It’s hard to believe that we are even getting Avengers: Age of Ultron. Seven years ago, after watching Iron Man, some of us would have laughed at the thought of getting all these heroes to work together on a film. But it has happened, not once, but now twice, and there will be four films within a few years.
Geeks Of Doom was recently invited to the press conference for Avengers: Age of Ultron, where stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, and James Spader were in attendance to talk about being a part of such a massive ensemble, how the changing universe has effected their characters, and some of the stunt work that comes with a film of this size. Director Joss Whedon and producer Kevin Feige also talked about shaping the Marvel Cinematic Universe to what it is today, how some of the films in MCU’s Phase 2 changed the Age of Ultron script, and some of the challenges of shooting the sequel.
Here’s 11 things you should know about Avengers: Age of Ultron, which opens in theaters on May 1, 2015.
11 – The MCU is bigger than than a bunch of movies leading up to the ensemble event; it has TV shows from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, to Netflix’s Daredevil. And the person to connect all of that is Cobie Smulders, who plays Maria Hill in the MCU. When asked about how her character has changed and being the thread that connects the ABC show Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the films together, Cobie Smulders said:
“Maria is now under the employment of Tony Stark. She is working with him to privatize security. It is very fun being the thread that ties the TV show and the movies together. It has been a lot of fun. Sheâ€™s got a bigger job now. She doesnâ€™t have S.H.I.E.L.D. at her disposal anymore. It is a much more difficult job.”
10 –Age of Ultron marks the first time that Paul Bettany has made a physical appearance in the MCU. The actor, who is best known for voicing J.A.R.V.I.S, Tony Stark’s AI butler and suit assistant, will now fight as The Vision along with his fellow Avengers to save the world from the threat of Ultron. The actor talked about what it feels like to be on a set and not just in a voice booth. “Well, the main difference is that I have to show up,” Bettany said. “The great thing is I get to work with these incredible and talent people; however I now have to show up at junkets. Itâ€™s a double-edged sword.”
9 – Director Joss Whedon talked about the dichotomy that Ultron and The Vision represent since they can both be considered a creation of Tony Stark. “They do embody a little bit of him, but they are also their own people. You see them as two sides of the same coin,” Whedon said. He added, “I like the accord between the two. There is something beautiful about that they see the same thing, but react to it differently emotionally.”
8 – Whedon had previously expressed the exhausting creative process it took to make this film happen. Much like the first Avengers, the director had to find that balance for all the characters. Here’s what Whedon said at the conference:
“Itâ€™s just making sure that everyone got their moment, got their throughline, that it is connected to the films. I have all these people. I love all these people. Theyâ€™re extraordinary. But it is just not making sure that they are being served, but that theyâ€™re all within the same narrative structure, that they are in the same movie, that its all connected to the main theme. At some point in the editing process, I could not have told you who they were, who I was, I got so lost in it. But I think it came together. But it is about making these guys look good, which takes a long time.”
7 – No one could have imagined that we would be getting three (or four) Avengers films, and producer Kevin Feige talked humbly about what it has been like to go from Iron Man all the way to Age of Ultron:
“It started with the notion that we would make the movies ourselves, then become Marvel Studios, and then it continued with having Robert [Downey Jr.] in Iron Man 1 with the notion of having Sam Jackson coming in at the end saying, â€œYouâ€™re part of a bigger universe, you just donâ€™t know it yet,â€ thinking most people didnâ€™t know what that meant. But occasionally somebody would go â€œWhat did that mean?â€ and Iâ€™d go â€œIt means, maybe, weâ€™ll introduce all the different characters, and put them all together, and it be great.â€ The minute that it happened, people got it, much more quickly than Iâ€™d anticipated. Itâ€™s daunting now, because the expectations before didnâ€™t exist. Now it is crushingly overwhelming, particularly this movie. Look down the line, the table keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, itâ€™s one of the largest ensembles in cinematic history.”
6 – As we all know, every sequel has to be bigger and badder than the last film, and Age of Ultron is no exception. Of course trying to add substance with style does present a few challenges. “With the smallest thing I could think of,” Whedon said, “What drew me back to the movie was what little moments are there between these characters that I havenâ€™t gotten to do yet; what conversations did they not have yet; what havenâ€™t I shown? Itâ€™s never sort of the big picture stuff. Itâ€™s always, where do they live; how can I get inside their hearts; whatâ€™s funny about them?”
5 – Having already worked together on Godzilla, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson already have a built-in chemistry. While playing the vital role of the twins (Olsen as Scarlet Witch; Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver) may have been intimidating at first, the two talked about how having already worked together made things easier. “I think itâ€™s only a benefit. Aaron and I didnâ€™t really work together that much on Godzilla,” Olsen said, “Itâ€™s intimidating joining this group, so I got to do it with Aaron.” Taylor-Johnson added, “It is comforting to know, stepping on set, when it is a big ensemble you kind of know someone who youâ€™re comfortable with.”
4 –James Spader, who plays the title villain in the film, was a bit surprised about the fast-paced production of a Marvel film. “I didnâ€™t really know what was happening, it was all happening very quickly. I was trying to hold on and stay on the train that was moving very quickly,” Spader said.
“But I will say this, I arrived in London, and in the first half hour they put on this suit, they put on all this gear, and Iâ€™d gone through a range of emotion, and within 15 minutes, I was watching myself walk around a big room doing this and that and everything else, and watching Ultron, or at least a formative stage of Ultron on a monitor in front of me, and it just started right there. That pace was what it was. Luckily I had some conversations with Joss, and a fantastic meal with a whole bunch of wine to figure out who this guy was.”
3 – Many Hawkeye fans felt that the Marvel archer was underrepresented in the first Avengers film, but things change for the character this time around, as his role has increased dramatically. When asked about the evolution of his character Jeremy Renner said, “Well, I speak in this movie, which is awesome. I feel like Iâ€™m part of the team, which is awesome. When I sat down with Kevin and Joss back in the day, about why I liked to play Hawkeye, was because I could never do what these gentlemen do, I donâ€™t have that creative of a mind.” He added, “I understood Hawkeye in a humanist sense. I kinda felt like I got to explore a little more of that. I thought it was really endearing and thoughtful.”
2 – Marvel plans the MCU films far in advance, laying out the groundwork for each Avengers films in preceding solo ones. As exciting as that is, it does present some limitations, as Feige and Whedon would say.
Kevin Feige: “A lot of those were already in the works. Iron Man 3, Cap 2, and Thor 2 were in the works just as Avengers was coming out. I would say how those movies were impacted by the first Avengers film. I will say as we were putting Phase 2 together, Joss very much liked the idea, and we honed in on that, that Hulk and Hawkeye hadnâ€™t got much exposure in between the two movies, so he said he had big plans for them in this one.”
Joss Whedon: “The only one I could think of ‘The only thing I can think of was pulling Thanos out of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.'”
Kevin Feige: “Thatâ€™s true. There was going to be more Thanos. It was like, ‘No, we need to thread him in more gently,’ but that was pretty much it.”
1 – Physical preparation is hard. But doing it while you are pregnant presents even more of a challenge as Scarlett Johansson talked about. “I donâ€™t think you are suppose to ride a motorcycle while you are so pregnant. But I did, I did all of the motorcycle work,” Johansson said. “I embarrassingly rode a mechanical bull type of motorcycle which goes nowhere and doesnâ€™t look cool, at all.” She added, “But, I had some very professional and amazing motor-cross morphing done that makes Black Widow look like a total bad-ass.” The actress also credits the team for helping her bring the character to life. “I will say that Iâ€™m very fortunate that thereâ€™s a team around me that is super supportive in helping all of Widowâ€™s fight moves and bad-ass motorcycle riding happen,” she said. “I could not do it without that. Starting a move and finishing a move, and having all of that work be seamless, takes a lot of choreography and team spirit.” She adds, “Every film is exciting because I get new tools and fun new stuff to do, and luckily Joss writes me some bad-ass moves that make me look like that. Itâ€™s awesome. I just said epic, awesome, and bad-ass all in one sentence. Iâ€™m done now.”