The Avengers thus far
With The Avengers: Age of Ultron coming to the big screen May 1, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be wondering what the team of superheroes have been doing since the last installment, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and what became of the heroes we haven't seen since 2012.
For those who have only been watching the movies, a lot of this article may come as a surprise, but several of the Avengers and their allies have been having their own adventures on television, Marvel One Shots and comic books that tie directly into the MCU. Here is my breakdown of America's favorite heroes in preparation for their return to the big screen.
The last time we saw the Star Spangled Avenger was at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier as he and Sam Wilson were planning on finding his childhood friend, Bucky Barnes, now the Winter Soldier, and help him reclaim his identity.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any news either way. No one knows if he tracked down Barnes, if he gave up or has been doing something completely different. Marvel's brass has also remained tight-lipped about his whereabouts since last year, but there is plenty that we do know to expect from Captain America in the upcoming movies.
In the wake of SHIELD's collapse, Tony Stark has reassembled the Avengers in the New Avengers Tower where the movie will begin. How long Rogers has been living in the tower is unknown.
Captain America: The Winter soldier, introduced us to SHIELD's Agent 13, Sharon Carter. Who, if the story follows the comics, will eventually become the love of Cap's life. Since the collapse of SHIELD, her whereabouts have been unknown as well. So for all we know, Rogers and Carter have run into each other since then and might have begun their epic love story, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.
We will all have to wait to see how things play out during Age of Ultron, however, if Marvel sticks to a story similar to the comic books, we should see a great deal of tension building between Rogers and Stark in preparation for Captain America: Civil War, set to be released in 2016.
In the comic books, the Marvel Civil War is started by Iron Man when he writes and supports a new law forcing all masked and powered individuals in America to publicly reveal their identities and submit to becoming government operatives or face imprisonment for life. Captain America opposes the law based on his personal principles and what he sees as a constitutional right to privacy. This splits the heroes of the Marvelverse into two factions that ends in a bloody showdown between the two Avengers and the assassination of Steve Rogers.
Hopefully, they wont stick to closely to the original story, but even if they do decide to kill off Chris Evans' character, it will open the door for Barnes to step in and assume the mantle of Captain America, which is exactly what happens in the books... until they mysteriously bring Steve Rogers back to life... Phil Coulson Style.
Unlike Captain America, we actually know quite a bit about what the green monster has been up to since the Avengers debut in 2012.
We last saw Bruce Banner during the post credits scene of Iron Man 3 where Stark revealed the entire movie was him retelling the events to Banner while they sat in the newly refurbished Avengers Tower, but the bulk of what Banner's been up to comes from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and an Easter egg from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Banner's been a busy mad scientist developing technology using SHIELD and Stark's resources to better control and cure himself of the Hulk, which any Hulk fan knows is his life's mission, technology that has been used by SHIELD when the need arrises.
During The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury uses Tetrodotoxin B, a drug banner developed to lower his heart rate, to fake his own death.
On Agents of SHIELD, Agent Fitz used a Gamma Power Reserve, developed by Banner as a power source for SHIELD Jump Jets, as a weapon against the super villain Blackout.
It was also recently revealed, during Agents of SHIELD, that The Retreat, a SHIELD safe house, was actually a vibranium covered prison developed by Bruce Banner to cage the Hulk if when he loses control. Whether Banner designed the vibranium cage technology Coulson's team uses on regular basis against super powered captives is unknown.
As for what we can expect from the Hulk during the next installment of the franchise... "Hulk Smash!" The Hulk is essentially the most predictable character in the MCU. He is going to be smashing, stomping, ripping apart and yelling at Ultron Bots, and that's why the fans love him.
As for his alter ego, it was revealed by Director Joss Whedon that Banner and the Black Widow will be heating up the stage and beginning what is the most unlikely romantic relationship in Marvel history. So we at least have that too look forward to.
Unfortunately, the Incredible Hulk 2 did not make it into phase 3 of the MCU despite plans to give Ruffalo a go at stand alone movie, but phase 4 has yet to be set in stone.
We only know a smidge more information about the Natasha Romanov than we do about Rogers, but the last time we saw her, she was hanging around Nick Fury's fake gravesight preparing to disappear and create a new identity now that all of her aliases had become public record following the collapse of SHIELD.
Since then, the widow became a ghost. No one knows where she's been, except for maybe Fury and Agent May from Agents of SHIELD, who called Romanoff asking for her help.How much she's been involved in SHIELD's reconstruction is unknown.
Either way, she will be returning to the Avengers for Age of Ultron and we will be seeing her develop a romantic relationship with the Hulk, (AKA the only Avenger Black Widow has not been with in any of the dozens of comic book incarnations where she has bedded or married the entire roster), Which should be interesting to see.
As for what the future holds for Romanoff, Rumors about a possible stand Alone Black Widow movie have been floating around since early 2014, but nothing is currently scheduled, like her green counterpart, hopefully we will see her with her own title during phase 4. In the meantime, Agents of SHIELD seems to be the perfect place for her to pop up from time to time.
When we last saw the god of Thunder, Thor: The Dark World, he was turning down the throne of Asgard and chose to live on Earth with his love Dr. Jone Foster. That's pretty much it. His whereabouts are as mysterious as the majority of his cohorts and there really haven't been any Easter eggs about him at all.
His role in Avengers: Age of Ultron is also largely unreported. The only glimmer of information i've been able to scrape together is that Tom Hiddleston, Loki, is listed as a member of the cast for Age of Ultron, which means Thor may discover that his little brother has stolen his father's identity.
At this point the only thing we know for sure is that he will be in the second Avengers movie and that he will be battling the Norse Apocalypse in Thor: Ragnarok, set to be released 2017.
In the mean time, Agents of SHIELD has featured three Asgardians, one of them being Lady Sif, so we may at some point get a cameo episode with Odinson.
Agent Barton has been missing in action for some time. Last time we saw him was during the Avengers post credit scene at the shawarma restaurant. We can only assume that he went into hiding after SHIELD's collapsed and has not made contact with Coulson's team.
The only Easter egg we've seen this entire time came in the form of Black Widow's arrow necklace in the Winter Soldier, which the actress herself admitted was meant as a memento, Johanssen believed the the Hawk and the Widow were supposed to be a couple. In the comics, Barton's origin story was deeply entwined with his romantic relationship with the Russian assassin. Unfortunately, we know her assumption was false due to her impending relationship with the Jolly Green Giant.
Another possible love interest for the archer has popped up on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. Agent Barbara "Bobbi" Morse, also known as Mockingbird, has been a series regular since the beginning of season 2 and eventually becomes Barton's wife in the comic books. Whether this means we will see Hawkeye on the show or not is unknown, but its unlikely anything will develop between these characters until Bobbi cuts Agent Lance Hunter, her ex husband on the show and director of the British version of SHIELD, STRIKE, in the comics, out of her life.
His role in the upcoming installment is also shrouded in mystery, but we do know that he is back and like his feminine counterpart, may have a stand alone movie waiting for him during phase 4.
The billionaire philanthropist has been hard at work since he destroyed all of his Iron Man armors at the end of Iron Man 3, 2013. His love life may be better than ever now that he and Pepper Pots' relationship no longer involves him moonlighting as knight in flying armor, but in the wake of SHIELD's downfall, Stark re-imagined his Iron Man project into an Artificial Intelligence system designed to act as a global police force. The primary mission of his new creations, to take down Hydra.
He also reassembled the Avengers, built them a headquarters and employed/ legally protected Agent Maria Hill from the authorities.
In his attempt to make the world a better place, he unexpectedly creates Ultron, which brings us to the next installment in the franchise. We will be seeing Stark restart his Iron Man tech in order to face the colossal foe, and we will get to see how the character's legendary Hulk Buster armor stands up against the green rage monster.
Its also important to note that RDJ has confirmed he will be reprising his role as Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War and in Iron Man 4 which will be part of phase 4, this pretty much guarantees we will be seeing him again during both of the Avengers: Infinity War films scheduled for 2018 and 2019.
War Machine and Falcon
Although these two super heroes are not officially members of the MCU's Avengers roster, they are Avengers in the comic books and are both on the official cast list of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We don't know if we will see them donning their respective armor and wings, fighting Ultron by the side of the Avengers, but they are fantastic heroes in their own right and deserve to be mentioned.
Its also important to note both of these characters are a bit different from their comic book counterparts. War Machine never became the Iron Patriot in the comics, it was actually Spiderman villain Norman Osborne who created the armor during the power vacuum after the Marvel Civil War in order to create a team of Dark Avengers with the governments backing. Everything else about the character is pretty much on point.
Falcon in the comic books didn't need a jet pack to fly and had the ability to telepathically communicate with birds of prey. Luckily the latter ability wasn't something they brought to the MCU and this new re-imagined Wilson's relationship with Captain America is further strengthened by rewriting Wilson as a medically retired Air Force pilot.
What ever Marvel has planned for these two honorary Avengers, I'm sure its going to be epic.
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch
The last pair to make the list are the newest arrivals to the Avengers. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff may not be Avengers yet, but there is no doubt that by the end of Age of Ultron they will be. The last, and first, time we saw them Baron Von Strucker was holding them captive during the post credit scene of Captain America: Winter Soldier.
One of the most prolific problems comic fans used to have was, how can they exist in a universe where mutants... can't exist, because Fox currently owns the rights to the X-Men franchise and, essentially, the word mutant?
For months comic fans had been watching the trail of breadcrumbs Joss Whedon was leaving in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD to decipher how they would explain their abilities. During the 2014 Winter finale of the series, all their questions were answered and Marvel was simply going rebrand them as Inhumans rather than mutants.
Which was fantastic because Pietro marries Crystal, a member of the Inhuman royal family, in the comic books.
Wrong! Turns out the seemingly interconnected plot of the MCUs television series was nothing more than a distraction meant to keep the audience's attention while Marvel released Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude - This Scepter'd Isle, two months later
In the MCU-tied-in comic Marvel tells the new origin story for Magneto's bastard children with a human woman. Apparently Baron Von Strucker experimented with Loki's Scepter on the twins, granting them their extraordinary powers. Making them just another pair of science experiments gone superhero, such as everyone else in the MCU thus far.
Many of the fans were unhappy with the deception, but Marvel hasn't let us down yet so lets give them a chance.
The new origin story for the pair leaves a plethora of other questions concerning the twins.
In the comics, Pietro's abilities come with the curse of an altered perception of time. A minute feels like and hour to the speedster, making him appear as brash and impulsive to those around him. Whether or not Johnson will be portraying the angsty, bad tempered version of his character is unknown, but there is a serious plot point concerning the character that now needs to be filled. Quicksilver, in the comics, constantly flirts between the line of good and evil due to his obsession with gaining his father's approval. Without Magneto to tear him down for being a failure, even when he is succeeding, how will he develop into the dysfunctional speedster we all know and love?
The potential for Wanda's story isn't changed much by the absence of her father, but the lack of power her MCU version possesses is a stab in the gut for many fans. Her abilities for the upcoming movie are officially listed on Marvel.com as telekinesis, mind control and her trademark hex bolts, red concussive blasts of engery, which are only a fraction of the red witch's powers. In the comics, Wanda's mutation allows her to directly tap into a force called chaos magic, which allows her to alter the probability of anything her hex bolts strike. She is so obscenely powerful that she completely restructured reality to create a world where Magneto and his family were the supreme rulers of the world and later made mutants and endangered species by simply uttering the words, "No more mutants." For all we know Marvel will eventually grant her the magical and reality altering abilities she's known for in the future, perhaps after the Doctor Strange movie debuts in 2016, but until then we will just have to hope Whedon pulls off the magic he's known for and makes us fall in love with the new Avenger.
Stay tuned for my next article: The Inhumans and how they fit into the MCU.