I’ve talked a lot about of Avengers Age of Ultron the last few weeks, and this time is rather unoriginal in that it’s no different. Earlier this week news broke that Jeremy Renner will reprise the role of Hawkeye in the upcoming third instalment of Captain America – Civil War. At the very least this confirms Hawkeye will survive beyond the events of Age of Ultron, interesting considering he was one the more likely hero candidates for death. Renner’s return didn’t have me pondering story implications however, rather it caused me concern. Is Civil War fast becoming too big of a prospect? Can a movie deliver when it’s focused on trying to serve tons of characters and multiple plot threads? Amazing Spiderman 2 sure couldn’t, but arguably Avengers did.
Captain America Civil War is over a year away at this point, I’ll have plenty of time to voice my concern before then. A more immediate concern is that Age of Ultron will be facing all of those same problems. On top of introducing new characters, new locations, new ideas and developing already cemented relationships Age of Ultron also has to set up Civil War, the other Phase 3 movies and be a great movie on it’s own. That’s no small task. How does director Joss Whedon decide how to spend the limited screen time, and where the focus of the movie should be? I know I wouldn’t like to be calling the shots.
First things first. Age of Ultron has the unenviable task of introducing four new major characters to Marvel Cinematic Universe. Villain Ultron is number priority one, as I spoke about last week, Ultron really has potential. If the trailers are to be believed Marvel has capitalised on that potential and Ultron will receive significant screen time. And he already appears to be a menacing baddie, I believe he could be one of Marvels best villains yet. During the course of the film Whedon will need to introduce and establish Ultron as a villain – in this regard Marvel looks on track. In addition to Ultron they’re his two main sidekicks: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
The siblings begin their journey as baddies alongside Ultron but will, if the comics are an indicator, change sides during the films run time. That’s quite a bit of character development to squeeze in alongside all the established heroes. The duo will need to be introduced, established as powerful enemies, become disillusioned and change time all in the space of two hours. Doing all that without compromising the needed screen time else where is going to be one heck of a balancing act. And that’s before we even mention that Paul Bettany’s Vision needs all of that treatment too.
Once we’ve considered the introductions then we need to think about the continuation of established heroes and their story arcs. Will we see any more Black widow development? It’s safe to assume so judging by the trailer her and Banners relationship will continue to evolve. It’s a great idea playing off the back of their encounter in the first move, but it also needs time to unfold naturally. Time which Ultron is short on. Both Stark and Cap need time too, a growing rift between them needs to start planting the seeds of Civil War. And what about Thor? Loki’s sitting on the throne of Asgard, Heimdal is confirmed for Age of Ultron and Asgard appears in the trailer briefly – where does all that fit in with everything else?
People aren’t going to Age of Ultron for character development though. Set pieces and action get the priority, and a great action sequence chews up a fair a share of time. Again the trailer shows us Cap and Widow chasing Ultron through the streets, the full team defending a mysterious device, Hulkbuster Iron Man vs The Hulk, Cap’s showdown with Ultron and Scarlet With in the ruined streets. That’s a lot of set pieces, and we have to assume there’s loads of stuff we haven’t even seen yet.
There must be whole set pieces yet unseen, unforeseen conflicts bubbling, plot twists developing, civil wars brewing and perhaps even characters like Black Panther showing up unscheduled. Panther’s nemesis Ullyses Claw, played by Andy Serksis, is certainly in the movie somewhere – after all he did appear in the first trailer
How Age of Ultron plans to encompass all of these elements into one film is puzzling. I’ve every confidence that Marvel and Whedon will pull this off, as they did in the first Avengers. But this is a whole new board game. There are so many characters and plot developments to incorporate, without even considering the ones waiting to be introduced. I really don’t know how Marvel will manage it, but I’m sure they will. One things for sure the MCU’s movies are about to get a whole more hectic.