We’re only a month away! On May 1st, 2015, Marvel Studios will release Avengers: Age of Ultron into roughly every theater in the entire world. It will run past one billion dollars at the international box office as quickly as any movie in recent memory (note: I could’ve gone with an extra nerdy Quicksilver joke there, but I resisted because frankly I’m not sure how down with the Marvel Universe you people are and alienating readers within the first paragraph isn’t usually a good idea).
I bring this up because pretty soon every third commercial you see on television, and every other banner ad online, will be a promotion of Joss Whedon’s soon-to-be cineplex monster, and I’d like you to be prepared. If you’re a comics nerd like me, or if you’ve just seen and enjoyed some or most or even all of the MCU (that’s Marvel Cinematic Universe) films that have come before it, none of this is news to you. For everybody else (read: people who don’t currently get Christmas-Eve-as-an-eight-year-old giddy chills when they see a new Age of Ultron trailer or TV spot), it might be worth figuring out ahead of time if you should contribute to the movie’s inevitable gazillion dollar box office gross. Let’s review.
What We Know For Sure
Broadly, we know that Age of Ultron is the second of four planned Avengers films (the other two, Infinity War Parts I & II will hit theaters in May of 2018 and 2019, so, you know, get comfortable). We know that all the principal actors from the MCU, including the first Avengers film are back. We know… well, actually, just watch this:
And then this:
All clear? Really? You’re actually more confused? Huh. Ok, well, let’s see… after the events of The Avengers, the team disperses and Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America all have their own individual adventures (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Bad guys were felled, heroes hardened in the crucible of righteous combat, and all roads led to the high volume of kicking, punching, and despairing gazes into the middle distance showcased in the trailers above.
Long story short, Tony Stark (Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr. (Goatee man))) has, in his attempt to create a defense system to protect the earth from outside aggressors (imagine Reagan’s Star Wars missile defense system but somehow a more colossal failure), created a cynical artificial intelligence that sees humanity as the earth’s greatest threat. And for some reason given it James Spader’s voice. Cue the assembly of Avengers shown fighting back against the sinister (and replicating) Ultron in the clips above.
What We Don’t Know For Sure
Added to the mix this time around are some new characters, featured heavily in the TV spot: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (shown briefly in the post-credits scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), as well as one only hinted at in the longer trailer: The Vision.
We don’t know a ton about how any of these characters will be used in the movie (and I’ve gone out of my way to avoid knowing), but from the looks of it, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (who are siblings) start the fight on Ultron’s side. If their powers in the comics are any indication, they’ll cause the Avengers more than a few headaches (if you really wanna know more about the duo, click here). As for The Vision, he’s a robotic intelligence voiced by Paul Bettany who… hello? I’m sorry, what made you nod off? Was it “robotic intelligence” or “Paul Bettany?” Never mind about The Vision then; it’s probably better for all of us if at least some small part of Age of Ultron is still a mystery a month from now.
Should You See It?
I understand that this is kind of a silly question to ask before anyone’s even seen the thing. There are no reviews, no Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic ratings, no waves of social media buzz upon which to make such a judgment. But here’s the thing: with a movie like this, none of that matters. The reviews are going to be split amongst people who see comic book movies and sequels as the sole reason every movie isn’t Birdman or The Grand Budapest Hotel and people who worship at the altar of Marvel. Neither individual reviews nor the aggregated scores for the movie are really going to matter. Now, maybe if the movie gets some critical love from unexpected sources, a few more folks might take the plunge, but they’ll just be a drop in an enormous bucket no matter what. If you’re waiting for A.O. Scott to make his proclamation as to Age of Ultron‘s worthiness, it’s a safe bet that the movie probably isn’t for you.
For the rest of us (including anyone who’s seen The Avengers and at least one of the MCU’s other offerings), seeing Age of Ultron is a matter of course. That’s the way it is with beloved properties adapted into movies. We know that we can’t make judgments about movies (especially movies about which people will have opinions so fierce that Oscar arguments pale in comparison) unless we actually see them. No number of trailers or behind-the-scenes features or actor interviews will tell us what we need to know. So the question is irrelevant. Should we see it? Doesn’t matter. Because we will, and only then can we cheer-slash-gripe about James Spader’s voice, whether they got Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and Vision (and Lord knows who else) right, whether the story should’ve followed the comics more closely, and how the story sets up for the end of the series.
Do these sound like arguments you want to have? That’s really the question here. If so, then on May 1st, you know where to be, and you know what to do.