With Avengers: Age of Ultron, writer and director Joss Whedon brings back the six heroes known as "Earth's Mightiest" from 2012's record-breaking team-up epic, and adds to it with several new super-powered characters from Marvel Comics. With even more main characters, more supporting players, and even a few special cameos, how is the screen time divided between so many actors?
That's part of the problem in servicing not just character arcs, but the desires of the talent bringing them to life onscreen, and fortunately this is what Whedon specializes in. You might be surprised however, in just how much time each character gets on screen for the Avengers sequel.
Joining Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Hulk in the fray for the sequel are the twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, alongside the android Avenger known as the Vision. Here's how their screen time was observed and measured thanks to an army of interns at Vulture who used stopwatches to time whenever each of Age of Ultron's nine Avengers were on screen, even for brief appearances such as Quicksilver's speedy movements. It may not be entirely accurate, but the differences are clear:
- Captain America: 50:25
- Iron Man: 45:34
- Black Widow: 33:07
- Quicksilver: 26:43
- Bruce Banner/Hulk: 23:55
- Scarlet Witch: 20:59
- Hawkeye: 19:56
- Thor: 14:18
- Vision: 8:41
Unfortunately, there's no recorded time for Ultron.
Interestingly, even though Joss Whedon makes a great effort to focus on the three original Avengers who don't have their own solo franchises (Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Hulk), Cap and Stark still dominate the screen as the co-leaders of the team. Keep in mind however, when Iron Man is on the screen (i.e. all of the set pieces), Robert Downey Jr. isn't actually on set so the number is inflated for him thanks to pure CGI, whereas for Hulk, Mark Ruffalo actually performs the motion capture... though he does drop in screen time quite a bit this time around compared to Avengers 1.
Still, Hawkeye and Black Widow's histories are explored in Avengers 2 and the latter also delves into a relationship (sort of) with Banner. The overall time breakdown seems a little closer to what we're expecting from next year's Captain America: Civil War (which just entered production last week) where again, Stark and Rogers are the two main characters.
As for Thor, his reduced screen time can be explained by the amount of his scenes we know were cut from the theatrical version. His arc in the Avengers sequel sees him journey off alone to meet an old friend, Erik Selvig, and learn the truth of the vision he saw at the hands of Scarlet Witch, but most of that was removed from the film, making his story the most confusing and incomplete, seemingly forced in only to setup future events in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his own next film, Thor: Ragnarok. Even his vision sequences were reduced significantly for, resulting in the cutting out the cameo for Loki (Tom Hiddleston), but Thor still does play a key factor in the film since he's the only Avenger with knowledge of the greater universe. Where Thor is absent, Vision makes up for it, and their characters make a wonderful pair and are intricately connected.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is now in theaters, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.