Prepare yourself for the Age of Ultron.
Joss Whedon surprised the crowd at the end of Marvel’s Comic-Con 2013 panel to reveal this as the title and main character of Avengers 2.
We’ll get to that. We promise.
But first the Marvel crew ran down all the major titles coming up. Click through for details on each:
The Comic-Con panel begins:
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is introduced as “the master of nerd puppetry” by moderator Chris Hardwick.
Asked what he has in the works, Feige says: “Well, we have a movie called Thor: The Dark World.”
A cavernous boom! And then total darkness as the billboard-sized screen in 6,000-seat Hall H goes blank.
“Humanity … look how far you’ve fallen. Lining up in the sweltering heat for hours … chattering together in the dark … LIKE BEASTS!!!”
Aaand LIGHTNING FLASH as Tom Hiddleston appears in character as Loki.
“Stand back, you mewling quim!” He declares. And everyone rises in fealty, cheering.
“You should have let me rule you when you had the chance.”
Hiddleston, er, Loki unleashes an Asgardian-style Don Rickles routine, insulting the miserable mass of humanity before him. Then asks: “Say my name?”
LOKI!!! the crowd roars
“Say my NAME!” he says, no longer asking.
The crowd chants: LOKI …! LOKI …! LOKI ….!
Hiddleston smiles: “Then I have an army.”
A clip of Thor: The Dark World begins to play, showing Chris Hemsworth’s hammer-swinging hero in an epic, galactic battle. It’s a vast expansion on the previously released trailer above.
At one point, Natalie Portman’s character is shown in Asgard, delivering a fearsome slap to Loki’s face. “That was for New York,” she says.
Again, Loki smiles.
The clip ends and bow power has been restored. Feige begins introducing the cast of …
NEXT PAGE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Nearly the full cast of The Winter Soldier gathers (minus Robert Redford and a few other key parts), and Evans is asked if Cap is finally adjusting to modern life.
“It’s not like he’s shocked by, ‘oh wow, the Internet!'” Evans says. “But today it’s harder to know who is right and who’s wrong.”
Is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow a cameo or a major role?
Feige says “She and Chris share this movie in a big way.”
“We get to see how she is in a more casual working relationship,” Johansson says. “It starts to break down the barriers of the walls she has put up. This film is gritty and has some down and dirty bare-knuckle fighting.”
Evans says Captain America and Black Widow have an “odd couple” relationship, coming from very different attitudes about what is right and wrong.
There’s still a week left before shooting is complete, but Marvel is presenting a clip. Here’s the recap:
Unknown thugs gather in an elevator and Steve Rogers can tell something is wrong. One of them is Frank Grillo as the villain Crossbones. “Before we start,” Cap says. “Anyone want to get out?”
A face-crushing fistfight breaks out, and all fall except Crossbones.
“I just want you to know, Cap. None of this is personal,” he says.
“It kinda feels personal,” Rogers says, and the battle continues.
“To build a better world sometimes means tearing the wold one down,” says Robert Redford’s voice. He appears against a large window, Alexander Pierce, “Disorder, war, all it takes is one step.”
Now Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury speaka: “We’re going to neutralize a lot of threats before they happen.”
“I thought the punishment usually came after the crime,” Cap says.
“S.H.I.E.L.D. sees the world as it is, not as we hope it to be,” Fury replies.
The last shot is Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier, picking up Captain America’s fallen shield.
NEXT PAGE: Guardians of the Galaxy
Next, Feige reveals that the upcoming space saga Guardians of the Galaxy has just started shooting in the U.K. and wanted to come to Comic-Con. “So they decided to come …!”
Here’s a rundown of who is who in the cast (only the heroes, however, are in the concept art above):
Yondu – Michael Rooker, playing a galactic big-game hunter and founding member of the Guardians.
Nebula – Karen Gillian — The chrome-domed mercenary and supervillain. “I might have done something a little bit crazy,” she says and pulls off a wig to reveal her shaved head.
Ronan the Accuser — Lee Pace, as a leader of the evil alien race known as the Kree.
Korath the Pursuer – Djimon Hounsou, an affiliate of the Kree who is allied with Ronan.
The Collector — Benicio del Toro, playing an ancient being who gathers lifeforms from around the galaxy to keep as his own.
Drax the Destroyer— Dave Batista, “When I go the job, I broke down and cried like a little baby,” the physically massive pro wrestler said. “I’m 44 years old, I’m the baby on the set in terms of acting experience. I go to work every day and try to learn something new.”
Gamora — Zoe Saldana, as the emerald-hued alien assassin who is the adopted daughter of one of the most evil beings in the universe: Thanos. “I’ve done blue, I figured why not try green?”
Star-Lord — Chris Pratt, on his new ripped physique: “I had a tapeworm.” His character is a half-human, half-alien who never fit in on Earth, and hasn’t really found a place for himself anywhere else in the galaxy either.
Even though the film has only been shooting a short time, Marvel completed some special effects for a short teaser reel.
It begins with …
A large crypt-like door opening — vaguely futuristic and vaguely ancient.
It’s Chris Pratt as Star-Lord walking into what appears to be temple, claiming an artifact in a sort-of recreation of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But Djimon Hounsou’s Korath stops him.
“NO problem. NO problem at all,” Star-Lord says, hardly brave.
He identifies himself as Star-Lord, which makes Korath go: “Who?”
“Star-Lord, man! Legendary outlaw? Forget it.”
Then, although we don’t see any of Benicio Del Toro’s The Collector (he hasn’t shot anyt scenes yet) we ironically get a scene reminiscent of the line-up from The Usual Suspects. Each of the Guardians is standing behind a one-way mirror in a futuristic mug-shot situation as John C. Reilly’s galactic lawman Rhomann Dey gives the rundown:
Drax the Destroyer flexes and scowls, a big green mean looking gent, ripped with red markings.
Gamora — He ID’s the assassin as death-craving villain Thanos’ adopted daughter.
We see a short, fuzzy, bandit-looking creature (who doesn’t speak — sorry, still no casting there.) “He calls himself Rocket,” Reilly says. “Wanted on over fifty charges of vehicular theft”
Groot, the tree warrior is shown — although he is so large his face is above the frame and we only see his trunk. “He’s been traveling recently as a personal houseplant-slash-muscle,” Reilly says.
“Peter Jason Quill, also known as Star-Lord. He’s wanted largely on charges of minor assault.”
“They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy,” Reilly says.
“What a bunch of a-holes.”
Cue the music as “Ooga chocka ooga ooga ooga chocka” begins to play,” and Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” (Peter Quill’s jam) plays through some quick flashes of spaceships and galactic carnage.
Finally, the big finish …
NEXT PAGE: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon arrives to reveal that Avengers 2 will be called …
Age of Ultron!
Crowd. Melts. Down.
For those who don’t follow the comic book world as closely, a little background is in order. Ultron was a sentient robot who was the creation of a scientist named Dr. Henry Pym — also known as Ant-Man, which means Avengers 2 will likely introduce the hero of Edgar Wright’s upcoming Marvel movie.
Ultron is self-aware and develops a craving for power, according to comics lore. He begins rebuilding himself into more and more powerful iterations and seeks to create artificial life himself in a twisted desire to become a parent — especially important since he eventually wars with his own “father,” Hank Pym.
But … the curious thing about the footage Whedon presented to introduce the Age of Ultron title is that it begins with a close-up of what appears to be Iron Man’s mask. We hear various lines various Avengers that were spoken in previous Marvel movies. As they speak, the Iron Man helmet spins and is scratched, dented, and pulverized.
It is transforming, and at the end we see a pullback and the title reveal: Iron Man’s mask has become Ultron’s grinning, fang-like metallic skull.
So will Hank Pym actually NOT be part of Ultron’s story? Might we see Marvel retcon this bit of lore to make Tony Stark the creator of Ultron. (Hey, he has the almost-sentient artificial intelligence Jarvis to help him. He’s close!)
Whedon offered no clues. But Age of Ultron was also the name of an apocalyptic series of comics by Brian Michael Bendis that was published this year, featuring the robot villain taking over the entire planet and leaving it in ruins, while superheroes turn refugee and hide away while plotting a counter-attack. (There’s a lot more to it than that, and casual fans may want to seek out the book ASAP before spoilers proliferate in Avengers 2 news reports.)
One thing is certain — the movie can’t be totally faithful to the books, which prominently feature Wolverine and Spider-Man, among other heroes that are licensed to other studios.
But we’ll find out more as we near the release date: May 1, 2015.
Thor: The Dark World opens Nov. 8.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is due in theaters April 4, 2014.
Contributing: Darren Franich and Laura Hertzfeld