By Brian VanDenBergh 20 March 2015
I’m a graduate of film school so I’m basically a snob when it comes to seeing things in film and commenting on them. This afternoon during March Madness, Marvel released a new TV spot for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Some things stood out to me and added to some current theories I have about this film and the MCU in general. I have high hopes, but I also have some fears as to what is going to happen when the lights go down on May 1st.
I’m going to start with my brief fears because they are few and far between. My overarching fear is that Ultron will be a re-hash of everything that made the first Avengers film great.
- Army of faceless, mindless drones. Check
- Fighting amongst the team members. Check
- Mass destruction. Check
Now please don’t get me wrong, these things do not mean I think the movie will be bad, I’m just afraid it might be all to familiar. My secondary fear is that given my prediction that this will be a huge change for the universe and Ironman in particular; that it will instead be a precursor to Civil War which I am almost positive will lead to the death of Captain America, or Ironman. I want Ultron to be the film we as superheroes nerds go to even more so than The Dark Knight. I believe Joss Whedon can deliver, but I can’t help shake that it may ultimately just feel like The Avengers 2, bigger and louder. Well see.
All in all, I’m not too worried.
I’m going to give my brief analysis of what I believe about the movie so far. First off, we have Ultron. For those who don’t know, Ultron is not one of the marque villains in the Marvel universe but he has lasted a long time and has been an often opponent of Earth’s mightiest. Ultron is invention of Hank Pym aka “Ant Man.” He is artificial intelligence turned evil. In the MCU Hank Pym doesn’t exist yet, so Ultron has been written to be the invention of Tony Stark. Iron Man was the genesis of these films and everything looks to be leading back to ol’ metal head in Marvel’s 11th outing. In one of the trailers Stark says, “This is the end of the path I started us on.” Ultron and the Iron Legion were created as attempts to take up the mantle of the avengers. Obviously things go all order 66 and here we have our story, but ultimately I think this is going to be Ironman’s defining moment. Everything that has happened to him leads to this. He was a weapons designer who decided to change and make weapons to save the world. His ultimate creation for protection is Ultron. This film is going to be the creation vs. the creator, Ironman vs. Tony Stark. If you go back to Iron Man 3 you have Tony coping with the fact that different worlds, races, and technologies exist and pose an immediate threat to him and the planet. He deals with re-discovering himself as an inventor and a mechanic. He has to rediscover his agency. In Ultron from what I gather from the footage, his agency gains sentience and tries to save the world by destroying it. (There are no strings on him). Tony for the first time is not in control of his own creations. There is a popular image of Ultron where he is holding the helmet of Ant Man. In my opinion a nod to Prince Hamlet holding the skull of Yorik. In that moment Hamlet says the famous line “I knew him” and talks about his memory of the court jester. In the Ultron trailer Ultron first hobbles out holding the head of an Iron legion drone. He knows Iron Man, he remembers, and like Hamlet, I expect this film to end in tragedy. I hope at least.
All the footage and all my theories about Ultron lead to this epic story of Tony Stark’s story coming to a head. Possibly the death of an Avenger would spin this world upside down and take the story telling of the MCU to the next level that hopefully won’t be immediately undone like the death of Agent Coulson in A1. So who’s it going to be? It has to be someone that means a great deal to Stark as again, this is going to be his movie. Lets go to the big board, AKA Marvels phase 3 announcement. Captain America: Civil War will feature Iron Man, Cap, and Hawkeye. Thor Ragnarok is another announced film and between the 2 we can account for 4 of 6 original Avengers. This leaves Black Widow, the Hulk, and of course Nick Fury. That being said, we can count on that face that The Hulk isn’t going to die. Nick Fury came back from the dead in the last Cap movie and his death or even Maria Hill’s wouldn’t signal anything more important than Coulson’s death and would feel flat and I feel this movie has more to say than that. If it is to have stakes, an Avenger has to die. This leaves just one lone Avenger, Black Widow. Widow had a previous relationship with Hawkeye, was a partner for Captain America, Nick Fury’s number two, and judging from the trailers, the new love interest of one Bruce Banner. Furthermore to my point about this film being about Stark’s agency, Widow was first introduced in Ironman 2 and was the one of the biggest starting points for Stark’s involvement with the Avengers. She is the lynch pin of the team. It will be Stark’s failure in either Ultron or a battle decision that will cost her life and lead into the deterioration of the team and tie directly into Civil War. In essence she’s the one character that we would actually care about if she died. I could be totally wrong on this, but here’s hoping this film has consequences.
As to trailers have shown us, there are no strings on Ultron. He’s uninhibited, ruthless, calculating, and cold. (A possible nod to how Stark describes his father in IM2) Most importantly Ultron is free. In IM3 there is a scene where the Ironman suit comes together and attacks Pepper trying to protect Tony. Ultron is the embodiment of that scene played out on an epic scene. Ultron is Iron Man unleashed. I predict this film will put my fears to shame and make me proud to be a nerd. Until then I’ll keep humming the creepy version of “I’ve got no strings” over and over again. Almost there True Believers.