Inside the Superhero Clubhouse
First, Marvel’s panel started nearly twenty minutes late. Then, they didn’t announce anything new, except that the Guardians of the Galaxy’s pre-destined sequel will open on July 28, 2017. There was no news on Dr. Strange, or long-awaited confirmation of a Black Panther and/or Captain Marvel movie. All they did was show us some stuff from Ant-Man and then assemble the Avengers and screen some footage but whatever. Marvel is the worst because they didn’t stunt.
They didn’t stunt because they don’t, usually. The only reason Tom Hiddleston showed up in Loki drag last year was because they couldn’t pull a Thor 2 panel together and they needed to promote the movie. Remember what I mentioned in my preview post about studios cutting back on their Comic-Con expenditures? Well frugal Marvel leads the pack—all they did for The Avengers was get the cast on stage for a photo op. At least this time we got footage!
Let’s talk about that footage. Where Batman vs. Superman just showed us a couple guys staring at each other, The Avengers: Age of Ultron let us inside the superhero clubhouse. The clip starts with the Avengers bro-ing down in Tony Stark’s living room, trying to lift Thor’s hammer. No one can do it, and Tony takes it personally. He tries again with the Iron Man armor, and yet again with Rhodey, but they can’t budge it. Thor is laughing, except Captain America is able to move it a little and suddenly he looks worried (there’s already nerd rage that Cap can’t actually lift the hammer but it’s clearly a setup for later—that’ll be a big moment, why waste it in a comedy scene?). The Avengers talk about their worthiness and what looks like a scrapped Iron Man suit lumbers into the room. “How could you be worthy,” a silky voice intones, “you’re all killers.”
Right off, we know a bunch of stuff about the Avengers several years on from the first time they assembled. One, Tony is still Tony—he’s got some great zingers about ruling Asgard and a “wench clause”. Two, everyone is still nervous about Bruce and the Hulk—when he can’t lift the hammer and gets a little too upset, there’s a downbeat of tension. Three, the cast’s chemistry is still amazing, as lines come fast and furious and everyone plays off each other—for the Jeremy Renner fans, Hawkeye is all over this footage. And four, casting James Spader as Ultron was brilliant. His voice is perfect, menacing and urbane—Ultron is CHILLING.
But there is real darkness in this movie. Tony says, “It’s the end, the end of the path I started us on.” Black Widow’s response? An unemotional “nothing lasts forever.” Thor grabs Tony by the throat, a glimpse of Scarlet Witch looking freaky, and Quicksilver running through a standing-still room, and each of the Avengers fighting, including Captain America in a knock-down, drag-out brawl, and Tony in the Hulkbuster armor fighting the Hulk, which is F*CKING AWESOME. The scale is much larger, with action jumping from African cities to European villages and remote locales as well, and the heroes each seem to be facing a unique challenge in fighting Ultron—it looks like he’s creating obstacles tailored to each Avenger.
All this happens as a weird version of the Disney song “I’ve Got No Strings” plays on the soundtrack. Over the song Ultron says, “There are no strings on me,” and the camera cuts to a shot of Cap’s shield, broken apart. As the scene pans back, we see all the Avengers apparently dead among rubble as Tony looks on, horrified. And that’s it.
Do you see how much more we have to talk about when they show us action and dialogue?
(Lainey: Sarah told me that RDJ was whipping roses into the crowd and I was worried we wouldn’t have pictures of that. We do! And why is he whipping roses into the crowd? I don’t know. It’s RDJ. Does it matter?)
Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Kevin Winter/ Getty