Filming is past the halfway point for Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron but we've seen little of the cast since early in the production. The last couple of days have produced some new set photos and reports that may be more revealing for who they do NOT include.
The first batch of photos, courtesy of Marvel Freshman at CBM, shows what has been reported to be a group of "Avengers-in-training" at the Sainsbury Centre at The University of East Anglia in Norfolk, England which has been converted into what might possibly be something akin to an Avengers' Academy.
Here, courtesy of CBM and Superhero Report, are some very good looks at the "recruits" and a couple shots of Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. rehearsing a scene.
While there is no confirmation of an Avengers' Academy, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are going to open the eyes of Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers to the reality that there are more super-powered individuals out there and, after having to go toe-to-toe with some of them, it might be better to be proactive in identifying and training them. It's exciting to think of just who some of these might be, though I'm not sure that's going to be a huge part of the film.
The next batch of set photos gives us a glimpse of some of the Avengers who were on the set for the scene.
Chris Evans at UEA for the Avengers filming! Ahhhhh famous people pic.twitter.com/D1dDMCDlH6
— Laura Holcombe (@lauraeholcombe) June 13, 2014
Other reports and photos from the set indicate that Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson were on location. Scarlett Johannson's stunt double was also photographed on set alongside Chris Hemsworth's stunt double.
Interestingly, Anthony Mackie, who played Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, was spotted on set as was the Iron Patriot armor. We've heard rumors of Mackie's involvement and we just saw photos from the set earlier this week that indicated Don Cheadle, who took over as James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, was going to be in the film as well. It was also reported, though not confirmed that actor B.J. Britt, who played Agent Triplett in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was in Norfolk for the day as well. If so, it's possible that, much like in Jonathan Hickman's recent run on Avengers, Tony Stark has recognized the need to grow the Avengers and is using all available resources to help train the new Avengers.
What's more interesting than the inclusion of Mackie and Cheadle and even Britt in the scene, is the fact that two of the core Avengers are NOT present. Amidst all of the reports, there is no evidence to suggest that Jeremy Renner or Mark Ruffalo were involved in filming today. No reports suggest that stunt doubles for Renner or Ruffalo were on location either. If that's accurate, it's certainly appropriate to wonder why they aren't there. It's within reason to think that this scene may be towards the end of the film. First of all, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are with the good guys. It's also hard to imagine that Stark and the Avengers will have time to set up the Academy during the film and that meeting the Maximoff twins provides the impetus for setting up the Academy after they help the team take down Ultron. So, if this is at the end, where are the other two Avengers?
Readers of the site will know my guess at where Hawkeye is, and he won't be coming back. I've thought for some time now that Agent Barton wouldn't make it out of Avengers: Age of Ultron. While I'm certainly not taking this as confirmation of that, if it turns out that Renner was not there and is not a part of the scene, it clearly won't be convincing me otherwise.
As for where Bruce Banner might be, I think we may already have the answer to that as well. It has long been rumored that Banner will lose control of the Hulk in the sequel and that it will lead to him being sent off-planet, setting up a Planet Hulk film before his eventual return in search of vengeance against his former brothers-in-arms. Super-duper-Latino scooper, El Mayimbe reported on this arc a while back and has been constantly hammered after Marvel denied it; however, while Marvel has been denying the plans for this story arc, they've also taunted us with it via concept art.
We've heard reports of a rampaging Hulk early on in the film and scene some set photos of the destruction for which he was responsible in Africa. It's not ridiculous to think that they'd follow one of the most popular Hulk story lines despite the denials from Marvel Studios and the hundreds if not thousands of fanboys out there who buy the company line. It's also not ridiculous to think that the roster of the Avengers will be in flux. Joss Whedon has said as much and that doesn't just mean adding to it. At some point, the roster will need to have some attrition and I won't be surprised if it happens during Avengers: Age of Ultron, even if it isn't just as I described above.
SOURCES: CBM, Instagram and Twitter