We’re a good fifteen or so years into the age of digital media, but the leak is still the entertainment industry’s worst nightmare. For the Internet, on the other hand, leaks form the wellspring that keeps everybody alive. We live in an age of hype writ large, a time when the next Batman movie is furiously discussed a full two years in advance of its release. The degree to which we get excited about event movies really makes it no surprise that the film industry is resting on laurels made from franchises and sequels. We’re clamoring for it, so they give it to us. When The Avengers came out in 2012, the only thing cooler than Joss Whedon having sat in the director’s chair was the fact that Marvel quickly brought him on board to handle the sequel. Over the course of their so-called Phase 2, Marvel have made it pretty clear that they’ve figured out how to do something really special with their cinematic universe. Fans had been waiting for some footage of Age of Ultron, so it was no surprise when the trailer leaked a week in advance, no different from many the leaked properties that came before it.
...Except that it was very different.
Rumblings had been in place for a little while about Marvel’s plan to debut the Age of Ultron trailer alongside the next episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A goodie like that was basically guaranteed to bring with a nice ratings bump, and everybody agreed that Marvel had a fantastic idea. Then the trailer leaked, and everybody wondered how Marvel would react to the fact that the most anticipated couple of minutes of footage in the last several months had just sneaked onto the internet in sub-standard quality.
Nobody expected that they’d just go ahead and release a high-quality version of the damn thing a full week in advance. I mean, that tweet was clever enough, right? But no. Marvel Studios turned the trailer’s leaking into another opportunity to show how awesome they are as both a company in general and a movie studio in specific.
And the trailer itself? It is awesome. All the way awesome. It's full of menace and rife with evocative imagery. Joss Whedon has shown himself to be more than capable with a tentpole budget in 2012, and the Avengers sequel looks like he's managed to improve upon the success of the first movie. Ultron looks and sounds fantastic. The Iron Man's Hulkbuster armor is imposing and incredible. The whole thing looks like it's just entirely too much fun, but also looks appropriately foreboding. Whedon has specifically talked about setting out to make his Empire Strikes Back with Age of Ultron, and it shows in the trailer.
Time and time again, Marvel shows that it’s interested in telling stories that have meaning to its audience (and what’s smart is that it never tries to limit that audience). Marvel Studios seems to know just what we like, and it seems to like giving it to us just as much as we like getting it.