As the third highest-grossing movie of all time (and the highest-grossing comic book movie full stop), The Avengers left a big legacy to live up to. Next year director Joss Whedon will attempt to match (or even beat) his own record with sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which the titular superhero team will face off against a new threat: the indomitable android Ultron (James Spader).
Concrete plot details are currently scarce, but the powerful sibling duo Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) will be joining the fray, as teased in the mid-credits scene for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Filming began in worldwide locations earlier this year and production is currently focused in London, with the release date for The Avengers: Age of Ultron now less than a year away.
For those who can't bear the wait, however, JoBlo claims to have a small collection of plot and character tidbits from a "trusted and proven source." There is nothing that could be really be considered a spoiler, but those who would prefer to remain totally in the dark about The Avengers: Age of Ultron until the trailers are released may want to give the following details a miss.
[Warning: Possible mild SPOILERS for The Avengers: Age of Ultron ahead.]
Iron Man leads the pack
It's no secret that Tony Stark is currently the figurehead of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man was Marvel Studios' first movie and Iron Man 3 was second only to The Avengers in its total box office gross. According to JoBlo's report, the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier means that Tony will be picking up the tab for the Avengers in Age of Ultron. The former Stark Tower is left with its single "A" and becomes the new HQ for the team, as well as the central hub for global security. Tony uses his seemingly bottomless wealth to fund new costumes, a new Quinjet, and new tech.
That new tech will include an army of Iron Man drones similar to those used in Iron Man 3, which allow Tony to "keep the peace" since he's not able to be everywhere at once. There is something a bit unsettling about an army of robots being used as a police force around the world, governed by a single man. Maybe it's just the impending release of X-Men: Days of Future Past that's soured the idea a little, though. Either way, we already know from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Stark has "privatized" the remaining forces of S.H.I.E.L.D., so these ideas seem reasonable enough.
In addition: having been plastered all over international news during the attack on New York, the Avengers are officially out of the superhero closet and have publicly made clear their intention to keep the world safe. It won't be an easy task.
The Avengers assemble
According to JoBlo's source, The Avengers: Age of Ultron won't waste time retreading the exhausting process of getting the group of strong personalities to work together as a team again. An opening battle near the start of the film will provide the first "hero shot" of everyone together as they take on Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) and encounter the twins for the first time.
To symbolize their status as a proper team, Tony Stark has designed costumes for everyone that all feature an Avengers logo (this detail seems to be true, based on set photos of Captain America's new uniform). Black Widow has been gifted two new batons with the ability to shock enemies into submission, Hulk has been given some stretchy pants to help preserve his dignity, and Hawkeye will sadly be covering up his guns with a long-sleeved jacket, also seen in set photos.
Explicit android-on-android action
Why have one Ultron when you can have three? There will apparently be three different versions of Ultron featured in The Avengers: Age of Ultron as he transitions from a rudimentary original state to something much more advanced. He is coated in Vibranium and spends much of the movie seeking out more raw materials in order to continually upgrade. At least one version of Ultron will be mo-capped by Spader.
Paul Bettany, who has played Tony Stark's friendly artificial intelligence system J.A.R.V.I.S. in the movies so far, will be getting an upgrade in this movie to become Vision, an android and member of the Avengers in the comics. According to this report, Vision will not make his appearance until the third act of the movie, suggesting that he may be something of a secret weapon for the Avengers when all their usual methods of attack fail against Ultron.
Although all these details are rumor for now, they definitely do seem to fit with the glimpses of The Avengers: Age of Ultron that we've seen in set photos so far. It makes sense that Marvel would want to maintain Tony Stark as leader, and it will be gratifying to see the Avengers organising themselves now that they're out from under S.H.I.E.L.D.'s thumb.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is out in theaters on May 1, 2015.