By Ashley Bergner
Box Office Buzz
Well, let the speculation begin.
The first trailer for Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” arrived earlier than expected, thanks to a leak (Marvel proved to be a good sport, claiming — tongue-in-cheek — the work of pesky “Hydra” agents). At any rate, the trailer is here, and fans have quickly begun dissecting the two and a half minute video.
And there’s certainly a lot going on in those two and a half minutes. We catch a glimpse of the team of superheroes, looking weary and war-torn. We witness streets covered with ashes and rubble. The tone is grimmer, darker than the first Avengers movie, veering closer to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. We get a sense that this battle is going to cost the Avengers — as a team and as individuals. And unlike its predecessor, this movie may not have a happy ending.
Marvel tends to not give away the best bits of their movies in their trailers, a fact I’ve always appreciated. The trailer for “Age of Ultron” teases far more than it reveals, but it’s given us plenty to speculate about.
In the movie, Ultron is a robot created by Tony Stark that develops a mind of its own and becomes a threat to humanity. I really liked the look of the robot in the film, and James Spader voices the character with an eerie menace. At first I was wondering how they would top the villain from the first Avengers movie, and I worried a robot might make a less dynamic villain. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is the most colorful and arguably the best of the Marvel movie villains, but I think Ultron has the potential to be an intriguing and menacing villain. Although the idea of technology turning on humanity isn’t a new concept in science fiction, it’s interesting that one of the Avengers ends up creating the team’s enemy. This will undoubtedly develop tension amongst the team members.
Another major factor I noticed in the trailer is how surprisingly dark it feels, at least for a Marvel film. There’s no banter between the characters, no snarky one-liners from Tony Stark. I’m sure there will be some of this in the final movie; director/writer Joss Whedon is known for his dialogue, and the banter and bickering between the superheroes was part of what made the first Avengers movie so fun. However, I do think the second Avengers film will be much more serious, and it will be interesting to see how this goes over with movie audiences. Marvel has developed a winning formula of humor and heart, with lovable but sometimes dysfunctional characters. Audiences seem to love — and trust — the Marvel formula so much that they made a blockbuster of Marvel’s once obscure round-up of characters “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The movie was quirky, fast-paced and funny. Will audiences like seeing favorite characters in a more serious setting?
I don’t mind if Joss Whedon takes the second Avengers movie a little darker, especially since it could help the sequel from feeling like a rehash of the original. However, I hope he doesn’t make the movie TOO serious or take out too much of the witty banter between characters. Whedon has shown, through projects like his Western-flavored sci-fi series “Firefly,” that he can balance darker themes and rapid-fire humor.
I’ve also heard some speculation that one of the major characters could die in this movie. It would be a way to surprise audiences, and is a move Marvel hasn’t really made before. Several Marvel characters have gone to the brink of death and come back (Nick Fury, Steve Rogers, Phil Coulson, etc.), but a major character death would be a game changer — if they actually stayed dead. While I think as a storyteller, Whedon is gutsy enough to kill off a member of the Avengers team, Marvel won’t kill one of the “big three” — the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America solo franchises make too much money. I don’t think it will be Black Widow; I still hope to see a solo movie for her character, and there’s too much fun chemistry between her and Captain America to kill her off. I can’t see them killing Hulk either, and Nick Fury has already “died” once. Hawkeye could be a possibility, especially since he’s probably the least likely to get a solo film.
As the sequel to the all-time highest grossing superhero movie, there’s a lot of pressure riding on this film. I think Joss Whedon will pull it off, and the trailer already has fans excited about the sequel.