Tonight, Marvel shocked us all by releasing the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer.
Okay, so maaaaaybe they had a little help in the form of a leak.
(Here, by the way, is Marvel's reaction to said leak...)
Dammit, Hydra.— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 22, 2014
Anyway, the trailer weighs in at over two minutes, and while a lot of the images are fairly generic shots of action, or of team members looking very serious, there's plenty to spot in there if you're looking.
(And, yeah, we'll probably miss some things, so feel free to chime in at the bottom with anything relevant we didn't spot.
We're going to approach it roughly in the order of occurrence, although certain things recur throughout the trailer and we'll tackle them in their first instance rather than coming back to them over and over.
Most of the trailer is framed by a "puppet master" monologue by Ultron (James Spader), who also shows up in various physical forms throughout the trailer.
We open on a cityscape, and lens flare. Nothing particularly intriguing there, except that it's clearly NOT New York City. That theme carries through the trailer, as there's clearly a worldwide stage at play here.
MarkConlin notes below, "The city skyline at the beginning is Johannesburg, the Hulkbuster fight and the police are all in South Africa." We knew they'd done quite a bit of shooting there.
We get a quick shot of a cloud that seems to shimmer with bits of...metal? Sparks? It reminds me a bit of the "nanite clouds" that you could upload your consciousness into in Transmetropolitan.
Could Ultron be "infecting" people with whatever this is? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but his whole "I'll show you something beautiful" speech seems to be one of those "I'm a villain who wants you to just see things through my eyes" monologues.
We get panic in the streets and a voiceover that says "Everyone is screaming for mercy," complete with a shot of a crowd of protesters. It isn't clear exactly what they're mad about, but you can make out what appears to be a pre-powers Piotr and Wanda in the crowd (note the lack of any frosting in Pete's hair), and a French flag in the background, among other things.
It's been suggested online it might not ACTUALLY be a protest but rather a soccer game.
We're then treated to some more talk on Ultron's part, over somber images of the Avengers moving through a badly damaged European city. The rubble in the shot of Captain America above is very reminiscent of the damage in the area around Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in a widely-circulated PR image of the two from a while back.
Then we get a SUPER-somber image of the team, with scowls and shellshock all around. They're missing Iron Man and Hawkeye here, although that could just be that the pair are piloting and co-piloting the Quinjet. Still, something very bad obviously went down involving the Hulk considering the look on Banner.
This is also the first of what will be many images of Thor without Mjolnir in the trailer. When my colleague Andrew Steinbeiser speculated that Thor may be deemed unworthy to wield the hammer, my gut instinct was that he was overthinking it.
But then we see him hammer-less again...
...and again, with that last bit bearing a striking resemblance to the shirtless "Unworthy Thor" from the new comics.
Maybe it's nothing. It's probably nothing.
But Loki is on Odin's throne. So...
Banner's terrified. We see a lot of him scrambling around in this trailer. It almost seems as though something has caused him to lose control of the Hulk. Maybe, then, the Hulkbuster armor isn't setting up for a Civil War or World War Hulk kind of story, but is simply Tony protecting his friend?
Proto Ultron. This seems likely to be in the wake of the fight described in that first Entertainment Weekly article, since he's charred and beaten and there's at least one Iron Man drone down at his feet and all.
Here we've got all the Avengers in their civvies, apparently reacting to the Ultron that's talking above. There are a few things here: there are two pale, dark-haired women. One is presumably Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill, the former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent currently working for Tony Stark. Another is...well, somebody. The image is too blurry to tell. Given that one of the women is near Thor, it could be that he's finally getting Natalie Portman's Jane Foster in an Avengers movie the way Tony got Pepper last time.
Also: Look at the placement of Black Widow's hand on Banner's back. Could this lend credence to rumors that the two are romantically involved?
SO! As best as I can tell, from left to right, it's Banner, Widow, Jane Foster, Thor, Cap, Maria Hill, Iron Patriot, Iron Man, Hawkeye.
Cut to Bard Fortress. I love this location.
In the next shot, Captain America is apparently searching it...for Von Strucker? For the Twins? Who knows.
We then get a few scenes of European action sequences. It's hard to know just what's going on here, but it will likely tie into the Twins.
We also see what appears to be a woman in a yellow top, blue skirt and a bonnet tossed through the side of a building. Some fans have said that the top looks rubberized for a moment, and have speculated she's actually undercover and perhaps there's a costume straining against the shirt underneath. Possible, but it seems like a stretch based on what we see.
Banner stumbles through a story forest away from a fire. Something not-good happened with him. This seems likely to be just before the shellshocked look at the team earlier, where he's clinging to a shirt or blanket and looking dazed.
We get a quick shot of a woman in tactical gear or a superhero uniform, alone, in a large, empty room. It's presumably Black Widow although it's hard to tell for sure. If she's with Banner, though, and Hulk goes off the reservation, we could have a pretty good reason for her being lonely and sad.
We get what looks like the wheels of a gurney followed by some decidedly analog surgical equipment. Could somebody be in life-threatening peril, and they can't use sophisticated medical technology to save them becuase Ultron would have compromised it? Seems like a pretty safe bet.
Could it be Tony Stark, in a repeat of his origin, when he was operated on in the cave? Possible...
It looks like it's Ultron, not Cap, who breaks the Twins out of Von Strucker's castle. Not surprising since we know they start on his side.
...That's a lot of Ultron.
The reaction shot here suggests those Ultrons may be attacking the Avengers at Bard Fortress or the castle in Kent where they also filmed. In any event, it seems early on, since Hawkeye is still wearing his older costume and not the cloak-like one we've seen in set photos and magazine PR.
That's also when we see Thor drop his hammer.
"This is the end -- the end of the path I set us on." That might not just be Iron Man talking about his superheroics, or The Avengers...but also that this marks the end of the second phase of Marvel's movies and the end of JUST the Avengers being the dominant creative force in their universe. Guardians, Doctor Strange and others will start to bring other corners of the Marvel U to prominence.
He says this all in what appears to be a barn (Harley's, maybe?), and Nick Fury is there, making his sole appearance in the trailer.
We get an ominous "nothing lasts forever" from Widow, although given that it's in a different location and we don't see who she's talking to, I'd bet she's actually trying to reassure Banner about their relationship by saying nothing lsts forever when he's worried about the end, or something equally unrelated to Iron Man's declaration of the end.
And then we see Wanda Maximoff screaming in that aforementioned European wreckage.
That's when we get some of the "Hulk vs. Hulkbuster" footage that's got the Internet's hearts all a-flutter.
And a three-way shoving match between Cap, Ultron and Quicksilver on a subway or elevated train car. The energy halo that seems to follow Quicksilver around when he uses his powers is certainly reminiscent of TV's The Flash and how his lightning looks more than it is Fox's "Pete" Quicksilver -- and also of the blue glowing power of the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract. Are he and his sister drawing their powers from the Infinity Stones somehow?
Then we get a quick look at this sequence...
...which certainly seems to lend credence to rumors that there would be a WWII flashback in the film. Those hairstyles certainly look like they could belong to Howard Stark and Agent Carter.
Of course, it could just as easily be that Ultron is messing with the heroes' minds and that this isn't a REAL flashback. If that's the case, what else from the trailer might not be totally on the level?!
There are a bunch of large ships seemingly stuck in the mud after a body of water is drained, and then a quick shot of this mysterious bearded fellow...
...who it seems might be Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaw. Whether that means he has two roles or is just NOT actually doing the mocap for Ultron (a long-standing rumor) is unclear. One fan has suggested it might instead be Daniel Westwood, who is credited in the film as an Asgardian on IMDb, but it doesn't look like it to us.
More globetrotting. After all that Europe, this is very clearly an Asian location.
...Can Scarlett Johansson's affection soothe the savage beast?
In the immortal words of Arthur Dent, "What the hell's that?!"
We get some anonymous soldiers. You can't even see what they're shooting at, until we get Hawkeye working his way through a snowy forest (the same where Banner was earlier?).
Then big-screen Thor does what everyone desperately wanted to see comic book Thor do after Civil War.
Widow's looking scared in what could be the same junky lab that appeared to be where Ultron and the twins were.
Lots and lots of destruction in the US, where Iron Man and Hulk are fighting and Captain America is running. All of them involve seemingly-unrelated flipping and flying cars.
Meanwhile, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are dealing with destruction in Europe.
Then we see the team apparently unconscious and defeated, with Thor's unmoving arm (and no hammer) nearby Captain America's shattered shield.
That's when we get the "There are no strings on me" stinger, the payoff to the whole puppet master thing at the beginning of the ad and likely to be either the favorite or least favorite line in the trailer, with little opinion in the middle.
And...Ultron has teeth? Are they taking notes from Transformers?!