Even if you’ve been living in a secluded cave, you probably know that the sequel to the most successful superhero movie ever made is about to take the world by storm. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens on May 1, with some sneak previews on Thursday.
Everyone returns, including director Joss Whedon, who made the first Avengers an affair that pleased diehard fanboys and critics alike. It was a remarkable feat, a funny and exciting story that let each superhero have their shining moment while still showcasing them as a team.
Will Whedon be able to do it all again? We’re just days away from knowing, and anticipation is high. To get ready for the film, I present a primer on what we can expect (mild spoilers ahead, but I don’t reveal anything that hasn’t been discussed elsewhere before).
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▪ The gang: Re-assembling superheroes are Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
▪ The story: Here is the official plot synopsis, from Disney’s press kit:
“When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s mightiest heroes are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the mysterious Ultron emerges, the team must reassemble in order to stop the terrifying technological villain bent on human extinction.”
▪ New villain: According to Marvel.com, Ultron (voice of James Spader) is the creation of scientific genius Dr. Henry Pym. It’s “a criminally insane rogue sentient robot dedicated to conquest and the extermination of humanity.”
▪ New characters: Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), known as the “Sokovian twins.” They were previously referenced in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s” post-credits scene.
▪ Yes, that is the same Quicksilver, sort of: Quicksilver was already seen in Marvel’s other property “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” as played by Evan Peters. There are some complicated rights issues that make Calculus look easy, but needless to say the character can be used in both films. Expect the “Avengers’ ” Quiksilver to be a very different take on the character, though.
▪ There could be love in the air: The romance hinted at in the film’s trailers between Black Widow and Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner could come into play. I’d like to see that lover’s spat.
▪ More Hawkeye: He didn’t get to see as much action as his peers did in the first “Avengers,” but it’s being said that Hawkeye plays a much bigger role in this film.
▪ Returning allies: Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who previously teamed with Captain America, and Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), who previously teamed with Iron Man. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) also returns.
▪ Inter-connected universes: Remember a little movie called “Guardians of the Galaxy?” Well, the Infinity Stones that were at the heart of that story come into play here, most likely setting up the next Avengers film, a two-parter titled “Infinity War,” set for 2018 and 2019.
▪ Another tie-in: The film is said to open with a battle involving Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), who was seen in the “Captain America: Winter Soldier” post-credits sequence.
▪ Speaking of post-credits: No, there is not one after “Age of Ultron” (apparently), even though video footage posted online earlier this week claimed to be a leaked post-credits sequence (it certainly looked convincing). It featured Spider-Man being typically sarcastic to a window cleaner, shouting “You missed a spot.”
But Whedon confirmed at the film’s London premiere last week that the footage is indeed fake:
“We wanted to be clear that there was no tag scene at the very, very end of the film because after sitting through 40 minutes of credits and not seeing anything, we thought people may become irate.”
Forty minutes of credits? Maybe that’s why the next Avengers film is cut into two parts.