“Age of Ultron” Character Profiles: Where Do They Go From Here?

Avengers: Age of Ultron has become the 3rd highest grossing film of all-time, and has divided critics and fans alike.  Regardless of how you felt about the follow-up to Avengers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe Machine is going to steam roll ahead.  But what does that mean for the characters who make up Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and how much of their comic book iterations are we seeing in their cinematic counterparts ?

SPOILERS BELOW!

CAPTAIN AMERICA/STEVE ROGERS

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AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!  When we last leave our heroic Star-Spangled leader, he’s at the helm of a new team of Avengers, consisting of Black Widow, The Vision, War Machine, Falcon and the Scarlet Witch, which is an exciting thing for the franchise moving forward.  Stark is primarily retired, Banner missing, Thor on Asgard and Barton playing house with his family, so the change in team was inevitable.  What this gives Cap moving forward is a team like they’ve never had before: a team of Avengers who sole purpose on this Earth is to be a member of the Avengers.

When last we saw Rogers and Stark, they were friendly, taking turns cracking jokes at Thor’s (and Mjolnir’s) expense.  But anyone who is aware of Marvel/Disney’s future plans…or anyone with eyes and ears who hasn’t been trapped in a cave the last year…knows what is coming: CIVIL WAR!  Next May, we’re set to see Captain America and Tony Stark take opposing sides, each with their own team.  Common sense that Rogers’ team is the one he ended Age of Ultron with, but I don’t think this is necessarily the case.  Case in point: Col. James Rhodes, aka Rhodey, aka War Machine.  I don’t see a (Marvel) world in which Rhodes fights against his best buddy Stark.  Also, the last time I checked, Black Widow is a spy and double crosses are her specialty.  I expect there to be major team shake-ups before, during and after the events of Captain America: Civil War.

So we know that in the comic storyline, that a tragic event takes place and afterwards, the US Gov’t wants all super-powered people to register, secret identities be damned.  The difference between the 616 storyline and the one we’ll see on screen is that in the MCU our heroes don’t necessarily have secret identities.  My guess is that something catastrophic happens because of superhumans (possibly the INhumans) and the Gov’t demands that these “super people” register and are tracked in an index of sorts.  This clearly isn’t going to sit well with Cap, who after the first Avengers and the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier has grown quite weary of organized power and the men and women in charge.  Tony Stark will obviously be the leader of the other side of that argument, stating that there needs to be more accountability for heroes, especially after his own mistakes in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Where does this leave the first Avenger?  Well, possibly not as Captain America.  Chris Evans contract is set to expire after his next film, and the 616 Universe has the events of Civil War ending without Steve Rogers as ol’ Winghead.  I won’t say how this comes to be, because I’m not in the game of ruining people’s lives with spoilers…without warning them first…but the possibility is there, as are a number of successors.

One thing we know for sure, is that Captain America: Civil War is set to include Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, War Machine, Falcon, The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Baron Zemo, Crossbones AND Spider-Man.  With a line up like that, and a story line like Civil War, and it’s most definitely Captain America’s future, and his storyline, that I’m looking most forward to.

-LM

IRON MAN/TONY STARK

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Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist. That’s all you need to know about Iron Man, aka Tony Stark. So that’s not entirely true. But maybe it is. I adore Iron Man. I believe that Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. He will go down as one of my favorite super hero impressions ever. In the end of Age of Ultron, we see Stark “retiring” from the Avengers. Of course, we know this is not the case as he will be a central figure in the upcoming Civil War.

Has Tony finally cracked? In Iron Man 3, we witness the long term effects of the events of The Avengers weigh on him heavily. The attack on NY has left him with severe anxiety. Fast forward to Age of Ultron. Tony has grown, but perhaps in a slightly darker manner. He has created a global defense system via Jarvis, which gets hacked by Ultron and nearly destroys earth. Tony plays things dangerously close to the dark side and I believe we are going to see that come into full effect in Civil War. The more Iron Man we see, the merrier.

-JL

THOR

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Who’s my #ACE (Asgardian Crush Everyday)?  Well, it’s freakin Thor, that’s who!  And let me tell you, Goldilocks here get’s a bad wrap as far as I’m concerned.  Thor was dismissed as too fantastical.  Thor: The Dark World as a dull movie, with a convoluted plot.  In the Avengers, Thor was essentially used as muscle because, well, he’s ginormous.  But in each movie, regardless of the direction the character was taken, Chris Hemsworth shined as the heir to Asgard.  Avengers: Age of Ultron, despite putting limitations on the character once again, allowed him to show a little more, and be useful to the team beyond being able to swing a hammer.

The dream sequence that the Scarlet Witch sets about in Thor’s head seemed confusing and compacted, and the Waters of Sight was a plot point that didn’t get much of an explanation, but for the first time, Thor was of use to the team in the sense that he is not of this world, and he has knowledge of what lies beyond the stars.  Thor was the one to reveal that the rest of the team in fact needed the help of the Vision in defeating Ultron, not to mention jump started the synthezoid with lightning from Mjolnir.  He’s also the one spearheading the future of the MCU, as he’s seen the 6 infinity stones in his vision.  He knows the power these hold and he warns his other Avengers of the impending threat coming in the future.

At the end of Age of Ultron, we see Thor head back to Asgard to search for answers to the questions revealed to him in his dream.  Heimdall reveals to Thor in his vision that he is the reason that all of Asgard goes to Hell (or Hel, if they follow the Norse Mythology the way I believe they will).  Loki has been on the throne of Asgard impersonating Odin since the events of The Dark World, which will have rippling effects that I’m pretty sure will set in motion the events of Ragnorok, or the “end of days” in Norse Mythology.  This is also the title of the next Thor film.  While this term also refers to the robot version of Thor that Tony Stark builds to assist his team in Civil War, considering Chris Hemsworth is not set to appear in the next Captain America flick, my money is on Asgardian Armageddon for the final chapter of the Thor trilogy.

-LM

HULK/BRUCE BANNER

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It sucks to be the Hulk.  Yeah, turning into a “giant, green rage-monster” sounds pretty awesome to the average human, but I feel worse and worse for Dr. Bruce Banner with each passing movie.  Granted, he spends a majority of Avengers: Age of Ultron throwing himself a “hulk-sized” pity party, and that was extremely un-Hulk of him.  I’m also of the opinion that the budding romantic relationship between Banner and Natasha Romanoff was ill conceived and viably forced throughout the film.  It never felt comfortable, or that they had much chemistry…or as much chemistry as a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and a Russian spy who’s built her life around lies can have.  But for the sake of the argument though, it must not be the best feeling to fall for someone, confide in her that you’re done being the Hulk, kiss her, and then have her push you in a pit to turn into the one thing you don’t want to become.  Yes, he had a big hand in saving the day, but trust issues much?

The last we see is of the Green Goliath is him flying away in a plane, headed to the middle of nowhere.  Natasha is doing her best to calm him with a “lullaby” and he turns off her monitor.  His plane went down in the middle of the ocean, but let’s be real here, the Hulk is very much still alive, somewhere in seclusion.  I know an awful lot of people were sad at this scene where Hulk turns off the Widow and peaces the f out.  My thought during it was, “Holy crap!  He’s really got a hold of Banner inside of the Hulk now!”  Might we see the elusive Gray Hulk in the future?  I hope so.  Is this also the end of the Banner/Romanoff relationship known as BlackHulk (Hulk Widow?  Banneroff?)?  I REALLY hope so.

Where does this leave the Hulk, other than heart-broken and “emo”?  Well if the rumor mill is correct (and with Marvel, it’s right probably more often than it should be) we won’t be seeing Banner as a part of Captain America: Civil War, unless there’s a secret cameo of some sorts.  Chances are that the next time the Hulk pops up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be in one of the Avengers: Infinity War films.  I’m sure his grand entrance into one of those two movies will be brilliant and epic, and after 3 years away from our screens, we’ll all have time to forget about the Hulk that is probably now swooping his hair in front of his eyes, shopping at Hot Topic and listening to Dashboard Confessional.

-LM

BLACK WIDOW/NATASHA ROMANOFF

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Black Widow is one of the most dangerous people in the Marvel Universe.  I know most people see her and think about how attractive she is, how she has no powers, or how she was the lone female Avenger in phase 1.  All of these things are true, and all of them are a part of what makes her so dangerous, a trait carried over from her depiction in Marvel’s 616 canon.

In the 616 Universe, Natasha began as a Russian Spy introduced during the Cold War Era.  She manipulated Hawkeye into working with her as a supervillian before eventually defecting to join The Avengers and SHIELD.  She had trained since childhood in Russia’s Red Room to be The Black Widow, their most deadly asset.  She had taken a version of the infinity formula which made her essentially ageless, thus establishing her as having been born in 1928.  She was not only a master martial artist, weapons expert, but a gifted manipulator and infiltrations expert.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has streamlined her story considerably.  Gone is the Infinity formula, as of right now she was born in the 1980’s.  No mention has been made of her working as a super villian, or even being active during the Cold War.  Instead she was a Russian spy who Hawkeye was tasked with eliminating but who instead recruited her into SHIELD.  The Red Room is still present, as well as her childhood in their care.

So what makes a spy so dangerous when on a team with Gods and Monsters?  What does Natash Romanov bring to the table with people who shoot lasers and toss motorcycles like toys?

This is exactly what makes her so good at what she does.  Stark never thought of her beyond her pretty face, so she was able to get close and understand him in a way few others could.  Loki looked at her as powerless and as a result he slipped in his speech to tell her what she needed to hear.  Ultron failed to realize that with her training she could easily alert her team mates to her position.  She is a person beneath their notice or distracting them from her true goals.

It is her lack of power and beautiful appearance that precisely makes her so dangerous and such an important part of The Avengers.  It’s what the villians trained her to do and now it is used to help the innocent.

-NR

HAWKEYE/CLINT BARTON

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Would you believe Hawkeye is one of the most identifiable members of The Avengers in Marvel Comics canon?  Clint Barton is a long standing and trusted teammate and considered an equal by the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.  In phase 1 of the Marvel Films this was not made very evident and it seems to be a mistake Director Joss Whedon and star Jeremy Renner strive to fix with the Avengers:Age of Ultron, as Clint Barton’s development is front and center this time around.  But how does it compare to the original interpretation of the character?

In the 616 proper, Clint Barton was a former circus performer who through a series of misunderstandings became a thief.  It was not long however before he joined the Avengers and became one of the four members to serve during the period known as Cap’s Kooky Quartet, alongside Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.  Its easy to see in Age of Ultron that Joss Whedon wanted to pay special tribute to this odd time in the Avengers history.  It is Hawkeye who inspires Wanda to choose to fight and his constant back and forth with Quicksilver, while at first antagonistic, towards the end plays as more brotherly chiding.

Another aspect that only briefly showed until now is Barton’s attitude.  He is cocky and a bit brash at times, quick with a witty comment and Jeremy Renner encapsulates this perfectly.  In comic cannon he is one of the few people who will back talk Captain America and tell him he is wrong.  It is probably the most endearing part of his character that he is never intimidated by those who have powers, a man of conviction willing to lay down his life standing up to giants if that’s what it takes.

While I was a bit leery of the decision to give Hawkeye a stable family life, as the character I grew up with was a bit of a “cape chaser”, this trait served to help show the most important thing that Hawkeye brings to The Avengers.  It isn’t his skills as an archer, or his tactical gifts, it is that he grounds them.  He reminds them of what they fight for.  He keeps them tethered to a world that they could easily find themselves separated from emotionally with the sheer scope of their powers and abilities.

Jeremy Renner is set to play a role in Captain America Civil War and Avengers Infinity War.  Hopefully we will see more of Hawkeye’s character and no more brainwashing.  After all it really wasn’t his thing.

-NR

SCARLET WITCH/WANDA MAXIMOFF

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QUICKSILVER/PIETRO MAXIMOFF

Early on in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Maria Hill describes Wanda Maximoff as weird.  To sum up the long standing character in such a way is a bit of an understatement.  Weird doesn’t even begin to describe the woman who is one of the most powerful figures in the Marvel Universe.

In the 616, Scarlet Witch, much like her movie counterpart, began as a villain.  She and her brother served in Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  The movie does an excellent job of maintaining a consistency with her comic book counterpart’s characterization.  Wanda was never necessarily evil.  She was confused and maintained a strong stance against allowing innocents to be hurt by the actions of her team.  This belief eventually results in her switching sides and, in both canons, joining the Avengers.

In the comics she is a reality warper and frequently rests on the verge of complete insanity.  At various points she has lost control of her abilities due to her emotions driving her into a state of madness.  The movie doesn’t show her outright losing her mind or control, but it does show that she can be very overwhelmed by her pain causing her to lash out violently and sadistically.

Her romantic life has been a source of much controversy in universe as she married the android Vision and created two children using her abilities subconsciously.  This is hinted at in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he rescues her and she looks at him longingly.

Perhaps what she is most known for though in the 616 proper is a story line that is alluded to in the film.  At one point she had gone completely crazed and her powers wreaked havoc with the Avengers causing the team to disband.  In the film she doesn’t alter their reality but the nightmares she induces in them have largely the same effect as the film finds Thor, Iron Man, and Hawkeye departing the Avengers at the end.

Now all we need is for Marvel and Fox to come to a deal so the X-Men are back in the cinematic universe and maybe we can hear her utter the infamous words “No more mutants.”  A geek can dream.

-NR

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Oh, my poor, sweet, arrogant Pietro Maximoff.  I have never been overly critical about any of Marvel Studios decisions when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s partly due to the thought that they make pretty good decisions across the board, but in this instance, I think they made a mistake.  The wrong Avenger died in this film.  Who should’ve died instead?  I can’t answer that one, but I can tell you without any doubt that the man who would’ve been dubbed “Quicksilver” should have lived.  The untapped potential in this character is astounding, and I think due to the lack of character development in this film, many won’t see or understand that.  In order to put things into greater perspective, let’s take a look at some source material.

Pietro Maximoff in the 616 Universe is the mutant son of Magneto, the X-Men’s most famous antagonist.  This cannot be canon in the MCU due to Fox owning the rights to not only the character Magneto, but also to the cinematic use of the word “mutant”.  Bummer, yes, but this didn’t have to change the character of Quicksilver at his core.  Pietro is an arrogant, moody son of a bitch who is fiercely protective of his twin sister, Wanda.  To me his arrogant persona would’ve been great to bounce off of the other “divas” in the group such as Stark and Thor, and having a brother/sister relationship within the Avengers gives countless storytelling arcs, and an interesting bond that doesn’t exist anywhere else in this Universe.  Not to mention the badass suit he would’ve had if the tables were turned and Pietro was the one to survive the events of Age of Ultron.

Joss Whedon has alluded to the fact that they filmed a version of the film in which Pietro survives, and appears at the end as a member of the new team of Avengers.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the man who portrays the speedster, mentions this as well, proclaiming that the suit was in fact pretty awesome (damn I want to see this version!).  But with Quicksilver’s death, where does this leave his character in the MCU?  Well, Taylor-Johnson is signed to a multi-picture deal, which I assume means he’ll end up cameoing in the same way we often see Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter: flashbacks.  His sister Wanda, portrayed beautifully and creepily by Elizabeth Olsen, is on her way to becoming a major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I believe we’ll see her brother often within her thoughts going forward.

If the question “Which cinematic Quicksilver would you prefer to see going forward?” was posed to fans, I believe that Fox’s version from X-Men: Days of Future Past would win outright.  I for one would prefer THIS version 10 times out of 10.  Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his powers are unlike any other, while the character’s background with his sister in a war torn European city is unique.  To me, this is a missed opportunity by Marvel Studios.

-LM

THE VISION

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I should preface this by saying I bring a somewhat unique perspective to this group. I don’t have the street cred that Nicholas and Lou have when it comes to Marvel comic knowledge (if this were Star Wars, we’d have a different story!). I do have a solid understanding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and became obsessed shortly after Iron Man debuted. That being said, I LOVE Vision. I can’t wait to see him crushing baddies in Civil War. We got just a taste in Age of Ultron, and boy am I wanting more.

Vision is the culmination of Tony Stark’s failed global defense system (essentially Jarvis) mixed in with the human-like body that Ultron had been creating before his demise. He’s now ingrained in the New Avengers, beginning training (does he really need it?!) with Cap and Widow. I look forward to Vision’s weakness come Civil War, should there be one. I look forward to seeing him interact with Stark. How is that going to go? Will it be more frequent than the brief time we saw in Age of Ultron? I’ve always enjoyed Jarvis’ presence and now I will be able to witness him on screen for years to come. Should we get Iron Man 4 (as has been rumored but never confirmed), we know there will be one missing component.

-JL

Contributing writers to this piece were Josiah LeRoy, Nicholas Ramirez, and Lou Mattiuzzo.  Separately, they each have a unique set of skills to protect the weak and fight evil and injustice.  But asseumbled together, they make up the GEEKIVERSE AVENGERS!…

Or they’re just a bunch of dorks who like comic books, superheroes and video games.  Thanks for reading!

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