Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard// Film Critic
This originally ran on VeryAware.com
Marvel’s AVENGERS took the world by storm when it debuted in 2012. Raking in billions in box office dollars, it’s a superhero popcorn film critics and audiences enjoyed. Now poised for world domination is AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, which should appease the comic’s fans and newcomers alike. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) accidentally creates a powerful android named Ultron (perfectly voiced by James Spader), who’s hell-bent on destroying the world, the beloved ragtag crew – which includes Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Clint Barton/ Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Steve Rogers/ Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – must re-assemble to kick some metallic ass. However, also standing in their way are “the twins,” Pietro Maximoff/ Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff/ Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The follow-up feature is bigger, badder, bolder and an insane amount of fun.
At the film’s press conference in Los Angeles, the stars of the highly anticipated sequel shared a few fun facts about the movie of the Summer.
7. Joss Whedon’s biggest challenges putting together the sequel was finding the balance in the story. Whedon joked, “There’s like 47 of these people. I really didn’t think that through and I regret very much doing this at all. You know, it’s just making sure that everybody’s got their moment, got their through line, that its connected to the movie. Making sure they’re not just being served, but that they’re all within the same narrative structure – that it’s all connected to the main theme. At some point during the editing process, I got so lost in it, but it all came together.”
6. Joss Whedon knew exactly where to begin the new adventure. He says, “The thing that drew me back to the movie was ‘What little moments are there between these characters that I haven’t gotten to do yet? What conversations have they not had?’ It’s never sort of the big picture stuff. It’s always just ‘Where do they live and how do I get inside their hearts? What’s funny about them?’ Those are the moments I write just reams and reams of paper thinking about the tiniest arc.”
5. James Spader had no idea what was happening in that mo-cap suit. He shared, “I really don’t have any idea. It was all happening very quickly. I was really just trying to hold on and stay on the train that was moving very, very quickly. I arrived in London and within the first half hour, they put on a suit and all this gear and I’d gone through a range of motion. Then, within 15 minutes, I was watching Ultron – or at least a formative stage of Ultron on a monitor in front of me. It started right there. Really, that pace was what it was the entire project.”
4. It’s the LESS THAN ZERO reunion you never knew you wanted to see. Back in 1987 when the film debuted, it received mixed critical reviews. Brett Easton Ellis, whose book the film is very loosely based, initially hated the film, saying that with the exception of Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader, it was miscast. We completely agree as the dynamic duo’s scenes are amongst the most electrifying. 28 years later, we finally get to see the two tremendous talents give it another go, sparring again as billionaire Tony Stark and his bastard creation, Ultron (voiced by Spader). And we’ve got a sneaking suspicion ULTRON will outdo ZERO’s box office.
3. Paul Bettany has a duel role. As we already know, Bettany voices “Jarvis,” Stark’s concierge-like computer system. However, this time around, he also gets to suit up as “Vision.” He says, “The main difference is I have to show up. The great thing is being able to work with all these incredibly creative and talented people, however, I also now have to show up to junkets. So everything it a double-edged sword.”
2. Black Widow’s evolution has been a long time coming. Scarlett Johansson’s role in the MCU has been steadily growing and with ULTRON, we learn a lot more about the deadly assassin. “In the beginning of AVENGERS 2, there’s some sense of there finally being a normal in a way. It’s a well-oiled machine where we’re tag teaming each other. The introductions are over and we’re digging our heels in. At the end of AVENGERS 2, Widow [has] let her guard down, she’s hopeful for something. I think she had this moment of false hope where she felt like she put in the work and there should be a payoff and she was ready to accept it. She realizes that her calling is a greater one that she’s not necessarily thrilled about. That’s what’s most heroic about her; she’s accepting the call of duty even with her own personal loss. It’s an interesting place to leave her there. There’s many different directions to go. Is she going to be able to withstand this huge weight baring down on her or is she gonna crack under it?”
1. Hawkeye is given much more to do. Jeremy Renner shared, “I speak in this movie – which is awesome. I got a part in the team – which is awesome. I dive into some really killer aspects. I understood Hawkeye in the sense of he’s a human with a high skill set, so I can tap into that. I feel like I got to explore a little more of that – even outside the skill set. That was really, really endearing and thoughtful sort of secret that he had. I’m excited to see where that goes.”
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is now available on Disney Movies Anywhere. It’s available to own on DVD/ blu-ray October 7.