Joss Whedon holds a special place in my fanboy heart, given that he wrote the script for Toy Story and created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, two of the most formative pop culture experiences of my young life. But of course, you're here to find out what he's got to say about superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, which reunites Marvel icons Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk.
2012's Avengers Assemble of course soared on the fractious chemistry between stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo, with sturdy support from Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). The film's rip-roaring sense of tongue-in-cheek fun guided it to a heroic $1 billion box office gross – so what can we expect from the sequel?
"It's more epic and in other ways it's more noirish and suspect and devious and specific," Whedon told Empire Magazine (that's a lot of contrasting adjectives, which should hopefully make for an entertaining watch). "Ultron, he's got a touch of the apocalypse in him."
Ah yes, Ultron, the latest Big Bad to rear his ugly head in the Marvel universe. He's played by James Spader, always a go-to for scheming, creepy characters, and is a sentient intelligence created by Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark. He isn't born bad but soon gets a God complex (as most AI's do in sci-fi/fantasy movies) and poses a threat to the entire world.
And Ultron isn't the only new addition to the movie. There's also Tony Stark's Hulkbuster suit... "The Hulkbuster is from after my time [as a reader]," says Whedon, "but even I knew what a big deal it was."
A big deal that might need some explanation for the non-comic book initiated. In a nutshell, it's a heavy duty exo-skeleton developed by Stark to offer protection when going toe-to-toe with the rampaging Incredible Hulk. Good idea – remember what Hulk did to Loki (Tom Hiddleston) during their tiff in Avengers Assemble?
"It makes sense because there's no one who can really go up against Hulk," says Whedon of the suit, "but more importantly, those guys are best friends, so what that battle is and what it means is fascinating to me."
Well, I for one can't wait to set eyes on both Ultron and the Hulkbuster armour when Avengers: Age of Ultron is released on 24th April 2015.