‘Everyone creates the thing they dread …’ With this, the new trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron presents a self-fulfilling (and self-replicating) prophecy. It’s not some outside invasion that could eradicate us; it’s our overwhelming desire for protection that will bring about destruction.
As Ultron himself intones (by way of the sinister voice of James Spader): “I’m going to tear you apart … from the inside.”
Okay, this thing just hit, so let’s start tearing it apart, too. There are lots of interesting pieces to puzzle over…
First, a quick refresher: In this sequel to 2012’s The Avengers, the good guys are feeling the effects of superhero burnout. As part of a plan to relieve the humans (and thunder god) of some of their protective burden, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has activated the artificial intelligence Ultron as a kind of automated global police force.
Ultron quickly comes to the conclusion that Earth would be a lot better off without Earthlings. Although he inhabits a physical form (starting with the creepy, staggering zombie-bot below), he resurrects and keeps building himself increasingly powerful shells.
And why should he only take one form? Even your cell phone can multi-task. The Avengers (and everyone on the planet) are in the targets of a genocidal intellect that can be everywhere and anywhere.
Punching power will not be enough to take him down. But it does seem to be enough for the Avengers to take each other down.
So what’s new in this second trailer for the May 1 movie? It may be easier to start with what’s not new — or rather, what’s not here at all.
LACK OF VISION
We still don’t have eyes on The Vision, the synthezoid who will be played by Paul Bettany, previously the voice of Iron Man’s digital butler, J.A.R.V.I.S. Ultron has liberated thie fellow artificial intelligence from human servitude and used it as spare parts in his own twisted desire to be a father, i.e. reproduce something other than himself.
But … we don’t get to see the Vision. Not yet. Sorry, folks.
Now let’s explore what we do see, but don’t necessarily understand.
THE LADY BY THE LAKE
Who is she? The trailer doesn’t offer any explanation, just a glimpse of this woman disrobing beside a pool inside a cave that, to me, looks to be something that was carved out of rock rather than something that was worn smooth by eons of flowing water.
The woman is dark-skinned, and we haven’t seen her before. (It’s hard from that distance to even tell who the actress is.)
And this cave — or mine — could it be a place from which Vibranium is extracted?
We know for certain that a Black Panther movie is coming in 2017, and if Ultron is smart (spoiler: he is) he’d figure out a way to construct a version of himself from Vibranium, the ultra-tough metal that makes up Captain America’s shield — and is found mostly in the fictional, highly advanced African nation of Wakanda. In other words…
Next page: Black Panther’s Home Turf
We’re definitely going to feel the presence of the Panther in this movie. Andy Serkis’s appearance in the last trailer reminded everybody of Ulysses Klaw, one of Black Panther’s primary foes. And another shot of him in this new footage only reinforces that.
Note what’s hanging around his neck: A claw pendant.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be setting foot into the kingdom of Wakanda, although we may or may not see Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Black Panther’s true identity and the ruler of that country.
Still … could this woman in the cave be one of his people? Maybe Shuri, Black Panther’s badass sister? Or perhaps a member of Black Panther’s personal bodyguard corps, the Dora Milaje? (The resemblance there is very strong.)
Or is this a trap set by Ultron, who has perfected his ability to simulate life in the form of Jacosta — the “female” mechanism he created in the comics as his bride?
That’s a lot of question marks, but if Marvel didn’t want us to speculate they wouldn’t have included that mysterious glimpse of her.
But then, there’s this …
ANOTHER MYSTERY WOMAN
Here’s where you can begin playing that tinkly piano music from Serial that always makes an appearance when the facts stop matching up.
Who is the lady in the lower right corner, looking on as Thor gets tazed? She appears to be very light skinned and has long hair (so it’s not the same woman, and definitely not T’Challa’s sister) but she is wearing a very similar let’s-trigger-puberty-in-some-young-guys-like-Princess-Leia’s-gold-bikini-did-in-the-’80s type of outfit.
However, this is not some Vibranium mine. It’s a temple of some sort, complete with etchings on the wall and plenty of candles. This is a place of religious significance, and since Doctor Strange is going to open up the whole mystical realm of the Marvel Universe, as Guardians of the Galaxy did for its cosmic side, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and company may be getting a jump on that by allowing the Avengers sequel to veer off into magic and spirituality.
Those are powers, for sure — but not punching powers.
Could these be the Eternals, a genetic experiment that created a race of powerful beings meant to protect Earth from their home base on the Saturn moon of Titan? (These were a precursor to The Inhumans, which is another race of alien/human hybrids bound for the big screen in 2018.)
Next page: Ultron’s Brother and Sister Duo
QUICKSILVER AND SCARLET WITCH
Even if Shuri or T’Challa don’t turn up in Age of Ultron, we know for sure we’ll be getting another super powered pair of siblings: Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (a.k.a. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen.)
These two, as writer-director Joss Whedon previously told EW, are “Team Ultron,” and it’s easy to see why he’d be attracted to her in particular as an ally. The technological terror must be intrigued by magic, and this is the power she wields — the ability to see other realms, past and future, and bend them to her will (among other skills such as telepathy, and — as we see in this footage — hurling red energy orbs at Iron Man.)
Could this sacred place be a path to stopping, or perhaps turning, her from aiding Ultron?
TEMPLE OF DOOM
As a voice (is that Hawkeye?) says at the beginning of this trailer: “This vulnerable world is going to need something more powerful than any of us.”
is this dusty structure, which looks a lot like a temple to me, their first step into some netherworld, or transport to the moon of Titan? If it is, they seem to be missing Stark and Bruce Banner.
Hm. Wonder where they could be… ?
HULKBUSTIN’ MAKES ME FEEL GOOD
We’ve seen Tony and Bruce going at it in the previous trailer for Age of Ultron, but we haven’t gotten any explanation about why The Hulk is causing so much havoc that Stark needs to break loose the Hulkbuster armor.
Yeah, Hulk is an out-of-control green monster, and Bruce Banner does his best to keep this creature inside of himself, but by the end of the last Avengers movie he had managed to harness his anger and control it somewhat. Here, he appears to be totally off the rails.
I think this trailer gives us a hint, but you’ll miss it in a blink — literally.
Check out Hulk’s eyes:
Now, who else has eyes like that — and red energy at her fingertips? You guessed it: Hulk is under the control of the Scarlet Witch, baby.
If the heroes are going to beat Ultron, they’re going to need her power over time and space — and that means persuading her to join them.
So while Iron Man and Hulk tussle, my theory is the rest of the crew is venturing off to find someone who can break into her head for them and show her they should be on the same side.
Once that happens, who comes out and helps bring Bruce back out of the shaken and stirred Hulk? Come on, this one should be easy. Black Widow has always been able to cool down the big guy.
We may be learning a little more about her this time, too.
Black Widow is not one of the characters who is getting a standalone film in the next five years, but Age of Ultron may finally give us at least a little backstory about how her ledger got so red.
In this one brief moment, we see what appears to be a much younger Natasha Romanoff, rocking a Blossom haircut, and being, uh, forcibly placed on a gurney by a woman who is apparently done asking nicely.
One reason she may have such an emotional bond with the Hulk is Black Widow knows what it’s like to cause destruction against your will, and there’s no doubt given this brief look at her past that we’re going to see some of that play out.
It also wouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn that Romanoff and the Maximoff twins have backstories that thread together somehow. We’ve spent a lot of time wondering who the lady by the lake is.
We should also be wondering who the lady with the bright red nail polish may be …
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