This morning, an official trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” leaked, prompting Marvel's legal team to send out a cabinet’s worth of take-down demands and its publicity team to rush out a studio-approved version. There will be a postmortem on how the clip got out, but let’s leave that for Marvel’s in-house investigators (the X-Factor team) and focus on what we’ve seen.
The opening shot shows a sun-drenched, it’s-morning-in-America suburb as a slightly-robotic James Spader promises to "show you something beautiful: everyone screaming… for mercy.” Despite that friendly shawarma-fest at the end of the last movie, things have apparently gone awry: a haggard-and-bleeding Mark Ruffalo has collapsed int he snow, Iron Man is surveying the middle distance with an air of metallic melancholia.
As far as we can tell, this follow-up to 2012’s Joss Whedon-penned powerhouse should be as awesome as its predecessor. Thor is as thick as ever, Dr. Banner is as troubled, and Captain America could still impregnate a thousand WAC’s with a single grin.
Scorched-earth conspiracy theories aside, we will say that that the trailer hints at a new darkness. The trailer’s score is an incredibly creepy, quavering cover of Pinocchio’s freedom anthem, “I’ve Got No Strings,” that lends the same sense of sing-song, maniacal murderousness Heath Ledger’s Joker brought to "The Dark Knight."
And, with a final shot of Captain America’s “indestructible” shield torn in half, the doomsday vibe seems to portend true chaos. There may not be a middle-eastern feast at the end of this one.