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Marvel Cinematic Universe: Everything You Need to Know Before Watching Ant-Man

Marter | 15 Jul 2015 08:00
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Directed and written by Joss Whedon. Produced by Kevin Feige. Release date: May 1, 2015.

The second big team-up movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Age of Ultron followed the building blocks laid out by the last few films by having its main heroes once again become a team in order to stop a villain who wants to kill everyone, because that's what the villains do in these films. The Marvel movies all build to these team-up films, and the payoff has, so far, been worth it. Avengers: Age of Ultron seemed like a jumping-off point for the franchise, establishing several new characters and, at the end, signaling that, perhaps, some of the more established characters plan on taking a backseat role in future films.

The Characters:

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.): The lead of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Iron Man 3. A genius inventor, he became the superhero Iron Man to fight crime and help world peace. Was the first one approached for the Avengers. The de facto "leader" of the group.

Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans): The lead of Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. A biological weakling who was given a serum that made him a super soldier. Was frozen in time or 70 years before waking up in the present day.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo): The lead of The Incredible Hulk. He was experimented on with gamma radiation in order to create super soldiers. Now, when he gets mad he turns into a giant green monster. His transformations are now controllable. Love interest of Natasha Romanoff.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth): The lead of Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Heir to the throne of Asgard, he was banished for his immaturity but earned his powers back by learning humility from humans.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson): Hired to be Tony Stark's personal assistant in Iron Man 2, she turned out to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. spy. Worked with Captain America in a separate unit. Love interest of Bruce Banner.

Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner): Had an uncredited appearance in Thor before becoming an Avengers member in The Avengers. He shoots people with a bow and arrows. Has a wife.

Ultron (James Sapder): The film's villain. An AI invented by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner who turns evil.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson): Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., brought the Avengers together.

James Rhodes/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle): Tony Stark's friend and holds an important position in the United States Air Force. He becomes War Machine - an Iron Man-esque hero - and in Iron Man 3 painted it with "American" decor.

Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson): A new Avengers member who was seen in a cameo at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Has superhuman speed. Begins the film working with Ultron, but eventually turns on him.

Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen): A new Avengers member who was seen in a cameo at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Has telekinesis. Begins the film working with Ultron, but eventually turns on him.

J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision (voice of Paul Bettany): Tony Stark's AI who is destroyed by Ultron but eventually reborn as the Vision, an android.

Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie): A pararescueman who is given a wing pack to allow him to fly and become Captain America's sidekick.

The Plot:

After a raid on a Hydra outpost that created Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, the Avengers rescue Loki's scepter. Upon returning to base, they discover that it has an A.I. inside of it, and plan to use that technology to create a global defense program. The result is Ultron, whose plan to save the planet is to eliminate humanity. Ultron takes control of a robot suit, kills J.A.R.V.I.S., recruits the Maximoff twins - whose parents had been killed by a Stark Industries weapon - and starts putting together a plan to eradicate humans.

The Avengers now have a new enemy to face. A couple of failed attempts lead to Romanoff being captured. Stark uploads what's left of J.A.R.V.I.S. into a synthetic body, creating the Vision. The Maximoffs discover Ultron's plan to destroy humanity - instead of just killing Tony Stark - and flip teams. This sets up a final battle in Sokovia, where Ultron plans to lift a city into the air and crash it into the earth.

After a long battle in which the Avengers fight Ultron's hundreds of robot underlings, they are able to defeat their foe. In the process, Quicksilver is killed protecting Hawkeye and a child. A new Avengers headquarters is created, with Romanoff and Rogers running it. The new primary Avengers team: Romanoff, Rogers, Sam Wilson, James Rhodes, and Wanda Maximoff.

The mid-credits scene sees Thanos, the series' ultimate bad guy (for now), getting off his throne, putting on his gauntlet, and vowing to retrieve the Infinity Stones himself.

Is It Any Good?

In a word? Yes. Like the first Avengers, it's really funny, and it contains some fantastic action. The way it paves the way for future installments is admirable - even though it's going to be sad when characters like Tony Stark and Thor find themselves written out of the series - and it actually made its blandest character, Hawkeye, into a more well-rounded one with surprising depth. It may not be as good as the first film, if only because it's not as fresh, but it's a ton of fun and absolutely worth seeing.

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