Marvel’s most recent silver-screen money-maker, Avengers Age of Ultron, is now out in theaters. I’ve already seen it. I’m not allowed to tell anybody about it, though, and certainly not because I wrote this in advance. So for the remainder of this post, I’ll be pretending I haven’t seen the movie. Don’t worry; it makes everything easier for everyone.
In the original Marvel comic series, Ant-Man (Hank Pym) is the inventor and creator of Ultron. Joss Whedon has already gone on record saying he’s retconning that point (a term that means to change something already established). We don’t know who will be the new creator, though many people have guessed it to be Tony Stark. However, we also know that Marvel’s later Ant-Man film, which comes out in July, will be set partially during Age of Ultron’s climax.
Here’s a question: Will the storylines intertwine?
Hank Pym isn’t the Ant-Man we see in the movie, though that character is present. He’s old now, and he chooses Scott Lang, a thief, to take up the Ant-mantle in his place for an unspecified reason. It’s very possible Pym will have something to do with the Ultron storyline, or that Ant-Man’s plot will affect the Avengers movie. We may not even find out until Ant-Man is released, at which time we will be awestruck by how the events change Age of Ultron. But is that such a good thing?
Imagine you’re on your way to see Ant-Man, but haven’t seen Age of Ultron. You hazard the barbs your friends fling at you, and eventually the movie begins. Things happen, a guy gets punched, somebody makes a witty remark, and then one character shows another character something on a screen, or out a window, and everyone in the theater gasps – except for you. What happened, you ask yourself. Did I miss something?
It’s uncertain – and, hopefully, unintended – but the Marvel movies are getting more complicated. With a titanic Phase Three beginning next year, multiple television shows that fit inside the gaps left by the movies, and crossing storylines such as the possible above, how long will it be for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to become incomprehensible to outsiders? Those that have seen everything will remain in the loop, but miss just one movie, or the Netflix-only Daredevil, or decide Agents of SHIELD isn’t worth it, and you’re lost. Suddenly Black Widow is shacking up with Daredevil in San Francisco, Captain America is black, and Thor is a woman.
Again, hopefully the writers and producers will understand this as a danger, and work to keep outside viewers interested with every movie, but this fan is just hoping it doesn’t go the way of the X-Men comics.