[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for The Avengers: Age of Ultron.]
It's hard to believe, but American audiences are only three short weeks away from experiencing The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the highly-anticipated followup to Joss Whedon's superhero crossover blockbuster. Fans have been salivating for this film ever since it was announced, but the fact that the sequel is so far generating positive critical buzz following the first press screenings has only added to the hype. It's no wonder it's primed to post the biggest opening weekend at the box office ever.
And even though the wait is nearly over, that still hasn't quelled the demands viewers have for finding out more about this film and its place in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. New details regarding those topics have come to light, painting a very fascinating picture for moviegoers.
EW rounded up a list of items fans will want to know and which aspects they don't want to know heading into the theater. You can head over there for their full report (which includes the Vision and the mysterious woman from the second trailer). For our purposes, we'll focus on the more interesting bits.
First up is how Age of Ultron connects to the MCU. While the studio is busy promoting their latest film, they're also looking five steps ahead and plotting out the future of their world. With the Phase 3 lineup of films officially confirmed, some would probably be expecting some kind of tease for characters like Doctor Strange or Captain Marvel - even if it's just a small Easter egg or two. However, there are no introductions for upcoming heroes in The Avengers 2, as the movie operates as an Avengers story and little more.
That means those wishing for a Spider-Man reference are bound to be disappointed as well. The hope was that Marvel and Sony struck their deal early enough that the webslinger could be included in Age of Ultron, most likely as the subject of its mid-credits button. Since details regarding that scene are being kept under lock and key, that could still be the case, but from the sounds of it, we'll have to wait until Captain America: Civil War to get our first look at the new Peter Parker.
But that doesn't mean Age of Ultron is completely void of hints on what's to come. Those who have seen the film's trailers know that there have been some connections to Black Panther, with villain Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis) having a minor role in the proceedings. As we've long expected, there is a sequence in the movie where Ultron travels to Wakanda to acquire some Vibranium from Klaw. For those not in the know, Wakanda is one of the few places on Earth to find Vibranium, which is the material Captain America's shield is made of. Ultron takes multiple forms throughout the film, including a Vibranium-coated one dubbed "Ultron Prime." Now we know how he gets there.
There's also a character death in Age of Ultron. EW indicates that it is "someone important" who bites the dust. Viewers familiar with the aspect of dying in the MCU may roll their eyes at this "reveal," since frequently characters who don't make it end up undergoing a resurrection and fight another day. However, things are apparently different this time around. Whoever dies in this film will be permanently dead, which is honestly morbidly refreshing for this franchise.
If this is the case, then it limits the possible candidates. The core Avengers team all have their next appearances lined up (Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Planet Hulk?), and that includes Black Widow and Hawkeye. Samuel L. Jackson still has a couple of movies on his Marvel contract, so Nick Fury is safe for now. The prevailing theory is that it's Quicksilver who meets his untimely end, and based on what we've heard about the Avengers' changing roster, the speedster arguably makes the most sense - if only because contract details for Aaron Taylor-Johnson have yet to been made public.
It's debatable as to whether or not he qualifies as somebody "important," but it looks like he has a sizable part in Age of Ultron and his fate could very well be essential for the future of other characters (Scarlet Witch). Either way, it will add a little bit of suspense to the film knowing that one person is going to die at some point. Early reactions have said the film is darker than its predecessor, and this is certainly a way of achieving that.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters May 1, 2015; Ant-Man on July 17, 2015; Captain America: Civil War - May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange - November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot - July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok - November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 - May 4, 2018; Black Panther - July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel - November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 - May 3, 2019; Inhumans - July 12, 2019.
Header image by tomzj1 @ DeviantArt