The Avengers: Age of Ultron began shooting just recently in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Disney is wasting no time in promoting the next team-up of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. With the first season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. soon entering its final stretch, Captain America: The Winter Soldier about to hit theaters, and the marketing campaign just beginning for Guardians of the Galaxy, all of these things will be explored in an ABC TV special next month.
The headlining reveal of course, will be the very first official sneak peek at The Avengers sequel. The ABC television special is dubbed Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe and it will offer a behind-the-scenes look at what Marvel Studios had done to craft their comics-based media empire.
With the long-awaited first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy breaking last week, introducing an entirely new set of characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Captain America sequel also introducing a few new heroes and villains we've seen in its ads, Age of Ultron remains the last big question mark of Phase 2 when it comes to new characters. With several new heroes announced in Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision, we can only hope to get our first glimpse of them in action or at least in costume with the film's first preview, but that may be hoping a bit too much.
From the unofficial set visit photos and footage, the scenes in South Africa shot so far seem to focus squarely on the CGI Hulk doing what he does best in the city streets, and we don't expect many effects to be completed on that front. Instead, we may just get some behind-the-scenes snippets of shooting with some cast, crew and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige teasing the film and their plans for it.
We really do hope they at least expand on the announcement trailer from last summer's Comic-Con where they introduced the titular villain, Ultron, played by James Spader. We know The Avengers 2 writer and director Joss Whedon will be using Spader's voice and face for the robotic/AI character and we're very curious how that will play out.
The early look at Marvel's biggest project to date aside, the ABC special and its timing will play an important role in boosting ratings for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series, a show that's battled poor reviews and falling ratings frequently. With the series, led by Clark Gregg's fan-fave Agent Phil Coulson character, possibly serving to lay down a lot of background for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the ABC special leading right into it on Tuesday, March 18 at 8PM, if that's the plan, will undoubtedly boost ratings during a key time period for Nielsen ratings' "sweeps" month of March. This is also why we're seeing an increased amount of cameos and introductions from characters from Marvel Comics throughout the month.
Bill Paxton signed on for a multi-episode arc as S.H.I.E.L.D. Officer John Garrett, introduced next week in the show's first episode back( Episode 14 - T.A.H.I.T.I. airs March 4, 2014), and the following week will see Thor and Thor: The Dark World star Jaimie Alexander reprise her role as the Asgardian warrior Lady Sif on a mission to Earth (Episode 15- Yes Men airs March 11, 2014). Since the week of the 18th airs the special during the AoS timeslot, we don't know for certain if Episode 16 will air an hour later or if that week represents another break for the show.
Agents of SHIELD is on the bubble however, as far as whether or not it'll get a full second season order by ABC so the next month will be extremely telling for the show's future.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with “Tahiti” on Tuesday, March 4th @8pm on ABC.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!
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