With the next two films from Marvel Studios, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy deep intro post-production for release dates closer to summer, the next feature on schedule is The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sequel to the third biggest box office hit of all-time begins principal photography in March, primarily shooting in London's Pinewood Studios.
Not only does the next team-up return to a familiar shooting locale - where three of Marvel's prior films shot - but The Avengers 2 sees the return of the entire cast of Earth's Mightiest heroes along with their S.H.I.E.L.D. allies. They will of course, be joined by a few new heroes and villains, some that are still unconfirmed.
Speaking with SFX magazine, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige reiterated how the title of the film and its villain selection (and casting) came to be. As we've heard from writer and director Joss Whedon previously, introducing Ultron as the team's next reason for getting together was something he pitched and tossed around ideas for with Feige during the production of The Avengers.
"We didn't want to merely have a '2' after Avengers so we wanted to give it a subtitle. We have various things that we were looking at and Age of Ultron - which just happened to be a the name of a comic book series as well - was our favorite. I first met James Spader two or three years ago. I thought it would be great to have him in our universe and we finally found the right role with Joss's version of Ultron."
The clarification regarding the subtitle is actually an important one since the story of the film actually has nothing to do with the recent "Age of Ultron" miniseries in Marvel Comics. That's a good thing, because despite the fitting title, the Age of Ultron books were critically slammed.
The more interesting discussion - and for some, a concern - about The Avengers: Age of Ultron is how it will introduce new characters, both heroes and villains, and still give them enough screen time to have worthy story arcs. Even with less characters in the first Avengers, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) didn't get much to do - something the actor wasn't shy about sharing his feelings on. The sequel, meanwhile, is bringing everyone back, adding siblings Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to the team, and perhaps even including appearances of other supporting heroes such as War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) from the other Phase 2 films. Feige comments:
"It's always a balance with any movie, not to overwhelm it with too many story elements. Certainly when it comes to comic book movies, you can fall into the trap of having too many villains and in the case of team-based movies, having too many heroes. But what Joss has in mind to bring those characters into the story happens in a very natural fashion over the course of the story. It's also the tradition of the Avengers to switch up the roster every now and again and to have new characters coming in. It's just part of the fun, but we wouldn't have included them if it had just been a case of 'Oh, we want two new figures, two new costumes.' It very much flows with the story that Joss is creating."
By "switching up" the roster are we going to see some of The Avengers taken off the team, perhaps even killed off like Whedon teased way back when? Is there room more than just cameo appearances for the supporting heroes of Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
We know Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are unlikely to be heroes from the start. Whedon explained that they don't "necessarily agree" with the methods of The Avengers and of course, in Marvel Comics, they've been on the villainous side of conflicts more than once. There's also the recent reports and rumors that Age of Ultron may feature another villain in a smaller role - and that character (details here) might be working with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch at the start of the film.
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 31, 2015, with unannounced films coming May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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Source: SFX (via CBM)