At the Marvel Studios panel last night, the studio revealed the title for 2015’s sequel to last summer’s blockbuster The Avengers – Age Of Ultron.
One major surprise about this announcement is that director and screenwriter Joss Whedon and Marvel are going with Ultron as the villain for the second film rather than something that would continue the plot thread concerning the cosmic villain Thanos started in the first Avengers film and was expected to play into next year’s Guardians Of The Galaxy as well.
The name comes from a recently completed comic book miniseries that sees the long-time Avengers nemesis and artificial intelligence known as Ultron finally defeating the superhero team and taking over the world. A small group of superhero survivors must infiltrate Ultron’s stronghold to access his time travel technology to travel to the past to prevent Ultron’s creation. Think of it as The Terminator but with the good guys in the Arnold Schwarzenegger role.
If the film is an adaptation of the recently concluded miniseries event, it will have to change one major element, as the X-Men’s Wolverine and the Fantastic Four’s Sue Storm were both major players in the story and the film rights for those characters are owned by Twentieth Century Fox. A friend of mine has suggested that they could easily be substituted with the Marvel Studio-owned Hawkeye and Black Widow. But due to the rights issues aong other things, I’m assuming that Whedon has developed his own Ultron story and the studio is just co-opting the name for the film. Also, the time-traveling element is just a bit too similar to story points in 2014’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past and I don’t think that Marvel would want to be seen as repeating themselves that specifically.
Another interesting thing about this announcement is that Ultron was created by Dr Henry Pym, better known to comics fans as the hero Ant-Man. But Pym wasn’t expected to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe until November 2015’s Ant-Man film, after the May 2015 release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. So, will Ultron still be created by Pym? Will the Ant-Man in director Edgar Wright’s movie also be Pym, will it be Scott Lang, the second hero to use the Ant-Man name in the Marvel Universe or perhaps some combination of both? Whatever the answer turns out to be, I would not be surprised if some of the many rounds of rewrites that Wright and his screenwriting collaborator Joe Cornish went through was to address these concerns.
Ad one last thought – Does actor Vin Diesel’s continual teasing of his involvement in a future Marvel project somehow relate to this? He has been known in the past to hint that he would love to play the superhero The Vision, whose own origins are tied to Ultron. But that would make a third new superhero character to be introduced in the film, following Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, whom have already been announced as appearing. Will three new additions plus all the returning cast be too many characters for the film?
The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is set for a May 1, 2015 release.