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Home / Career / Film Productions
Avengers: Age of Ultron
006.jpg Original Release: May 1, 2015
Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Running time: 141 minutes
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Budget: $444–495.2 million (gross), $365.5 million (net)
Box Office
: $1.403 billion

This sequel to the smash-hit comic-book epic The Avengers finds the iconic superhero team dealing with a threat of their own making: a sentient robot called Ultron (voice of James Spader), who was originally designed as part of a peacekeeping program. Since the events of the last film, Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) have been working to take down various cells of a secret society of villains known as HYDRA. Their zeal to make the world a better, safer place inspires Tony Stark, genius billionaire and alter ego of Iron Man, to create Ultron in order to respond to additional threats that the Avengers aren’t able to handle. Ultron, unfortunately, takes this directive way too seriously — he believes that world peace can only be achieved by exterminating humanity, and he’ll stop at nothing to accomplish this goal. The battle between the Avengers and Ultron is further complicated by the appearance of super-powered siblings Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who ally themselves with the homicidal android.

Cast & Characters

Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton / Hawkeye), James Spader (Ultron), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (Jarvis / Vision), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson / The Falcon), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter).

Production Photos

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Production Notes

In October 2011, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios said the studio was beginning to look at their Phase Two films, which would start with Iron Man 3 and would culminate in a second Avengers film. In March 2012, Joss Whedon, director of the first film, stated that he would want a sequel to be “smaller. More personal. More painful. By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time. By having a theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself.” Despite the production of the film becoming increasingly wider in scope, Feige maintained that this was not their intention, always looking to see where the team wanted to take the characters, over how to make it bigger than The Avengers.

At the premiere of The Avengers, Feige said the studio had an option for Whedon to return as director. In May 2012, after the successful release of the first film, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a sequel was in development. Most of the film’s cast members were under contract to potentially appear in the sequel; however, Robert Downey Jr. was not, as his four-picture deal with Marvel expired after Iron Man 3.

At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon said he was undecided about directing. However, in August 2012, Iger announced that Whedon would return to write and direct the sequel and develop the Marvel television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for ABC. Later in the month, Disney set a May 1, 2015, release date. When asked about his decision to return, Whedon said, “Avengers 2, it wasn’t a tough decision. For a long time I thought, ‘Well, it’s just not going to happen.’ Then when I actually started to consider it, it became so clear that I desperately wanted to say more about these characters, it would’ve been an easy no and it was a spectacularly easy yes. There was no wrestling.” Whedon said that they intended for the film’s production to not be as rushed as the first one.

In December 2012, Whedon stated that he had completed an outline for the film. In February, at the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Whedon said that death would play a theme in the sequel, and in March, he said that he looked to The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II as inspirations.

Feige revealed that Captain Marvel, who starred in her own MCU film in 2019, appeared in an early draft of the screenplay, but was removed since the character had not yet been cast, saying, “It didn’t feel like the time. We didn’t want to introduce her fully formed flying in a costume before you knew who she was or how she came to be.” Whedon went so far as to shoot visual effects plates for Captain Marvel to fly into Avengers Headquarters at the end of the film; those shots were reused, however, for Scarlet Witch instead. Feige also revealed that an early draft of the script had Hulk’s Quinjet detected near Saturn at the end of the film, but it was finally decided to keep it Earth-based and leave his fate ambiguous in order to dispel rumors that a film based on the “Planet Hulk” comic storyline was in development, which Marvel Studios had no plans to adapt at the time. Marvel would later decide to adapt “Planet Hulk” for the film Thor: Ragnarok, in which the Hulk does end up leaving Earth.

By April 2013, filming was scheduled to begin in early 2014 at Shepperton Studios in England. At the Hollywood premiere of Iron Man 3, Whedon said that he had completed a draft of the script, started the storyboard process, and met with actors. Whedon also mentioned that he wrote with Downey in mind and included a “brother/sister act” from the comic books, later confirming that he was referring to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Whedon explained his rationale for including the characters in the film saying, “their powers are very visually interesting. One of the problems I had on the first one was everybody basically had punchy powers … [Quicksilver]’s got super speed. [Scarlet Witch] can weave spells and a little telekinesis, get inside your head. There’s good stuff that they can do that will help sort of keep it fresh,” though cautioned he was not throwing in more characters for the sake of doing that. Whedon stated that the twins allowed him to add more conflict: “They don’t like America, and they don’t like the Avengers… The Avengers are like a world power, and not everybody’s on board with the Avengers coming in and starting fights, even in the name of justice. So you need that dissenting voice, and you need to understand it and sympathize with it.” Because Marvel Studios shared the film rights to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch with 20th Century Fox and had to avoid conflict with Fox’s X-Men films, Whedon introduced two important characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe completely on his terms for the first time, which allowed him to connect their origin stories to the universe that they created and avoid the concept of mutants. Whedon relished at the storytelling opportunities by introducing a character with telepathic powers, explaining, “it meant we could spend a little time inside the Avengers’ heads—either their past or their impressions of what’s going on, or their fears, or all of the above.

Casting continued into August 2013, with the announcement that James Spader would play Ultron. In November, Marvel confirmed that Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson would play the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. Taylor-Johnson had been in negotiations since as early as June, while Olsen’s potential involvement was first reported in August. By the end of the year, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Cobie Smulders were confirmed to be returning to their roles from the first film, and Don Cheadle, who portrayed James Rhodes in the Iron Man films, had committed to a part in the film. In the early months of 2014, Thomas Kretschmann was cast as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Claudia Kim was cast in an unspecified role, and Paul Bettany, who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in previous MCU films, was cast as the Vision. Whedon said “juggling” all the characters in the film was “a nightmare” explaining, “They’re very disparate characters. The joy of the Avengers is they really don’t belong in the same room. It’s not like the X-Men, who are all tortured by the same thing and have similar costumes. These guys are just all over the place. And so it’s tough. Honestly, this is as tough as anything I’ve ever done.”

In June 2014, the IMAX Corporation announced that the IMAX release of the film would be converted to IMAX 3D. Following the completion of principal photography several more cast members were revealed including Stellan Skarsgård, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, and Tom Hiddleston, reprising their roles from previous MCU films. However, Hiddleston’s scenes did not make the theatrical cut of the film, with Whedon saying what was shot “didn’t play” and he did not want the film to feel “overstuffed”. According to Hiddleston, “In test screenings, audiences had overemphasized Loki’s role, so they thought that because I was in it, I was controlling Ultron, and it was actually imbalancing people’s expectations.” Whedon later explained that Elba and Atwell appear in the film because of exploring the psyches of the Avengers from Scarlet Witch’s power. In December 2014, Kim’s role was revealed as Dr. Helen Cho. Additional scenes were scheduled to be filmed in January 2015 at Pinewood Studios. In February 2015, Marvel confirmed through promotional material that Serkis portrays Ulysses Klaue in the film. In early April 2015, Linda Cardellini and Julie Delpy were confirmed to be part of the film’s cast. At the same time, Whedon stated that the film would not contain a post-credits scene, which had become customary for MCU films. Whedon tried to come up with a post-credit scene but felt that he could not top the “Shawarma scene” in The Avengers, explaining, “It didn’t seem to lend itself in the same way, and we wanted to be true to what felt right. The first rule of making a sequel is take the best moments and do something else. Don’t do the Indiana Jones gun trick again differently. Just go somewhere else. Don’t try to hit the same highs, because people will sense it.” However, Feige clarified, “There will be a tag [shortly after the credits start]. But there’s not a post–post–credit scene.”

In May 2015, Whedon revealed he was in conflict with Marvel executives and the film’s editors about certain scenes in the film. The executives were not “thrilled” with the scenes at Hawkeye’s farm or the dream sequences the Avengers experience because of Scarlet Witch. Also, Whedon had originally shot a much longer scene with Thor and Selvig in the cave but the final version is shorter as test audiences did not respond well to the original cut. In the scene, Thor would be possessed by a Norn, a goddess of destiny, while Selvig would quiz her about Thor’s hallucination. Additionally, Whedon reiterated he had wanted to include Captain Marvel and Spider-Man at the end, but deals for each character (signing of an actress and a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment, respectively) were not completed in time for their inclusion.

Method Studios created the interior of the new Avengers training facility by digitally designing the training facility, extracting the characters from the original set and placing them into the new CG environment. Method also contributed to Iron Man’s new Mark 45 suit and played a key role in creating Scarlet Witch’s CG mind control effect. Following the trend in recent years, most of the computer screens in Stark’s lab, Dr Cho’s laboratory, the Quinjet and other locations in the film were not added in post-production but were actually working screens on set, adding to the realism of the film and saving some on the post-production budget. London-based Territory Studio delivered the screen visuals filled with unique imagery and animations that matched the character using them. Perception worked on the main-on-end and main titles for the film. Before settling on the marble monument depiction for the main-on-end titles, Perception created three other versions, which were based on Ultron’s hive mind ability from the film, “renderings of power and pure energy” inspired by classic comic panels, and classic moments for each character. The final design was inspired by war monuments such as the Iwo Jima memorial. For the main titles, Marvel wanted the typeface to be a direct continuation of the first film. Perception made the typeface a marble texture to mimic the main-on-end titles and changed the title’s rotation (away from the camera instead of towards the camera in The Avengers), before “Age of Ultron” overtakes “Avengers” in a vibranium texture.

Trivia

  • Because Ultron was eight to nine feet tall, the five-foot ten-inch James Spader had to wear an antenna-like contraption made out of a thick piece of wire, with two red balls attached to the top that went up his entire back and three feet above his head. This was done so that the cast members that shared scenes with him would have a reference point for where his eyes would be. The two red balls represented the placement of Ultron’s eyes. Elizabeth Olsen stated that this was actually distracting, because Spader would be giving an intense performance and out of instinct, she would look at him rather than the balls representing his eyes. Much to everyone’s amusement, whenever this happened, Aaron Taylor-Johnson would yell “Red balls! Look at his balls, Lizzie!” at her in order to get her to look in the right direction.
  • It took Joss Whedon a year to convince Aaron Taylor-Johnson to accept the role of Quicksilver. Johnson was concerned over the intensity of the Marvel contracts, the time constraints, and the fact that it was going to be such a large cast. Even after he accepted the role, he was still nervous, but was comforted after he learned that his friend, and Godzilla (2014) co-star, Elizabeth Olsen, would be playing his sister, and would be his filming partner throughout most of the movie.
  • Joss Whedon has said that he wanted Spider-Man and Captain Marvel to appear in the final sequence, but they were unable to include them in the movie due to timing and rights issues.
  • Joss Whedon cast Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch because he thought their powers would be cool to use in a film: “Their powers are very visually interesting. One of the problems I had on the first one was everybody basically had punchy powers. Quicksilver’s got super-speed, Scarlet Witch can weave spells, and a little telekinesis, get inside your head. That’s good stuff they can do, that will help keep it fresh.”
  • James Spader was originally just going to be Ultron’s voice, but he told the filmmakers that for a main character, he deserved to do more than provide a voice, and so he took on performing Ultron through motion-capture.
  • “Marvel Ultimates” comic is famous for featuring a controversial incestuous storyline between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. According to Elizabeth Olsen, while this particular aspect would not be overtly present in the film, she and Aaron Taylor-Johnson “played around” with certain parts of it: “Every time you see an image of them, they’re always holding each other’s hand and looking over each other’s shoulder. They’re always so close, it’s almost uncomfortable. Aaron and I have been playing a little bit with those kinds of images just for ourselves.”
  • Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson consulted each other before accepting the roles of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The two became friends while filming Godzilla (2014), and as soon as they found out that both had offers, they called each other to check if the other was doing it before signing on.
  • Character screentimes: Captain America = 50:25 Iron Man = 45:34 Black Widow = 33:07 Quicksilver = 26:43 Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk = 23:55 Scarlet Witch = 20:59 Hawkeye = 19:56 Thor = 14:18 The Vision = 8:41
  • Joss Whedon described this film as “Smaller. More personal. More painful. The next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what worked the first time. A theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself.”
  • Elizabeth Olsen worked with a dance choreographer to make her movements more graceful for action sequences.
  • In the comics, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are born mutants. In this movie, they got their powers due to experimentation of H.Y.D.R.A. on them. This change has to do with the fact that Twentieth Century Fox holds the rights to the X-Men film franchise and the whole mutant concept. Therefore, this change was intended to disassociate the film from the X-Men film franchise to avoid legal issues.
  • Elizabeth Olsen described the Scarlet Witch as unstable: “She has such a vast amount of knowledge, that she’s unable to learn how to control it. No one taught her how to control it properly, so it gets the best of her. It’s not that she’s mentally insane, it’s just that she’s just overly-stimulated, and she can connect to this world, and parallel worlds, at the same time.”
  • Elizabeth Olsen stated in an interview that she is happy that her character’s outfit is not accurate to the comic book, as it would be inappropriate for combat.
  • Neither Quicksilver, nor Scarlet Witch, are called by their superhero names in this movie. They are referred to as “the Enhanced”, “the Twins”, or their full names Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. However, Tony Stark calls Wanda a “witch” during his fight with The Incredible Hulk.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen worked back-to-back, first playing husband and wife in Godzilla (2014), and now brother and sister in this film.
  • [at around 49 mins] When Scarlet Witch tries to mind control Hawkeye, he neutralizes her and quips “I tried the mind control thing. Not a fan!” This is a reference to Jeremy Renner being openly displeased with his character being mind controlled by Loki during most of The Avengers (2012).
  • Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) wears a new costume at the end of this movie, which was based on her “Uncanny Avengers” uniform (a low-cut blouse and pants, with a coat on top).
  • Saoirse Ronan was considered to play Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch).
  • Release & Reception

    Avengers: Age of Ultron made its world premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on April 13, 2015, and held its European premiere on April 21 at the Vue West End in London. The film was released in 11 territories on April 22, with its release jumping to 55% of its international market (44 countries) by the end of its first weekend, before releasing on May 1 in the United States, in 3D and IMAX 3D. In the United States, the film opened in 4,276 theaters, including 2,761 3D theaters, 364 IMAX, 400 premium large format, and 143 D-Box theaters. Many independent theater owners in Germany (approximately 700 screens) boycotted the film in response to Disney raising its rental fee from 47.7% to 53% of ticket sales. The owners felt that the “increased fees, coupled with the cost of digitization, and rising staff and marketing costs may force some of them out of business.” Avengers: Age of Ultron is part of Phase Two of the MCU.

    The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 75% approval rating with an average score of 6.75/10, based on 360 reviews. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor’s unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.” On Metacritic, the film achieved an average score of 66 out of 100, based on 49 critics, signifying “generally favorable reviews”. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an “A” grade on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an overall positive score of 90% and a 79% recommend.

    Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said, “Avengers: Age of Ultron succeeds in the top priority of creating a worthy opponent for its superheroes and giving the latter a few new things to do, but this time the action scenes don’t always measure up.” Scott Foundas of Variety wrote, “If this is what the apotheosis of branded, big-studio entertainment has come to look like in 2015, we could be doing much worse. Unlike its title character, Age of Ultron most definitely has soul.” Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times and giving the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, Richard Roeper said, “Some day, an Avengers film might collapse under the weight of its own awesomeness. I mean, how many times can they save the world? But this is not that day.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, “Age of Ultron is a whole summer of fireworks packed into one movie. It doesn’t just go to 11, it starts there. [Joss Whedon] takes a few wrong turns, creating a jumble when the action gets too thick. But he recovers like a pro, devising a spectacle that’s epic in every sense of the word.” Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film three out of four stars, stating that despite being “bigger, louder and more disjointed” than its predecessor, “it’s also got more personality—specifically Whedon’s—than any other film in the now seven-year-old franchise.” Helen O’Hara of Empire praised the interactions between the characters, the action set-pieces and Whedon’s ability as a director in her review, stating that the film “redefines the scale we can expect from our superheroes.”

    Conversely, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, “Although this movie is effective moment to moment, very little of it lingers in the mind afterward. The ideal vehicle for our age of immediate sensation and instant gratification, it disappears without a trace almost as soon as it’s consumed.” Scott Mendelson of Forbes said, “Avengers: Age of Ultron plays like an obligation, a box to be checked off on a list before all parties move onto the things they really want to do.” Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote, “This Avengers doesn’t always pop the way that the first one sometimes did, partly because its villain isn’t as memorable, despite Mr. Spader’s silky threat.” Camilla Long of The Sunday Times remarked, “Two hours of boredom and boobs add up to a sorry basis for the new Avengers.” Much like the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, the film received mixed reviews upon release in China, due to poor translations. The translations, which were said to be too literal, were thought “to have been done by Google Translate.”

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