An unexpected reveal by Joss Whedon of the new title for the Avengers sequel – Avengers: Age Of Ultron – capped an immense day at Hall H and a session of arch entertainment from Marvel Studios.
Whedon’s surprise appearance at the end rounded out an exhilarating spectacle that buried – for the time being at least – rumours of when Vin Diesel might be unveiled as Marvel’s Vision and began with possibly the most brilliant piece of showmanship the convention had witnessed in many a year.
Tom Hiddleston strode on to the stage dressed as Loki, the half-brother to Thor, and proceeded over the next five minutes to beguile the 6,500-strong crowd with a routine that by the end drew shrieks of delight from attendees, some of whom were actually kneeing.
“Humanity! Look how far you’ve fallen,” boomed Hiddleston’s voice over the PA after the lights went out in the arena. “Lining up in the heat. Chattering together in the dark – like beasts!” The UK actor emerged and strutted around the stage as he mocked and taunted, ordering the crowd to chant his name over and over again.
“It seems I have an army,” he said as he cued up a sequence from Thor: The Dark World with a flourish of his hand. The footage showed a battle scene, a typically tense brotherly exchange between Thor and Loki and several fantastical creatures. The sequel opens on Nov 8.
Immediately after that, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige switched to his summer 2014 release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, set to open on Apr 4 next year. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson and Anthony Mackie assembled on stage with several other cast members to present an action-packed montage including a dazzling sequence in which Captain America overcomes a dozen or so assailants in an elevator.
Next it was the turn of Guardians Of The Galaxy, the summer 2014 release that has come together very quickly and started shooting in London less than two weeks ago. Feige flew over a number of talent, all of whom were scheduled to fly back the same day. Chris Pratt, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker and ex-wrestler Dave Bautista joined Benicio del Toro from Los Angeles (he starts filming his scenes soon).
An in-shape Pratt explained that his character Peter Quill (aka Space-Lord) is an arrogant youngster at first. “He lives in space, he’s had a hard time as a kid and goes around making out with hot alien girls. He’s a rogue and a bit of a jerk and through these guys [the Guardians] finds a higher purpose for himself. He finds this family.”
Marvel showed a scene dripping with attitude in which Pratt’s character is taken in by a small guard unit and meets the others who will eventually constitute the eponymous heroes. The crowd gave it a strong reception.
The Whedon finale was the icing on the cake for attendees as a teaser revealed the new title. On another note, industry insiders said they expected Disney to wrestle the Vin Diesel announcement from the hands of Marvel and keep it for the studio’s annual D23 expo in Anaheim that runs from Aug 9-11.