[WARNING: Potential SPOILERS ahead for The Avengers: Age of Ultron]
While the recent departure of Edgar Wright as the director of Marvel's Ant-Man drew a lot of attention, the quick signing of Peyton Reed to replace him has allowed the studio to swing their focus back to this August's release of the ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy. In the meantime, Joss Whedon is by now more than halfway done shooting Marvel's huge 2015 sequel and Phase II culmination The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We've already seen a good amount of set photos from the movie's various international locations, with the last month or so providing fans with a variety of updates, from details on new additions Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), to the expanded role of Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), to possible details of the opening sequence and the big news that Josh Brolin has been cast as the MCU's overall big baddie Thanos.
If the rumored plot points are even half-true, The Avengers 2 is already stuffed with multiple storylines. A new report from CBM not only adds a great deal more potential cameos and narrative threads into the mix, but offers set photos from the movie's newest location, University of East Anglia campus in Norwich, UK.
There is a lot going on in these set pictures, and they add even more to Age of Ultron's already packed plot. Beyond shots of the returning Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, along with reported views of the backs of Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson's body doubles.
According to observers on location:
- Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie, and B.J. Britt (Agent Triplett from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) have all been spotted on set, in costume.
- The Iron Patriot armor, known for its pivotal role in Iron Man 3, has been seen, but Don Cheadle was not.
- A couple of blurry long shots of a group of costumed extras are said to be "Avengers Recruits."
- A piece of set dressing appears to be part of Avengers Tower.
We need to point out that while the appearances of Taylor-Johnson and Olsen are to be expected, it's entirely possible that Jackson and Mackie could simply be visiting the set. Observers claim to have seen them "in costume," but there is no visual proof at this point of their involvement in Age of Ultron. The presence of B.J. Britt, however, may not be as easily dismissed. His character, Antoine Triplett, is the descendant of one of Captain America's World War II cohorts the Howling Commandos, and by the end of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season had secured a place as a key specialist.
In the wake of game-changing third act reveals of The Winter Solider - which fed directly cross-platform into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., turning the show's end run of episodes into gripping, must-see television - nothing can be the same for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Britt is on hand as Agent Triplett, will Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) reveal himself to the Avengers? How big a role will Nick Fury and the now-decimated S.H.I.E.L.D. play in this new world?
The other main question mark is the evidence of "Avengers Recruits." Possibly the most direct correlation to this potential plot-thread occurred in The Avengers: The Initiative, a comic book series covering the aftermath of the famous Marvel Civil War. Once the pro-superhero-registration camp proved victorious, the Fifty State Initiative was launched, which saw S.H.I.E.L.D.-sponsored teams of superheros appear in every state.
Will shades of the Marvel Civil War wind up in the Age of Ultron narrative somehow? Are the uniformed extras some other kind of military, para-military or containment force, perhaps?
It's certainly fun to see the whole Avengers crew in action, and even a glimpse of these fan-favorite characters is enough to inspire us to dive deep into the rabbit hole of plot speculation. If Sam Jackson, Anthony Mackie, B.J. Britt, a batch of "Avengers Recruits" and even Don Cheadle or Clark Gregg end up joining the party, few would complain. Then again, many of us are going to see Age of Ultron to see that villainous android in action, without distraction.
What do you think of these set photos, Screen Rant readers? Let us know in the comments.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will open in theaters on May 1st, 2015.