olsen as Scarlet Witch and James Spader‘s casting as Ultron, it looks like all the major new additions for Age of Ultron have been locked in. Of course, there’s still loads of Avengers goodness to be seen before May 1, 2015 rolls around. We’ve yet to obsess of Quicksilver’s costume, his super-speed visual effects and if Taylor-Johnson will sport the same ridiculous pointy silver haircut as his comic book counterpart. Once that’s taken care of, and the same has been done for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers can finally assemble once more.

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elizabeth-olsen-cannes-festival-25

We’ve known for months that Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver would be newest addition to the Avengers in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been circling the Quicksilver role for what feels like years, but it looks like his superheroine sister has beaten him to the punch. Elizabeth Olsen, the younger (and far more talented) sister of the Olsen twins and star of Martha Marcy May Marlene and the upcoming Oldboy and Godzilla reboots, is now in final talks for the role. Scarlet Witch (who, along with her brother Quicksilver, have been a members of the Avengers since the 1960’s) has one of the most bizarre superpowers in Marvel Comics – specifically, the ability to cast hexes and manipulate probabilities. That sounds excruciatingly dull, I know; normally it translated into magically wishing bad luck upon her opponents via collapsing floors, exploding gas mains or misfiring weapons. In recent years she’s been upgraded a few times, to the extent that she can now alter the very fabric of reality.

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Ultron

In just about every comic incarnation, Ultron is Godlike in power. Imagine a structural ability, and Ultron has a heightened version of it — speed, strength, durability, laser eyes, flight, fighting tactics. After all, the thing is made out of adamantium, intelligence and rage. All of that is great when you’re looking for a villain to battle a group of incredible beings because 1-on-6 makes for an uninteresting story when the 1 isn’t crushingly formidable. At the same time, making your baddie too powerful is a recipe for disaster, and Joss Whedon understands the eye of the needle he has to thread the evil (misunderstood?) robot through for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. “I knew right away what I wanted to do with him,” Whedon told EW. “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. 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.” A fair point. You don’t want The Avengers fighting an angry version of Superman in a world without Kryptonite, but with Thor flying around, it’s clear that we’re over the science vs. magic debate concerning the “realism”-dedicated Marvel movies. Still, stripping away some of the circuits so that Ultron isn’t an inch […]

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avengers

Word around the campfire has been that Robert Downey Jr’s contract to play Tony Stark ran out after he starred in Iron Man 3, and the question of what that means for the future of the Iron Man franchise, as well as for future Avengers movies, has largely been lingering. Surely after the money-making bonanza that was The Avengers, Marvel wouldn’t let one of the most integral pieces of their puzzle walk away. But, on the other hand, after making them so much money Downey was likely going to be asking for a pretty penny to come back and do more, and Marvel has been notoriously stingy negotiators. The fact is, people’s worries about future Marvel movies having to go forward without Iron Man, or at least with a different Iron Man, weren’t completely unfounded. Today those worries can be laid to rest, however, because we’ve finally gotten word that Downey will indeed be coming back to play Tony Stark in more Marvel movies. In fact, he’s going to be coming back to play Tony Stark in at least two more.

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dicaprio

What is Casting Couch? It’s likely the only news roundup on the Internet today that has nothing to do with new iPhone features. Instead we’re dealing with movies, and their casting of names like Josh Duhamel, Christoph Waltz, Reese Witherspoon, and Sofia Vergara. History buffs are usually fascinated by Grigori Rasputin—who was an advisor to the Russian Imperials at the beginning of the 20th century—because political rivals shot him, stabbed him, poisoned him, and nuked him while he was hiding in a fridge, and the guy still somehow managed to keep living. Movie fans are likely to be fascinated by Rasputin because Warner Bros. has just bought a script about his life, called Rasputin, and they’re developing it as a starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. This, of course, means that we’re going to get the chance to see DiCaprio grow a crazy long beard and likely try out a Russian accent, which just sounds like so much fun. [Deadline]

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The Purge

Plenty of entertainment news happened over the weekend while you were girding your loins for a very special season finale of Game of Thrones (or going outside like a normal person, perhaps). We’ve rounded a bunch of it up into a neat little news package we call our afternoon Biz Break. 

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benedict-cumberbatach-take-a-shower-of-evil-in-star-tr

There sure was a lot to talk about with a certain summer blockbuster this week. So much that this week’s Reject Recap is nearly half-filled with highlights of stuff written on Star Trek Into Darkness. And yes, the villain’s name comes up. It’s not a spoiler anymore. Everyone knows. And it doesn’t even matter if you know or not. Just like it doesn’t matter if Alice Eve has a gratuitous underwear scene or Benedict Cumberbatch has a shower scene if neither of them is otherwise an interesting character — and that’s a more worthwhile debate for this particular film, too. Anyway, I’ve spread the Trek links a bit, giving them the even alternating slots because there used to be (no longer, apparently) that rule that even-numbered Trek films were the good ones. Anything else happen in the past seven days? Well, our man in Cannes, Shaun Munro reviewed I think 400 movies, give or take a few. Arrested Development is returning this weekend so we had something fun to share related to that. And filmmaker Sean Hackett (Homecoming) shared a personal essay in the hopes of helping bullied movie fans out there. Two highlights come from outside the FSR gates this week, and as usual I invite you to suggest great writing on film to include here in the future. Because we can’t always cover everything, and I can’t always read everything. Oh, and one more great thing from the past week, which we humbly didn’t highlight among the ten: […]

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leader

Remember when Tim Blake Nelson‘s noggin started looking all funky in The Incredible Hulk? Well, if you don’t, it happened around the point where the Hulk and the Abomination starting ripping each other apart. While those two worked out their problems, Dr. Samuel Sterns was having a makeover. Before the finale, we saw Sterns crack a smile while making his transformation into The Leader, the brilliant green-skinned Marvel baddie. He’s a villain favorite for some, possibly even the makers of The Amazing Spider-Man, who used one of his more famous schemes for The Lizard’s grand plan. The Leader is a very comic book-y type of villain, one that could have been too much for Marvel’s Phase I, but now that the studio has pushed the boundaries of its scientific status, bringing back actor Tim Blake Nelson to terrorize The Hulk or The Avengers is a solid idea. Louis Leterrier would seem to agree. Speaking with him recently, I asked whether there was ever serious talk over using The Leader in future films.

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wilson

What is Casting Couch? Casting news. Today we’ve got updates on new roles for people like Michelle Williams, Laurence Fishburne, and—what the heck—let’s stick in a rumor about who might play the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2 as well. It looks like Owen Wilson might be taking a trip back to the ’70s. The Wrap reports that he’s the latest name in negotiations to join Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film, his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Never ones to let a good PTA rumor go uncommented on, Cigarettes & Red Vines then took this story and ran with it, contacting their own sources and discovering that the role Wilson is in talks for is that of Coy Harlingen, who’s described as being a surf-saxophone player and a heroin addict, and who may be the most Owen Wilson-y role ever written.

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