Why This ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Star Was ‘Completely Unfamiliar’ With This Type Of Filmmaking Process
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand fans eagerly await the exploration of multiple superhero origin stories and sequels. However, one star from the 2015 film in the MCU franchise, Avengers: Age of Ultron, had no idea the depth of technology involved with creating something at the MCU level.
A 1985 film predicted an ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ reunion
The 1980s were filled with movies that would become cult classics. Plenty of big-name celebrities got their big break by starring in any number of films from that decade.
Robert Downey Jr. is among those who had a stellar breakout period in projects like The Pickup Artist, Chances Are, and Johnny Be Good. In the 1985 movie, Tuff Turf, Downey played Jimmy Parker opposite another veteran actor who, as one fan theory pointed our on Reddit, was an inevitable choice for the role of Ultron.
“In Tuff Turf, both James Spader (Ultron) and Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark) walk past some very interesting graffiti. They would then reunite on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron 30 years later,” the Redditor posted.
The thread reveals a still frame from Tuff Turf in which both stars stand near a graffiti-filled wall that has the words “The New Avengers” spray-painted on.
“There’s a motorcycle there… we all know who left that one there. wink wink. Maybe a certain captain? wink wink,” another fan commented.
“This also stokes my theory that RDJ has some say in casting and is getting his old buddies jobs. Wait for Andrew McCarthy to direct Thunderbolts or something,” another added.
It should be pointed out that McCarthy went on to direct episodes of The Blacklist in which Spader stars. But it’s the reunion between Downey and Spader on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron that holds the most meaning in the MCU.
Why ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was a unique experience for a veteran actor
30 years after the release of Tuff Turf, Downey and Spader reunited on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron as enemies. Whereas Downey is known as the beloved Iron Man, Spader’s role of Ultron took him completely by surprise.
“In some ways, Ultron’s a child, a brand-new being, a newly created artificial intelligence, and that intelligence is vast. He’s incredibly powerful. I had no idea about the character,” Spader told Playboy.
[Director] Joss Whedon told me he loved that Ultron was sort of an iconic bad guy in the Avengers universe, but he also loved the idea of departing from the comic book, in which Ultron is just sort of, ‘I will destroy you’ and instead try to get to the root and the source of what he’s about.”
Initially, The Blacklist star had reservations about taking the part.
“I told them, ‘I’m very conscious that how your character enters this universe is very important. You’re not going to enter twice, so I want to make sure it’s the best entrance’. They said, ‘The title of the movie is Avengers: Age of Ultron. You’re Ultron. That’s the best entrance anyone can have.'”
While the entrance may have been the right one, Spader went to great lengths to fit into the comic book world — something he’d never done before.
“I worked on this with Andy Serkis’s company right from the start. Andy is a great actor, and I have a scene with him, which I am excited about,” he said.
“I mean, here I am well into a fourth decade of acting and now facing filmmaking processes I was completely unfamiliar with. Making this movie is a grand adventure.”
Spader went all in to become Ultron
Much like the roles Serkis has become internationally known for (Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings), Spader utilized motion capture technology — a far cry from playing reality-based criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington in NBC’s The Blacklist.
“It was great, actually. The technology was such that I put on the suit and you do a range of motion,” Spader told E! News. “They record the range of motion with all the markers on and all the transmitters and everything, and then they sort of plug it into some program. I would move and I could watch it live as Ultron. And that’s the first time I stood up a little straighter.”
Still, Spader, whose resume boasts completely different types of roles, held his reservations.
“I didn’t know what I could bring to it. [Whedon] said, ‘You can bring everything or you can bring any portion of that.’ I said, ‘Well, I want to bring as much as I possibly can.’ He said, ‘Great,'” he said.
“So it’s voice and it’s expression and it’s posture and movement and all the rest of that. The actual process of what it’s like to make it, ultimately, I think was indescribable because the technology for all this performance capture stuff and how they shoot it has been revolutionary with every subsequent film.”