This post will deal largely with Age of Ultron and how it will setup future Marvel films and what will happen to our heroes. Expect another post in the coming weeks about the phase 3 films recently confirmed and their possible focus. Most of my analysis is conjecture based on rumors, the recent trailer, and in some cases the confirmed phase 3 films. Regardless, a lot of this is based on the comics and are POTENTIAL SPOILERS so consider yourself warned!
In order to address the numerous rumors and recent confirmations, I will focus on each of the original Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye) and the two newest “heroes” Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch
Iron Man/Tony Stark:
It only seems right to start off with the golden boy. Tony Stark, and more importantly Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal, is the centerpiece of the MCU. He was the start of this whole crazy ride and his role is only supposed to grow bigger. After recent negotiations, we now know that we will at least see Tony Stark in major roles in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1.
We have fairly recent confirmation that the Avengers line up will be altered in some way after Age of Ultron (AoU). Even before the official title for AoU was revealed, Director Joss Whedon openly stated that he was toying with the idea of death in AoU. So, it is very possible that we could get the first permanent death of the MCU.
Hopping back to Tony Stark and his placement in the MCU. His role in AoU will basically be as the new face of global security. With S.H.I.E.L.D. gone who better than Stark Industries to pick up the bill. His main idea, is to resurrect a dormant peace keeping program, which eventually becomes Ultron. By combining this program with his own AI Jarvis, Ultron gains a new level of sentience and comes down with a bad case of the crazies. Ultron’s first appearance in the trailer shows that his first incarnation will be pieced together from other robots. I would guess this would be from the opening battle with Baron Von Strucker, the Hydra commander at the end of Winter Soldier. This seems to be confirmed by the Eastern European setting, castle, and forces seen in glimpses in the trailer. These were the snow covered scenes in the trailer in case you were wondering.
This doesn’t appear to go so well as we see The Avengers in a rather somber mood on their flight back. This could be because Tony Stark is missing in action since he doesn’t seem to be present in the Quinjet with his fellow Avengers. His sudden reappearance would give the team a worthy cause for celebration as we see in the trailer.
The majority of glimpses we see of Tony Stark are those of guilt. It seems he is just oozing with it and is eager to some how rectify his mistakes. His choices also don’t seem too popular with the god of thunder who we see hoisting him by the throat.
What these confrontations and the guilt he is feeling means for the rest of the MCU is a call to organize the superheroes of Earth. In the Civil War event, Tony Stark is among the most vocal advocates for the superhuman registration act. An act that would turn all the superheroes into S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and make them public figures with very little to no secret identities. This splits the superhero community down the middle with Captain America on the other side of the confrontation. We’ll get to him a little later. It looks like Civil War will focus on this confrontation, most likely with a different focus since secret identities aren’t really a thing. The struggle will most likely be over how strict the regulation of superheroes should be. Civil War will leave Earth’s heroes weak and defenseless, ripe for an attack from Thanos in Infinity War Pt. 1.
Infinity Pt. 1 will be the defeat of Earth’s heroes leaving us with a pretty grim situation. Pt. 2 will be all about the rallying of forces and the defeat of Thanos. More immediately, it seems AoU could perfectly setup the Ant-man film. In the comics, Hank Pym (Ant-man) is the original creator of Ultron. Since we know that Tony Stark is resurrecting a dormant program, it could be that Hank Pym is responsible for the original program. We would then see at the very least a nod in AoU towards this and at the very least a subplot regarding Ultron’s creation in Ant-man. This would help to bring Ant-man to the fore front of the MCU and showcase his importance.
Captain America/Steve Rogers:
At first glance in the trailer, it seems pretty obvious that Steve is going to have a hard time in AoU. He is metaphorically homeless now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone, still adjusting to his new surroundings, and it even appears his shield is broken at some point in the film. His recent adventures and those yet to come in AoU could very easily drive him towards a pessimistic attitude toward the current state of the superhero world. This could lead him to form his own team, which we could see teased in AoU or see realized in Civil War.
In regards to AoU, not much can be seen of Steve in the trailer. He definitely seems focused and determined when they are in the castle/fortress setting. This also lends credence to the idea that it is a base for Baron Von Strucker. Then there is also the scene where he appears to be playing piano for some ballerinas. This particular scene could be caused by Scarlet With (Wanda Maximoff) and the nature of her on screen powers. I think it has more to do with Black widow but we’ll come back to this a little later.
During AoU, I think we can expect Steve to conflict with the signature style of Tony Stark like they did in the first Avengers. Especially if Tony’s actions with either creating Ultron or trying to destroy him cause a terribly destructive event. Tony’s reaction will be the on-screen version of the Superhuman Registration Act while Steve’s will be something of the opposite. Not that heroes need to be controlled to become some private army for Tony but instead should be trained and trusted to help save the world. With the newest additions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, I think that this option is pretty likely and that they could be Steve’s first recruits.
Civil War (0r possibly the end of AoU) will see Steve’s team fully assembled and dealing with their first major threat, with Tony Stark acting as an additional antagonist trying to control them. *MAJOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS* Civil War will see the confrontation between the two Avenger teams and more importantly the death of Captain America. This is a likely event since Chris Evans’s contract ends with Avengers 3. With the introduction of the Winter Soldier, we also have the solution for his death. In the comics for a time, Bucky Barnes picks up the shield and carries on. With a 9 picture contract with Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) this seems pretty likely. While the comics brought Steve back to life, the MCU could keep him dead. We have already seen many characters come back to life including Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Bucky Barnes, Loki (twice), and Groot. With such a major figure in the MCU, keeping his death permanent could raise the stakes in a way to help shake up the MCU in a big way. *END OF SPOILERS*
For Civil War, you can expect to see an epic throw down between Steve and Tony’s Avengers which will lead in some way to the death of Steve either at the end of Civil War or in Infinity War Pt. 1.
The biggest thing to note from the AoU trailer is the distressed appearance of our resident god of thunder. We see multiple shots of him dropping Mjolnir, screaming to the high heavens, hoisting Tony Stark by the throat, and what appears to be his arm next to Steve’s broken shield. From the leaked scene of Steve and Tony discussing each Avengers reaction to Scarlet Witch’s powers, we know they were shown something akin to their worst fear. I imagine this will tie into Thor: Ragnarok which spurns him to take a quick trip back to Asgard to make sure everything is okay. Combine all of this with each Avenger’s Mjolnir test and Steve’s near success, you start to see Thor possibly doubting his worthiness before he is even shown the possible end of Asgard.
In regards to Civil War his involvement is pretty minor. In the comics at this point he is really absent from Earth, which spurns Tony Stark to attempt to clone Thor. This goes extremely poorly and when Thor does show up again, he condemns Tony’s actions essentially stating that you don’t turn your back on your friends. Since his absence could easily be explained by him dealing with the threat to Asgard, you can begin to see why he may be absent from Civil War. If the end of Asgard is in the near future, you can see the power vacuum they would leave that leaves earth very vulnerable. After all Earth, or Midgard, is a part of their empire in the comics and under their “protection”. My bet, the end of Asgard will lead to an opening for Thanos to attack Earth, which was previously at the very least in the space owned by Asgard.
This attack on Earth will come in Infinity Part 1 and finished in Part 2. However it plays out, I have the utmost confidence that it will be on an epic scale the likes we have not seen before.
Much like Thor, Bruce Banner seems to be having a tough time. From stumbling around in the woods to fighting his fellow science bro Tony stark. The first scene we see is him stumbling around in some wintry woods, possibly after a confrontation with Baron Von Strucker. He is obviously distraught for some reason following the battle which is further cemented by the fact that we see him holding himself in some sort of blanket or sweater on the Quinjet. What appears to be another important scene in this winter setting is what appears to be a touching scene between Hulk and Black Widow. We know that these have some form of a special relationship in the film. I would guess it will be based off of their interactions from the first Avengers film. It could also take a romantic note but I think this is less likely. Essentially, I think since they share this bond from the first film, Black Widow is going to act as a calming agent for the Hulk.
What is sure to be one of the most epic throw downs in the history of the genre is the fight between Iron Man and Hulk. Based on the fact that Scarlet Witch show’s the Avengers something upsetting/terrifying to them individually, I can easily see how this could set Bruce Banner on a rampage as the Hulk. I hope that we see Hulk just utterly smash Iron Man and when all hopes seems lost we see Black Widow lay down a little smack down. It could be possible with creative use of acrobatics and remaining quick on her feet. Even better if she just stands up to the Hulk without even flinching and stares him down.
While we don’t get a Hulk solo film, there are rumors that Hulk will be more present in Phase 3. Possibly being sent into space as he is in the comics or even having a cameo in Civil War as prisoner of sorts after Age of Ultron.
Natasha Romanov/Black Widow:
Black Widow doesn’t get much screen time in the first trailer for Age of Ultron, but she is nonetheless going to have a big part. Putting aside her relationship with the Hulk, she could be leaving the Avengers to help Nick Fury. Her one line of dialogue “all things come to an end” seems to signal this. She is a super spy who has survived by hopping around and not remaining tied down. With Civil War coming up, I would put my money on her joining Steve and his team of Avengers. Whether it is because she believes in his cause or simply because of loyalty, she will be opposing Tony in some way.
Another interesting little tidbit in the trailer is the fact that we might get a little more back story of the enigmatic Black Widow. The ballerina scene could be a flashback of hers, whether it is a glimpse of her early years or not I would bank on that much more then a Steve Rogers flashback which is the other major rumor. Her solitary scene of her in a spacious warehouse alone is also intriguing. Is it part of the Scarlet Witch’s mind game? Is she on some mission? Who knows but I look forward to this character gaining more depth.
What we know for sure is that Jeremy Renner has stated that he has yet to play the Hawkeye he signed up for. He spent most of the Avengers being a puppet and didn’t get a chance to strut his stuff. Age of Ultron is supposed to change that. Everything that has been said about this character is that he is going to have a much bigger role other than a shorter more high tech Legolas.
My prediction is that just like Black Widow, Hawkeye will side with Steve instead of Tony. Especially since he and Black Widow have a close relationship.
Quicksilver (Peter Maximoff)/Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff):
I put these two together since they will have the same purpose in this film, messing with the Avengers. They are seen first in the trailer at the front of an angry mob most likely protesting the Avengers most recent handling of their conflict with Baron Von Strucker. This gives them plenty of motive to side with Ultron. We also see Quicksilver tackling Ultron to save Steve so we know that they will eventually switch sides, which also happened in the comics, multiple times. I would guess that after they experience Ultron’s particular brand of crazy turned to 11 is when they decide to make their switch.
With Civil War coming up, their loyalties are going to be a little fresher than the other heroes. They will most likely stick together and really they could go either way. Without more information I am merely giving you my wishful thinking, which would be for them to side with Tony.
With all of these heroes, it is unclear who exactly will appear in Civil War. All of these actors have multiple picture contracts and little else has been confirmed outside of Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Panther.