One of the most anticipated films of the year hits theaters today. Avengers: Age of Ultron, the star-sudden superhero sequel spectacular kicks off the summer blockbuster season looking to entertain and excite audiences around the world. What Disney’s Marvel has been doing over the last decade is something mighty special. With their Marvel Cinematic Universe, a three-phase, nearly 20-film plan, Disney is creating a series of inter-connected movies that work towards a bigger story while also triumphing on a standalone basis.
While Phase 1 really got underway with Iron Man 2, the MCU now contains three films from that metallic hero, two featuring Captain America and Thor, as well as one with the Hulk. Meanwhile, the Avengers film is the second installation where the assembly of heroes is together officially on the big screen.
With this entry written and directed by Joss Whedon, marking his second and final stint with the franchise having created the first Avengers movie, we are approaching a pivotal point in the MCU; we have after all, been at this for nearly ten years. The story follows a Tony Stark project named Ultron gone mad, as his hope to create an artificial intelligence to protect the world turns rogue. Ultron thinks protecting the world is the same as destroying it. So the Avengers seek to stop him while also meeting new ‘enhanced’ figures in the form of Russian twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, known as the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. Then there are individual stories, as each of the seven main heroes and their many supporters get appropriate screen time. What’s more, the film lays the groundwork for future stories.
The film of course needs to appeal to as many people as possible. For avid comic fans though, as always, there is much more. Marvel has always been keen to hint and tease with nuggets from the comic books as the franchise proceeds. Here are the 10 things only Marvel fans will pick up in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Warning: some spoilers ahead.
10 Helen Cho/Amadeus Cho
Ultron marks the first appearance of geneticist Dr. Helen Cho. She helps Hawkeye recover from injury only to be caught in a violent battle herself. Ultron takes her under his control to help craft a body, and this is likely not the only film she will appear in. At least that is what the comics would suggest. Helen is known as the mother of Amadeus Cho, a prodigy noted as the seventh smartest man in the world and a figure who aligns with the Hulk and involved in many chaotic doings. Of course in Ultron, Dr. Cho is quite taken by the work of Banner as it is, so perhaps this is just the beginning.
9 The Fall of Asgard
It’s over two years away, and before then we get another Captain America, a second Guardians of the Galaxy, and films starring Doctor Strange and Ant-Man, but Thor will indeed return. The third singular film in his series is titled Ragnarok, which fans will know basically means Armageddon; perhaps there is a tease in Ultron. When under the spell of the Scarlet Witch, Thor envisions the fall of Asgard. Fans will know that with the destruction of Asgard comes the death of Thor – so maybe we got a glimpse our demigod’s last moments.
8 Black Widow’s Worth
In the most fun scene in the film not actually involving costume changes and action, the group is gathered around drinking at Stark’s mansion and goofing off. The subject of conversation is Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir, and he explains that basically none of them can pick it up because none of them are worthy. They then all take a shot to try to pick up Mjolnir, but it doesn't take, and laughs ensue. Black Widow, however, opts out of the competition, saying she doesn't want that question answered. Of course comic fans will know she is in fact completely worthy: she famously wielded the hammer and became the Goddess of Thunder.
7 The New Outfits
Many in this movie have a costume that is slightly altered and infused by the comic books. New edition Quicksilver dons tracksuits with insignias that recall his look in the source material, as does Scarlet Witch. Meanwhile, Hawkeye has a new look as well, modeled after his Ronin outfit in the comics. As usual, Iron Man has a tweaked image as well, and that was needed after he basically destroyed all his suits in Iron Man 3. The new and redefined Iron Man look is known as the Bleeding Edge from the comics. Most notably perhaps, will be the red cape that Ultron dons early in the film, which is a direct reference to the Crimson Cowl, Ultron’s alias in his first comic appearance.
6 The Vision’s Infinity Stone
By now most casual observers will know there are things called Infinity Stones and that they are really, really, important. If you've been keeping track, we've encountered four (of the six) in the MCU so far. Towards the end of Ultron, we meet The Vision, crafted from the A.I. of Jarvis and a body designed for Ultron. He holds an Infinity Stone, which fans will note differs from the comics. There, the Vision has a solar gem that gleans powers from the sun. In keeping with the MCU, though, this movie version gets a stone, the fifth appearance of such a coveted gem, and of course something that will find its way to a certain diabolical somebody.
5 The Infinity Gauntlet
That someone is Thanos. For most fans, it won’t be much of a mid credits tag, but this brief appearance of Thanos is important for a couple of reasons. He basically is unimpressed with the continued triumph of the Avengers, so he grabs the Infinity Gauntlet and resigns himself to take care of business. While Marvel fans will note, and likely many others will have forgotten amid all the cinematic chaos across so many films, is that the gauntlet was kept safely in Asgard, which we would have seen back in Thor. So somehow he got a hold of it – maybe Loki? And he also has the stones, which spells trouble for the aforementioned Vision, and well, everyone.
The region of Wakanda was first very briefly teased in Iron Man 2, highlighted on a S.H.I.E.L.D. board of noteworthy superhero activity. In Ultron, the avengers assemble there, tracking an arms dealer dealing in vibranium. While casual fans will see Wakanda as just a fictionalized African town, comic fans will note that is the breeding place of Black Panther, a pivotal comic hero who happens to be getting his own movie in the MCU coming next year. Chadwick Boseman will star as the enigmatic figure who rules Wakanda. Sadly, there is no tease of him – at least in this film.
3 Ulysses Klaw
Ahead of the Avenger’s visit to Wakanda, Ultron and the twins arrive first. They are chatting up an arms dealer played by Andy Serkis, who this time is not forced to be wearing a motion capture suit. He is Ulysses Klaw, a smug and brutish man none too impressed by the young Russians, but one who soon takes heed when Ultron storms in. Fans will note that Klaw is a super villain who in the comics faced off against The Avengers, as well as the aforementioned Black Panther. In the comics, Claw loses his right hand early in life; guess what happens in the movie?
2 Civil War
This is the most exciting prospect for comic fans: the Civil War that looms ahead. While casual observers may just see some disagreements among our heroes, there are many that know what is coming – chaos. The rifts starts in Ultron between Iron Man and Captain America, as they debate the Ultron project, the latter being reckless and acting unilaterally, with the latter looking to be pragmatic and democratic. Allegiances can already seen to be formed, especially come the end. All of this leads directly to next year’s Captain America: Civil War, which to be less a standalone film, and more an Avengers lite movie, as Iron Man will appear.
1 The Scarlet Witch
The quietest yet most powerful figure in Ultron may be the Scarlet Witch, a figure who can seemingly control the minds of all the Avengers, even the mighty Thor who thinks himself invisible. In the end, she comes around to fight with the Avengers, enlisting in the assembly under the leadership of Captain America and Black Widow. She will return in Captain America: Civil War, and likely align against Tony Stark, as she started in Ultron. Scarlet Witch presents a lot of possibilities for the MCU. Fans will note something ironic in the film: Hawkeye gives Wanda a lovely pep talk in the finale, while in the comics however, she kills Hawkeye. She also went berserk at one point and stripped everyone of their powers. She also marries The Vision in the comics, but that might even be too weird for Marvel to put on screen. Then again, none of this makes sense, as Hawkeye muses.