This article consists of nothing but massive Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron spoilers. Don’t read it until you’ve seen the movie. We have a relatively spoiler-free review of the film right here if you prefer.
As expected, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a feast for fans looking to spot different elements of the Marvel Universe hidden throughout. And how could it not be? Full of not only the core Avengers team, but new heroes, new villains, and some friends showing up from other Marvel movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there’s lots of Marvel Comics history to pull from.
With that in mind, Avengers: Age of Ultron has a few things you might have missed. Heck, it might even have a couple of things I missed, so let me know what you found, too! We’re still updating this, so you can help us make this as comprehensive as it can be!
– The title of the film is taken from a Marvel Comics crossover event of the same name. Don’t bother reading it. It’s a nearly incomprehensible time travel story that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. If you’re looking for more Ultron stories to read, we can suggest these instead.
– It’s actually a shame that Baron Strucker is treated so dismissively in this movie, because he’s a villain with some great history. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (like most of the important characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Strucker was originally a foe of Nick Fury in his pre-SHIELD days. While he’s basically cannon-fodder in Avengers: Age of Ultron, this is a guy who has given Nick Fury, Captain America, and the Avengers hell on plenty of occassions since his first appearance in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #5 in 1964.
Maybe we’ll get lucky and Baron Strucker’s apparent death will turn out to be phony, and we’ll get a chance to see him show up on Agents of SHIELD. Lord knows that show could use some decent villains.
– During the opening assault on Baron Strucker’s fortress, you may have noticed Captain America using a wrist mounted device to help manipulate his shield and make sure it always returned to him. This is something that actually dates back to his earliest days with the Avengers, where it was first introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It was, of course, designed by Tony Stark, who I presume did the honors here, as well.
Eventually, Cap ditched the magnetic device, as he felt it was ruining the “delicate balance” of his weapon in favor of a more analog approach to his shield-slinging.
– The tech in Baron Strucker’s basement is Chitauri in origin, clearly left over from the first Avengers film. The Battle of New York has been the cause of all manner of havoc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from bits of tech showing up on Agents of SHIELD to expaining why the Hell’s Kitchen of the Marvel Universe version of New York City is a crime-riddled area that bears little resemblance to the one of the real world.
– Speaking of Baron Strucker, that opening battle sure felt like an episode of the classic GI Joe animated series, didn’t it? This might not have been entirely accidental. GI Joe was initially intended as a SHIELD vs. HYDRA concept, and when you look at it that way, you can see the GI Joe vs. Cobra dynamic pretty clearly!
– Loki’s staff contains the “mind stone,” which you probably don’t need me to tell you is one of the six Infinity Gems that when united will give the wearer godlike power. Expect a payoff in Avengers: Infinity War…a movie so big that it’s actually two movies.
– To the best of my knowledge, Sokovia, while fictional, has no known comic book counterpart. I’m surprised they didn’t name this one Transia or Slorenia. Slorenia is another fictional Marvel Eastern Bloc country that was once conquered/terrorized by Ultron in the “Ultron Unlimited” story by Kurt Busiek and George Perez. We have a little more on that one right here. Transia is the location of Mount Wundagore, which was the birthplace of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff in the comics.
– Since we’re dealing with the introduction of two important Sokovians, I’d better just get a little bit in on Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch up front. Obviously, their backstory is considerably different than their comic book origins. They first appeared in X-Men #4 in 1964 as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants before eventually joining the good guys in 1965’s Avengers #16.
There’s two things to consider here: Pietro and Wanda are children of Magneto, so obviously, because of rights issues between 20th Century Fox and Disney/Marvel, their mutant heritage is off limits here. So Baron Strucker acting as kind of a “father figure” for the two seems like an adequate stand-in, and the fact that they start off fighting on the wrong side before they join the team later in the movie is a definite nod to how they were portrayed in the comics.
Oh, and like most great Marvel things, they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
– In the comics, Dr. Helen Cho is the mother of Amadeus Cho. Amadeus Cho is a teenage super genius (created by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa) who ends up tangled up in the Hulk’s world. He’s actually “the seventh smartest man in the world.”
Anyway, Helen Cho doesn’t appear to be married here, and she might be a little young to be the mother of Amadeus Cho as he’s generally shown in the comics (he usually reads like he’s about sixteen), but I could be wrong. Either way, this is a neat reference and Amadeus is a great character. I’d love to see this pay off in a Hulk movie down the line. Amadeus Cho appeared in The Incredible Hulk (played by Martin Starr) in what was a really minor role, so I think this could be glossed over pretty easily.
– It’s a nice touch that all of Steve Rogers’ friends are senior citizen war vets. That’s something that was touched on in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates, but it was more overt and mean-spirited than what we saw here.
– Just a quick note about Stan Lee’s cameo: like most men of his generation, Mr. Lee did serve in the military. However, he never saw combat. But you know who did see combat, and a ton of it?
The man who co-created most of the superheroes Lee gets sole credit for: Jack Kirby. Jack saw serious fighting in Europe during World War II, and he was actually at Omaha Beach (although not on D-Day). I’d like to think that Stan suggested that particular line as a tribute to Jack, but you never know. By all accounts, Jack was as tough as the characters he helped create.
– The “missing persons” case that Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson mention in passing is obviously that of Bucky Barnes, “The Winter Soldier,” and it’s something we’ll see pay off in Captain America: Civil War.
– Not even Captain freakin’ America can afford a place in Brooklyn these days. That’s bad news. Incidentally, Cap returned to Brooklyn in the comics during the ’70s when Steve Rogers was making a living as an artist…back when an artist could afford to live anywhere in New York City. Anyway, you could often spot a fully-costumed Captain America running across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan on nice nights. Ah, the old New York…
– There are a couple of excellent moments during the “lifting Thor’s hammer” sequence. For one thing, the joke about “whosoever holds this hammer” isn’t a joke. In the comics, that inscription was clearly visible on Mjolnir. But that’s not even my favorite part…
Steve Rogers almost lifts Thor’s hammer. It’s not about strength, it’s about whether or not you’re worthy enough to wield it. Cap has swung Mjolnir a couple of times in the comics, so there’s serious precedent for this. As Rhodey said in the first Iron Man movie, “next time, baby.”
Well, probably not, but that would be really cool.
– Ultron first appeared in Avengers #54 (1968). He wasn’t created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but by Hank “Ant-Man” Pym. Well, really he was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, but you get the idea. Anyway, Hank Pym is busy being played by Michael Douglas in the upcoming Ant-Man movie, and for expediency’s sake, Tony Stark made more sense for this movie.
– When Ultron is sitting on that throne talking to Pietro and Wanda, he’s wearing a red hood, which is a callback to his first appearance, when he disguised himself as “the Crimson Cowl.” I also feel like the whole “Ultron on a throne” image is something important from the comics, but I can’t quite remember where it’s from. Feel free to help me out, please!
– Ultron also makes a crack about how “Invaders become Avengers.” The Invaders were a superhero team created by Ultron co-creator Roy Thomas, and told of the WWII adventures of Captain America, Namor, the original Human Torch (who was glimpsed briefly in Captain America: The First Avenger) and others.
– Wakanda is a place we’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the near future. The fictional nation and vibranium exporter is the ruled by the Black Panther. We have a little bit more on that right here.
(Lou Reed voice: “Hey, Tony…take a Wakanda wild side…” Hello? Is this thing on? Come on, that was golden!)
– In the comics, Captain America’s shield isn’t just made of vibranium. It’s actually a vibranium/adamantium alloy, making it even more badass. Of course, with all references to adamantium tied up at 20th Century Fox and their X-Men movies, we’ll have to get by with this “inferior” representation of Cap’s iconic weapon.
– Andy Serkis is here as all-around skeev, Ulysses Klaue. He’s a Black Panther villain who goes by the nom-du-douchebag of Klaw.
Why do they call him Klaw? Well…why do you think he got his arm conveniently removed by Ultron? It’s so that he can have a vibranium-powered soundwave cannon attached to it to give Black Panther a migraine in the upcoming movie starring Chadwick Boseman.
Actually, we don’t actually know that Klaw will be the villain of Black Panther, and nothing has been formalized…but it makes sense.
But you know what else is cool? Klaw’s inclusion in this movie wasn’t random, either. When Ultron first appeared in the comics, he assembled a small team of supervillains to do his bidding, with the rather on-the-nose name of The Masters of Evil. Klaw was a member.
– Tony refers to his Hulkbuster armor as “Veronica.” This is a comics reference, albeit not a Marvel Comics one. They’re talking about Veronica Lodge, on again/off again girlfriend of the romantically prolific Archie Andrews. Archie was torn between Betty, the relatively chill girl next door type, and the far more demanding and difficult Veronica.
Ummmm…does this mean that Natasha Romanoff, badass superspy and assassin is “Betty” in this equation? Because holy moley, that’s nuts.
Anyway, speaking of Veronica the Hulkbuster armor first appeared in Iron Man #304 in 1994. It looks pretty much exactly like what you see on screen here, and it even made a few appearances on various Iron Man animated series. It takes its name from the fact that it was designed (duh) to battle the Hulk. But there was a whole military taskforce led by Bruce Banner’s least favorite person, General “Thunderbolt” Ross named the Hulkbusters.
– Tony makes the mistake of referring to Dr. Banner while Hulk is having his little gamma tantrum, and then admonishes himself over the whole “puny Banner” thing. For years, when the Hulk’s split personality was at its most dangerous and unpredictable, he refused to even acknowledge he was the same person as Bruce Banner. He hated him, and often complained about “puny Banner” spoiling all his fun.
-So, the Vision first appeared in the same story that first introduced Ultron, this time in Avengers #57 by Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, and John Buscema. In case you were wondering whether Age of Ultron was just trying to cram too much in, no, the origins of these two characters go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
When Wanda looks kind of impressed/moved after she “looks into his mind” when Vision materializes in the movie (and again when he rescues her at the end), that’s no accident, either. In the comics, those two fall in love, marry, and have kids. Ummmm…don’t think too hard about that.
But for real, if future Marvel movies were to explore the social impact of a Vision/Scarlet Witch romance on screen, I’d be all about it.
– Speaking of other AI created by Ultron, when Tony Stark is deciding on his Jarvis replacement, before he settles on “Friday” there’s a card with the name “Jocasta” on it. Without getting too crazy, if Ultron is Frankenstein’s Monster, then Jocasta was intended to be his “Bride of Frankenstein.”
Think of Ultron with shiny metal hair and impressive feminine curves, and try not to imagine James Spader’s voice coming out of it. Basically, Ultron gives Jocasta the brain patterns of Janet Van Dyne (Hank Pym’s wife) because the only thing creepier than a malevolent AI is a malevolent AI that wants to bone his “mom.”
Don’t think too hard about this one. This is the closest we’ll ever come to seeing Jocasta on screen. That’s probably a good thing.
– Thor’s disturbing visions are setting up Thor 3, Thor: Ragnarok. Ragnarok is the Norse “Twilight of the Gods” and basically, nothing about it ends well for anybody. Thor has had a couple of of brushes with Ragnarok in the comics, most notably in Avengers: Disassembled – Thor by Michael Avon Oeming and Andrea Di Vito. Basically, as the comic book Avengers team was fragmenting (ala Avengers: Age of Ultron), Thor had to deal with some family issues on Asgard.
Unfortunately, these scenes felt kind of shoehorned in, and I suspect that there was more that we didn’t see. Note the above image of a woman in the cave where Thor goes to figure out what’s what…she didn’t show up in the final cut at all.
– Black Widow and Captain America’s visions both have ties to Marvel’s Agent Carter TV series, albeit loose ones. Cap, of course, actually sees Peggy Carter, while Natasha flashes back to her time in “the Red Room,” which is basically an assassin/superspy factory. We got our first look inside that one in the Agent Carter TV series, too.
The stuff that she had to do to graduate from here probably qualifies as the “red in my ledger” that she talked about in the first film. For real, it Marvel really going to sit here and tell us that Black Widow doesn’t have an interesting enough story to headline her own flick?
– The name of the USO band during Cap’s flashback sequence is “The Roy Thomas Players.” Roy Thomas was the writer who co-created Ultron and Vision.
– James Rhodes is done with that ridiculous “Iron Patriot” schtick, and is now back to wearing his full-blown War Machine armor. The Iron Patriot gear was worn by (of all people) Norman Osborn in the comics (it’s a long story), so it’s nice to see Rhodey back in his classic black and silver gear…complete with that rockin’ shoulder cannon!
The War Machine armor first appeared in Iron Man #282 in 1992. That’s kind of a long story, too.
– “This is what SHIELD is supposed to be…” When Nick Fury comes to the rescue, Cap isn’t only referencing the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it feels like a little sideways jab at the scaled down Agents of SHIELD TV series.
– While Thor is off to deal with the impending events of Ragnarok, Tony Stark is retiring from superheroics to draft legislation intended to help governments better regulate superhuman activity. Considering the title of the next Avengers-centric Marvel movie is Captain America: Civil War, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to point out that it doesn’t end well.
– The end of the film shows us a title card with everyone meeting up at a “New Avengers Training Facility” in upstate New York. I can’t help but feel that the choice of the words “New Avengers” was no accident. In the wake of the comic book team splitting up during the Avengers Disassembled storyline, a series featuring a new team was launched. The title? New Avengers.
Oh, and prominent members of that New Avengers team included Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, neither of whom were pictured in this movie, but who will definitely be making their presence known by the time we get to Avengers: Infinity War – Part One.
And speaking of Disassembled…
– What cap was about to say at the end was “Avengers Assemble!” the traditional battle cry of the comic book team. Ummmm…it reads better than it sounds out loud, which is why we haven’t heard it in the movies, and probably won’t.
– A couple of quick notes about the stinger with Thanos:
For starters, the Infinity Gauntlet is supposed to be in Odin’s trophy room, as we’ve glimpsed it there in the first Thor movie. But Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige has pointed out that “there are two different gloves. That is not Odin’s trophy room you see at the end.”
Well, that certainly changes things, doesn’t it?
This was all I could find on a first viewing, but there’s probably more lurking in the shadows. Let us know in the comments, and once we can verify it, we’ll update this post! You can also clue me in on Twitter!