The Unexpected Release of the Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Shows How Fans Have Won


After the first teaser trailer for Marvel's upcoming Avengers movie sequel, Age of Ultron, leaked online last night, the company decided to release an official version.

It's got bulky Iron Man Hulkbuster armor, a pair of new villains who are definitely not in any legal sense mutants, and a great monologue by James Spader as the movie's titular robot villain, Ultron. 

It's excellent.

You can, and should, watch it below. 

A few notes: 

1) The timing and manner of release of the trailer shows just how far the balance of power between fans and big entertainment companies has swung, thanks to the Internet. The trailer wasn't supposed to be released this week at all. Marvel had originally planned to release the trailer next Tuesday, in conjunction with a new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a TV show with close ties to Marvel's ever-expanding Avengers movie universe. After a low-resolution version of the trailer leaked, some copies were pulled at the request of Disney, which owns Marvel. At least judging by my Twitter and Facebook feeds, there were an awful lot of people who didn't see the original version wondering what they missed. More takedowns would have led to a lot more fans desperate to see what others had already seen. More than likely, quite a few of them would have resorted to downloading low-quality versions through BitTorrent.

Except that within about two hours of the leaked version hitting the web, Marvel went ahead and posted the official version. So much for carefully stage-managed corporate PR, eh? But this is one of the reasons why Marvel is doing such great business these days. They're not fighting the fans, not trying to control the crowd. The company is accepting the reality of the Internet—that a leak can't really be contained—and giving fans what they want. 


2) The movie seems to be riffing, though probably not explicitly, on some of the questions raised by Nick Bostrom in his book Superintelligence, about the perils of artificial intelligence, which Reason's Ron Bailey reviewed hereThe trailer is built around a monlogue by Ultron, a sentient robot (or cluster of AI-controlled robots, anyway) who takes his programmed mission to protect Earth a bit too far when he decides that the only way to protect Earth is to kill all humans. The best fantasy stories always have threats that are in some sense plausible, and the best villains always have motivations that, while twisted, almost make sense. 

3) I wrote recently about the TVization of movies, which are now increasingly being designed as multi-picture expanded universes, with multiple parallel stories rather than just a few direct sequels. It's hard to think of a better example than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which built a handful of grade-B comic book characters (who was into Thor in 2003?) into successful movie franchises, and then managed to combine them into an even more successful super-franchise, which was orchestrated by geeky, team-savvy, genre-TV autuer Joss Whedon. It's not uncommon to see people argue that movies, especially blockbusters, are becoming dumber these days, but in terms of the expansiveness and fragmentation of their narratives, they are arguably becoming much more complex. 

NEXT: Americans' Foremost Fear: Walking Alone at Night

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  1. Spader can make scenery chewing thoroughly enjoyable. I look forward to many years of him as a villain.

  2. Oh, and as an example of a company doing the exact opposite and telling it’s gravy train(s) to go fuck themselves:

    How We Got Rolled by the Dishonest Fascists of Gamergate

    Failing to adequately cover this act of spinelessness was the first big fuck-up we at Gawker committed. Intel surrendered to the worst kind of dishonesty, and we allowed it to do so without ever calling it out. So let’s say it now: Intel is run by craven idiots. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity. It folded to misogynists and bigots who objected to a woman who had done nothing more than write a piece claiming a place in the world of video games. And even when confronted with its own thoughtlessness and irresponsibility, it could not properly right its wrongs.

    1. Nah, the entire thing that’s got the GamerGate dipshits’ undergarments so wadded up is that they’re not the gravy train anymore.

      1. Really? Because high end video game products continue to drive chipsets and sales. Valve certainly isn’t going broke because hardcore gamers aren’t spending.

        1. In the past month I think I passed $200 in preorders. (damn you condensed release schedule!) I can’t be alone.

          Of course, since I don’t read the gamer news sites, they can’t lose my pageviews. (I get my release data from elsewhere, mostly Steam and Wikipedia. It’s not a formal system).

          1. Fucking Meier had to go and re-release Alpha Centauri. Here, Sid. Shut up and take my money. Again.

    2. Forget it Scruffy. It’s Gawktardationtown.

      Objective reality is a mere option there, frequently discarded.

      1. Indeed; when I moused over the link and saw the source my immediate reaction was that I’m shocked, shocked that a piece of that nature was put out by Gawker.

    3. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity.

      I propose a new verb to replace projecting: gawkering.

    4. It folded to misogynists and bigots who objected to a woman who had done nothing more than write a piece claiming a place in the world of video games.

      A woman who had done nothing more than try to claim a place in the world of videogames by dishonesty and unethical conduct.

      Yeah, those nasty gamergaters. Almost makes me wish I had Gawker in my bookmarks, so I could delete it.

      1. A woman who had done nothing more than try to claim a place in take over the world of videogames by dishonesty and unethical conduct and by playing the sexism card to try to condemn a whole industry.

        Enhanced that there for you. Gawker can go fuck themselves with a running rusty chainsaw.

    5. Geez. Have they hired Wendy Davis to do their PR?


    1. I just popped the buttons off my wesket.

  4. yay a bunch of unrealistic physics and hokey CGI.

    1. Yeah they have a woman team member and she isn’t nagging the guys about leaving the toilet seat up.

    2. Humbug

    3. Get off my lawn rabbit ears!!

  5. Since I stopped watching movies (personal choice, the marginal value was less than the alternate uses of my time and money), I can’t really comment on the Marvel Movies.

    I do have an opinion on Marvel though – they don’t currently print anything that catches my eye, and the higher price point they’ve been rolling out means I’m not going to risk it. ($4.99 for a standard comic book? I can get full novels in eBook format for that, and they don’t have ads).

    However, given that Disney owns its own IP stable, Marvel, Pixar, LucasArts and the Muppets, can we get a batshit insane crossover?

    I mean, you don’t have to take the serious characters … Lets go as absurd as possible. Deadpool and Fozzie attempt to stop newly crowned dark lord of the sith, Negaduck, from drowning the world in a swarm of Jar-Jar clones by destroying his lab in the ruins of the Axiom. Did I miss any major intellectual properties?

    1. Print generally is making less and less sense.

      1. I don’t mean as a video game, I mean as a film.

    2. I smell a Christmas special…

    3. Not bad, except they can’t use Deadpool. He’s considered part of the X-Men IP which is owned by Fox. In fact, in Age of Ultron they’re not even allowed to refer to Quicksilver or Scarlet Witch as “mutants” because they can’t use that word without getting sued by Fox.

        1. +1 Wretched Rodent

      1. How can you sue for the use of a generic word ‘mutant’ that predates any use by comic books?

        1. Well, how can you sue successfully, would be better phrasing.

        2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wasn’t Marvel.

          And writing about mutants in Sci-fi predates the X-Men. (ie. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series).

  6. So much for carefully stage-managed corporate PR, eh?

    Maybe. But their marketing has been off-the-charts phenomenal for the last four years, as this tweet supports:

    It was Hydra’s fault.

    1. That doesn’t sound like their M.O.

      Soo… if S.H.I.E.L.D. were a real bureaucracy, the unofficial motto would be “Blame HYDRA”.

      1. Yes. But SHIELD would spend most of their budget making radioactive spiders run on tiny treadmills and funding studies by Latverian scientists to prove unstable molecules cause cancer.

  7. The sexy and vaguely threatening voice of James Spader makes all physics possible!

  8. #2: Or are they riffing on an old sci-fi cliche? Not that I consider that a bad thing, but I think that’s giving it a little more intellectual credit than it has earned.

    1. I think that’s giving it a little more intellectual credit than it has earned.

      I think the intellectual science gets a little more credit than it has earned.

      At least, while I regard Capek and Dijkstra both as very talented men, I don’t inherently fear robot uprisings more than I would emote about submarines swimming.

      And I would imagine it’s harder to make a career in science or fiction about machines not swimming than it is to do science or fiction about them taking over the world.

  9. The movie seems to be riffing, though probably not explicitly, on some of the questions raised by Nick Bostrom in his book Superintelligence, about the perils of artificial intelligence, which Reason’s Ron Bailey reviewed here.

    This was a concept in science fiction decades before Nick Bostrom was born. Probably even before his father was born.

    1. You make it sound like Nick Bostrom traveled back through time and fucked Epi’s mom, impregnating her and becoming Epi’s own less-mutated twin.

      1. Sound like? It’s that basically what I said?

    2. Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands” and his novel “The Humanoids spring to mind.

      1. Those were great.

        1. Mayor Bloomberg thought so as well.

  10. Creepy ‘bad-guy’ version of I’ve Got No Strings doesn’t work nearly as well as Once Upon a Dream.

    1. What about Terry Crews in Gamer?

  11. No idea who imagined Spader doing the voice of Ultron, but I’m sure it will be great. Or awful. Maybe they should’ve just said fuck it and gone with Walken.

    The prospect of Walken and RDJ hamming it up while giant CGI robots fight onscreen is sort of a fantasy of mine.

    1. I think I need a tissue.

    2. You should be writing the new Pacific Rim apparently.

  12. I do have to wonder what Marvel is going to do once Downey, Hemswort, Evans, ScarJo et al. move on (we all know Samuel L will stick around so long as they cut him a paycheck). Do they manage to keep it going by switching focus to Guardians of the Galaxy? Or do they expect titles like Ant-Man and Dr. Strange to pick up the slack? I think it’s going to be harder the deeper they reach into the barrel, but then I thought a movie with a talking Racoon was going to totally flop, so what do I know.

    What I’d like to see them do is shell out the big money to get the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four. But I don’t see that happening.

    1. I’m worried they might get stuck on their beds made out of Benjamins.

    2. I do have to wonder what Marvel is going to do once Downey, Hemswort, Evans, ScarJo et al. move on (we all know Samuel L will stick around so long as they cut him a paycheck).

      Yeah, ‘cuz it just wouldn’t be the Hulk without Eric Bana Ed Norton Mark Ruffalo. Evans and Downey were CGI from the neck down for a decent amount of their on-screen time to begin with. ScarJo is probably the only one with any sort of shelf life, but it’s not like it’s her body actually doing half the flipping and kicking anyway.

      If actors are going to go digitized I think this would be the franchise that does it.

      1. None of the actors who have played Hulk have left their mark in the way Downey has. Evans and Hemsworth could probably be replaced more easily.

        I imagine that if they want to keep Iron Man around as a character, they’ll either just replace the actor or replace Tony Stark. The former seems more likely to work. But I can’t think of precedent for replacing such a big name actor in such a big name role while trying to maintain the continuity/universe. The 90s Batmans weren’t as closely tied into a single universe. The modern equivalent that comes to mind is Affleck stepping into Bale’s shoes. It remains to be seen how well that works.

        Is this what it was like when they first did a Bond film without Connery? Now, it’s just a given that actors change every few films.

        It could definitely work, but we’ll see.

    3. Downey is around for at least 2 more after this one. I think the same is true for Evans/Hemsworth/Johansson, as all are tied up through Avengers 3 in 2018, I believe.

      Rumor has it Sebastian Stan will be picking up the shield after Avengers 3. He has something like 7 more pictures on his deal. I’m not sure a non-comic book crowd will buy a non-Steve Rogers Captain America, but, like you, I was wrong about Guardians of the Galaxy (which I loved).

      1. I believe you are right about Stan. I think it’s been confirmed that Downey will be a co-lead in Cap3, which will draw inspiration from the Civil War arc. It will be interesting to see how they do an Avengers movie post Civil War. I assume that is when we’ll finally see Thanos, and one assumes, a Gaurdians crossover. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Lots of characters to fit into one film.

        1. I should say, Thanos as the primary villian.

    4. I know in the comics the actual lineup of the Avengers was constantly changing. It seemed like Marvel would have some of the their B characters go join the Avengers for a while to get some attention on them in order to boost their various solo titles. Or in some cases Marvel would introduce new characters through the Avengers before putting in their own titles. Either way, I don’t they’ll run out of characters and story ideas for a long while.

      1. This…

        the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were both Avengers for a time.

        The Vision was the original Human Torch and the Scarlet Witch’s husband at one time.

        Hank Pym (Ant Man, Giant Man, Yellow Jacket) and Janet Pym nee Van Dyne (Wasp) are the two missing original Avengers. Hawkeye and Black Widow were not originals.

    5. It doesn’t seem that way now, but back when Iron Man came out in 2008, most of the current Avengers were considered “reaching into the barrel” too.

      At the time, Robert Downey Jr. was consdiered a risky actor to work with and Jon Favreau was a long s hot director who’d just come off a big flop. The only reason they were trusted with Iron Man is because Marvel expected Captain America to be the big draw and only needed Iron Man to do okay.

  13. I hold out hope that someday Marvel will do a Nextwave parody of their own movie success, but I think they lack the self awareness. Also scenes like this probably don’t help.

    1. What makes you say that? Guardians of the Galaxy was in a lot of ways a parody of the superhero genre.

      1. That’s because it was written and directed by James Gunn, who’s almost entire filmography is self aware, semi parodies of genres.

        Nextwave actively mocked the concept of comic book stories, ripped on major Marvel superheroes, made a lot of extremely obscure references, and openly reveled in the silliness of the genre (RELEASE THE PTERODACTYL MEN). It’s a whole different level of comic book hero mockery.

  14. Disney, which owns Marvel.

    Considering how well (generally) the Marvel movies have been doing–and Winter Soldier is excellent–this gives me hope for the upcoming Star Wars movies.

    Joss Whedon needs to direct the next three SW movies, I think. He already has experience doing sci-fi.

  15. But Tony Stark destroyed all his suits. How is this possible?

    1. He can make a new one in a day with empty beer cans, wire, and wing nuts, and you ask this?

    2. IIRC, he implied he didn’t destroy ALL of them.

  16. the best villains always have motivations that, while twisted, almost make sense

    Best supervillain ever: Ozymandis

  17. My neighbor’s half-sister makes $75 /hour on the computer . She has been fired for eight months but last month her payment was $17951 just working on the computer for a few hours.

  18. Looks fantastic! I’m always up for more Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.

    That sounds a bit awkward.

  19. Great, another movie about Top Men coming to save us peasants from a threat the Top men created in the first place. Collateral damage? No, as Krugman stated it’s just an opportunity for the government to give a job to someone.

  20. “Who was into Thor in 2003?”

    Well, 2003 was long past my personal comic book reading/collecting period. But Thor was high on my list to follow, almost from the moment I started reading comics, and until I quit doing so regularly (well into my 30s, I am not ashamed to admit). It sounds as if Suderman doesn’t like Thor much, but one should not attribute that distaste to comic book fandom in general.

    BTW, I was introduced to English’s 2nd person singular verbs and pronouns via 1960s-era Thor comic books — where such parts of speech tended to be used consistently and correctly. For years I cited that experience as one data point to debunk the often repeated criticism that “comic books aren’t educational.”

    Finally, I am very pleased that Spader will be the voice of Ultron. He can be extremely good with subtle inflection that conveys volumes, which I imagine the mostly “calm” and controlled voice of an A.I. would need. I loved Douglas Rain as the original HAL 9000 in 2001. But if that movie were to be remade today, and Rain weren’t available, Spader would be perfectly cast.

  21. Real deep art, this.


  22. 99% of us weren’t pressing Disney to release a trailer on the day of their choosing. Someone leaked a trailer that was widely viewed, and Disney probably decided it didn’t make sense to delay it (Next Tuesday right around the corner) any longer. No one pays to see a trailer over the internet, so Disney didn’t lose anything.

    Count me among the people who won’t be watching that many films. Joss Whedon is a jerk, and Disney is what lefties think Walmart is. The anti hulk armor looks lame, and it’s clear that Marvel doesn’t want to upgrade any of their character design. A huge difference between American superheroes and their Japanese counterparts.

    The first Avenger movie sucked. I have no idea why everyone loved that movie. And Hollywood mangled the Robocop remake. I hate them.

  23. my co-worker’s mother makes $71 /hr on the laptop . She has been unemployed for 9 months but last month her payment was $17334 just working on the laptop for a few hours. published here


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