The Avengers: Age of Ultron basically took over the Internet for awhile near the end of last week, when it released its first official trailer in light of a massive bootleg leak. Marvel had planned to debut the trailer as a cap on their big Avengers 2 Tuesday media takeover this week, which will reveal new promotional material from the sequel alongside an onslaught of set visit reports and impressions from journalists who got a peek behind the scenes of Age of Ultron.
With Avengers mania about to reach the mainstream again, Marvel's top actors and executives are opening up and sharing their thoughts on where this massive shared universe will go in the future - a topic that's been more and more relevant as of late.
In the last month we've learned that the road map many fans assumed Marvel had laid out is totally inaccurate. It was assumed the game plan would be solo film origins and sequels, building up into team-up films. It was assumed that big-bad Thanos would finally appear in Avengers 3; a lot of the old characters (and actors) would either fall or retire after that; and a new team would be formed in Avengers 4. Then the bomb dropped that things are going to be moving VERY rapidly following Age of Ultron, with Captain America 3 almost serving as "Avengers 2.5" and possibly introducing a new Avengers roster as part of an adaptation of the Marvel Comics "Civil War" storyline, which pits Steve Rogers against Tony Stark.
After that rumors have been flying, pointing to Marvel using Avengers 3 to introduce a new team as replacement for the originals - followed quickly by the new characters re-uniting with the original characters (and everyone from Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy's cosmic side) for a huge Marvel event film that could be something like Infinity Gauntlet.
Well, now we can move one more piece of this complicating puzzle out of the rumor section and solidify it as fact: Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige has confirmed that Avengers 3 will indeed either introduce new elements, lose a few elements, or both.
Here's what Feige told Buzzfeed during the Avengers: Age of Ultron set visit:
"The Avengers films, ideally, in the grand plan are always big, giant linchpins... It’s like as it was in publishing, when each of the characters would go on their own adventures and then occasionally team up for a big, 12-issue mega-event. Then they would go back into their own comics, and be changed from whatever that event was. I envision the same thing occurring after this movie, because the [Avengers] roster is altered by the finale of this film."
At this point it's impossible to know if there will be team member losses, gains, or some combination of both. During the last few months of production, promotion and the interviews we've had with the cast and crew, it seems as though literally no one on the team is safe from either having their life or heroic spirit stripped away by James Spader's Ultron and his team of minions. Just look at the breakdown:
- Hulk could retire or even be shot into space.
- Thor may lose faith in humanity and/or return to Asgard.
- Tony Stark may find his tech obsolete and the world against him.
- Cap could lose hope and trust in The Avengers and form his own team.
- Widow could lose her teammates' trust (or worse).
- Characters like Maria Hill could die.
- Hawkeye... will still be around shooting arrows.
That's not to mention the sort of Avengers 2 promo art seen below, which reminds us that Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and The Vision (Paul Bettany) are all new super-powered characters who will be fighting alongside the team by the end of the film.
Those three (Witch, Quick and Vision) will need a new home (should they all survive), so that would definitely be another big alteration to the original roster.
In the end, what we can mine from what Feige has said is that indeed Age of Ultron is going to have much bigger stakes involved than we may have originally thought (you know, back when people were still worried that Ultron wouldn't be a big enough bad). By the time the film is over the MCU status quo will once again be completely shaken up (see also: Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and what comes after is likely going to be very exciting for fans.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on July 28, 2017, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017, November 3 2017, July 6 2018, November 2 2018 and May 3 2019.