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I’m going to talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron in detail, so be warned there are SPOILERS!
Avengers: Age of Ultron has now been out for almost a week in the U.S., giving fans ample time to see and digest the latest tentpole movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a dense movie, nearly 2 ½ hours and full of characters, but it is also full of implications for future Marvel movies. Let’s look at some of the major elements in Avengers: Age of Ultron that will impact upcoming Marvel movies.
It was well known that Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) and Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) were not going to be mutants in Avengers: Age of Ultron even though they are in the comics. 20th Century Fox owns the X-Men franchise rights and the term “mutants.” Marvel is trying to skirt that limitation with the recent introduction of Inhumans in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. So there was speculation that Wanda and Pietro were going to be revealed as Inhumans in Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, in the film, they are revealed to be regular humans who have volunteered for genetic experimentation by Hydra. This feels like a rather uncreative maneuver, and it seems to clearly delineate how Marvel will categorize super-heroes with powers in their future film/TV projects: Inhumans (those born descended from the race experimented on by Kree), those who have attained powers by accident (Hulk, Daredevil), and those changed by science (Captain America, Wanda, and Pietro). It will be interesting to see how mystical heroes like Dr. Strange and Iron Fist fit into this scheme.
There is a large bit in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Ultron visits the Marvel Comics African nation of Wakanda to attain vibranium. This segment introduces thief Ulysses Klau (Andy Serkis), who will turn into the villain Klaw. It also features an extended battle between Hulk (mind-controlled by Scarlet Witch) and Iron Man in a Hulkbuster armor called “Veronica.” There is quite a level of devastation done during this battle in Wakanda, and I think that this wide-range fight will play a pivotal role in T’Challa (who will be played by Chadwick Boseman) deciding to become Black Panther. I would expect that Black Panther when he appears will not be friendly to the Avengers, especially Iron Man and Hulk. We may see a much more nationalistic and aggressive film Black Panther compared to the one who sometimes appears as just an Avenger in the comics.
Speaking of Hulk, it’s mentioned in Avengers: Age of Ultron that this is the first time the public has seen Hulk lose control. Thanks to a headline in Ben Ulrich’s office during the Netflix Daredevil show, we know that The Incredible Hulk movie is still part of the MCU canon (even though Bruce Banner was played by Ed Norton rather than Mark Ruffalo). So the public has seen Hulk in that movie, the first Avengers, the Wakanda battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the Sokovia battle at the end of the film. This begs the question of whether Banner has been the Hulk much between the Avengers movies. Also, after Banner – very disturbed by the way he lost control in Wakanda and the destruction he caused – jets off to be by himself, his future in the MCU is a little uncertain. Since Hulk is one of the characters without a solo movie, it’s unclear when we will see Hulk next. One figures that if he doesn’t appear in Captain America: Civil War (and Hulk was off-world during the comics Civil War and so far Mark Ruffalo is not part of that film’s large cast), we would at least see the big green guy for the Avengers: Infinity War films
Speaking of Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Age of Ultron gave viewers a first look at a real conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers when they disagree on Stark’s creation of Ultron and then his revival of The Vision. Steve’s belief in Tony is questioned by Scarlet Witch, and there do seem to be real ideological differences (as well as strong tension) between Cap and Iron Man in this film. Although Steve and Tony make up by the end of the movie, that wedge figures to the starting point for the major fight that will be Civil War. The movie’s just-released plot synopsis makes clear that it is, like in the comics, mishandling of a situation by superheroes and resulting political pressure that causes the major dispute among heroes, though it remains to be seen if it will be an actual identity-revealing “Superhero Registration Act” like in the comics.
During the epilog of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we are shown a new building somewhere in the woods (i.e., not Manhattan) with a caption that read “New Avengers Facility.” There are two interpretations of this caption: 1) a new building for the Avengers, different from the old facility; 2) a building for the New Avengers, a different team. New Avengers was the popular re-start of the comic franchise by Brian Michael Bendis in 2005. Further credence to the second interpretation is that we are shown a team of “new” Avengers who will be trained by Cap and Black Widow: Falcon, War Machine, The Vision, and Scarlet Witch. There have also been rumors that the new, joint Sony/Marvel Studios Spider-Man movie will be called Spider-Man: The New Avenger. So it seems like the New Avengers will be a distinct team from the original line-up, one that figures to gain Captain Marvel after her solo film and possibly Spider-Man and Black Panther. So we may see two Avengers teams come together during Avengers: Infinity War: Part 1 and Part 2.