When Marvel’s Avengers ended, it set a new standard for superhero movies. To the best of my knowledge, superhero team movies hadn’t happened before this movie, especially not when the movie in question was preceded by no less than four movies that set the stage for it. With Avengers, Marvel’s cinematic universe also moved into a new phase, a phase where we’ve seen some big changes in teh status quo for the various heroes and where we’ve also gotten to see lots of new characters, heroes and villains alike as well. And now, in just about half a year, we are going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, the next big Marvel money-maker.
Avengers: Age of Ultron does not have anything to do with last year’s Age of Ultron event in the comics, though they both share the same name. It is going to be a new story about the sentient robot built (most often in the comics) by Hank Pym, the Ant-Man, that then goes on a genocidal rampage against humanity. Of course, we haven’t seen Pym in the MCU as yet, though there is a movie coming out soon that deals with his successor as Ant-Man, Scott Lang, so it is all going to rest in the hands of the MCU’s go-to tech-serf, Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Last night, after a trailer of the upcoming movie leaked out, Marvel and Disney went ahead and released the official teaser, and by gods it is awesome!
When the casting of the actor behind Ultron was announced, I was ecstatic. James Spader is one of my all-time favourite actors in Hollywood, and currently he is also starring in a lead-role on one of my current favourites in television, NBC’s The Blacklist. No matter which role he picks, Spader always gives it his 110% and going into Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’m expecting him to bring his trademark acting skills, especially since Marvel/Disney have assured fans that he hasn’t been cast as just a voice, so hopefully we are going to see him in the flesh as well, which would be rocking.
AAoU, as I’ll refer to the movie henceforth, is set in an interesting time for the MCU. Iron Man 3 exposed some big chinks in Tony Stark’s armour last year and though it was, for me, one of the worst Marvel movies to date, it was also interesting in what it allowed us to see, a superhero struggling with PTSD. That’s pretty cool, in itself. After the events of Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s version of the Norse god of thunder is adrift, having lost one of his guiding lights and, given what happens at the end of the movie, something much more precious as well. In the wake of this year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel’s big-name superspy organization SHIELD has been shown to have been hollowed out from within by the global terrorist organization HYDRA, leading Captain America to force SHIELD’s deconstruction, leaving it to Agent Phil Coulson and his team to pick up the pieces in Agents of SHIELD, which is Marvel’s first-ever full-on live-action television show, currently in its second season.
What all of this means is that many of the superheroes who have become the MCU’s leaders find themselves adrift, unable to rely on the same kind of resources as they did before. And now they have to face an angry genocidal robot who wants to destroy humanity.
It truly is a great opportunity to bring the heroes back together, and that is exactly what AAoU seeks to do. But things aren’t really going to improve for them, if the trailer is anything to go by. The trailer presents a rather dark vision of the Avengers, where the heroes face up to a greater struggle than they’ve done before.
We have Bruce Banner aka The Hulk sitting around shell-shocked and broken. We have Thor again and again without his hammer, Mjolnir. We have hints of Black Widow’s past. We have Tony looking confused and uncertain. We have Captain America’s trademark shield split in two. We have two new heroes, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, looking angry and frustrated at a world that puts them down again and again. We have a city in ruins and the heroes walking through it in grim silence.
And over all of that, we have James Spader’s creepy voice-over as Ultron, as he tells the heroes exactly what he is going to do, how he is going to change the world.
And I love it. All of it.
Avengers: Age of Ulron is all about Marvel going dark with the MCU. People comment all the time about how Marvel’s movies are so much better than DC’s recent attempts, how they all deal with the less-serious things in life, about how the characters joke around with each other and there is so much easy chemistry between them all. And this movie is going to give all of these people a shock. Comparison’s with Snyder’s Man of Steel and Nolan’s Bat-verse are inevitable. Deservedly so, because in this movie we have so many dark things happening. We have the rebirth of a monstrosity that the Avengers can’t really contain. We have Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster-variant armour fighting it out with Hulk. We have armies of Ultron-betas going up against the heroes. We have heroes who struggle to understand just where they are, what path they’ve taken.
Glorious isn’t it?
Sure, the movie isn’t going to kill off any character. None of them can die since most of them are contracted for more movies in the ongoing MCU. Especially not when DC/Warner Bros. got the jump on Marvel/Disney by announcing a female superhero movie, with Wonder Woman no less, though calls for a Black Widow movie have been loud and strident for some three-four years now.
No, character won’t die off, certainly. But Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to take the heroes down a really dark place. If people thought that Iron Man 3 was a dark movie, as I did, then we are all going to be in for a surprise with this one. This isn’t just some megalomaniac villain who wants to destroy the world, after all. This is Ultron, a robotic sentience granted life by Tony Stark and unwittingly set loose in the entire world.
Glorious. Can’t wait for this one. Check out the trailer below.