Exciting news today for Marvel Comics fans in Fresno and all over the world today as Marvel has finally released the first teaser trailer for their upcoming blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Directed by Joss Whedon, the film is a sequel to the 2012 mega-blockbuster The Avengers, as well as the fifth and final entry in what Marvel Studios has dubbed their “Phase Two” film slate, which has also included Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The film reunites stars Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Paul Betanny and Samuel L. Jackson, and introduces new faces James Spader, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron-Taylor Johnson.
Incidentally, this trailer comes out well before it was originally intended to. Originally announced to be released with next week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the trailer was unfortunately leaked all over the Internet by a third party. Rather than try to squash this leak, however, Marvel took the classy way out by releasing a tweet blaming comic book villain group Hydra for leaking the trailer, after which they released the official version of the trailer themselves much earlier that expected, much to our delight.
The teaser trailer, which can be viewed here, opens with chaos ensuing in South Africa as a voice over by main villain Ultron (played by James Spader) promises that he is going to show us something beautiful, everyone screaming for mercy. As the South African chaos escalates, we get a quick shot of some protesters, among them Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (played by Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, respectively), possibly before they received their powers or went through whatever torture they have at the hands of Hydra. We then gets images reintroducing us to the Avengers: Iron Man (played by Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (played by Chris Evans), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johannson), Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner), and most interestingly Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo), who is shown in a straight jacket aboard a Quinjet as his teammates cannot even look at him (or each other), indicating both that Banner has recently Hulked out and done something terrible, and that the team might be having a falling out. Ultron notes that the Avengers want to protect the world, but they don’t want it to change, calling them puppets all tangled in strings. This plays over a scene of Ultron walking in on the Avengers’ personal time, having uploaded and taken command of a Iron Man armor. The word “strings” sticks out in Ultron’s mind.
This leads into a montage of images set to a very creepy performance of the song “There Are No Strings On Me” from the classic Disney film Pinocchio. The Avengers are shown fighting through chaos across the globe, with Iron Man looking out over a countryside, Captain America breaking into some sort of old building, Banner stumbling half-naked in the woods, Black Widow standing alone in a empty room, Ultron looking out with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch at his side, Ultron’s robotic drones taking flight, and Thor staring out in shock as he drops his mighty hammer.
Tony Stark remarks to the others “It’s the end; the end to the path I started us on.” Black Widow replies, “Nothing lasts forever.” After Scarlet Witch scream in agony, we cut to possibly the most exciting sequence in the trailer, with all of the Avengers going trough a montage of action scenes, including some brief images of Thor angrily grabbing Stark by the neck, and a brief look at actor Andy Serkis playing a yet-to-be-announced character (though many fans have already theorized him to be playing Black Panther villain Ulysses Klaw). But the most notable portion of this montage is a major fight in the middle of a devastated city between the Hulk and Iron Man, who now wears his brand new Hulkbuster armor. As this plays out, the song comes back and it all ends with Ultron, in our first official up-close look at him, declaring that now that he is free and his time as a robotic puppet is over, “There are no strings on me.”
The tone of this first trailer clearly tell us that this will be a far darker film than the original. There was a longer version of this trailer shown to audiences as Comic-Con this year, which included an opening scene of the Avengers relaxing and each taking turns trying to lift Thor’s hammer before Ultron walks in. This scene was omitted from the official teaser, but the effect is the same even without it.
It should be noted that this film is picking up in the wake of each of the Avengers’ most recent adventures, with Tony Stark getting rid of his arc reactor and destroying all of his previous armors in Iron Man 3, Thor choosing to relinquish the throne of Asgard so he can move to Earth to have a relationship with Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World, and Black Widow and Nick Fury going undercover to investigate the return of Hydra (whose infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. has led to the organization’s collapse) while Captain America searches for his former friend Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier; the events of Guardians of the Galaxy do not appear to be relevant to this film, but instead to setting up new cosmic possibilities down the road. It will be interesting to see how this drama plays out and the Avengers come back together a midst all that is currently happening in their lives, especially since, this examiner imagines, the team’s role would likely have expanded after S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collapse.
It is also interesting to see the events showcased in this trailer in context of the recently reported ideas circulating for the third Captain America film, reportedly taking it’s inspiration from the comic book’s “Civil War” story line. Could Ultron’s attacks on the avengers have a direct connection to why a Superhero Registration Act gets proposed and plant the seeds of unrest among Tony Stark and Steve Rogers? We already have seen evidence that the Avengers are going through some rough times right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
The inclusion of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is also exciting, although we do not get to see too much of their powers at work, only brief teases. Seeing them alongside Ultron for one scene suggests that they will start off as villains before joining our heroes; give their comic book history and their status being kept in Hydra custody at the end of Winter Soldier, it does make sense. Ultron’s design is intimidating, his face looking much more human than I expected from him classic comic book look with the the large, permanently-open mouth area, but I am sure this was done to better capture the effect of James Spader’s performance. The use of the song “There Are No Strings On Me,” while a sign of Disney’s firm grasp of the Marvel franchise, is effectively used and conveys Ultron’s point-of-view in a creepy manner.
Overall, this trailer is exciting and it makes this examiner even more ecstatic to see the film than he already was.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is slated for a North American release on May 1, 2015.