The recently released trailer for The Avengers: Age of Utron represents a huge turning point in Marvel’s exploration into film. And man, is it epic.
The franchise known for their big summer blockbusters driven by wit and pretty colors has developed a welcome veil of darkness that we haven’t really seen yet. Even the trailer song (a creeped-up version of Pinnochio’s “No Strings”) acts as a metaphor for the franchise growing up and developing a voice.
Specifically a robotic, villainous voice.
But the darkness that Age of Ultron promises to deliver most likely won’t stop when the film’s final credits roll. There’s a storm coming, and Ultron is just the beginning.
In the comics, he was created by Dr. Hank Pym (aka Antman) – but in what I consider a very fitting change, the movie has him stemming from Tony Stark’s automated iron-suit design (seen at the end of Iron Man III pushes up nerd glasses). Stark was attempting to make an automated AI that would be capable of battling threats when they appeared on command. But in attempting to program the system to save the earth, something goes wrong – and the AI now perceives humans and the Avengers as the biggest threats to earth.
Ultron as a villain is already a huge step away from previous Marvel films because he’s not some bad guy who’s just inherently evil. Even Loki’s rhyme lost reason between Thor and The Avengers to become just another finger-steepling villain. There’s actual method to Ultron’s madness, brought about by Iron Man himself.
And what’s scarier? In a twisted way, he actually makes sense.
As one of their greatest foes, Ultron is to The Avengers as Joker is to Batman. He’s broken them down both in battle and emotionally, making them question their own morality and place in the world – apparent if not just by dirt-covered Bruce Banner sitting in the fetal position. And with the blame being shifted onto Stark, it’s safe to assume we will see his giant ego brought down to size and knock him from his pedestal in a major way.
Speaking of Tony…
And I don’t mean the hero vs villain kind. In the movies, The Avengers are not a group of chummy superheroes who sit around eating Schawarma like best friends (minus that post-credits scene). They’re a unit wrought with tension, specifically between the two unofficial leaders of the group, Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Tony Stark (Iron Man…seriously, if you don’t know that by now, I just…).
Tony’s ego makes him characteristically self-destructive and hard to get along with, so much so that his response to being recruited to the Avengers in the first film is, “I didn’t even quality…apparently I’m volatile, self-obsessed, don’t play well with others.”
From a clip of Thor lifting Tony by the throat in the Age of Ultron trailer, it’s safe to say that that quote is still going to ring true.
But the built up tension foreshadows much more than just inner-group tension…
To understand why the tension between Tony and Cap in The Avengers runs deeper than just a “boys will be boys” conflict, you have to be able to look into the future – a future already on paper in the Avengers comic series, Civil War. In Civil War, the government passes the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring government regulation for all supers. Tony likes it, Cap doesn’t, and a rift between them as deep as the Grand Canyon is formed.
This conflict and the fighting that ensues ultimately leads to…
Caution: From here on out be spoilers. Big ones. Like giant spoilers
The End of a Symbol
Not even a super soldier is safe from death.
Cap goes out with a bang, literally. In Civil War, his demise happens when his notorious foe, Crossbones, puts a cap in Cap.
With Crossbones brought back into the picture in the recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier – plus the escalating tension between Tony and Cap – it looks like we should start preparing to give America’s hero a final salute.
And if you’re still not convinced, Captain America 3 will be titled Civil War, with Robert Downey Jr. playing a significant role in the film.
For a franchise that has been pretty transparent about its future intentions, it seems all of the dominos have been set up for one hell of a heartbreaking downfall.
But as transparent as Marvel usually is, the Ultron trailer was not without its secrets. It’s still not clear what role the twins Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch – a.k.a the only supers you didn’t recognize in the trailer – will play. But the mystery scene that takes the cinematic cake is Andy Serkis’s half-a-second long appearance.
He wouldn’t have been included if he weren’t a significant player – who that player is exactly is still unknown. Even on Age of Ultron’s IMDB page, there’s a blank space next to Serkis where his character’s name should be. His Wolverine-like appearance sparks false hope that Marvel somehow found a way around Fox’s ownership of X-men, but we’re just going to have to wait and see.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer unveiled a darker edge to Marvel while providing the fans the hype that we hoped it would. And just like any good tease, it left us wanting more.
With a release date all the way in May, seven months is going to seem longer than sitting through Man of Steel.