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With the Marvel Studios panel being held at San Diego Comic-Con this evening, we all knew that tonight was going to deliver our first official look at Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Back in June we learned that the entire cast of the blockbuster was going to be coming down to Southern California for the geek fest, and with that news came the promise that footage would premiere for the hungry masses packed into Hall H. And Marvel definitely didn’t disappoint.
The footage began in the newly furbished Avengers Tower where we see Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson), Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), sitting around and relaxing. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) walks into frame and sits his hammer, Mjolnir, down on the coffee table in front of everyone. This immediately stirs up a debate, as Tony and Hawkeye don’t believe that Thor being "worthy" is what allows him to pick up his weapon of choice. An Avengers challenge then begins.
First it’s Tony who tries to pick up the hammer, asking if his success would mean him becoming king of Asgard. But of course he fails. After asking to be excused for a second, he returns with an Iron Man gauntlet on – but still his efforts are in vain. Then we see both Tony and Rhodey using their Iron Man gloves to try and lift the Asgardian hammer, but, again, they have no luck. Next up is Hawkeye, who also is unable to budge it a millimeter. Bruce then gives it a try, but his extreme effort begins to put everyone on edge (and, of course, he’s unable to lift it as well). Then it’s Maria Hill’s turn, and she is also unable to pick it up. Things get a bit weird when Captain America gives it a go, as we actually hear the hammer move slightly, and Thor suddenly looks very concerned. This is fleeting, however, as his efforts soon become just as futile as everyone else’s.
After Black Widow refuses the challenge, saying that it’s not a question she need’s answered, Tony starts to accuse Thor of having Mjolnir’s handle encrypted with some kind of fingerprint recognition. Thor, however, dismisses this theory out of hand, saying that the answer is simple: "You’re all not worthy." Everyone is smiling and laughing, but the mood of the room changes drastically when we begin to hear the sound of metal clanking down the hallway behind them, as well as the sound of a voice. We then see what looks like a very early version of Ultron – made up of what look like just spare parts. Things get really scary when he begins to speak, however:
"Worthy? How could you be worthy? You’re all killers. You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. There’s only one path to peace. Your extinction."
After that, a pair of robots come flying through the wall towards our heroes. The battle has begun.
The rest of the footage came in montage format, but was filled with all kinds of amazing visuals. Looking much, much darker than the first Avengers movie, all the various sequences were set in places around the world from Eastern Europe to Africa, but all of the scenes had one thing in common: a tone of pure dread. The material was extremely action heavy and showcased just about everyone’s powers – including the super speed of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the magic of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Iron Man’s Hulkbuster suit also made an amazing appearance, with Tony and Hulk doing battle in what appeared to be the aforementioned Africa location (one particularly great moment had hulk throwing a car at Iron Man and then punching his way through it. . Other awesome stuff included a super quick appearance by Andy Serkis (who apparently isn’t playing a motion capture character), Bruce Banner stumbling shirtless through a forest with snow on the ground, Hulk and Black Widow pressing their palms together, and finally a shot of Ultron with the line of dialogue, "There are no strings on me."
As incredible as the footage was, easily the most impressive bit was the very end of the footage, which featured Tony Stark looking down at Captain America’s shield, which has been shattered. The camera moves backwards and we see that Tony is standing over a field of bodies, including those of his superhero friends. In the distance, however, we see a lone figure still waiting.
I was amazed just how different the movie looked cinematically compared to the first, but also loved that it had me laughing and smiling the whole way through. As our own Sean O'Connell put it, sitting nearby in Hall H with me, "it looks like a whole new style of filming." Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios have something absolutely epic lined up for us next summer, and we can’t wait!
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