AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
The cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron took the stage one by one, starting with returning members: Robert Downey Jr. (holding a rose out to the crowd), Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Cobie Smulders. (Not present: Scarlett Johansson, who is in the late months of pregnancy and probably not traveling, and writer-director Joss Whedon, who is also pregnant and not traveling.)
Then we got the newcomers, all of them bad guys: James Spader (Ultron), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (The Vision), and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver).
“I become a little less significant each time,” Downey said, noting all his previous appearances at this Comic-Con showcase.
Ruffalo responded to the cheers with, “They sure don’t treat me like this at home,” which led to audience chants of “HULK! HULK! HULK! HULK!” (But there was no announcement of a stand-alone Hulk movie, again leaving Comic-Con aching for a Ruffalo take on the big green hero.)
Hemsworth made note of a recent change in the Marvel Comics universe: There’s a new series where Thor is a woman. “I don’t want to speak too early and jinx it, but I think that could be my Oscar,” the actor said.
Bettany discussed making the transition from the voice of Iron Man’s mechanical butler J.A.R.V.I.S. to the super-powered synthezoid The Vision, but we didn’t get a peek at what his character will look like. “I used to show up at a dark room for 45 minutes and get aback of cash,” Bettany said. “Now I have to work.”
Spader had this to reveal about Ultron: It’s weird.
“I play an 8-foot robot in this movie,” Spader said. “I’ve always played humans up until now.” Nonetheless, he added that he finds the blood-thirsty bot “surprising and challenging and exciting.”
Olsen drew deep “oooohs” from the audience for describing the Scarlet Witch in the film: “There are mutated people…”
“You can’t say that!” someone from the audience called out. (“Mutant” is a term from the Marvel Comics that is licensed to Fox for its X-Men films, and can’t be used in the separate Avengers-verse.)
A clip was shown, and the absent Johansson sent a cell-phone video to introduce it. Again, this was brief: “Hey guys, I don’t mean to cramp your style but I’m running out of time here. Hey Kev, you want to be a doll and roll that video footage?”
The clip is part of a scene described recently in Entertainment Weekly: a post-battle party where the Avengers are gathered for food, drink, and fellowship in the penthouse of Tony Stark’s Manhattan skyscraper. A party game is underway: Who can lift Thor’s hammer?
“If I lift it, do a I get to rule Asgard?” Stark asks before straining mightily—and fruitlessly—to lift it from a table. “I’ll be right back,” Stark says, and returns with a rocket-powered Iron Man glove on his forearm.
Still no luck. Don Cheadle appears as War Machine, also wearing a booster glove (pulling on the Iron Man glove Stark is wearing.) Even the two of them can’t lift it.
Bruce Banner: Nope, he falls away (although, to be fair, he didn’t Hulk-out to try).
Then Captain America reaches down and… the hammer budges a little, and Thor comes into focus in the background, his smile dropping. But then, no, the hammer stays put, and the thunder god’s worried look blossoms back into a grin.
Black Widow doesn’t try. “That’s not a question I need to answer,” she says.
Stark tries to understand the magical logic. “What is it? Who is carrying Thor’s fingerprint?”
“That’s a very interesting theory,” Thor says. “I have simpler one: You’re all not worthy.”
That’s where the fun and games end as an electronic wail fills the penthouse. A staggering, horrific robot emerges from the shadows like a mechanized zombie: Ultron, in a rough-hewn, terrifying, crippled “first edition.”
Built by Stark, Ultron is an artificial intelligence designed to help the Avengers identify and eliminate global threats, but his hyper-intelligence and ability to self-teach has led him to a grim piece of logic: Human beings are the ones who must go.
“You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change,” Spader’s electric-razor voice intones. “There’s only one path to peace: your extinction.”
Ultron will no longer be a puppet of the Avengers, and the ensuing flashes of devastation play out over a creepy rendition of the Pinocchio song “I’ve Got No Strings.” It’s an unexpectedly disturbing bit of Disney synergy.
We also see an enraged, out-of-control Hulk facing down with Stark, clad in his towering Hulkbuster armor, brawling in the street and using cars as bludgeons.
“I have a vision,” Ultron’s voice continues. “The whole world screaming for mercy. Everyone tangled up in strings.”
The footage ends with Tony Stark standing beside Captain America’s shield, which has been torn in half. He looks up, and all the Avengers are sprawled in the rubble around him, seemingly dead.
It’s an eerie image, but that can’t be, right?
The good guys always win. Always. Just like in real life.
As soon as the footage ends, Josh Brolin emerges wearing a toy Infinity Gauntlet and waving to the crowd as Thanos. It’s a little more Guardians promotion, but not the last.