May 12, 2015 | 8:00 a.m.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is dominating the box office, earning more than $312 domestically so far. But when director Joss Whedon was in the thick of production on the Marvel sequel, he was terrified of failure. Whedon — previously best known for creating cult darling TV shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” its spinoff series “Angel,” the sci-fi Western “Firefly” and the short-lived “Dollhouse” — hit box office gold with his 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers,” the first tentpole film in Marvel’s mega-franchise. “Avengers” was praised for its wit, warmth and careful balancing of its all-star superhero roster. Before that film’s opening, Whedon said he had mixed feelings about the possibility of directing its sequel. “You know, I’m very torn,” Whedon told Hero Complex in 2012. “It’s an enormous amount of work telling what is ultimately somebody else’s story, even […]
May 08, 2015 | 6:18 p.m.
It’s time for a new installment of Paycheck Friday, Hero Complex’s weekly roundup of some of our favorite toys, books, games and other merchandise. The news heard around the geek world this week was “Avengers: Age of Ultron” director Joss Whedon leaving the Twitterverse. Whedon eventually spoke out about why he exited the social media network, so this week’s paycheck will be spent paying tribute to his choice by celebrating the Whedon women we love. The woman who started it all, of course, was Buffy Summers. She was the one girl in all the world chosen to stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness, or so it went in Whedon’s breakout hit TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” This week’s first pick is “The Little Book of Whittling” by Chris Lubkemann. This introductory guide is great […]
May 05, 2015 | 11:59 a.m.
Warning: This post contains spoilers. Rumors are buzzing about the reasons behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron” director Joss Whedon’s decision to leave Twitter, with some observers blaming fan backlash about Black Widow’s role in the Marvel film. Portrayed on the big screen by Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, is a spy who abandons U.S.S.R. secret ops to fight for the good guys, joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and later the Avengers Initiative. One version of her origin story in the comics reveals that Natasha was raised by the so-called Black Widow Ops program at the covert “Red Room” complex, brainwashed from childhood and trained in combat and espionage. It’s this back story that makes its way to the silver screen in Whedon’s “Avengers” sequel in an emotional exchange between Widow and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, with both characters lamenting their inability […]
April 30, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.
Elizabeth Olsen is doing more than bringing the Marvel Comics character Scarlet Witch to the big screen in Friday’s tentpole film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” She’s also doubling the number of women on the Avengers roster. “It’s really cool, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Olsen, 26, a self-professed fan of the comic book film franchise. Previously, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, was the sole female member of the muscle-bound team of super-studs, comprising Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. With four Marvel movies under her utility belt and a fifth (“Captain America: Civil War”) slated to begin filming next week, Johansson, 30, is a veteran of the flourishing Marvel Cinematic Universe. And she’s eager to welcome more women to the franchise. “For […]
April 27, 2015 | 1:37 p.m.
For Chris Evans, wielding Captain America’s shield is nearly second nature by now. Friday’s theatrical release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” marks the fourth time Evans has portrayed the star-spangled superhero on the big screen (not including a funny cameo in “Thor: The Dark World”). “Certainly I feel more comfortable with the character,” Evans said on the film’s London set last summer. “Every time you play him you peel back a layer.” “Age of Ultron,” director Joss Whedon’s sequel to 2012’s blockbuster “The Avengers,” sees Evans reuniting with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), along with newcomers James Spader, as the titular villain Ultron, Paul Bettany as the Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. Hero Complex caught up with Evans during […]
April 25, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has much to celebrate these days. The architect of Marvel’s movie landscape has presided over an unprecedented string of hits — to date, the company has released 10 films that have brought in more than $7 billion. Under a deal announced earlier this year, he will have an opportunity to reframe Marvel’s most iconic character, bringing Spider-Man into Marvel’s blockbuster cinematic universe before the hero goes spinning back to anchor his own franchise for Sony Pictures, his movie home since 2002. And that doesn’t take into account a range of future projects that will likely extend Marvel’s box-office dominance well into the next decade. That Feige was able to construct Marvel’s foundations without the presence of its most well-known hero makes the company’s fortunes that much more impressive to industry observers. Once Marvel began making […]
April 24, 2015 | 5:30 a.m.
LONDON — A helicopter hovered in the July afternoon sky, cameras rolling on board, to capture the cascade of glass raining through the sky. An ear-shattering explosion had just blown out the windows of a multi-story structure, sending civilians running for cover and Captain America straight onto the windshield of a nearby car. Actor Chris Evans winced with pain as he peeled his battered superhero frame off the shattered vehicle. Moments later, he was in top form once more, striding through a field of crumpled vehicles next to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor to do battle with the mighty foe that gets title billing in this summer’s highly anticipated Marvel outing, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” arriving May 1. “Some days, you’re like, can’t they just talk?” quipped writer-director Joss Whedon as he worked out some last-minute fight choreography with a stunt coordinator […]
April 23, 2015 | 11:58 a.m.
It takes a special sort of actor to embody a towering robotic villain with the ability to make Tony Stark lose his cool, but if anyone can fit that bill, it’s James Spader. The respected Emmy-winning actor (“The Blacklist,” “Boston Legal”) whose extensive filmography includes projects directed by the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg and Steven Soderbergh, among others, joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the iconic comic book antagonist Ultron — a character that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige suggested might have a larger role to play beyond just the new sequel. Hero Complex caught up with Spader on his last day of filming “Age of Ultron” to learn what it’s like to inhabit such an unusual character and what drew him to the role. What interested you in playing Ultron? He’s certainly not your conventional villain. When […]
April 14, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.
Marvel’s mightiest are gearing up for more mayhem on May 1, when “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens in the U.S. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, the follow-up concludes Marvel Studios’ lucrative “Phase 2” film slate, and reunites heroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and, of course, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Last time they were all together the heroes muscled their way to more than $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office. The sequel is also adding a bevy of new names to remember, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaw. Plus, there’s the title villain, voiced by James Spader. Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the film’s heroes and villains, plus some behind-the-scenes […]
April 13, 2015 | 12:39 p.m.
Marvel’s hype machine is kicking into high gear in the ramp-up for “Avengers: Age of Ultron”; the studio has released several new clips from the film ahead of its Hollywood premiere tonight and May 1 release. The latest clip, released Monday morning, shows Tony Stark at odds with the other members of Marvel’s mightiest team of superheroes. It seems Iron Man’s fellow Avengers are taking him to task for inadvertently creating Ultron, the film’s titular villain — an artificial intelligence with a robotic body, portrayed by James Spader. “This could have been avoided if you hadn’t played with something you don’t understand,” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) scolds Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in the clip. When fellow scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) tries to talk Stark down in a confrontation with Captain America (Chris Evans), Stark accuses Banner of cowardice. “Really? That’s […]