Study Guide

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron Introduction


Release Year: 2015

Genre: Action, Superhero

Director: Joss Whedon

Writer: Joss Whedon

Stars: Robert Downey, Jr., James Spader, Scarlett Johansson


Potato chips, donut holes, Avengers movies—you really can't stop at just one, can you? Luckily for us, chips and donut holes are sold in bulk, and we get to feast on at least four scheduled Avengers movies before it's all said and done. Mmm, Marvelicious.

In the case of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we're served up some tasty seconds after the original Avengers movie. All our favorite heroes are back: Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Nick Fury. To keep things nice and spicy, we also get some new flavors added into the mix, like the mysterious, "enhanced" Maximoff twins, the cryptic android Vision, and of course the star of our show: the mechanical, maniacal menace Ultron.

Through that last character, Avengers: Age of Ultron gives us some real food for thought regarding artificial intelligence and its role in our modern society. Instead of tackling alien Chitauri invaders like they did in the first Avengers film, this time the good guys are up against what amounts to a computer program that has run amok.

And by "amok," we mean all of the slick fight scenes, explosive action, and humanity-threatening scenarios you've come to know and love in a Marvel movie. The first Avengers writer and director Joss Whedon returns to put his distinctive stamp on Age of Ultron, once again finding enough screen time and story lines for this team of superheroes that are as different from each other as they are larger-than-life.

Sure, they may step on each other's capes from time to time (or drop entire skyscrapers on each other's heads—more on that in the "Summary"), but they find a way to work together as a team. It's a dynamic that sure resonated at the box office, with the film grossing almost $430 million after its May 2015 release. The film also takes a major step forward in the Marvel Universe's storyline of the Infinity War.

Age of Ultron is way more than just a narrative stepping stone, though. It's a self-contained, action-packed tale that will make you laugh, gasp, and, most importantly, think. And there's nothing tastier than a bit of blockbuster brain food.

What is Avengers: Age of Ultron About and Why Should I Care?

Has Google ever read your mind? You know that experience of starting to type something into your search bar and then—boom—the rest of your thought magically appears right there for you? Or maybe it's a case of checking out some awesome sneakers and then—whammo—you see an ad for those exact same kicks on your web feed a few days later. It's like your computer is—gasp—inside your brain.

Cue the dramatic music.

Of course, it's not literally in your brain. That would give you one heck of a headache. Rather, web designers and computer engineers have become sophisticated enough to empower your laptop, phone, and tablet with the ability to read, analyze, and, yes, even predict your behavior—and desires.

Does that freak you out?

It does for some folks; others totally dig the convenience. But what are the limits of this kind of artificial intelligence? At what point does the power cease becoming a help and start becoming intrusive—or worse, a threat?

If Avengers: Age of Ultron is any indication, that's the kind of question that's keeping writer Joss Whedon up at night. With his Ultron program, Tony Stark wants to use artificial intelligence to anticipate and eliminate threats to humanity. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, not so much when the program decides that humanity is its own worst enemy, so a species-wide do-over is in order. Didn't see that one coming, did ya, Tony?

In some ways, that's precisely the point. How will we be able to predict the ways in which artificial intelligence will evolve? Super-brains like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have already sounded the alarm about the dangers that this technology poses. Will the world listen? Will you?

If you aren't thinking about this kind of stuff already, you certainly will after watching Ultron do his thing on the big screen. Sure, it's a fictional superhero tale, but the film's reflection on humanity's relationship with technology is something that will shed light on your own text-, tap-, and typing habits. Trust us. We're on your computer, after all.

Trivia

In the rosier days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg thought about using a J.A.R.V.I.S. style voice for an artificial intelligence system in his own home. Seems like a dicey proposition to us, but at least he's not using Ultron's voice
(Source)

When James Spader (who voices the nine-foot Ultron) had to be in live action shots, he wore two antennae on his shoulders that ended in red balls, showing where Ultron's eye's would be. We bet that's a good look.
(Source)

The sneaky filmmakers had to use a lot of body doubles during Scarlett Johansson's (Black Widow) scenes in order to hide her baby bump. She was pregnant at the time of filming.
(Source)

It runs in her blood. Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) is the younger sister of the Olsen twins (Mary-Kate and Ashley) who gained fame as the child stars of the TV show Full House.
(Source)

Avengers: Age of Ultron Resources

Website

I Must Deliver Brownies.
Oh wait—IMDB means the Internet Movie Database page. We thought we were looking at our to-do list for a second.

Certified Fresh
Here's the Rotten Tomatoes info page on Age of Ultron. Start clicking for all the rotten details.

Wiki All the Way
The Marvel Cinematic Universe wiki has all the information you never thought you absolutely needed to know.

Metacritical
Everyone's a critic. This website proves it.

Websites

Marvel Studios
Learn to research movies, the Marvel way.

Books or TV Adaptations

Age of Ultron
Check out the comic book version, penned by head Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis.

The Junior Novel
Got a young reader that really dug the flick? This book is for them.

Articles and Interviews

"Marvel is Killing the Popcorn Movie"
This critic thinks the whole genre is doomed.

"Defending Avengers: Age of Ultron"
An Avenger defender? Who knew they needed such a person?

Video

No Strings on Me
Check out Ultron's original inspiration.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Stop Motion
Just what it says—it's oddly hypnotic.

Easter Eggs & References
Spoiler alert: high.

Images

Red Carpet Time
The gang's all here—well, mostly here.

Strictly For Effects
Check out these images of the behind the scenes effects shot for the movie.