In our final part of Road to Civil War, we examine Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second get-together of the Avengers, but this time around, the odds are stacked up against them. While Age of Ultron is a bit of a flawed film with some confusing or under explained plot, it does have a lot going for it. The Avengers are pushed to their limits, their resources are low, and the world turns against them more than ever before. Heroes make disastrous choices, their good intentions are thrown in their faces, and the differences between good and evil continue to blur.
The film opens with the unofficial fall of HYDRA, since it is still ongoing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the manipulations of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff convince Tony Stark to take advantage of HYDRA’s experiments of Loki’s sceptre. Using the artificial intelligence found inside the Mind Gem, Stark creates Ultron as “a suit of armour around the world”. Stark’s sanity-questioning actions were likely caused by the trauma he experienced in The Avengers and Iron Man 3, destroying all of his suits after the near-death of Pepper Potts. With the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark likely came to the belief it was up to him and him alone to defend the world, first with the Iron Legion and then with Ultron, also developing the Veronica protocol in case the Hulk went on a rampage, which he ultimately does.
Ultron proves not to be the more sane of AIs, immediately deciding both the Avengers and humanity should be destroyed to protect the world. Unlike Loki and HYDRA, Ultron actually has a warped but well-meaning intention, believing the best way to save humanity is to wipe them out. Iron Man’s goal to protect the world gets turned on his head, with Ultron being an evil robotic Pinocchio-esque mockery of Stark and all that he stands for. The rest of the team don’t take well to Stark’s desperate measures, most particularly the righteous Thor and do-good Captain America.
There is still a sense of tension and distrust between Iron Man and Captain America, Stark distrusting Rogers for lacking “a dark side”, but as we have seen, he does have a dark side in the form of Bucky Barnes. The ongoing clash of ideals between Stark and Rogers continues, and their own sense of moralities and what is right and wrong.
Bruce Banner goes through a lot of conflict in the film, gaining a sudden romance with Black Widow, facing the prospect of a new if not complicated life. However, when Wanda messes with his head, Hulk goes on a destructive rampage, leading to he and Iron Man destroying a vast part of a major city. A rather poignant moment is when Hulk snaps out of his rage and realises the enormity of what he has done, cementing the classic tradition of being denied a happy ending by his monstrous side. As such, as the end of the film, he goes into exile once again for the safety of others and to his own shame. We also explore Natasha’s desire to have a normal life, Hawkeye’s personal stakes in being an Avenger, and Thor…well, Thor doesn’t really have much of an arc beyond awkwardly bringing the MCU’s bigger story to the attention of the team.
The Avengers also gains its second generation – the Maximoff twins (likely the only X-Men characters we’ll be getting unless Fox and Marvel make a deal) and the Vision. Vision is the most pure good of all the characters, able to wield Thor’s hammer, so it will be interesting to see what will become of him in Civil War. Wanda appears to be the wild card in this, causing a lot of grief for the Avengers and played a hand in the destruction of her own hometown, so it will be equally intriguing to see why she joins Team Capt.
Of course, the biggest blow for the Avengers in the film is the battle of Sokovia. The entire city is lifted into the air by Ultron to act as a meteorite and destroy the world. With the help of a revived S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers successfully evacuate the entire city without a single casualty (seriously?). But the city is destroyed as a result, caused not by Ultron but rather than Iron Man and Thor. If you take the destruction of Sokovia, the Hulk’s rampage, and the attacks in London (Thor: The Dark World), Washington DC (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and other such places, it is obvious that the world does take too kindly to the Avengers as their heroes any longer. Thus, the creation of the registration act.
So, with Civil War on the horizon, the stage is set and the pieces are ready to move. But enough of the Gandalf-inspired metaphors, the events have led to this film have been explored. Now, we must look to the future and see how the Avengers and the MCU itself will be changed.
Are you behind Team Iron Man or Team Capt? Will the Avengers be destroyed by the events of Civil War? What direction will the Marvel Cinematic Universe take and what will the fallout be? Leave a comment below or on our Twitter feed.