Posted June 6, 2015 by admin in Resource

Catatan Produksi Film Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

About the Film

Record-Breaking Success

In 2014 Marvel Studios continued its streak of pleasing fans and critics alike with the releases of the box-office blockbusters “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and its newest franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the top-grossing domestic film of 2014 with $333.2 million and $772.8 million worldwide. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” earned $95 million in its first weekend and went on to gross more than $711 million worldwide.

In 2013 Kevin Feige produced the megahits Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” and Marvel’s “Iron Man 3.” The two films have earned over $644 million and $1.2 billion worldwide, respectively, since their openings. In 2012, Feige produced the critically acclaimed Marvel’s “The Avengers,” which set the all-time, domestic three-day weekend box-office record at $207.4 million. The film went on to gross over $1.5 billion worldwide, becoming Disney’s highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time.

In the summer of 2011, Marvel successfully launched “Thor,” starring Chris Hemsworth, and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” starring Chris Evans. Both films opened No. 1 at the box office and have grossed over $800 million worldwide combined. In 2010 “Iron Man 2,” starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke, took the No. 1 spot in its first weekend with a domestic box office gross of $128.1 million.

In the summer of 2008, Marvel produced the summer blockbuster movies “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.” “Iron Man,” in which Robert Downey Jr. originally dons the Super Hero’s powerful armor and stars alongside costars Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow, was released May 2, 2008, and was an immediate box office success. Garnering the No. 1 position for two weeks in a row, the film brought in over $100 million in its opening weekend. On June 13, 2008, Marvel released “The Incredible Hulk,” marking its second No. 1 opener of that summer.

President of Marvel Studios and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” producer Kevin Feige explains why Marvel has continued its unprecedented box-office success within its ever- expanding universe of characters. “For all of us at Marvel it’s always been about creating and nurturing all of these dynamic characters who are all flawed in their own ways,” says Feige. “The fun of Marvel films and in particular the Avengers series is that it is not just the spectacle, it is not just the superpowers, it’s having all of these amazing characters interact with each other in a way that they can’t in their own individual movies.”

The producer continues, “We have also succeeded because we’re always looking ahead. The minute we finish a project, and all that goes into it, from production to setting up the proper expectation for the film that we hope to deliver and the entire marketing campaign, we go onto the next thing, so it really is thinking two or three or four films ahead at all times.”


Building the Story

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 fruiti on. 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.”

The New Villain

The decision to give Ultron his day in the sun as the villain of the film was always Whedon’s first choice despite the end sequence in Marvel’s “The Avengers,” which featured the character of Thanos. The writer/director explains, “For me Thanos was always meant to be in the third Avengers movie because he really is a god,” explains Whedon. “He is like a supreme being of evil and for me it was the cosmic cube because I’m really old; for some people it was the infi nity gauntlet, but the great crossovers were usually Thanos-based and he made everybody’s lives miserable. And so the idea that he was the prime mover behind all of this just seemed natural.” Whedon continues, “When people saw him in ‘The Avengers,’ everybody thought, ‘Oh, he must be the next villain and they are setting it up.’ That wasn’t my intention. My intention was just to say, ‘There’s a big, dark universe and this guy’s at the back of it.’ In my mind it was always going to be Ultron for this film.”

For Whedon, the task of fleshing out Ultron’s role in the sequel would go back to his childhood days. “The character of Ultron has been a mainstay villain for The Avengers since I was a kid,” says Whedon. “He was an evil, killer robot who really hates The Avengers and can self-replicate.”

Whedon elaborates, “I loved reading the old source material about Ultron, but when you go back and research, you discover that he’s just constantly saying ‘I will destroy you!’ or ‘I definitely will destroy you!’ The murderous child aspect of the character was fascinating to me, but it was clear right away that while I needed to evoke a grandeur and menace in the disassociation between the way his mind works and the way humanity’s structured, I needed to completely do a 180 and make him very volatile and angry all the time.

“I also needed to figure out what kind of person had that much rage and how it would be expressed. I also needed to know, how do I have the fun that I need to have with it? How can I make him in the vein of a Loki character who is sympathetic and textured and not completely wrong in the way he views things,” concludes Whedon.

“The threat in the first film was of course Loki,” adds Kevin Feige. “He was very personal to Thor and he was a very powerful Asgardian. He made a deal with somebody, which allowed him to take control of the alien army, which played a big part in the fighting, but in this film we wanted the threat to be very big and as real as possible. Ultron was the right choice because he is one of the most famous villains The Avengers have ever fought against and he’s one of the most powerful. The fact that he could replicate himself, and every Ultron is actually him, is really cool. There are thousands of sub-Ultrons and he is all of them and can speak through all of them, which really was an exciting dynamic and prospect.”

The Avengers Go Global

With the storyline for the film decided, the filmmakers felt it was important to inject a global relevance into the story for the film as well. “We’ve always considered The Avengers to be sort of the world’s heroes,” says Kevin Feige. “Not just America, not just any particular region, but globally and certainly the results of the first movie proved that. When we started developing the story we knew we wanted to take it out of New York. Some of the movie does take place in New York, but we wanted to send The Avengers to the far reaches of the globe so it’s legitimately a globe-trotting adventure.”

“The balance of these movies has always been big, huge beautiful stage sets, but then you also have to go outside and see the world,” says executive producer Jeremy Latcham. “You have to open up the scope, which is one of the things we’ve really tried to do on ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’ We wanted to go to new locations that haven’t been seen on film as much, like Seoul, South Korea, downtown Johannesburg, South Africa and the Aosta Valley in Northern Italy. The new locations really add a fresh feeling to the film and show that The Avengers really do protect the world.”

“We wanted the first Avengers film to be big, but for this film I wanted it to bigger, but I also wanted it to be broader and more global,” says Joss Whedon. “We wanted to look at The Avengers and see the effect they have on the whole world. We got the team together in the first film, which seemed sort of an impossible task. But then the question becomes ‘Well, once they’re together are they compatible and are they useful and how does the world perceive them?’ And how does that affect their perception of each other? So it’s great to open it up and instead of trying to recreate places on stage, actually go to places to get the local feel and architecture, which gives the film a real veracity. When you have several main characters that are CGI, you really need to ground the film with practical locations.”


Cast and Characters

With all the original Avengers returning plus the additions of Vision, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, director/writer Joss Whedon says, “The whole cast is a powerhouse. It’s strength to strength and that’s exciting. It means that I can write things that are taken a little further and not worry about whether the actor can pull it off or not. They’re all very, very human in the Marvel comics and that’s what was so important to me as a kid and so important to pop culture in general.”

“One of the reasons we loved the idea of dismantling S.H.I.E.L.D. was that The Avengers didn’t have a giant government organization to support them anymore, so they’re really on their own,” informs executive producer Jeremy Latcham. “Tony Stark, as you might guess, is financing them, but at one point he even says, ‘Captain America’s the leader.’ And while they’re not together all the time, they do get together and now have an official headquarters as Tony has transformed Stark Tower from the first film into the new Avengers Tower.”

Robert Downey Jr. expands on the new digs for his fellow Avengers. “I don’t know of anyone in the history of any Super Hero franchise who seems never to run out of money,” laughs Robert Downey Jr. “Tony’s footing the bill and he can swing it obviously. Pepper has taken over the business largely so everything’s going to be a little more stable than when daddy was just writing checks.”

The actor continues, “Tony wants to localize and nurture this necessary counterbalancing faction that is The Avengers. He feels by having them all together it allows him to still be a bit of the engineer and the mechanic who just wants to help them all do things a little bit better. It’s like buying a football team and then wanting to redo their uniforms and give them better equipment and make them stronger, faster and safer on the field.”

For Robert Downey Jr., the dynamics between The Avengers in the story was one of his favorite things about reprising the world’s most famous Super Hero. “What I loved about this script was the further development of the complexities of the relationship between all The Avengers,” explains the actor. “I loved that Thor has a beef with me and then eventually has to give in and say I’m right. It’s interesting and the way it all wraps up to me is super exciting, but strangely my favorite part about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is what is brought into potential by the story in this film.”

“Tony Stark in this movie has a lot of pressure on him,” explains executive producer Jeremy Latcham. “He’s literally carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. The movie opens up and he gets this vision put in his head by Wanda of all The Avengers dead on an alien landscape somewhere. Earth is in the distance and we see these giant leviathans just flying towards it and we see Tony Stark. He’s the only one alive and we see just this horror on his face. You realize his anxiety and this angst that he’s carrying with him that shades every single decision that he makes throughout the film. He was the one who went through that portal 200 feet above Avengers Tower and saw what’s out there. He knows they are woefully unequipped and that if it comes back we will all die, and so what’s he to do?”

Another change for The Avengers is that Captain America is now running point for the team. “There are really only two relationships in Tony’s life that he’s been willing to assume a lower status, one’s with Pepper obviously and the other’s with Captain America,” says Robert Downey Jr. “Tony believes whoever does the job best should probably do that job and while Tony brings a lot to the table, Captain America has the most experience. I think it’s also nice to feel that there’s someone, who under their tutelage, you become better at what you have to do and no one’s more battle-seasoned than Captain America.”

“I think he’s certainly giving the orders, but it’s not the sort of hierarchy where he gives commands and people have to do it,” explains Chris Evans. “It’s truly in the sense of when battle breaks out and we need structure, Captain America has no problem organizing a team approach. In terms of how they behave when we’re not fighting a foe, there still is a loose chain of command and no one is technically in charge, but Cap certainly does lean towards the side of hierarchy and structure, which is why he feels most comfortable on the battlefield.”

Evans continues, “As far in his personal life, Steve Rogers is still trying to figure out where he belongs. He’s always been a soldier and felt comfortable in that format. He enjoys structure and having orders and a plan. Without that dynamic he does feel a bit aimless, but he is still searching for whether or not he can have a life outside of being Captain America. He’s been of service for so long, so trying to figure out what he would do without his uniform and S.H.I.E.L.D is a bit of a puzzle.”

“Steve Rogers is a very solid guy,” says Joss Whedon. “His struggle is more internal about who he and what his values are. It’s more about him realizing who he is in terms of the world, because it’s always been the idea that he is only a soldier. That fed into conversations I’d had with Chris about Steve Rogers, realizing that he doesn’t have an end game where he settles down and has a normal life. He’ll always be fighting; it’s a little sad but kind of beautiful.”

“The character doesn’t often have the best action of the group because he’s Captain America, but audiences really respond to the way he grounds the film and he continually ranks as one of the fan favorites,” explains Kevin Feige. “That’s because he’s a good man and he’s always trying to do the right thing. The fact that there’s a character like him that people embrace and don’t bemoan his out-datedness in any way is really amazing. This is due to the fact that the filmmakers have embraced it and in huge part because Chris Evans, who is an incredibly gregarious, affable guy, has embraced it as almost a responsibility.”

For Evans, playing the character has been very enjoyable. “It’s been very rewarding in so many ways,” says Evans. “One my favorite perks of this job is seeing a little kid’s face light up when you meet them. It’s cool to play a role in their childhood because I know I had certain movies that I grew up with that I loved, so if you get to be a part of that for someone else’s memory that’s a real treat.”

Remaining where he was last seen at the end of “Thor: The Dark World” is the God of Thunder himself. Chris Hemsworth returns to the role of Thor and explains how his character has gotten more comfortable and accepting of his earthly surroundings.

“Thor has decided to stay on and so we see a more grounded, earthly version of Thor than we have in the past,” says Chris Hemsworth. “It is nice because there are a few more opportunities to showcase some humor and see him in some casual gear instead of the red cape and armor that we always see him in. He’s a central part of the team now and there’s certainly a unity that they’ve all formed now as a group and are solid.”

The actor continues, “Thor sees the bigger picture of the current conflict that’s going on. There’s the initial battle, which they’re all involved in, but Thor uses his Asgardian knowledge and starts to tap into some otherworldly possibilities and threats that he thinks are coming.”

“Chris Hemsworth is Thor now,” states producer Kevin Feige. “He has done such an unbelievable job at embodying a character that in any other hands could be completely nonrelatable and stand out like a sore thumb. Despite the red cape, a hammer and his Asgardian lingo, Chris has humanized the character. He’s such an integral part of the team, but at the same time, he is the lynchpin between Earth and everything else. He was our guide into the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe and in this film he continues to be the one who has a certain amount of knowledge that nobody else has because he grew up on the other side of the universe. He is aware of cosmic histories, legends and mythologies that nobody on Earth is aware of and is the portal to a much bigger, grander side of the Marvel Universe.”

“Chris Hemsworth really embodies Thor in every way,” says executive producer Jeremy Latcham. “He looks like Thor and so when we say we want to start shooting on this day, he goes through an intense regimen of diet and workout. If he gets too big, the costume doesn’t fit and he’s uncomfortable, so it’s really this collaboration between how big those gigantic arms and neck are going to get by production. He really has got it down to a science and really knows how to become Thor and make that transformation quickly.”

Balancing out all of the testosterone of The Avengers is Scarlett Johansson as she returns as fan favorite Black Widow. Describing where The Avengers are at the start of the film, Johansson offers: “It really is business as usual in a sense at the beginning of the film. But the world is aware of the universe in a way that they weren’t in ‘The Avengers.’ Of course we’re dealing with situations on a global level. The common man knows the vocabulary of aliens and space travel. Before the battle in New York, The Avengers in general had a stealthy approach and S.H.I.E.L.D. certainly had that as well and now we’re being judged in a different way. Everybody is watching us, so it’s just a different playing field.”

For the talented actress, the exciting part about bringing The Avengers to audiences this time around is that there are opportunities to delve deeper into the back story of each one of the characters. “Every one of The Avengers has come to the table with a lot of baggage. None of us really chose this job; the job chose us, and that reluctance to wear the Super Hero hat makes for very interesting back stories. We have our histories and we get to explore a little bit of that and I think the audience is going to absolutely love that. It makes the audience even that more invested in our interpersonal relationships and also the future of these characters, so that’s pretty cool.”

One team member that Natasha becomes closer with in the film is Bruce Banner when she finds common ground between them. Producer Kevin Feige explains, “There is a very sweet heart in this movie that involves a relationship between Bruce Banner and Natasha that I think is very unexpected, heartwarming and somewhat tragic. Those two characters do not have the most stable backgrounds, but Joss was able to create a dynamic between them that really has wonderful structuring and is one of the backbones of the film.”

Another surprise for the filmmakers was the fans’ reaction and love affair with Bruce Banner aka The Hulk in Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Some of the biggest moments and laughs in the film were when the big green guy was in action. For actor Mark Ruffalo, it was an unexpected whirlwind of events. “I was completely caught off guard by how much people responded to Hulk and Banner,” says Ruffalo. “It’s a tough nut to crack and some really great people have had a chance at it, so I concluded at best I’ll stay with the group and I won’t embarrass myself and my fellow actors. So I just approached it like everything else and tried to come up with a game plan and stick to it and do the best I can and hope that somebody responds to it. I was thrilled to see the outcome and how the fans responded.”

“What Joss really wanted to do with Banner was take away some of the self-loathing,” says producer Feige. “Mark is so endearing in real life and up on screen that was a new side that people hadn’t seen for a long time in a Bruce Banner and it continues in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’ He’s always been a nervous, brilliant scientist with this affliction of The Hulk. One of my favorite things about the first film with the relationship between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner is Joss made them science partners and the Internet and fandom embraced it. I love the notion that when people were talking about what they can’t wait to see in another Avengers movie it was ‘Stark and Banner doing science.’ That’s a testament to what Joss did in the first film.”

“Banner basically moved in with Tony Stark after he didn’t have anywhere to go at the end of the last Avengers,” explains Ruffalo. “He traveled around and he did his thing, but Stark took him in and there was a lot of mutually beneficial qualities that they get from each other. One of them is their understanding of science, and what Banner’s specialty is has been really well-augmented with what Tony’s been up to. Banner was also a renegade at one point and he was crazy enough as a scientist to actually try it on himself and I think he crumbled into himself from the bad experience of it. Tony did the same thing, but was a successful version of what Banner wanted to be. He did all this stuff to himself, but actually really benefited from it. So I think in a weird way Banner has a tempering effect on Tony and conversely Tony has a livening effect on Banner.”

“Banner’s been on the run for so much of his life,” says Joss Whedon. “I love that tag at the end of ‘Iron Man 3’ where you see that they’re just hanging out. He’s not just part of a team, but a lot of Tony Stark’s research. When we designed the lab for Avengers Tower it was very important to say ‘This is Tony’s area, and this is Banner’s area.’ Banner’s area is very impressive, but Tony’s is bigger. Banner really has found a place where, thanks to Natasha, he’s been able to sort of control The Hulk. It’s the idea that when they’re in a situation where they need the big green guy he is there. And Mark Ruffalo also got what he so desperately wanted in the first film, a pair of Avengers- issued stretchy pants that Tony has made for him.”

A character whose role has expanded from the first film is sharpshooter and marksman Hawkeye. “Joss and I both really loved the character and we didn’t really ultimately get to explore him very much in the first film,” says Jeremy Renner. “So it made me very happy when I saw Joss at a party and he said that we were going to find out a lot more about the character and what makes him tick. It is really cool to be able to explore that human side and that was my main attraction to doing Hawkeye in the first place because he’s a character that is flawed and has limitations. So to see the humanity in him and explore his human side instead of the Super Hero side was really exciting for me.”

“I thought it would be so much fun to really set up the idea that Hawkeye’s got some other agenda and dark purpose that makes him always a little bit distant from the rest of the group,” says Whedon. “And when all of The Avengers are starting to realize how disconnected they are from their own feelings and pasts, you realize that Hawkeye’s darkness is that he’s just a normal guy.”

Thanks to Tony Stark, Hawkeye has also received a nice upgrade in armor. “Hawkeye has some new tech, which is a lot in the vein of Stark technology, so you can do a lot of different things with it,” says Jeremy Renner. “He now has so many different arrow tips that serve all different purposes. Some of these are explained and some of them you just get the joy of seeing. At this point, with Stark helping, it’s really a world’s-your-oyster type of situation.”

Although S.H.I.E.L.D. has been dismantled and is out of the picture, its fearless leader Nick Fury is still lurking in the shadows. “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s in disarray,” says Samuel L. Jackson. “Everybody’s scattered to the wind so it is interesting to see how they bring us back together as we continue to do Avengers business. Fury is on the outside looking in, but still has his hand in there a little bit and the person I trust more than anybody on the planet is Natasha. It’s always been the case, so she is my eyes and ears.”

For The Avengers, their eyes and ears all become fixated on Ultron when he crashes their soiree at Avengers Tower. While the character at first is a heap of scrap metal and throwaway parts, the filmmakers needed a dynamic actor who could infuse the robotic villain with a freshness that hasn’t been seen before on the big screen. Casting was much easier than expected, as the filmmakers didn’t have to search long for their man.

“James Spader is an incredible actor and when ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was coming around and Joss began to put together the character, he said to us, ‘It has to be James Spader,'” says Kevin Feige. “It was another casting moment where we went ‘yes!’ There was nobody else on the list. He’s so unique and has such an amazing voice that is full of humor, darkness and emotion. In the comics Ultron he is a very unique robotic character, but it’s a scary thing. There have been lots of franchises based on robots, so we did not want him to be a normal robot. We wanted Ultron to be borderline insane and full of raw emotional nerve, which you don’t expect out of a synthetic life form.”

The producer continues, “That’s what makes Ultron interesting and over the course of the film James Spader brings various bodies of technological scrap metal to life in a very unique style. It’s exactly what we wanted and then some. You have this metallic face and geared robotic eyes saying these voices he has created.”

For Spader, becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was something that hit close to home. “I had at the time a 19-year-old son who had always loved comic book films and comic books, and throughout my career I have never made a film that any of my kids have been able to see until they were considerably older,” says Spader. “At that time I also had a little 3-year-old son coming along too, and he was already interested in fantasy, so I thought I could finally do something for my boys.”

The actor continues, “I also have had a very long friendship with Robert Downey Jr. and we hadn’t worked together in decades. I thought this would really be fun to get on a set again and play an 8-foot robot who is just hellbent on destroying his character, Tony Stark, in the film.”

For Downey Jr. it was a nice homecoming of sorts for the two actors. “There are a lot of full circles going on with this one,” laughs the actor. “Probably the most personal one is James Spader. He was the first person I saw when I came to Los Angeles and he really took me under his wing. He’s just a couple years older, but I think again it was a very inspired casting choice, not just because he’s on everyone’s lips and minds again, but he really is a bit of an American treasure and I’ve certainly borrowed from his style more than a few times over the years.”

For Spader, the complexity of the character was something he enjoyed exploring. “Ultron is able to access anything technological and anything that is available on the Internet,” informs the actor. “It becomes part of his stimulation and information and is embedded in his psyche. He has ungoverned access that is constantly streaming into his processing chip. So it’s overwhelming and almost impossible to harness the powers and knowledge. He’s a little too strong for his own good.”

“Everything about Ultron has to be motivated,” says Joss Whedon.

“At the same time, Ultron’s crazy and mentally unbalanced. James is very articulate and he said, ‘I am going to constantly reference things either in a speech or emotionally that are not happening and that are not relevant.’ It really took me a second to digest that and then I saw the point: he’s doing math emotionally that we don’t see and then suddenly he’s angry about something and then suddenly he’s obsessed with something else because his mind is everywhere. So James really embraced that, which really added so many layers to the character.”

One of the loose ends to clean up after the Battle of New York finds The Avengers in Eastern European Sokovia. This is where The Avengers encounter two new characters in the film. “The fun of the Avengers comics is the shifting roster that has changed dozens of times over the years,” says Kevin Feige. “So for us that was always part and parcel of the concept of the franchise. Now that we have the opportunity to do another one, it was always the idea that we were going to mix up teammates and there were two characters in particular that we set our eyes on bringing into the fold, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.”

The producer continues “They have a very interesting introduction to The Avengers, which is why we wanted to use them in this film. They are not fans of The Avengers at all. They’re from this Eastern European country known as Sokovia that used to be a S.H.I.E.L.D post, but Hydra has been operating out of there, and Hydra’s not the nicest organization.”

For Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who was cast in the role of Pietro aka Quicksilver, having Elizabeth Olsen cast as his twin sister Wanda aka Scarlet Witch in the film was a comforting dynamic considering the long-standing cast of characters. “It’s always a little bit intimidating coming into a big cast like this so it was really great being able to work with Elizabeth Olsen, so much since we just worked together in ‘Godzilla,'” says Aaron Taylor-Johnson. “So it was great to have at least a friend to come into this with so you feel like you’re in the same boat.”

The actor continues, “Quicksilver has been really fun to portray as a Super Hero. His superpower is being as fast as the speed of sound, but he’s quick at everything. He’s quick-tempered and becomes frustrated with everything because he’s already there. Everything moves too slowly for him. It’s been fun to play with this character and, more importantly, discover who he is.”

On his close relationship with his sister Wanda, Taylor-Johnson says of Pietro, “It’s just them against the world and they can’t do without each other, which is nice. This is also a yin-and-yang thing. I’m very fatherly and physical and protective over her and she’s sort of that motherly nurturing and caring and more emotional and thoughtful person. They balance each other out. You couldn’t really have Quicksilver without Scarlet Witch. We get along really well and to play a brother/sister thing has been natural and easy.”

“What is interesting to me is how connected and grounded Wanda is with the universe,” says Elizabeth Olsen. “She can also get these messages from parallel universes from the past or the future as well as tap into people’s greatest fears and has the ability to manipulate their mind. That aspect of the character really excited me because it created a huge plot point in this film that she messes with all The Avengers’ heads to such an extent that they have to go away and come back together as a unit. I also liked that Joss didn’t just throw in new characters just to add more characters. We’re directly connected with the plot, and the story between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is such a beautiful, familial story that the two of them only have each other.”

“Wanda and Pietro both have powers we’ve not seen before,” explains Joss Whedon. “Pietro is extremely fast, almost as fast as the Bullet. Wanda’s power is very amorphous and so we took it and said she’s got telekinesis; she can move things and she can have a little bit of energy shielding or pushing and she can get inside your head so that all your worst fears and doubts are going to come to the forefront. That’s a lot of power and I wanted something more than just the ability to punch, but at the same time I wanted people to know: this is as far as she can go with it.”

For Olsen, getting the right look and fluidity in the character’s movements required weeks of practice and development. “Joss and I would go through pictures of Scarlet Witch and she always had these red balls around her hands for some sort of fire energy,” explains Olsen. “Joss really wanted me to work with a dancer and wanted to add a new element of fighting without punches and something that’s more circular instead of harsh. So then he met Jenny White, who’s my movement coach on this, and she and I together created these movements on our own that worked for me and worked for Joss. It was a lot of work and it wasn’t really until the second half of this shoot that I felt like I could improvise with it. It’s not random, but it feels like something that you’ve never done before. It’s not something you’ve seen before and it was just kind of born organically, which is really cool.”

Another new character on The Avengers team is Vision, played by Paul Bettany who previously had voiced Jarvis in the “Iron Man” films. “I think another great full circle moment in this film is Paul Bettany coming in as Vision,” informs Robert Downey Jr. “Paul’s been essentially with me from the beginning and it was so nice to actually get him on set instead of at the premieres. He’s an amazing actor and it’s a fantastic character.”

“Vision is a key Avenger in the comic books and is a very unique character,” says Kevin Feige. “He’s an artificial life form, but he’s as pure and innocent as any of the characters. He has such a different look and Paul Bettany, who has played Jarvis for so many years, gets to step out from behind the sound booth and put on an outfit and become a true Avenger in the guise of Vision. His look is spectacular and his powers are spectacular and he really represented a new power base for the team.”

Commenting on his character, Bettany says, “What’s lovely about what Joss has done is there’s a sort of omnipotent yet totally naive creature who’s born as an adult and is super smart and yet he still has the childlike features of discovering himself and falling in love with the world around him, enjoying human beings and sort of experiencing everything fresh.”

Coming back to help out his lifelong friend Tony Stark when Stark gets in over his head is Colonel James Rhodes played by Don Cheadle. “It’s one of these situations where Tony got his hand caught in the cookie jar and has basically created this monster that cannot be controlled,” says Don Cheadle. “It puts Rhodey in a tricky spot because he always is trying to bridge this relationship that he has between his service to the military and being a good friend to Tony. All of their interests should be aligned, but they aren’t; they don’t get to the goal in the same way. So I think that’s what Rhodey is always trying to navigate. How do I stay within the confi nes of my military ranking and what am I supposed to do to be part of The Avengers team?”

For Maria Hill, Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” brings a new dynamic, because she is now working for Tony Stark. Cobie Smulders explains her character’s new responsibilities. “It feels a lot looser being under Tony’s rules and regimens,” says Smulders. “Honestly, I don’t think he has any because he doesn’t really like to be the boss. I think he likes to have all these things in control, but when it comes to actually getting work done, all the paperwork that’s involved, that’s Maria’s job. She still is very much in close contact with Nick Fury and we see throughout this film how he comes back through Maria’s guidance in a way.”

Rounding out the talented supporting cast of Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Claudia Kim as Dr. Cho, Thomas Kretschmann as Strucker and Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue.

“It’s exciting to see this kind of cast come together for a film like this,” says executive producer Jeremy Latcham. “The amazing part is everyone loves these characters and the actors who play the roles really enjoy being these characters. Our actors want to come back because audiences love them and their characters are fun to play. It also makes it really exciting from a filmmaking standpoint to have all these great people that want to be in the movie.”


Creating the World

With the film in pre-production in London, the first order of business was a three-week shoot in Johannesburg, South Africa. The cityscape and surrounding areas would provide the backdrop for one of the biggest action sequences in the film involving Iron Man and The Hulk.

“Johannesburg has a very particular look and style to its architecture that I really liked,” says Joss Whedon. “It has very much its own rhythm, its own feel, its own tones, and there’s an earthiness to the way it looks. It is very different from the other locations we shot. You know immediately you’re not in North America.”

Setting up the sequence in the film, director Whedon relates, “The team has come to the coast of Africa to find Ultron and Scarlet Witch who has gotten to Banner and basically given him a nightmare experience so overwhelming that he becomes not just The Hulk but The Hulk Hulking out. He is completely out of control and he comes to the middle of the city almost by accident and then he’s just overwhelmed by noise, the lights and so many people. It’s not Super Hero Hulk; it’s a really scary version and as much as he’s fighting him, Iron Man is also making an effort to just get him out of the city and away from populated areas so he can put him down long enough to get Bruce back.”

Needing more firepower than just his usual Iron Man armor, Tony arrives in his newest piece of technology, aptly called the Hulkbuster suit. “The Hulkbuster is an iconic piece of Iron Man tech and it was always something that we would talk about for each ‘Iron Man’ film,” says Feige. “In ‘Iron Man 3’ our amazing team designed dozens of suits of armor and a few of them they designed as sort of an homage to the Hulkbuster suit, and at a certain point Joss said, ‘Forget the homage to the Hulkbuster suit, we’re going to do it in ‘Age of Ultron.'”

“The idea of Tony Stark in the Hulkbuster suit is a conflict that is fun for fans,” says Whedon. “It’s just a ‘duke-’em-out,’ like you don’t care situation, which is juxtaposed against the deep friendship between Tony and Banner. We learn in the movie that they built the Hulkbuster armor together in case something goes really wrong. So you have two guys who love each other, but have to just beat the crap out of each other and that’s what makes it such a unique sequence and not your typical ride. You know this is going to change their lives and the way they behave around each other. That’s the key through all of this because you always have to keep track of how does this make them different? Where is the emotional thread?”

“The Hulkbuster fight is one of the big action sequences in the film and is really an awesome spectacle,” says Kevin Feige. “An amazing action sequence, but it also is a best friend trying to beat down and stop his buddy. When we cut inside the HUD with shots of Tony we never lose sight of that. He’s constantly saying ‘Bruce, you’ve got to help me out here. Come back to your senses.’ Even as he’s literally punching the Hulk into the concrete. You can only have that type of action in a series of films where people are following along. People understand the dynamic between the characters and the humanity between their alter egos.”

For the filmmakers, pulling off the sequence required massive coordination between the local South African government and citizens of Johannesburg. “When you’re bringing a movie of this size, you need a government that’s going be welcoming, cooperative and give you the access to the city that you need. We looked all over Africa for this sequence and Johannesburg was clearly the place to be,” says Jeremy Latcham. “It had the look and access to the streets we needed. It was really film-friendly. In the downtown streets we flew helicopters, crashed cars and exploded massive pyrotechnics. It’s really exciting and nice to find governments that want filmmakers to come and show off their city and that’s what we have done and I think the people of Johannesburg are going to be thrilled to see their city well-represented up on the big screen.”

“I was told by our crew how happy they were that we shot in Johannesburg,” says Joss Whedon. “The government has been great, the city has been great and people have just opened their doors to us and we couldn’t have done it on this scale without that. We are so grateful because you really can’t capture a place like this unless you’re really there. I have to say the local background performers here were just so great and gave the same amount of energy running up and down the streets of the city take after take.”

Following the shoot in South Africa, the production’s first days of principal photography were in the Aosta Valley, Italy. Seldom seen in American films, the Aosta Valley (Val d’Aosta) is a mountainous, semiautonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by Rhone-Alpes, France, to the west, Valais, Switzerland, to the north and the region of Piedmont to the south and east. The Aosta Valley is the smallest of all Italian regions, but very well known all over the world for the major climbing routes that have made mountaineering history. The region also boasts many spectacular medieval castles and buildings. For the filmmakers, one historical edifice in particular would play an instrumental part in bringing the film to the region.

The edifice, dating back to the year 1000, was turned into Strucker’s stronghold for the opening of the film. “We have a massive aerial tie-in shot with the stronghold as the entire team of Avengers is raiding the place trying to find Loki’s scepter. Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America and Thor are all in the sequences and it’s just a madhouse as they attack the stronghold to stop Strucker and his men.”

Latcham continues, “The search for Strucker’s stronghold started a year before production. We told our location manager that we need an impressive building that was in a region that hasn’t really been seen before. We wanted to open the movie in the snow and we wanted a big, beautiful, menacing edifice. We scoured the planet and sent out the locations team in a car all across Europe. They spent two months going to every single historical site that had a building on it.”

The production also shot in several other locations around the Aosta Valley, which would double as the fictitious Sokovia. Actors Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson kicked off the production with a bang as they did battle in Sokovia.

“Our first day in Italy we were shooting a segment of the end battle of the movie, which is how it goes in cinema sometimes,” laughs Jeremy Renner. “The Italian crew built wonderful sets and practical rocks falling and it was great for me because it made it much easier to jump right into a sequence when all of the elements were practical versus staring at a tennis ball on a green screen.”

The actor continues, “Shooting in practical locations just lets you trust what is going on and what you’re shooting an arrow at. When we were in Italy the town looked gritty and very Eastern European and then beyond that you could see the Alps and beautiful landscapes that were actually too beautiful. It’s funny because I think they’re actually going to have to green screen out the beautiful part of being in Italy and add in more war-torn backdrops to get the look of Sokovia.”

For Elizabeth Olsen, seeing the size and scope of the Italian production was very helpful as she stepped into her new Super Hero shoes. “The biggest benefit of working on these larger productions is that when you can step on set, they have the ability to take over the whole place,” says Olsen. “You’re really taking over someone’s hometown and making it look just totally wrecked and trashed. I felt bad about it when I’d see someone passing by who lives here and they look at all the destruction and mess like we were crazy.”

“When I first saw our final battle set in Italy, I did a 360 and went ‘Guys, this is the perfect set,'” exclaims Joss Whedon. “We had the perfect bridge, which we needed storywise, but more importantly everywhere is just beautiful. Every alleyway is just gorgeous, so we just had that freedom to point the camera in any direction. We wanted it to feel a little anarchy like you’re in the middle of a war, but it just seemed like everywhere I put the camera down I felt like, ‘Yes, shoot that!'”

The director continues, “It was so exhilarating and I think the actors fed off it really well. It’s not easy for these heroes. They’re going through an immense amount of stuff , and the thing that I wanted to inject in the film was it’s going to be a very different task here than in the first film. They’re very different environments, but still they’re integrated among the people so it’s not like: ‘I’m genetically superior, let’s fight!’ But instead it is, ‘There are people around this and they are why we even exist: to help.'”

With the production successfully completing its work in Italy, the production headed back to London. One of the first sets the production would shoot on was the massive set that would encompass the new Avengers Tower in New York City.

“In ‘The Avengers,’ the Helicarrier Bridge was probably the biggest set I’d ever stood on,” says Kevin Feige. “On this film the Avengers Tower set is much bigger. So much of the movie takes place there; it’s on so many different levels, it’s exposed to the outside, so you can see New York City; you can see a specific hangar for the Quinjet now.”

“Originally from the script, Joss wanted a big space because there was an awful lot of scenes we were going to shoot in it and there would be a lot of screen time spent in it,” says production designer Charles Wood. “If you’re shooting over 25 days on the same set you need to come up with something where you have multiple environments within the set. We wanted it all to be connected, but we also wanted to be able to move from downstairs to upstairs and vice versa. Have lots of different fighting platforms, and also have a beautiful view over the city of New York. That’s why we built the big glass piece on the front of it, which was very fluid, based on simple curves, because we looked at the whole engineering aspect of it and tried to incorporate some architectural elements that you see in modern buildings of today.”

Befittingly, the Quinjet got a new look to go with its high-end hangar. The redesigned Quinjet has a more militaristic look this time around and the pilots are now able to have a good look at the environment around them while flying. The design of the canopy was based on a helicopter cockpit with glass in front and below, which will give audiences a tremendous sense of speed when the Quinjet is flying through city airspace. The interior has been stripped down to a more utilitarian, sleek space as well, with many of the luxurious finishes and padding removed for an edgier look.

The actors also appreciate being able to work in real practical environments on such a grand scale. “The Avengers Tower was just so massive and it was on the scale of being in a real mansion and the details and thought that went into it really just blows your mind,” says Elizabeth Olsen. “It was definitely the coolest set I’ve ever seen and I am also a huge fan of being able to transform live places into worlds and they really nailed this one.”

“It was an incredible set,” says Chris Hemsworth. “It is was one of the most impressive sets I’ve ever been on. It’s Tony Stark’s house so it had to be big, high-tech and flashy and it was. It was also the first set that the entire group shot on together so it was nice to be in that kind of setting, to shoot the party scene there and all of us be together and catch up.”

While the set was amazing, the flooring on the set became a bit of a challenge for the actors after many of the big stunt sequences left. “I walked on the set for the first time and I said, ‘Wow, this is really impressive,'” says Robert Downey Jr. “But then as we went along somehow it wasn’t factored in what would happen when all of the candy glass from the action sequences got ground into the floor. It basically became a futuristic ice rink and that was almost impossible to navigate. The floors looked so beautiful, but were so slippery that it added unforeseen amount of excitement and danger to walking three steps. It also made everyone a much better dancer.”

“Avengers Tower is one of the most beautiful sets I’ve had the privilege to work on,” says Joss Whedon. “Charles Wood did such a beautiful job and it was some of the best production design I’ve ever seen. It made me crazy at times, because the space is so big and the lighting becomes very general because there’s only so much you can do. But it really looks amazing on film and it gave me so many options that I could point the camera and let scenes play out without having to figure out how to cheat things so much.”

It was also on the massive set that The Avengers would get the first look at Ultron, who crashes The Avengers party and unleashes his fury on the team. The scene also marked the first time that any of the actors had been on set with James Spader performing as Ultron. “When James showed up on set for the first day, he had this tracking suit on and a metal ring with a big light a few feet above his head so that the other actors knew where they should look,” explains Chris Evans. “As ridiculous as he looked in person, he was just so powerful and that is one great actor who can captivate all of us looking like that.”

“For me one of the things that’s interesting about playing Ultron is that the character is actually a metallic structure, but they incorporate certain facial gestures of mine into the character,” says James Spader. “Ultron evolves during the course of the film to the point where funny enough, he tries to delineate himself quite distinctly from being a man as opposed to a creation. He’s moving more and more towards that and taking more of a human physicality and articulation of body and movement. That was one of the characteristics that came up in the very first conversation I had with Joss. ‘What will be my contribution?’ ‘Is it just the voice?’ He said to me ‘It’s really as much or as little as you care for and as much as your schedule allows.’ So I told him when I do a film or anything, I’m all in!”

“The character of Ultron was one of the first times on any film where I had really no idea what that character was going to look like and how that performance was going to be played out,” says Chris Hemsworth. “But the first time I saw James perform in character, it just all made sense. The writing is all very tricky in terms of his speech cadences and rhythms. He also has sarcasm and irony to him yet is highly intelligent. It’s a beautiful mix and I remember the first time he came on set and did this big monologue and when he was done we all just sort of applauded and forgot our lines because we were so captivated by what he was doing.”

“Normally with a character like this you could just have like a tennis ball on a C-stand and the first AD reads the dialogue and you kind of react to it,” adds Mark Ruffalo. “It was amazing to have James do all of the character’s dialogue because when you start watching him and see the character come to life you just feel like, ‘You’re so wonderful and amazing,’ instead of being like, ‘Who is this guy? Is he a bad guy? What’s happening?’ He was just so captivating and you could see the layers getting built in the performance. I think when you start with somebody like James Spader, it’s already so elevated, and fans are really going to love this character.”

Shooting scenes in Seoul, South Korea, was up next for the filmmakers and marked the first time a big American production has shot in the capital city. South Korea has a rapidly growing Marvel fan base and according to executive producer Louis D’Esposito, “South Korea has become one of the top markets overseas.” He adds, “When ‘The Avengers’ came out there the market just really exploded and it has been growing exponentially ever since. In keeping with the mantra of shooting in locations and countries that you haven’t seen much on the big screen, Seoul fit the bill perfectly as you really haven’t seen it in the way this film is going to showcase it.”

“Seoul is a very cutting-edge city in real life and is a technologically driven society and they love the notion of us coming to their city and showcasing that,” says Kevin Feige. “They were incredibly gracious and gave us unprecedented access to the city and areas that had never been shot in before.”

One such location was the Mapo Bridge, which crosses the Han River in South Korea and connects the Mapo District and the Yeongdeungpo District. The bridge would be the backdrop for a sequence in which Captain America is chasing down and climbing onto the back and roof of an 18-wheel truck from his motorcycle. In order to shoot the sequence, the production shut down the one-mile-long bridge. It was the first time the bridge had ever been shut down completely.

“The amazing thing about Seoul is that there are hundreds of different bridges in the city and not one of them looks the same,” explains second unit director John Mahaffie. “We had amazing cooperation from the city of Seoul, and we found out we had been cleared to film on Mapo Bridge, which was quite exciting. It’s a 10-lane bridge, one of the widest, longest bridges in Seoul and they very graciously allowed us to shut down both sides of the whole bridge to stage this action, which was just fantastic.”

Another unique asset to the production was the use of drones and remote control cars to put the camera in places that could never be achieved by camera operators or helicopters. The production enlisted the expertise of brothers Menstru Pa, who is the Korean National Champion in drone flying, and Pak Min Keu, who is the Korean National Champion in remote car racing.

“The camera drones were amazing,” says executive producer Patricia Whitcher. “They’re just beginning to become a tool that we can use in filmmaking because in many countries you’re not allowed to use them for some safety regulations. The advantage of the drone is that you can really get a drone much closer to the action than you can a helicopter and it’s just less invasive and dangerous. In many ways it is much more flexible and is much less expensive. Menstru Pa was so talented and anything we ever asked him to do with the drone he nailed it every time.”

Whitcher continues, “We also had a remote control car operator, Pak Min Keu, who was his brother, and he operated the small remote control car that we mounted a camera on and he zipped it through the traffic, under cars and trucks. It allowed us to shoot chase sequences like I have never seen before. He had nerves of steel because he had a very expensive camera mounted on the remote control car and he was able to maneuver it so close to the action and never once missed a beat or messed up a take.”

The production shot in many locations, including Digital City, Gangnam, K1 University, Mapo Bridge and on rooftops in Namsam. To pull off all these sequences, the production relied on a massive production team that included both local Koreans and Americans working together.

“There’s a lot of prep work involved with the locals because we have to explain to everybody exactly what we want to do and how it’s going to be done,” says Mahaffie. “South Korea has never seen a film of this stature being filmed in its country and some of the challenges and stunts that we’re trying to achieve involve really detailed information going across all the different people, the locals, the police and the government. They’re fully behind us and it was just fantastic.”

The intense interest in the Marvel brand was in full effect when actor Chris Evans arrived to shoot his scenes. “Chris Evans is a massive star in South Korea and was in the hit Korean film ‘Snowpiercer,'” says Jeremy Latcham. “They’re also really big fans of our movies, so when he arrived at the airport there were thousands of fans that showed up to see him. It was also the case during production in Korea as thousands of people lined up on the streets there to watch it and were very excited about it.”

“The South Koreans are very enthusiastic fans,” says Chris Evans. “I don’t know enough about the local culture to understand their history or connection with comic books, but Marvel films are so popular here. It’s also really nice to be here because they’re so welcoming and they let us take over their streets for a few weeks and were so gracious and supportive of the shoot.”

The South Korean shoot was also very meaningful for Korean actress Claudia Kim who grew up in Seoul and plays Dr. Helen Cho in the film. “I remember telling Joss Whedon that whether or not I get the role, I’m so excited and so proud as a Korean that you’re shooting in the country,” says Kim. “Growing up here I don’t ever remember a film of this magnitude being shot here. I think it’s so meaningful for us as a country. Korea has always had a reputation for its massive growth, but I really feel Korea’s still developing and it’s really nice that it will be highlighted forever on film in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.'”

Shooting an epic final battle scene is always one of the biggest challenges on a Marvel film. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron” the final battle sequence would be shot in multiple locations, including Italy and on location outside of London. Finding a location around London that could match the war-torn streets of Sokovia was not an easy task for the production, as it needed a big outdoor space that could house the entire production for three weeks and still be secure from paparazzi. The production struck gold when it found a government facility that had everything it needed.

“I think it’s safe to say this is probably one of the best locations a major motion picture has ever secured,” says Louis D’Esposito. “It had five big towers all in one massive compound. It’s just this massive place that we’ve redressed with the help of our production design team and turned into the town of Sokovia that we shot in Italy. The cars, the signs, the set dressing give it this authentic Eastern Europe feel. Our production designer Charles Wood also built this wonderful church and we’ve been able to run the drone up and down the set to capture every angle.”

Jeremy Latcham adds, “The set was on such a massive scale and we had access to the whole thing. So we sent the storyboard artists, we sent the visual effects guys and they built the set in the computer and we knew exactly where the cameras could go, exactly where the explosions would take place and we just start piecing the whole sequence together when we showed up for our 17 days shooting. It was big action, stunts and excitement. It’s just such a great canvas to kind of tell this big, massive Avengers story.”

“The facility was an existing location that fit extremely well into that sort of slightly post-communist type look that we had found in certain areas in Italy,” adds production designer Charles Wood. “Joss again is extremely flexible and we knew we needed certain elements: a bridge environment, a church and a market square, and very quickly we realized it actually worked incredibly well and it gave us a lot more room for action beats in the film that we may not have got in any other location.”

For director Whedon, the set was everything he could have hoped for when he wrote the screenplay. “There was real sense of a community that we were able to create on this production. The production crew was amazing and the church that Charles Wood built was just so beautiful. Shooting The Avengers in that church was some of the best visceral comic book stuff I’ve ever shot, and everybody was so great. The stunt team and the actors themselves really brought so much to it. It’s just a different look than I’m used to seeing and when you get the whole group fighting practically it makes it very visceral and exciting.”

“The finale of this film is bigger than anything we’ve ever done at Marvel Studios and will dwarf the finale of the first film,” informs Kevin Feige. “We hope it excites people, but we are cautious to give the impression that it was the goal to make it bigger. To a certain extent you can’t go bigger after a certain point and we thought we couldn’t go bigger, which is why we spent so much time on the character relationships and story arcs, which does take up a good chunk of the film. But the final 10 percent of the movie is a finale the likes of which I don’t think anybody’s ever seen in a film before, which is incredibly exciting.”

Hulk and Ultron

Back in London, as the production worked its way through the shooting schedule, filmmakers began to work on bringing Hulk and Ultron to life in the film.

“Andy Serkis has a company called The Imaginarium Studios, which is based in London,” says Jeremy Latcham. “They are a big, motion-capture studio and their whole goal is to advance the art of motion capture as a cinematic art, which is pretty incredible, and they’re doing such cutting-edge work. So we started collaborating with them to work with Mark Ruffalo and James Spader in order to create something new that goes a step beyond.”

“Andy Serkis has been performing and developing the technology of performance capture, which is a much more formative stage of technology,” says Joss Whedon. “It truly is performance driven now and Andy has been performing in that capacity seemingly from the beginning. He has been invaluable not only from the technical side of it, but also for the actors working on the film, he was tremendously helpful in terms of how to put what we do as an actor and sort of plug it into this character, which was incomprehensible to me at first.”

Mark Ruffalo explains how the new technology has changed the game for performing as The Hulk. “The difficulty with the technology on the first Avengers was that it was at a place where you could capture movement, but then you had to do all the facial recognition stuff separately and you couldn’t move your body when you’re acting, which for me is really prohibitive in trying to create a performance that is as physical as the Hulk,” explains Mark Ruffalo. “It really helps to have the body you’re informing and so I found that really frustrating the first time around. Although we were using the state-of- the-art technology last time, it was still kind of always on the fly and I found myself doing the Hulk-smashing-Loki scene in a corner of a paint shop literally in-between running from one set to another to do another scene.”

The actor continues, “So in that time this technology’s taken another major leap forward in the fact that you can actually do facial capture while they’re doing motion capture. So you have this integration of the body, the face and all the physical attributes. And it can get really nuanced and it is something that is as sacred and as worthy as anything we do on any set. I really find this to be an exciting new fronti er for actors and performers. We’re no longer bound any way to our physical being.”

For Andy Serkis it is all in a day’s work. “Imaginarium is a digital character creation workshop using performance capture and one of things that we do is we consult and advise actors, directors and filmmakers in the creation of digital characters,” says Serkis. “Mark Ruffalo was very keen to come and work with us and find a way of bringing more of the performance capture into the film. The Hulk is a pretty high-octane character and it was a real challenge. He doesn’t muck around and it is a pretty feisty character to play.”

For visual effects supervisor Christopher Townsend the technology was a great asset to his team. “What we tried to do with Hulk in this film is really try to take him to the next level in terms of photorealism and I was really striving to get a character that the audience could really believe in and empathize with,” says Townsend. “With Mark’s performance and Joss’ direction, there are a lot more moments where we can really get in touch with his feelings and I think that’s really nice. In order to make that work you have to believe the character you’re seeing on screen.”

For James Spader as Ultron, the motion-capture experience was completely new and somewhat intimidating, but the talented actor stepped up and took on the challenge. “The first time I showed up at the studio to shoot with mo-cap, they put me in a suit and had me go through a range of motion exercise with different, very specific motions and movements, which they captured with sensors all over me and markings and everything else and these reference cameras all around me. Then they plugged it into this process on a computer and within 10 minutes the rough image of Ultron, the character I was playing, was on the monitor in front of me, and every move that I made was live- streaming as the character right in front of me. The next day I went and shot using all the process, but I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and was thrown by all of it, but it was exhilarating. It was great fun.”

Spader adds, “But when I came back a month later to shoot, I knew exactly what I was getting into and how not to just fit into the process but to be able to really incorporate what I wanted to do and how I could then serve Joss Whedon best in trying to bring this character to life.”


Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne returns to the Marvel fold to dress The Avengers once again. This experience, though, brought some new challenges to the veteran costume designer. “I would say my biggest challenge on this one is the number of Super Heroes,” says Byrne. “Getting all the looks right, making the costumes work, the number of repeats, knowing who is doubling for who, how many stunts-it all becomes really complicated.”

Byrne adds, “They are also shooting on different continents, so there are logistics involved as well. I have the best team ever, so delegation is marvelous but it’s hard work to do so much shooting abroad.”

But as Byrne points out, there are also advantages inherent in making a sequel: “The joy of returning to a project is that you can take what you’ve learned and then you can move it on from there. So, for example, Thor has a big costume; it’s not jeans and T-shirts. There’s a lot of rigging, there’s a lot of movement, there’s a lot of metalwork. Metal doesn’t bend, so how do you make the costume behave? It’s my third time around on Thor and I think Chris looks great.”

In Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” audiences will see Thor in party clothes for the first time. Describing how she went about finding his night-on-the-town look, Byrne says, “Chris Hemsworth knows the character inside out; he is Thor. So we talked, looked at different pieces and he tried on some pieces I bought. We wanted references to Thor but keeping it in the world of clothes. It has to be kind of a contradiction. If you put Thor in one kind of themed look, he’s going to look like he’s fancy dressed because he’s a larger-than-life character, so it’s really about dressing Chris’ shape. He wanted jeans, so we thought about what works with jeans. We wanted a jacket, so how does that evolve? We balanced the coat with a very casual T-shirt so that it has that contradiction of looks.”

Robert Downey Jr. wanted a more sophisticated look this time around for Tony Stark and Byrne explains how they approached that request, saying, “Instead of making a suit, we went for proper Savile Row tailoring and that is about five fittings and a lot of work but that was the draw of being in London.”

One of the most interesting and practical costume changes was a pair of much-needed stretchy pants for The Hulk. Executive producer Jeremy Latcham expands on Hulk’s new strategic piece of wardrobe: “Banner is really scared of being The Hulk because he knows when he does there’s always the potential that something bad could happen. He also knows that Hulk’s a hero, so he goes with it. But one of the things that’s annoying about being The Hulk is when you’re done Hulking out, you’re just left in a pile of your shredded clothes that have fallen off , which can be embarrassing. So one of the things we’ve added is that Banner always wears a pair of stretchy pants under his pants. They fit Bruce Banner like a pair of really high tech, microfiber fabric pants and they just stretch with him. He’s now got a proper uniform that stays with him when he is The Hulk and Bruce Banner, which alleviates the less fortunate part of being The Hulk.”

Hawkeye got a new coat, specifically designed for the film, and some tweaks to his look as well. “The movie opens and The Avengers are all fighting out in the snowy forest and Hawkeye is in his classic uniform that we had in the first film, but we also wanted to change that up a bit so we did a little redesign of the armor and gave him sleeves and a whole different silhouette,” says Jeremy Latcham. “Our costume designer Alex Byrne and Ryan Meinerding, our concept artist, also collaborated on a great coat for him with really cool lines.”

Byrne had to start from scratch when it came to creating costumes for the two new characters, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor- Johnson). Byrne informs, “For both Pietro and Wanda, the point was that we needed to start them off in Sokovia, in Eastern Europe, and we needed to believe that they were orphan children living there. Then gradually we move them towards their Super Hero look, so that there were the roots of the Super Hero look in what they’re wearing in their ordinary clothes and there is an evolution.”

Byrne adds, “For Wanda, I looked at a lot of Eastern European fashion and more ethnic clothing. It was a very interesting mixture of clothing meets costume meets Super Hero and it was a great journey through her character.”

For Pietro aka Quicksilver, it’s all about speed and being aerodynamic, so his costume design needed to illustrate that. “Aaron brings an amazing physique and the way he moves is incredibly athletic and balletic. He’s very graceful, so you can really use lines down the body and streamline him.”

As Joss Whedon sums up, “Costumes in a Super Hero film pretty much make or break. In some places, we don’t want to rock the boat. We like what we like, but all the costumes changed in every film. In general, we just like to see something a little bit new but at the same time we want to know who those guys are.”


In property master Barry Gibbs’ first meeting with director Joss Whedon, Whedon expressed his desire to have The Avengers props and weaponry tweaked. “Joss wanted it as if Tony Stark or Stark Industries had applied new technologies to the old weapons,” says Gibbs. “So even though there’s nothing wrong with the old ones, he’s just taken them to another level, which has affected items like Cap’s shield, Hawkeye’s bow and some of the weaponry with Black Widow.”

Captain America’s shield had a particularly significant upgrade-it now can be called back to him, much like Iron Man’s suits. Gibbs explains: “Instead of having two handles in the back, it’s got a magnetic element that clips onto the gauntlet, which kind of makes it quite cool. There are a couple of scenes in the movie where Cap throws his arm up and calls the shield back exactly the same as Iron Man when he calls his gauntlet in.”

Hawkeye’s archery equipment also had some exciting changes.

“We altered the bow initially,” says Gibbs. “Everyone loved the bow but being black it just goes into the background, so we’ve done a very subdued maroon which blends in with the costume. One of our suppliers outfitted us with their latest bows and we were able to take those and they very kindly allowed us to alter them in the same style, so Hawkeye does exactly the same thing: carries a small bow, flicks it out and it becomes a larger version. We’ve streamlined it a little bit and added a few more features. Now it has an infrared-sighting device and a sonic-sighting device on it but it still retains the features of the buttons that dial in which arrow tip comes in.”

Explaining what’s new with Hawkeye’s quiver this time around, Jeremy Latcham offers, “One of the other cool things we changed is Hawkeye’s quiver, which is more automated and faster loading and can hold nine arrows. This allows for him to be able to grab an arrow really quickly because it’s always loading one up. It is new technology that Tony’s given him and we’re always playing the game of wanting to stretch how many arrows he can carry at one time to make sure that we make it credible.”

All of the arrow tips are new for Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“We’ve got regular arrows, ballistic arrows, explosive, acid-tipped, a net arrow and a mind-warping arrow,” informs Gibbs.

Gibbs and his team solicit feedback from the actors to see if things work, or if they prefer lighter, heavier or weighted-for-balance weaponry. Gibbs relates: “For example, with Jeremy we changed the bow for him because there was a sequence where he wanted to fight and although it’s an aluminum frame, we changed that so we had a rubber section so as he flipped it around it didn’t break his wrist.”

Chris Evans likes to use the lightest version of Captain America’s shield, so that it doesn’t interfere with his way of acting. “We have to try and juggle having something that’s perhaps a soft rubber but is heavier, which he doesn’t like, to a biscuit foam which he does like but it isn’t durable,” says Gibbs. “So there are various options on that.”

In total there are five versions of Captain America’s shield required for filming: a hero, a lightweight hero, a durable, a biscuit foam and a stunt rubber.

Black Widow sports new fighting batons this time around, based on Escrima Sticks. Describing them, Gibbs says, “Her fighting style is now more of a martial arts style but with two sticks that are charged exactly the same as the stingers. When she jabs, not only is she hitting you, you’re also getting a massive jolt of power. This again was prepped up by Tony Stark, so the idea is that he’s taken her powers and turbocharged them.”

There are some actors that want to work with the props department and have suggestions as well. Robert Downey Jr. is one of them. “Robert will always be coming up with ideas and he always has suggestions and they’re great. He wants to play with props, and we just try to give him as much as we can,” says Gibbs.


Assembled and Ready

With the final battle completed, the production wound down for the last remaining days in London and completed principal photography on August 5, 2014. The cast and filmmakers reflect upon the experience and what audiences can expect from Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“I hope people say ‘Wow’ after they see this film,” says Robert Downey Jr. “When you have a big movie like this, there are big expectations and I hope that audiences feel as good about this as they did when they came and saw the third ‘Iron Man,’ and as they did when they saw the most recent ‘Captain America’ and ‘Thor.’ This movie is incredibly fun and thoughtful and has great themes. There is also a whole bunch of new characters and it really raises the bar. That’s when I know it has my seal of approval.”

Chris Hemsworth points out that Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is definitely ratcheting up the movie-going experience for audiences. He explains why: “We’ve gone to far more locations than we have ever before and covered more ground, so aesthetically it’s going to be a mash-up of a whole lot of different locations and styles and images. Everything has just been dialed up. Even the complexity of the story has gone deeper and we’ve seen all these characters evolve in the individual films and now to see them come together a second time is pretty exciting.”

“The Avengers films are the pillars of our cinematic universe,” says Kevin Feige. “The scope of this film is massive, from shooting at Dover Castle in England to downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, to a gigantic edifice in Northern Italy, to being the first Hollywood film to shoot on the streets of Seoul in South Korea. Throw in all the amazing sets and work on the soundstages this by far is the biggest Marvel film ever produced. Our intention was to make the best Marvel film ever produced. Audiences will be the judge of that, but we are unbelievably excited about this film.”

Summing up what audiences can expect, Whedon says, “What was so grand about this weird, disparate group coming together is that we also know that nothing lasts forever and that there is a dark side to everything. It’s going to be a little more grown-up than the first one. A little scarier. A little funkier. But in the end, it’s got the same values; it’s got the same extraordinary characters and a lot of humor. And yes, there may be some punching.”