01 Avengers: Age of Ultron – A New Threat Emerges

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For the filmmakers, developing the story for Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” brought on a new challenge as they would have to make sure that all of the events in previous Marvel films would have a bearing on the storyline and dynamic of the screenplay. “A lot has happened since the end of the first Avengers film,” informs producer Kevin Feige. “We’ve gone through all of the Phase 2 films; Tony Stark’s house is gone, and he’s thrown away his RT and is reevaluating his life and role as Iron Man. Thor has gone back to Asgard, and has determined that he doesn’t want to be a king. He’s come back to dedicate himself to protecting mankind, and S.H.I.E.L.D. has crumbled to the ground in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ after finding out it was really Hydra for many years. What all these events have done is left a lot of loose ends.”

Regarding how critical it is to keep storylines in each film moving forward in a direction that serves both the individual franchises and the overreaching Marvel Cinematic Universe, executive producer Louis D’Esposito adds, “We want each franchise and film to feel fresh and its own entity, but at the same time it also has to be in alignment with something that might happen two or three films down the line. I think we have been really lucky in finding that balance of keeping things going in new directions and paying off moments that keep all the franchises connected outside of the Avengers films. So when the first Avengers film became one of the biggest films of all time, our first task was making sure the films leading up to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ would all play a role in shaping the story for the film.”

The first step in the process of creating the sequel to Marvel’s “The Avengers” was finding what direction the film would take in telling its story. That fell squarely on the shoulders of writer and director Joss Whedon.

Whedon, who has been consulting on all of the Marvel films following Marvel’s “The Avengers,” explains his approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Being the Marvel consigliere for the last few years has been really fun,” says Whedon. “In doing so it’s important to keep that sort of Marvel ethos of ‘Yeah, we’re lovable and yes we’re messed up; we’re funny when you don’t expect us to be and we’re serious when you don’t expect us to be.’ But at the same time always make sure that each film and in particular ‘The Avengers’ films has its own stamp.”

Continuing, Whedon says, “The first thing you have to do if you’re looking at an Avengers sequel is figure out what you’re going to do with all of these characters. In this film, I’ve got a lot more characters! The Avengers are a really dysfunctional team, and I liked the idea of seeing them actually act as a team and how it shows how much they shouldn’t be a team.”

Whedon adds, “The idea of the second one is also everybody in the world now knows that there are Avengers and that there are Super Heroes and villains and all kinds of crazy stuff. But for me it’s great because I wanted a different movie. I wanted a different dynamic. The first movie was definitely about putting the team together and the second movie is totally about pulling them apart.”

The writer/director admits that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided him with a bevy of great characters played by great actors but he says, “The trick is not to get too bogged down because you don’t want the movie to feel crowded and overstuffed.”

He adds, “After ‘The Avengers’ something changed. Everybody knows of them and they all sort of came out of the closet, and now they’re just around. They don’t have to hide in their own little universes. They have their own stories and what’s great about that is you don’t end up feeling like it’s just a roll call because all of these characters are motivated by each other. It’s all the pairings of characters that make the movie fun and exponentially interesting.”

Crafting the script and what storylines would play a significant part in the film dates back to the production of Marvel’s “The Avengers” in 2012. “The first discussion about what the plot would be for ‘Avengers 2’ started on the set of ‘The Avengers’ while we were shooting in Albuquerque,” recalls producer Kevin Feige. “I remember we were shooting a scene in the lab with all of The Avengers together for the first time and they start arguing and bickering and there were so many great moments from that scene that we put in the trailer. On one of the days we were in that lab and shooting, Joss started talking about the sequel and we started talking about Ultron and how that could potentially come into fruition. We talked about how Tony would obviously have a hand in that, and it was in those very early discussions that we came up with the general concept for the film.”

Feige continues, “As we started going into the initial stages of development, the fun was putting Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Fury all together for the first time since ‘The Avengers.’ I think it’s safe to say that ‘The Avengers’ was about the group meeting each other for the first time. For this film, since they’re over getting to know each other for the first time, we felt there would be so much material there for humor and conflict, which is something that’s very important to us at Marvel. I think one of the great things that Joss came up with in writing this film was pairing up characters in unexpected ways.”

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