We saw it in an unfinished form at San Diego Comic-Con, but that didn't stop the first footage of The Avengers: Age of Ultron from becoming one of the highlights of the event. It included the awkward first meeting between Ultron and Earth's Mightiest Heroes, a giant-sized battle between Iron Man and The Hulk, new heroes and new costumes - all playing in front of intensely creepy narration by a robotic voiced James Spader. Most of that made its way into the first official Age of Ultron trailer, which is now available to watch a week early, after leaks saw a low-res version spread across the Web.
Let's put aside the leaks and take a closer look at the first official footage from The Avengers: Age of Ultron to see what Marvel Studios and writer-director Joss Whedon are up to in the sequel to their flagship franchise.
There were rumors about the story and certain sequences that play out in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and many of those proved to be true in the teaser footage we saw over the summer. Now you can see too - from a certain party scene and a new relationship to different versions of Ultron and a new ride for the team.
The Castle In The Snow
Dating back to when Thomas Kretschmann was cast to play Hydra officer Baron von Strucker in The Avengers sequel with a multi-picture deal, some reports pointed to his involvement in the intro sequence of the film. We know from the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that Strucker has a secret base with Loki's scepter and the "Twins" (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) in it, so we're going to guess that the large castle-esque stronghold in the snowy mountains is Strucker's Castle in Bavaria (from the comics).
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If that's the case, all of these shots in the snow - including Hulk transforming back into overly exhausted Bruce Banner, Hawkeye with his cold weather outfit and the high-tech enemy tank - could all be from the first act of the movie. Is that a Hydra tank? Is that Cap kicking in the doors to the same fortress?
Unveiled in full at Marvel's San Diego Comic-Con booth this summer was Project LiveWire – Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle – as the ride of choice for Natasha Romanoff. "The bike will star in an epic scene with Captain America in the film," according to the official description and you can see a glimpse of it with Cap's shield mounted on the front.
In The Avengers we saw the first Quinjets, high-tech aircraft that launch from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. We saw a more militarized one that seemingly had more space in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and a stealth one that can go invisible in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In Age of Ultron however, the team has their own new Quinjet that has its own parking space (landing pad) near the top of Avengers tower. This one's even bigger, and unlike the other Quinjets, features just one pilot seat in the cockpit for Hawkeye. It also carries Black Widow's bike.
Here's a good look at the interior of the new Quinjet, which gives a good example of just how large it really is. In this shot, however, the team is not just exhausted, they are emotionally wrecked, especially Banner. Most interestingly, of the core six original Avengers only Stark is not in the jet, since Hawkeye is in the pilot's seat.
Is Stark flying outside? On another mission? Or does the team assume the worst - and if so, is that what has Banner in this state?
Leaked set photos revealed scenes shot in WWII which may or may not involve Paul Bettany, and we know Hayley Atwell is returning as well. With the timing of her show Agent Carter launching its miniseries early next year on ABC, it wouldn't be a stretch to see it setting up or tying into historical scenes of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The same can be said for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which stars the man (Phil Coulson) who Whedon killed in the first Avengers. Coulson must reveal himself to the team and let them know he's alive, right? If Fury's in the sequel, that could very well happen.
Fury's In It
Look who's back and rocking an eye patch again. Samuel L. Jackson previously described his role in The Avengers 2 as a glorified cameo of sorts, but we can at least hope to learn what he's been up to since heading to Europe at the end of Captain America 2, and since appointing Phil Coulson as his replacement to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. The Avengers are - after all - still his baby, and we bet his mission isn't over yet taking down Hydra.
Earth's Mightiest Party
Some needed downtime after a successful mission can be a good thing. For fans, this means seeing The Avengers in plain clothes (finally, in Thor's case) and socializing. And in case you missed it from previous official photos, Don Cheadle does make a guest appearance - although we don't think he's going to be suiting up as War Machine. Maybe in the next Avengers?
In the wide shot of the party you can see the six main Avengers, Maria Hill (who now works for Stark) and another new character played by Kim Soo-hyun a.k.a. Claudia Kim who's rumored to play a doctor in the film. Romanoff and Banner look cozy, don't they? More on that later.
Of course the party is cut short by an uninvited guest...
Ultron is created by Tony Stark as a way to police and protect the world after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's an artificial intelligence of sorts, similar to JARVIS, that can control his drone-like armor suits. As the official one-liner for the film states, "when Tony Stark jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry..." and that begins at the end of this party, where Ultron shambles in, constructed of leftover bits from different Iron Man suits.
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A brawl breaks out here and this next shot could be of the aftermath, judging by their clothing, with Stark reflecting on what he's created. Note the Avengers logo on Ultron's chest piece above.
During the world premiere of Iron Man 3, Joss Whedon first let slip his intentions to include the "brother-sister act" of Quicksilver (real name: Pietro Maximoff,) and Scarlet Witch (real name: Wanda Maximoff) in The Avengers sequel, and this trailer provides our first look at them in action. We know they're characters who don't agree with what The Avengers stand for, and their role involves messing with them, according to Whedon.
Above we see them taking part in a protest or riot in what we're assuming is Eastern Europe. Their history of being both villains and heroes in the comics shines through in the trailer, since we clearly see them standing alongside Ultron in what we're assuming is his secret lair.
Since Ultron is also responsible for the creation of Vision, this villain might just be forming his own team. But it doesn't last, since we also see glimpses of Quicksilver crashing through a bus/train car to bodycheck an Ultron robot and save Captain America:
Pietro's ability of super speed is easy to understand and describe, but his sister Wanda is a different story. From Elizabeth Olsen and Whedon's previous hints and descriptions of the character, she can touch objects and see their history, she can mess with people's minds, and as this image indicates, she can blast hex bolts just like in the comics.
And she's very upset:
Wanda's emotional issues pale in comparison to Banner's - and despite his feelings about it, we love it when he's angry. It's difficult to confirm given the way the trailer is edited and spliced together, but if all these shots are from the same sequence, it appears as if local police and military units are dispatched against a raging Hulk.
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Note the sad, red eyes of Mark Ruffalo shining through to the Hulk's face in the top image. The animation detail on the "other guy" continues to improve by leaps and bounds, and his softer emotions are readily apparent. Part of making this animated creature more lifelike is capturing Ruffalo's body and facial movements and to do that the best way possible, Marvel brought in the best: Andy Serkis.