Anticipation following the first Avengers movie was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
That anticipation was dimmed somewhat when it was learned that Thanos, who appeared for all but two seconds at the very end, was not slated as the villain for Avengers 2. Instead, he appeared next in the surprise blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy helping to underscore one of the exciting things about Marvel Studios films (as opposed to Marvel films from other studios): their interconnectivity, the ingredient that catapulted tiny Marvel Comics ahead of giant competitor DC Comics in the early 1960s.
Where will Thanos appear next? Who can tell?
The point is, the Marvel movie universe isn’t dependent on any single ingredient. Not Thanos, not Tony Stark, not Captain America, not SHIELD. Something to keep in mind as Avengers 2 rolls around along with rumors that major characters (driven by the expiration of standing contracts of the actors who play them) are soon to fall by the wayside.
Tony Stark may go off into the sunset, Cap may be killed off, Thor may end up in Valhalla leading to a possible reorganized and reconstituted Avengers team much like the epochal events that took place in Avengers #16 when Iron Man, Giant-Man, and Thor quit and were replaced by Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, the latter two perhaps not coincidentally, set to be introduced in Avengers 2.
Which brings us to the new, recently released Avengers 2 trailer which, if it accurately presages the events in the film, raises the bar as well as the stakes for the new film, one that promises to meet if not exceed the colossal earnings of the first.
With so much riding on the new film, not least of which is the expectation that its content tops the first, the trailer hints at less than perfection. Yeah, there seems to be plenty to like in the sample footage, but there’s also stuff that makes discerning viewers stop and wonder. Thus, in the interests of keeping fans fully informed (in no particular order) here are some reasons why they should look forward to Avengers 2 as well as a few to inspire doubt.
7. Good: Ultron
One of the coolest Avengers villains from the comics. Sure, there were Space Phantom, Count Nefaria, Zemo, Power Man, Immortus, etc. But none of those bad guys (with the possible exception of Kang the Conqueror) quite rose to the level of arch-enemy until the introduction of Ultron in Avengers #55. The creation of Hank Pym (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, what have you), the R2D2-looking robot achieved sentience, revolted against its master, and escaped his laboratory.
Reinventing itself as Ultron, it returned to kill its “father” and over time became one of the scariest villains the Avengers ever faced. Unmoved by any kind of human emotion and constructed with indestructible adamantium, Ultron kept improving itself, becoming more and more deadly with each iteration — a perfect choice to challenge a movie Avengers that includes Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk in its membership!
6. Good: The tone
One aspect of the new trailer that also bodes well for the new movie is the tone set with its somber narration by Ultron itself. With its talk of “strings” and “puppets” and panicked crowds, Ultron’s words seem to retain the murderous robot’s comic book motivations. In addition, various shots of our heroes walking amid rubble and destruction, looking exhausted, and later, in a final shot, seemingly defeated, only adds to the film’s sense of foreboding.
8. Bad: Hulkbuster armor
Not so hot. If Tony Stark is going to get inside an oversized hunk of armor what’s the difference between that or getting into a tank, an up-armored Batmobile, or even an Aliens-style exo-skeleton? It amounts to the same thing. Iron Man is supposed to be a man in armor, not a man inside a combat vehicle. So, as cool as the Hulkbuster armor might look in a fight with the Hulk, it would have been preferable to see an Iron Man we can recognize in mortal combat with the green behemoth.
7. Bad: Nick Fury
It was bad enough that political correctness demanded that Fury change his skin color (if that was so important, why not name the pre-existing Gabe Jones to ramrod SHIELD?) but casting Samuel Jackson in the part was worse. Unconvincing as Fury and irritating in every scene he’s in, Jackson has been shoehorned into practically every Marvel Studios film so far but with the ending of Captain America: The Winter Soldier it seemed we’d finally gotten rid of him. But no, a shot in the Avengers 2 trailer finds him back chewing up the scenery.
5. Good: Hawkeye
A character that managed to make shooting arrows cool (even trick arrows), the brief shot of Clint Barker walking warily through a snowy woodland looks great. Hopefully, unlike the last film, the new movie will restrict him (and the Black Widow) to action in keeping with his more down-to-earth abilities.
4. Good: Hulk Smash!
He’s back! The break-out character of Avengers turned out to be the Hulk (who also managed to snag a few of the best remembered lines). With no word of a new Hulk solo movie in the offing, fans of ole jade jaws will have to be satisfied with his appearance in Avengers 2 and from the shots of his encounter with Iron Man in a new set of fighting togs, it looks as though they won’t be disappointed!
3. Good: Tibetan Monastery
A mysterious shot in the new trailer includes the view of a Tibetan Monastery. Could it be the home of the Ancient One? And with the Ancient One around, could Dr. Strange be far behind? The Sorcerer Supreme after all, has been slated to star in his own film a couple of years hence…
2. Good: Thor’s cape
After mysteriously losing his cape in some scenes from Avengers 1, Thor has his cape back in Avengers 2! The bad news: still no helmet!
6. Bad: Too Many Ultrons
The makers of Avengers 2 seem to have fallen in the same trap as in the first movie (as well as many a comic book before them), namely, how to keep a half dozen heroes busy for the 2 hour plus running time of the film?
Answer: front load it with not one super-villain, but an army of them!
The drawback to Avengers 1 was the seemingly endless lookalike hordes that invaded New York City… lookalikes that turned out to be push-overs even with all their armor and advanced weapons. Unfortunately, the same approach seems to be in the offing for Avengers 2 with a shot of Ultron emerging from the sea with a number of robot duplicates to keep our heroes busy. As in Iron Man 3, more doesn’t necessarily translate into better.
5. Bad: Black Widow
Definitely out of her league among the Avengers and hogging way too much screen time in other films (well, okay, she was fine in Iron Man 2), the Widow should have been eased out of Avengers 2. Her over-the-top action scenes in the first film were enough to make Captain America superfluous. After all, who needs him if someone without benefit of the super soldier serum could fight better than he could? Cap was relegated mostly to pushing off a few baddies while working crowd control. The Widow needs a solo film of her own and to get out of the Avengers movies.
4. Bad: Vision?
Or rather, no Vision! In the comics, he was created by Ultron to infiltrate and destroy the Avengers. Instead, his basic humanity prevents him from fulfilling that mission and he joins the team. Early on, there was talk that the Vision would be included in Avengers 2 but there was no definite sign of him in the trailer.
1. Good: Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch
Brief shots of super speedster Quicksilver and probability-altering Scarlet Witch (Pietro and Wanda Maximoff) indicate the introduction of new heroes to the Avengers’ lineup. Fan favorites ever since their first appearances in X-Men #4, the two siblings have the odd fortune of being featured in two films from two different studios. In the summer of 2014 they appeared in X-Men: Days of Future of Past (albeit with Wanda still barely an infant), but in the arcane world of copyrights it seems Marvel Studios can still star them in their own films so long as they don’t use their super-hero names (or something). So it remains to be seen if they’ll be using their code names or will simply be referred to as Pietro and Wanda.
3. Bad: Scarlet Witch
Yeah, I know I listed her above as one of the good things about the trailer, but as was hinted in the end credit sequence of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the powers that be at Marvel Studios seem to have decided to change her powers. In the comics she has one of the coolest: the power to alter probability. Adding to the intriguing nature of her power was the fact that she herself never knew what exactly would happen when she cast one of her “hexes.” Now, however, (since Marvel Studios doesn’t have the rights to the X-Men’s Marvel Girl), some bright boy thought of changing Wanda’s probability altering power to the much less interesting telekinesis instead. Ho hum.
2. Bad: Air of Defeatism
Projecting an oppressive atmosphere of danger and gloom is one thing, but the new trailer somewhat overdoes the effect, giving Avengers 2 a definite air of defeatism and even hopelessness. Watching it, you get the feeling that even if Ultron is defeated, things are not going to end well for the team or even the world for that matter. Marvel Studios isn’t Warner Bros. Let them handle the doom and gloom and the low ticket sales that go with them. Marvel Studios fans want their heroes to win, get the girl, and set the world right in the end.
1. Bad: No Ant-Man
What? Still no Ant-Man appearance in the Avengers? What gives? He was a founding member in the comics and has his own big budget movie coming out only a few months after Avengers 2. The least that could be done is have Hank Pym appear as a consultant on a computer screen or something!