In the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra facility commanded by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker's test subjects – twins Pietro Maximoff, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and project energy – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki's scepter.
Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter's gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark's "Ultron" global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark's A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. and attacks the Avengers at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker's Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. Having killed Strucker, he recruits the Maximoffs, who hold Stark responsible for their parents' deaths by his weapons, and go to the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to obtain Wakandan vibranium. The Avengers attack Ultron and the Maximoffs, but Wanda subdues them with haunting visions, causing the Hulk (Banner) to rampage until Stark stops him with his anti-Hulk armor.1
A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda's hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at a safehouse. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination, while Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after realizing a mutual attraction. However, Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, Ultron forces the team's friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic-tissue technology, together with vibranium and the scepter's gem, to perfect a new body for him. As Ultron uploads himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn against Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton find Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.
The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body, explaining that the gem on its brow – one of the six Infinity Stones, the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. This "Vision" and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine to lift a large part of the capital city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground to cause global extinction. Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron's army while Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to evacuate civilians. Pietro dies when he shields Barton from gunfire, and a vengeful Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron's primary body, which allows one of his drones to activate the machine. The city plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the landmass. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron's last remaining body.
Later, with the Avengers having established a new base run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark leaves and Barton retires, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, the Vision, Sam Wilson, and Wanda.
In a mid-credits scene, Thanos, dissatisfied by the failures of his pawns, dons a gauntlet2 and vows to retrieve the Infinity Stones himself.Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man:Chris Hemsworth as Thor:Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk:Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America:Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow:Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye:Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine: An officer in the U.S. Air Force and Tony Stark's close personal friend who operates the War Machine armor.Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver:Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch:Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S. and Vision:Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill:Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon:Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter: A retired officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve and a co-founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., who is a former love interest of Steve Rogers.Idris Elba as Heimdall: The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the mythological deity of the same name.Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig:James Spader as Ultron:Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury:
Thomas Kretschmann and Henry Goodman reprise their roles as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and Dr. List, Hydra leaders who specialize in human experimentation, advanced robotics, and artificial intelligence from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Linda Cardellini portrays Laura Barton, Hawkeye's wife. Claudia Kim portrays Helen Cho, a world-renowned geneticist who helps the Avengers from her office in Seoul, and Andy Serkis portrays Ulysses Klaue, a black-market arms dealer, smuggler and gangster who is a former acquaintance from Stark's weapons-dealing days. Julie Delpy appears as Madame B., who mentored Black Widow into becoming an assassin. Kerry Condon voices the artificial intelligence F.R.I.D.A.Y., a replacement for J.A.R.V.I.S., while Spader also voices Stark's Iron Legion droids. Josh Brolin makes an uncredited appearance during the mid-credits scene as Thanos, reprising his role from Guardians of the Galaxy. Avengers co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance in the film as a military veteran who attends the Avengers' victory party. Tom Hiddleston was to reprise his role of Loki, but his scenes did not make the theatrical cut of the film.
In October 2011, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios said the studio was beginning to look at their Phase Two films, which would start with Iron Man 3 and would culminate in a second Avengers film. In March 2012, Joss Whedon, director of the first film, stated that he would want a sequel to be "smaller. More personal. More painful. By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time. By having a theme that is completely fresh and organic to itself." Despite the production of the film becoming increasingly wider in scope, Feige maintained that this was not their intention, always looking to see where the team wanted to take the characters, over how to make it bigger than The Avengers.
At the premiere of The Avengers, Feige said the studio had an option for Whedon to return as director. In May 2012, after the successful release of the first film, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a sequel was in development. Most of the film's cast members were under contract to potentially appear in the sequel; however, Robert Downey Jr. was not, as his four-picture deal with Marvel expired after Iron Man 3.
At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon said he was undecided about directing. However, in August 2012, Iger announced that Whedon would return to write and direct the sequel and develop the Marvel television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for ABC. Later in the month, Disney set a May 1, 2015 release date. When asked about his decision to return, Whedon said, "Avengers 2, it wasn't a tough decision. For a long time I thought, 'Well, it's just not going to happen.' Then when I actually started to consider it, it became so clear that I desperately wanted to say more about these characters, it would've been an easy no and it was a spectacularly easy yes. There was no wrestling." Whedon said that they intended for the film's production to not be as rushed as the first one.
In December 2012, Whedon stated that he had completed an outline for the film. In February, at the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Whedon said that death would play a theme in the sequel, and in March, he said that he looked to The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II as inspirations.
Feige revealed that Captain Marvel, who is scheduled to appear in her own MCU film in 2019, appeared in an early draft of the screenplay, but was removed since the character had not yet been cast, saying, "It didn't feel like the time. We didn't want to introduce her fully formed flying in a costume before you knew who she was or how she came to be." Whedon went so far as to shoot visual effects plates for Captain Marvel to fly into Avengers Tower at the end of the film; those shots were reused, however, for Scarlet Witch instead.
By April 2013, filming was scheduled to begin in early 2014 at Shepperton Studios in England. At the Hollywood premiere of Iron Man 3, Whedon said that he had completed a draft of the script, started the storyboard process, and met with actors. Whedon also mentioned that he wrote with Downey in mind and included a "brother/sister act" from the comic books, later confirming that he was referring to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Whedon explained his rationale for including the characters in the film saying, "their powers are very visually interesting. One of the problems I had on the first one was everybody basically had punchy powers ... [Quicksilver]'s got super speed. [Scarlet Witch] can weave spells and a little telekinesis, get inside your head. There's good stuff that they can do that will help sort of keep it fresh," though cautioned he was not throwing in more characters for the sake of doing that. Whedon stated that the twins allowed him to add more conflict: "They don't like America, and they don't like the Avengers... The Avengers are like a world power, and not everybody's on board with the Avengers coming in and starting fights, even in the name of justice. So you need that dissenting voice, and you need to understand it and sympathize with it." Because Marvel Studios shares the film rights to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch with 20th Century Fox and had to avoid conflict with Fox's X-Men films, Whedon introduced two important characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe completely on his terms for the first time, which allowed him to connect their origin stories to the universe that they created and avoid the concept of mutants. Whedon relished at the storytelling opportunities by introducing a character with telepathic powers, explaining, "it meant we could spend a little time inside the Avengers' heads—either their past or their impressions of what's going on, or their fears, or all of the above." By May, Downey had entered negotiations to extend his contract with Marvel Studios and reprise his role as Iron Man in the film. A month later, Downey signed on to return for the then-untitled Avengers sequel, as well as a third Avengers film.
At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon announced the film would be subtitled Age of Ultron. Despite the subtitle, the film is not based on the 2013 comic book miniseries Age of Ultron. Feige explained that they simply liked the title Age of Ultron but the plot was taken from decades of Avengers story arcs. Whedon added that Ultron's origin would differ from his comics roots, and that Hank Pym would not be involved with Ultron's creation. Whedon disclosed that Edgar Wright had rights to the character first through his inclusion in Ant-Man, which was already in development. He also thought that Ultron needed to be conceived through the Avengers and since they already had Tony Stark and Bruce Banner on the team, it would not make sense to bring in a third scientist. Whedon also said the film would have a darker tone due to Ultron's involvement.
The title of the film came as a surprise to many fans who were expecting Thanos, the mastermind behind the events of the first film, to be the main villain in the sequel, with Whedon saying, "Thanos was never meant to be the next villain. He's always been the overlord of villainy and darkness." Commenting on finding the right balance between technology- and fantasy-based heroes in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Feige said "Iron Man is a very technological hero; his movies are always technologically based. The first Thor was all about introducing Asgard and Thor in that more fantastical realm into the more reality-based MCU... As we go into Ultron clearly he does come out of technology, but we're using all of our tools at our disposal that we've established so far as part of the MCU to build the storyline of Age of Ultron."
Casting continued into August 2013, with the announcement that James Spader would play Ultron. In November, Marvel confirmed that Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson would play the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. Taylor-Johnson had been in negotiations since as early as June, while Olsen's potential involvement was first reported in August. By the end of the year, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Cobie Smulders were confirmed to be returning to their roles from the first film, and Don Cheadle, who portrayed James Rhodes in the Iron Man films, had committed to a part in the film. In the early months of 2014, Thomas Kretschmann was cast as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Claudia Kim was cast in an unspecified role, and Paul Bettany, who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in previous MCU films, was cast as the Vision. Whedon said "juggling" all the characters in the film was "a nightmare" explaining, "They're very disparate characters. The joy of the Avengers is they really don't belong in the same room. It's not like the X-Men, who are all tortured by the same thing and have similar costumes. These guys are just all over the place. And so it's tough. Honestly, this is as tough as anything I've ever done."
On January 24, 2014, the Forte di Bard Association announced that filming would take place at Fort Bard in the Aosta Valley region of Italy in March 2014, as well as other locations in Aosta Valley including Aosta, Bard, Donnas, Pont-Saint-Martin, and Verrès. The next month, the Gauteng Film Commission announced that action sequences would be filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa and other locations in Gauteng, beginning in mid-February. A few weeks later Marvel announced that portions of the film would be shot in South Korea. Feige cited the nation's "cutting-edge technology, beautiful landscapes and spectacular architecture" as ideal for the film. The nation's capital, Seoul, and Seoul's surrounding province, Gyeonggi, were selected as filming locations, with South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism reimbursing up to 30% of the studio's expenditures, as part of a state-funded incentive program.
Filming began on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa, having been postponed that Monday. Second unit crews shot action sequences without the main cast, to be used as background plates for scenes featuring the Hulk, in the Central Business District of Johannesburg for a period of two weeks. By mid-March, principal photography had begun at Shepperton Studios near London and was scheduled to film there for at least four months, under the working title After Party. Filming at Shepperton as well as other locations in England allowed Whedon to get a "number of different looks and textures and moods" to give the film a different palette and fresh aesthetic from its predecessor. Production designer Charles Wood built an enormous, new Avengers Tower set, one of the largest sets ever built for a Marvel film. The set featured multiple connected environments and levels. On March 22, production moved to Fort Bard, Italy and continued in the Aosta Valley region through March 28. The region doubled as the fictional Eastern European nation of Sokovia, with crews replacing local storefronts with Cyrillic script. Filming in South Korea began on March 30 on the Mapo Bridge, and continued through April 14 at various locations in Seoul. While in Seoul, the production was able to attach cameras to drones and race cars to get unique camera angles and footage. An artificial island on the Han River known as the Saebit Dungdungseom served as the headquarters of an IT institute featured in the film. Scenes involving Ultron's attack on parts of the city were shot in the Gangnam District.
In April, shooting began in Hawley Woods in Hampshire, England, and Hayley Atwell, who played Peggy Carter in previous MCU films, filmed scenes inside the Rivoli Ballroom in London while extras performed the Lindy Hop. That June, scenes were shot at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and at Dover Castle in Kent, with Dover Castle used for interior shots of Strucker's Hydra base in Sokovia. The next month, filming took place at a training facility for London's Metropolitan Police Service, which doubled as a city in Sokovia. Additional filming took place in Chittagong, Bangladesh, including the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard, and in New York City. On August 6, Whedon announced on social media that he had completed principal photography on Avengers: Age of Ultron. Disney spent $330.6 million on Avengers: Age of Ultron from February 2013 to November 2014, but $50.7 million of this was offset by payments from the UK tax authority. A report on actual production costs for films from FilmL.A. Inc., indicated a gross budget of $316 million, with a net of $267.4 million for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Cinematographer Ben Davis, who also worked with Marvel on Guardians of the Galaxy, shot the film with a main unit of three Arri Alexa cameras. Davis said, "Although the Alexa was Marvel's preferred camera, we weren't locked into that choice from the start. What wasn't negotiable was the fact that we were shooting digital: that's how Marvel shoots all of its films." Davis also used Blackmagic Design's Pocket Cinema Cameras to meet the needs of the second unit kit explaining, "The second unit typically needs a fleet of smaller cameras that are less expensive and are rugged enough to handle the various trials by fire, as it were, that we throw at them." About the camera system, Whedon stated that this film was shot very differently from the first one; using lots of long lenses, and that he aimed to shoot the film almost like a documentary. To create the scenes depicting how Quicksilver views the world, scenes were shot with an ultra-high-speed camera and later combined with shots of Taylor-Johnson moving through the same scene at normal speed.
In June 2014, the IMAX Corporation announced that the IMAX release of the film would be converted to IMAX 3D. Following the completion of principal photography several more cast members were revealed including Stellan Skarsgård, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, and Tom Hiddleston, reprising their roles from previous MCU films. However, Hiddleston's scenes did not make the theatrical cut of the film, with Whedon saying what was shot "didn't play" and he did not want the film to feel "overstuffed". According to Hiddleston, "In test screenings, audiences had overemphasized Loki's role, so they thought that because I was in it, I was controlling Ultron, and it was actually imbalancing people's expectations." Whedon later explained that Elba and Atwell appear in the film because of exploring the psyches of the Avengers from Scarlet Witch's power. In December 2014, Kim's role was revealed as Dr. Helen Cho. Additional scenes were scheduled to be filmed in January 2015 at Pinewood Studios. In February 2015, Marvel confirmed through promotional material that Serkis portrays Ulysses Klaue in the film. In early April 2015, Linda Cardellini and Julie Delpy were confirmed to be part of the film's cast. At the same time, Whedon stated that the film would not contain a post-credits scene, which had become customary for MCU films. Whedon tried to come up with a post-credit scene but felt that he could not top the "Shawarma scene" in The Avengers, explaining, "It didn't seem to lend itself in the same way, and we wanted to be true to what felt right. The first rule of making a sequel is take the best moments and do something else. Don't do the Indiana Jones gun trick again differently. Just go somewhere else. Don't try to hit the same highs, because people will sense it." However Feige clarified, "There will be a tag [shortly after the credits start]. But there's not a post-post-credit scene."
In May 2015, Whedon revealed he was in conflict with Marvel executives and the film's editors about certain scenes in the film. The executives were not "thrilled" with the scenes at Hawkeye's farm or the dream sequences the Avengers experience because of Scarlet Witch. Also, Whedon had originally shot a much longer scene with Thor and Selvig in the cave, compromising with including a reduced amount of the total footage shot, as test audiences did not respond to it. In the scene, Thor would be possessed by a Norn, a goddess of destiny, while Selvig would quiz her about Thor's hallucination. Additionally, Whedon reiterated he had wanted to include Captain Marvel and Spider-Man at the end, but deals for each character (signing of an actress and a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment, respectively) were not completed in time for their inclusion.
The film contains 3,000 visual effects shots, completed by ten different visual effects studios, including Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Trixter, Double Negative, Animal Logic, Framestore, Lola VFX, Territory, Perception, Method Studios, Luma Pictures and The Third Floor. ILM opened a facility in London, citing Avengers: Age of Ultron as a catalyst for the expansion, and developed a new motion capture system for the film called Muse, which can better capture an actor's performance and combine different takes. About the motion capture process, Ruffalo called it "more of a collaboration" since the technology is advancing, with "the face capture and the motion capture can now [being] put together, [allowing] you [to] get a lot more latitude as a performer... you're no longer constricted by the attributes that you have as a person: your age, or weight, or size. None of that matters anymore. And so there's this whole exciting place to go that is kind of unknown." Visual effects supervisor Christopher Townsend said that the visual effects team considered depicting the Hulk when manipulated by Wanda Maximoff as being grey skinned with red eyes, but eventually decided against it, as they did not want to confuse audiences who might associate it with "Joe Fixit", the grey Hulk from the comics.
Method Studios created the interior of the new Avengers training facility by digitally designing the training facility, extracting the characters from the original set and placing them into the new CG environment. Method also contributed to Iron Man's new Mark 45 suit and played a key role in creating Scarlet Witch's CG mind control effect. Following the trend in recent years, most of the computer screens in Stark's lab, Dr Cho's laboratory, the Quinjet and other locations in the film were not added in post-production but were actually working screens on set, adding to the realism of the film and saving some on the post-production budget. London-based Territory Studio delivered the screen visuals filled with unique imagery and animations that matched the character using them. Perception worked on the main-on-end and main titles for the film. Before settling on the marble monument depiction for the main-on-end titles, Perception created three other versions, which were based on Ultron's hive mind ability from the film, "renderings of power and pure energy" inspired by classic comic panels, and classic moments for each character. The final design was inspired by war monuments such as the Iwo Jima memorial. For the main titles, Marvel wanted the typeface to be a direct continuation of the first film. Perception made the typeface a marble texture to mimic the main-on-end titles and changed the title's rotation (away from the camera instead of towards the camera in The Avengers), before "Age of Ultron" overtakes "Avengers" in a vibranium texture.
In March 2014, Brian Tyler signed on to compose the film's score, replacing the composer for the first film, Alan Silvestri, while also marking his third film collaboration with Marvel following Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World in 2013. Tyler stated that the score pays homage to John Williams' scores for Star Wars, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark and references the scores for the Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America films in order to create a similar musical universe, saying, "That's the goal for sure. You have to build in nostalgia and do it upfront so you can relate to it." Danny Elfman also contributed music to the score, using Silvestri's theme from the first film to create a new hybrid theme. Hollywood Records released the album digitally on April 28, 2015, and in physical formats on May 19.
Avengers: Age of Ultron made its world premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on April 13, 2015, and held its European premiere on April 21 at the Vue West End in London. The film was released in 11 territories on April 22, with its release jumping to 55% of its international market (44 countries) by the end of its first weekend, before the North American release on May 1, in 3D and IMAX 3D. In North America, the film opened in 4,276 theaters, including 2,761 3D theaters, 364 IMAX, 400 premium large format, and 143 D-Box theaters. Many independent theater owners in Germany (approximately 700 screens) boycotted the film in response to Disney raising its rental fee from 47.7% to 53% of ticket sales. The owners felt that the "increased fees, coupled with the cost of digitization, and rising staff and marketing costs may force some of them out of business."
In September 2014, TNT acquired the US cable broadcast rights, for broadcast two years after its theatrical release. On March 4, 2015, ticket pre-sales for the film began. Variety noted, "The two-month gap between advance sales and the release is much wider than normal and reflects the heavy fan anticipation for" the film.
At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon introduced a teaser trailer for the film, which included a look at an Ultron helmet and a title treatment. Footage of the teaser, as well as a brief interview with Whedon, was made available as part of Iron Man 3's second screen companion app for its Blu-ray release on September 24, 2013. On March 18, 2014, ABC aired a one-hour television special titled, Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe, which included a sneak peek of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The special debuted concept art for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, as well as art of the Hulk fighting the "Hulkbuster" Iron Man suit. Harley-Davidson partnered with Marvel to provide their first electric motorcycle, Project LiveWire, for use by Black Widow in the film. At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, the cast was introduced to promote the film, along with screening footage from the film. Avengers: Age of Ultron received the second most amount of social media mentions at the convention, following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but had a higher intend-to-see response.
The first trailer was scheduled to premiere during the airing of an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on October 28, 2014. However, on October 22, the trailer leaked online, and within a few hours Marvel officially released the trailer on YouTube. Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter noted the effective use of the song "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio (1940) in the trailer. Scott Mendelson of Forbes felt the trailer was "such a textbook 'dark sequel' trailer that it borders on parody" but said, "it's a pretty spectacular piece of marketing, one that elevates itself both by the music choices and by James Spader's vocals as the title villain". The trailer received 34.3 million global views in 24 hours, 26.2 million from Marvel's YouTube channel, which broke the previous record held by Iron Man 3 with 23.14 million views. In comparison, the original Avengers teaser received 20.4 million views in 24 hours after its debut. In response, Marvel agreed to air footage from Age of Ultron during the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that was originally scheduled to premiere the trailer. At the end of October, Marvel Comic's Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso stated there were comic tie-in plans for the film.
In November 2014, ABC aired another one-hour television special titled Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop!, which featured behind the scenes footage of Age of Ultron. Also in November, an extended trailer debuted on Samsung Mobile's YouTube channel, featuring product placement for various Samsung devices. In December 2014, additional behind the scenes footage was released as a special feature on the Guardians of the Galaxy BIu-ray, highlighting the various filming locations for the film. Also in the month, ABC announced that an episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would tie-in to the events of the film. The episodes "The Frenemy of My Enemy" and "The Dirty Half Dozen" feature "Easter eggs, plot threads and other connective tissue leading into the opening scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron" while "Scars" explores the aftermath of the film.
In January 2015, a featurette focusing on Ultron was shown at Samsung's "Night With Marvel" event at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Also at CES, Samsung revealed a selection of hardware inspired by the Avengers films, as well as a simulation of Avengers Tower via its Gear VR virtual reality device. A second trailer premiered on ESPN on January 12, 2015 during the broadcast of the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship. Mendelson enjoyed the trailer, but wished it did not reveal as many story elements as it did. However, he added, "the marketing thus far [for the film] has been far superior to much of what sold The Avengers three years ago, both in terms of the specific footage and the artistic choices being made... I'm sold, and I imagine most of the general moviegoers are already onboard too."
On February 3, 2014, Marvel "stealth released" a one-shot tie-in comic, Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude—This Scepter'd Isle. Written by Will Corona Pilgrim and illustrated by Wellinton Alves, it reveals how Strucker came into possession of Loki's scepter and the origin of the Maximoff twins' abilities. At the end of the month, the film's official poster was revealed. Graeme McMillian of The Hollywood Reporter criticized it for its lack of originality, calling it "pretty much the poster for the first Avengers movie, except with added flying robots in the background" and the fact that it incorporated many of the same tropes the other MCU Phase Two film posters did. These included: the hero(es) staring off camera; destruction in the background as well as something occurring in the sky; and poor Photoshop on the poster, highlighting the fact that each of the actors were obviously photographed separately and were later composited together into the poster. Mendelson agreed with many of McMillian's observations, and called the poster "hilariously photoshopped".
The final trailer was "unlocked" by fans on March 4, 2015, via the use of hashtags on Twitter, ahead of its broadcast debut during the series premiere of American Crime on March 5. Mendelson felt "this [was] a fine final trailer, teasing what we already know, hinting at the scale and a few new action beats without telling us much we don't already know" adding, "Here we have the fourth and final Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer and we don't know all that much about what transpires in a moment-to-moment sense in the finished 150-minute feature. I have expressed my concern dating back to October that Marvel and Disney would release too many trailers and would by default give away too much plot and character information between October and May. But if this really is the final Avengers 2 trailer, then at least on the trailer front they have kept the film relatively unspoiled." A week after the final trailer debuted, Marvel revealed that the trailer had "smashed records" with over 35 million views.
In April 2015, members of the cast presented Downey with the MTV Generation Award at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards, along with debuting an exclusive clip from the film. On April 27, Downey and Renner along with executives from Marvel Entertainment rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of the film's theatrical release. Disney spent a total of $26.9 million on television advertisements for the film, from an estimated total marketing budget of $180 million.
In January 2015, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Traveller's Tales announced a Lego video game adaptation of the first film and Age of Ultron for release in late 2015 on a variety of video game consoles. In March 2015, Disney said it planned to broaden its merchandising strategy with Avengers: Age of Ultron by expanding the target demographics to women and to fans of the individual superheroes that make up the Avengers. Paul Gitter, senior vice president of Marvel licensing for Disney Consumer Products, said, "For the first film, we primarily focused on the Avengers property and the group shots... Now we're broadening the line and scope to create skews that focus on the team and the individuals characters, as well." Disney Consumer Products partnered with Hasbro, Lego, Hot Wheels and Funko for action figures, playsets and other toys, and with Under Armour for apparel. Disney established new partnerships in the food and packaged-goods categories, including with Sage Fruit, ConAgra, Crunchpak and Chobani. Walt Disney India's consumer products partnered with 50 brands to promote the film in India, considered the highest ever for any film—Hollywood or Bollywood—released in India (the previous record held by Ra.One had 25 partners). Some of the brands include Amazon India, toy retailer Hamleys India, online fashion store Myntra, Hero Cycles, Mountain Dew, Liberty Shoes, Tupperware, and Subway restaurants among others.
Avengers: Age of Ultron was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on digital download on September 8, 2015 and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 2, 2015. The digital and Blu-ray releases include behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary, deleted scenes and a blooper reel. The film was also collected in a 13-disc box set, titled "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two Collection", which includes all of the Phase Two films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was released on December 8, 2015. In July 2015, Whedon stated that he did not intend on releasing a director's cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron because despite the film's complexity, he was satisfied with the theatrical version and did not think it needed to be tweaked.
Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed $459 million in North America and $946.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $1.405 billion. It is the seventh highest-grossing film worldwide and the fourth highest-grossing 2015 film. Avengers: Age of Ultron's worldwide opening of $392.5 million is the seventh-largest ever. The film set a worldwide IMAX opening-weekend record with $25.2 million (previously held by The Dark Knight Rises) and also broke the record for the fastest movie to make over $40 million in IMAX theaters, doing so in 12 days. According to some analysts, the opening weekend box office gross was lower than expected because of the weekend's featured boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Deadline.com calculated the net profit of the film to be $382.32 million, when factoring together "production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs, with box office grosses, and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV," placing it fourth on their list of 2015's "Most Valuable Blockbusters".
On May 15, 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron became the twenty-first film in cinematic history, the third Marvel Studios film and the eighth film distributed by Disney to cross the $1 billion threshold at the box office.
Avengers: Age of Ultron earned $84.46 million on its opening day, marking the biggest opening day for a superhero film and the second-biggest opening and second-biggest single-day gross, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($91.7 million). The film's Friday gross included $27.6 million from Thursday night, which began at 7 p.m., and was the sixth-highest ever for Thursday preview earnings and the highest among Marvel films. The film totaled $191.3 million in its opening weekend, the third-highest gross behind Jurassic World ($208.8 million) and The Avengers ($207.4 million). It also saw the second-highest IMAX opening weekend total with $18 million (behind The Dark Knight Rises), a record $13.5 million from premium large format theaters and the highest share for the first weekend in May, accounting for 85% of the top twelve box office total earnings (previously held by Spider-Man 3). Of those in attendance the first weekend, 59% were male, 41% were female and 59% were over the age of 25.
In its second weekend, the film fell 59%, earning $77.7 million, which was the second-biggest second weekend gross behind The Avengers' $103 million (both were surpassed a month later by Jurassic World's $106.6 million). It holds the record for the second biggest loss between first and second weekends with $113.6 million, only behind Deathly Hallows – Part 2's $121 million loss between its first and second weekends in 2011. It became the third highest grossing film of 2015.
Avengers: Age of Ultron earned $200.2 million in its first weekend from 44 countries, opening in first in all, which was 44% above its predecessor's opening. Additionally, the film saw the largest non-China international IMAX opening with $10.4 million. The top earning countries were South Korea ($28.2 million), the UK ($27.3 million) and Russia ($16.2 million). The film broke records in many countries, including: opening-day records in Mexico ($6.8 million), the Philippines ($1.6 million) and Indonesia ($900,000); opening-weekend records in Mexico ($25.5 million), Russia and the CIS ($16.2 million), Hong Kong ($6.4 million) and the Philippines ($7.7 million); and highest opening weekend for a superhero film in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($27.3 million), Germany ($9.3 million), Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands.
In the UK, where Age of Ultron was filmed, it earned $5.4 million on its opening day and $27.3 million during the weekend, setting an opening-weekend record for a superhero film, Marvel's biggest opening in Britain, the biggest April opening, the eighth-biggest debut. It also set the best single-day earning for a Disney and superhero film with its $9.4 million haul on Saturday. In South Korea, also where part of the film was shot, the film earned $4.9 million on its opening day and $28.2 through the weekend. It held the record for advance-ticket sales rate, accounting for 96% of tickets reserved, breaking Transformers: Dark of the Moon's record of 94.6% in 2011, the widest release ever, across 1,826 screens, also breaking Dark of the Moon's 1,420 screens, and the fastest imported film to surpass one million admissions, doing so in two days; it topped the box office for three consecutive weekends, and became the biggest Disney/Marvel release as well as the second biggest Western film in the country. The Chinese opening scored the biggest weekday opening day, as well as the biggest Disney/Marvel opening, with $33.9 million, and the second-biggest six-day start with $156.3 million (behind Furious 7) of which $17.5 million came from IMAX theaters — the biggest ever. Age of Ultron also opened at number one in Japan in early July 2015 with $6.5 million, the highest opening weekend for an MCU release. As of January 3, 2016, it is the seventh highest-grossing film, and the fourth highest-grossing 2015 film. Additionally, the film's largest markets as of July 17, 2015 are: China ($240.1 million), South Korea ($80.5 million), and the UK, Ireland and Malta ($76.6 million).
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 75% approval rating with an average rating of 6.7/10 based on 315 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor's unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe." On Metacritic, the film achieved an average score of 66 out of 100, based on 49 critics, signifying "generally favorable reviews". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an "A" grade on an A+ to F scale.
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Avengers: Age of Ultron succeeds in the top priority of creating a worthy opponent for its superheroes and giving the latter a few new things to do, but this time the action scenes don't always measure up." Scott Foundas of Variety wrote, "If this is what the apotheosis of branded, big-studio entertainment has come to look like in 2015, we could be doing much worse. Unlike its title character, Age of Ultron most definitely has soul." Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times and giving the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, Richard Roeper said, "Some day, an Avengers film might collapse under the weight of its own awesomeness. I mean, how many times can they save the world? But this is not that day." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, "Age of Ultron is a whole summer of fireworks packed into one movie. It doesn't just go to 11, it starts there. [Joss Whedon] takes a few wrong turns, creating a jumble when the action gets too thick. But he recovers like a pro, devising a spectacle that's epic in every sense of the word." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film three out of four stars, stating that despite being "bigger, louder and more disjointed" than its predecessor, "it’s also got more personality—specifically Whedon’s—than any other film in the now seven-year-old franchise." Helen O'Hara of Empire praised the interactions between the characters, the action set-pieces and Whedon's ability as a director in her review, stating that the film "redefines the scale we can expect from our superheroes."
Conversely, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "Although this movie is effective moment to moment, very little of it lingers in the mind afterward. The ideal vehicle for our age of immediate sensation and instant gratification, it disappears without a trace almost as soon as it's consumed." Scott Mendelson of Forbes said, "Avengers: Age of Ultron plays like an obligation, a box to be checked off on a list before all parties move onto the things they really want to do." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote, "This Avengers doesn't always pop the way that the first one sometimes did, partly because its villain isn't as memorable, despite Mr. Spader's silky threat." Camilla Long of The Sunday Times remarked, "Two hours of boredom and boobs add up to a sorry basis for the new Avengers." Much like the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, the film received mixed reviews upon release in China, due to poor translations. The translations, which were said to be too literal, were thought "to have been done by Google Translate."
In December 2015, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences placed Avengers: Age of Ultron on their shortlist of potential nominees for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 88th Academy Awards, but ultimately did not nominate it for the award.
Avengers: Infinity War and an untitled sequel will be directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a script by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Infinity War is scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018, with the sequel scheduled for May 3, 2019. Downey, Evans, Hemsworth, Ruffalo, Olsen, Bettany, Johansson, Hiddleston, Brolin, Mackie, Cheadle, Renner, and Jackson reprise their roles as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Black Widow, Loki, Thanos, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, and Fury, respectively, in Infinity War. They are joined by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sebastian Stan, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, and Paul Rudd, all reprising their MCU roles as Peter Quill / Star-Lord, Gamora, Mantis, Nebula, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket, Groot, Doctor Stephen Strange, Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier, Peter Parker / Spider-Man, T'Challa / Black Panther, and Scott Lang / Ant-Man, respectively.