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If there’s any one script that the entire industry would give their right arm to get their hands on (good luck turning pages, stubby!), it’s got to be The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The first picture was a billion dollar success, but the story actually left several unanswered questions. How can S.H.I.E.L.D. be trusted after the chain-of-command scuffle that almost destroyed New York? Who is Thanos? And what’s going on with that barely-contained sexual tension between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner?
Earlier, Scarlett Johansson claimed to know these answers, as she dished some minor sentiments regarding the script, calling it "dark" (not a huge reveal there). Now, Mark Ruffalo has also revealed that he’s read the script, and MTV was there to derail conversation about his Sundance film Infinitely Polar Bear to ask about it.
"I would say that it’s better, it’s cooler, it’s more awesomer," he said, proving that he’s fairly adept at speaking Comic Con-ese. "It’s a little bit darker, but also really had Joss Whedon’s incredibly witty and sly sense of humor." He also confirms there’s plenty in the script for Bruce Banner to do, but, well, he’d better if Ruffalo’s agent has anything to say about it.
Nerd Speculation Time! Ruffalo seems to be confirming the mandatory "darker sequel" angle, but by talking up the humor he suggests the drama will come from unlikely sources this time around. In other words, the Avengers won’t be "Disassembled" or any such event. Facing off against Baron Von Strucker and Ultron in this installment seems fairly comic book-y, and there’s a very good chance that lingering, deadly-serious Thanos continues waiting in the wings. Or maybe Ruffalo and Johansson simply read different chunks of the same script: again, this thing is in-demand, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they both read approved chunks of the script in a heavy-security safe house in Brazil once and were forced to leave without it. Maybe Ruffalo got the funny stuff, while Black Widow ended up dealing with some heavy stuff in the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
You can pull off "darker" with "more laughs," and that’s really the best sort of balance with these comic movies: with sequels announced until the end of time, you really need to find new ways to build suspense as much as possible. Fortunately, Whedon and his collaborators never forget that these are comic books originally made for audiences of children. They should be funny, a little ridiculous, and ultimately light on their feet if they want to honor the source material.
Expanding beyond that and using, say, Batman as a template for a serious message or a relevant contemporary theme could prove fruitful, but that’s not the sort of approach that’s all that easy to pull off. Nevermind the struggle in being allowed to use what are essentially costumed corporate mascots for the sake of complex adult storytelling: you can really only pull that off in cult comics and slashfic. Dirty, dirty slashfic.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron opens May 1st, 2015.