Tag Archives: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!!!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all those who follow Thoughts on the Edge of Forever!! Here are some clips and photos to make the day a little more romantic…. 😉

First up, the theme music from one of the best romance films ever…!!!

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Wedge and Iella Antilles

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Jagged Fel and his wife, Jaina Solo Fel

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Marriage of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade

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Jessica and Luke Cage – plus their daughter, Danielle

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And now, the piece de resistance….

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HAPPY ST. VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!

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Christmas Tales from The Mithril Guardian

Hey, everyone! Christmas is literally just around the corner, so I thought it would be good to post links to the two almost-Christmas fan fiction stories I wrote a while back. One is for the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers while the other is for Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Click on the links below to read them for yourselves.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Marvel Fan Fiction: An Avengers’ Snow Day

Natasha Romanoff poured herself a cup of coffee. “So, what are your plans for Christmas, Steve?” she asked.

Steve Rogers leaned back in his chair, tossing the latest issue of the Daily Bugle onto the table as he moved. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. “Maybe some research.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. When Steve said “research,” he was referring to his hunt for his old friend, Bucky Barnes, otherwise known as the Winter Soldier, once one of the deadliest assassins of all time.

Natasha suppressed a shudder. The man was aptly named; the only person she had ever seen that cold and unfeeling had been herself. And even she had had some fears when she worked for the KGB, some insecurities.

The Winter Soldier had none of that….

 

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Fan Fiction Story for Transformers: Robots in Disguise

It started harmlessly enough, from what Drift said later.  Russell, Slipstream, and Jetstorm had been showing the newly returned Weaponizer Mini-Cons how to build a snowman.  Thankfully, they had received Optimus’ warning in time and returned to Earth safely to rejoin Bumblebee and his team – just in time for the first snow of the season.

With Sideswipe and Drift sparring nearby, and Denny out with Bumblebee to pick up more energon, Drift had been content to let his students have some fun.  He had not put it in those words, but Optimus was fairly sure that was what he meant.

Things had become more raucous when Grimlock, his arms behind his back, had told Russell that he had forgotten something to show the Mini-Cons.  Russell looked up at him in utter bewilderment.  “What’s that, Grim?” he had asked.

Grinning widely, Grimlock had brought both arms forward and thrown two giant snowballs at Sideswipe and Drift…..

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Thor Odinson

Okay, okay, settle down! There is no need for that much cheering! I know Thor has not been the center of a post on this blog before, and that may lead some to believe he is not well liked by yours truly. It is true that I have never been extremely fascinated with the Prince of Thunder, as others are. Why? Well….I do not really know. Thor just never caught my attention the way that other Marvel characters did. I like him – just not the way many of his fans do.

However, his strength, courtesy, and fierce fighting ability have always impressed me. From the time I saw him in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! to the couple of comics that made their way into my collection which featured him, I have respected Thor Odinson.

This made his first movie in 2011 a bit of a disappointment to me when I initially viewed it. Here is the Prince of Thunder, star of his very own movie, and he is acting like a spoiled child…? All I could think was, “This is not the Thor I have gotten to know. Why did they make him such a petulant baby?”

Kind of a scathing opinion, I know. But you Thor fans should be happy to hear that my attitude toward the first movie starring the Thunderer has softened significantly since that early viewing of the film. First impressions are often wrong, and mine was mistaken.

In contrast to his appearance in Thor, the son of Odin came out swinging (literally!) in Marvel’s The Avengers. THIS portrayal of Thor was much more enjoyable for me. Since The Avengers was on my ‘to watch’ list before Thor, it may explain my disappointment with the prior film. I did not realize how much Thor had had to grow and change before The Avengers.

The Dark World continued his story arc, and while the plot may have been a bit thin in places, it was a genuinely good showing for him. Anyone could have been fooled by Loki’s death scene; though we can rest assured that as soon as he is unmasked, the Trickster will be rubbing Thor’s nose in the fact that he was hoodwinked. Again. (Ouch.)

Regardless, Thor came out of The Dark World stronger than ever. He became a true prince, worthy not only of using Mjolnir but of ruling Asgard. How do I know this? The acid test is that Thor understands by the end of the film that being a king is not all fun and games. He knows now that there is “more to being king than getting [his] way all the time.” (Pardon The Lion King reference, readers, but it was begging to be done!)

And this brings us to Avengers: Age of Ultron.

WOW. Thor did very well in this movie. Understandably, he is shown to still be unfamiliar with Earth culture here. But Thor’s naturally limited knowledge of Earth and its cultures does not, after a point, interfere with his friendships. To start off, we will discuss the Avengers Thor seems closest to since the team reassembled sometime between The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.

First up, Cap. As was discussed at length in the post “Avengers: Age of Ultron – Captain America/Steve Rogers,” Thor and Cap are very good friends. This is especially interesting because of their different backgrounds. Thor and Steve share similar attitudes, it is true. They protect the innocent, fight for truth and justice (though Thor is a little more emphatic on the ‘fight’ part of that clause), they are each loyal to their values and friends, and they are both in positions of authority.

Where they diverge is that Thor, by his birthright, is heir to an entire realm. He could be a complete wimp (which he is NOT!), or a total fathead with an ego to rival Jupiter (which he almost was), and despite these flaws he would still be the rightful heir to the Asgardian throne.

Thor, however, has become humble enough to turn down his birthright, at least until such time as he cannot avoid taking it up. In contrast, Steve is a commoner. His parents were not rich or well-off by any stretch of the imagination, and he lived in very poor conditions – possibly even before the Great Depression.

Now, just for the sake of clarification, let me say that being a soldier is not the same thing as “following orders,” something Whedon had Cap say in The Avengers. A soldier is not a robot or a puppet, and his function is not to simply “follow orders.” If a soldier is stuck behind enemy lines, or is in some other way unable to get in touch with the guys in charge, then how can he “follow orders”?

Good soldiers are not reliant on orders a hundred percent of the time. They are trained to be true to a code of conduct, the center piece of which is usually patriotism (love of country), and the willingness to defend their fellow citizens against outside aggressors or – God forbid – internal threats.

Too many people today see soldiers as mere marionettes or war machines (sorry Rhodey). Not so. Soldiers are men trained to serve and protect at all costs – even that of their own lives. If you train soldiers to be machines that respond to commands instead of individuals with the brains to accomplish their missions when the situations they are in get worse every minute, then you do not have an army, navy, marine corps, etc. You have robots you can sacrifice at will.

Soldiers are human beings. And human beings are NOT robots.

Soldiers are the thin line of defense between regular civilians and the bad guys. They are asked to deal with horrible, terrifying situations no one should have to experience. But they respond to the call anyway, often without realizing that in doing so they are signing up to be expendable.

Even those who do realize they are agreeing to be “pieces in a game” (thanks, Peeta), will still sign up to be soldiers willingly. They sign the contract and agree to defend their otherwise defenseless fellow citizens. This is why soldiers, true soldiers, are loved by their nation. And this is why traitors are hated so bitterly, as much by the country they side with as the one they betray. A traitor is someone whose only interest is themselves and their own well being. Why should others trust and love them, when they trust and love no one except themselves? (Brutus or Benedict Arnold, anyone?)

The point of the discourse, readers, is that Cap and Thor are in reversed positions. Steve is a soldier; Thor is a prince. The age old order would state that Thor ought to be the man in charge. His is the birthright, and therefore the responsibility of leadership. Right?

In the opening sequences of Thor, the son of Odin would have agreed with that sentiment. But he has learned humility since then. Humility is not, as the popular notion would have us believe, a groveling or simpering attitude toward others. Nor is it excessive self-deprecation, i.e., a great chef may say that he is a simple cook to avoid getting a fat head. (And by saying this, the chef is getting a fat head; because he is making himself proud of his self-perceived humility.)

Real humility is what Thor has shown since he first appeared on the silver screen (in a good way) in 2011. He is a prince and a great warrior. But these things do not prevent him from making breakfast for his friends Erik Selvig, Jane Foster, and Darcy. His heritage does not prevent him from falling in love with a mortal woman, or admitting that he does not have all the answers. And his humility allows him to acknowledge that Cap is the better leader of the Avengers.

This all means that Thor, who already knew how to lead, has learned to follow. In the comics, Thor is reported to have said that not only is Steve the only mortal he will take orders from, but he will follow him to the “gates of Hades” if Steve is leading an attack on the place. (Guess who he would side with if he was in Civil War – and yeah, I know Thor’s clone was on Tony’s side in the comic book conflict. That just goes to show he was a FAKE!!!)

Cap and Thor’s friendship is not founded merely on a “you are better than me” mentality. It is based mostly on respect. Thor, along with anyone else who has half a brain, recognizes Cap’s moral authority over him and the rest of the team. For that reason he is quite amenable to Steve’s leadership and willingly defers to him. It is not about who has the better résumé or pedigree – it is about respect.

Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis had similar friendships between Earth humans and alien humans. Jack O’Neill, leader of the four man SG-1 team, commanded the respect of the Jaffa member of the group: Teal’c. That was why Teal’c joined the SG program, let alone followed Jack’s orders. In Stargate: Atlantis, Colonel John Sheppard commanded the respect of the Satedan warrior and former Wraith runner Ronan – who was not known to respect too many people prior to joining the Atlantis crew! And in Ultron, Thor and Cap show the respect they have for each other through dialogue, tag team tactics, and small gestures of mutual esteem.

This brings us back to the hammer lifting competition Hawkeye began, doesn’t it? What does Thor think of Steve since the latter budged his hammer? It gave him a start, for sure! But if Thor could warm to Vision’s ability to lift Mjolnir, I do not see him grudging Steve use of the weapon.

Does this mean he would have been able to accept Steve lifting the hammer during the after party at the Tower? A debatable point …. perhaps. It was a competition, and Thor was being razzed pretty badly by Tony and (to a lesser degree) by Clint. If Steve had lifted the hammer and proved beyond anyone’s doubt that he was also worthy, Tony and the others would never have let Thor hear the end of it. So Thor would have been in a “bit of spot,” as the British like to say, if Cap had lifted the hammer at the party.

This is, as I have said before, the reason that Steve left the hammer on the table. He budged it. Just touching the hammer should have let him know that he could lift it – a slight tingle of power (unbelievable power, at that), racing up his arms, the hammer vibrating with anticipation, the movement as it shifted in response to his slight tug…. He could lift it. Mjolnir let him know he could.

But doing that would allow everyone present, already poking fun at Thor, to howl with triumph as Steve lifted Mjolnir. Poor Thor would be sitting there, stunned, as the jeers and catcalls flew in joyous exultation when it was proved that he was not the sole beneficiary of Mjolnir’s loyalty.

Steve was not going to do that to Thor. As much as Thor respects him, Steve admires the Prince of Asgard in a similar way. So instead of raising the hammer and giving Thor a “there-you-go” smile, Steve just shifted it. Not enough for everyone to see – but enough for Thor to notice, to remind his friend not to get a swelled head. “Being worthy is a neat trick,” Cap essentially said, “but the enchantment says ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall wield the power of Thor.’ It doesn’t say that you alone can wield it. Anyone who is worthy can use it. Even a kid from Brooklyn.” 😉

Then, to prove that he has no interest in using Thor’s toy, Steve lets it go, raises his hands in rejection, and walks away. Galadriel did something similar in The Fellowship of the Ring, except that she had to make a bigger point to Frodo. Anyone, even the mighty Galadriel, was susceptible to the One Ring’s incredible lure. But temptation can always be refused, as the Lady of Lothlorien refused it. In a similar way, Steve Rogers refused the temptation to take the “power of Thor” for himself.

With that subject ‘hammered’ to death, we will continue down the roster. It is interesting, as I noted in previous posts, that Thor would abandon the battle on Baron Strucker’s HYDRA base in Sokovia to bring the injured Clint Barton to the Aveng-jet. The last time we saw the two in The Avengers, they were arguing over who had first dibs on Loki’s carcass. And Thor still enjoys a good scrap, as all Asgardians do, so leaving in the middle of a fight for any reason is a notable decision of his.

In Ultron, Thor offers to take Clint back to the Aveng-jet for preliminary medical treatment. This is probably a nod to Thor’s original, secret alter ego in the first Marvel Comics: Dr. Don Blake. Thor’s secret identity in those stories as the lame American doctor of Scandinavian descent meant that he had extensive knowledge, as Thor or Blake, of medicine and healing. In other words, he was one hell of a doctor – even as the mighty Thor!

This made him invaluable in a life-or-death situation during the early comics, and the Avengers’ inability to reach Blake when Thor wasn’t present on Midgard often left the team scrambling to find a doctor at least half as capable as he was. It was rare that Thor/Blake had no idea how to help an injured Avenger, as shown in “Even Avengers Can Die!” for instance. (See the post on Marvel Masterworks #2: The Avengers for details on that comic book story – unless you hate spoilers, of course!)

You would think, readers, that when Hawkeye starts the hammer lifting competition in the Tower, Thor might have been inclined to verbally batter his irksome teammate. Conversely, Thor says, “Be my guest,” and gestures toward the hammer. This shows that he respects Clint – even when the latter is being something of a jerk – and is quite willing to humor him.

Thor also does not appear to be utterly bowled over by the revelation that Clint has a family. He seems a little surprised, perhaps, but also accepts Clint’s secret with more equanimity than Tony or Bruce. Cap is only a few seconds slower, as the revelation is a bit of a shock for him and hits him in the wounds Wanda reopened in the African boneyard.

Thor’s “easy” acceptance of Clint’s secret family may be due in part to the fact that his mind is primarily occupied with the vision Wanda showed him in South Africa. Although, considering the frown he shot at the billionaire genius when the other said, “This is an agent of some kind,” about Hawkeye’s wife, this may be a wrong assessment. Thor is much more polite and courteous than Tony ever has been in the film franchise. That would be the reason he shot Tony a “don’t be rude” look for smarting off in front of – and about – their mutual friend’s wife.

On a lighter note, it is funny to see Thor step on Lila Barton’s LEGOs, then try to hide the damage under the table. It seems Thor has finally met a girl who is unimpressed with him. Lila is not happy that her dad’s friend just broke her toy, and it is obvious Thor retreats an inch or two when Lila glares up at him. He is a mighty warrior, but how exactly does one apologize to a friend’s young daughter for accidentally breaking a toy one did not see? They do not really cover that in etiquette classes – Asgard’s or Midgard’s etiquette classes – and that makes Thor’s retreat a hundred percent understandable.

From what I know, Thor and Hawkeye have never truly been at odds with each other in the comics. Oh, I am sure they have argued – and if Clint never took verbal potshots at the Thunderer in the comics, then he was either very sick or unconscious. Clint will shoot his mouth off to anyone, friend or foe, no matter how powerful they are!

Despite this, Hawkeye and Thor are shown to have a fairly strong friendship in Ultron. Though he does not understand why Thor would help bring Vision to life in the Tower, Clint seems willing to believe that Thor would not activate the new being just for kicks. He is more dubious of Wanda’s opinions, but she can manipulate minds, as we know. She brought down the whole team, and Clint’s been on the inside of a “mind control thing.” That kind of thing leaves one naturally wary of trusting a person capable of messing with other people’s brains.

Still, this wariness was directed toward the Maximoff girl. If he had had the time, Clint might have asked Thor point blank, his expression somewhat perplexed: “Just what are you doing here, exactly? First you plan to choke the life out of Stark for building Ultron, then you turn around and help bring this new android of his and Ultron’s to life? There really should be a point to all of this.”

And Thor probably would have responded by shrugging in a “yeah, I know, but listen” manner and gone on with the explanation he gave in the film.

Thor and Clint’s friendship is not built on the same kind of respect that is the base of the son of Odin’s allegiance to Cap. Hawkeye and Thor are not peers; they have very little in common with regard to their backgrounds or skills. But Clint does respect the Prince of Asgard – and not because of his rank. He has a high opinion of Thor’s dedication to protecting the Earth, as well as his humility. You have to have some respect for a guy who is willing to abandon a battle midway through for your sake, readers. It is rather ungrateful if you do not, first and foremost; more to the point, it is stupid not to appreciate the gesture.

It is possible that Thor respects Clint precisely for his penchant for throwing jibes that are aimed as well as his arrows. Clint is a complete mortal – he has none of his teammates’ assets. Yet he still faces everything they fight against without complaining, even when he is injured. It is hard not to admire a guy who will take a pounding and pick himself up afterward to keep on fighting. Clint is not an incautious man. Thor learned that when he found out the archer had a family. But he is a brave man and Thor, like all Asgardians, holds courage in more esteem than any other characteristic.

Plus, it helps to have someone who is willing to say, “You’re getting a fat head, pal,” without showing fear of the possible repercussions. As Thor learned when Cap budged the hammer, Clint was partially right: the enchantment was not a trick, but the prince of Asgard was getting cocky and sliding toward old, bad habits. Clint probably knew deep down that he did not have a prayer of being able to lift or move Mjolnir. But he figured someone on the team did, and whether or not he suspected that person would be Cap, Thor still learned that he was not the only Avenger capable of lifting the hammer.

This was slammed home to him especially when Vision handed him the hammer Steve had so ceremoniously refused to lift a couple of days earlier. Thor is shown talking to the android on the balcony not long after this, while the team is gearing up for the showdown with Ultron.

We have no idea what they are speaking about, but Thor is arguably the one Avenger capable of outmatching Vision’s power. He also knows that Vision has just been “born.” Ultron went berserk after he was “born,” and that was despite J.A.R.V.I.S.’s best efforts to calm him down! Thor does not want Vision to follow the same path, so it would make sense that he would take special care to talk to Vision, making sure he had not just helped Tony Stark compound his first mistake.

Another mark of Thor’s growing friendship with Vision is the chat they have in the church in Novi Grad. Finally, Thor gets to talk about Mjolnir with someone who knows the weapon almost as well as he himself does! Cap, after all, never actually lifted the hammer. He knows it is powerful, but he does not know how “terribly well-balanced” it is or how to “avoid losing power on the swing,” and so on. Thor, not necessarily the most trusting Avenger, shows a great deal of faith in the Vision when he tells Cap and Tony not to worry about the android keeping the Mind Stone. It remains to be seen if he is right not to worry, of course, but it is quite the gesture on Thor’s part.

Thor’s relationship with Natasha and Bruce is not easy to determine right off the bat. Obviously, Widow should not have asked the Thunderer for a report on the Hulk’s job at the Sokovian HYDRA base. (Seriously, what did she expect?!?) Coming from a realm where it is still bad manners not to treat a woman like a lady, Thor certainly seems to hold Natasha in high regard as a friend and fellow warrior, to a lesser extent than he regards Sif. But the fact is that he’s known Sif longer than he has known Natasha. We know that Jane Foster holds his heart, but Thor appears to consider the Black Widow a good friend and capable teammate.

For her part, Natasha shows Thor a great deal of deference. She does not accept the challenge to lift Mjolnir, saying self-deprecatingly, “Oh, no. That’s not a question I need answered.” What she was saying, of course, is that she knew she was not worthy. She had nothing to prove in the competition and nothing to lose by avoiding it. That about sums up her friendship with Thor right there.

As for Bruce, I do not think Thor was very angry at him for helping to build Ultron. Most of his ire was directed at Tony, since he was the mastermind behind the plan. Besides, Bruce admitted that he had been wrong to help build Ultron. Instead of apologizing for building a “murder bot,” Tony defended his actions. Since Tony can talk almost anyone into doing practically anything, for that reason, Thor probably decided to let Bruce slide.

Considering the fact that Thor tried very hard to walk back what he thought was a compliment on the Hulk’s performance at Strucker’s base, it is reasonable to assume he is sympathetic to Bruce’s issues. He makes it clear that he respects the Hulk for the other’s strength. But he also respects Bruce for the strength it takes to control the “Beast.”

Thor’s friendship with Tony is somewhat rocky in this film. It was never the greatest to start with – which is Tony’s fault. Who went and knocked the Prince of Asgard off a cliff again? Oh, yeah: Tony Stark, the self-described “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” Tony, as a Marvel fan, I have something to tell you. You are brilliant – unequivocally so. But you ain’t that bright!

Now, Tony and Thor actually have a lot in common. They were both “born to the purple,” and – for a certain amount of time – they were both idiots. No, Thor never sank to Tony’s lows, but he was still a monumental egotist.

The point where they diverge is in their separate reactions to their past sins. Tony has reacted by feeling guilty and trying to make up for the wrongs that he committed in the past. This has led to him making successively worse mistakes in his present. Thor, on the other hand, reacted by finding and then walking the straight and narrow road. Where Tony refuses to take correction when he makes a mistake, Thor is quite willing to listen when Cap, Hawkeye, or one of the others says, “Time to make a course correction, big guy. You’re slipping again.”

It might be that this is one of the reasons why Thor is so ticked with Tony for building Ultron. Making up for past mistakes is not possible. You can say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” but then you have to live with the other person’s response and the consequences of your mistake. You cannot get even for the past, as a friend of mine says. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery,” as Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said. Tony is too busy feeling the weight of his past while fearing and peering into the future to see beyond the end of his own nose. Thor, on the other hand, knows the next half of Oogway’s admonition, “…today is a gift! That is why it is called the present!” and he therefore lives accordingly.

The reason Thor “doesn’t get” why Earth “needs” Ultron is because he understood that Ultron was not necessary. Earth had him and the Avengers as its champions. And if they fell, others would rise. Thor clearly has a great amount of faith in the human or ‘mortal’ race. Tony does not, and furthermore, he will not admit that. He tried to justify building Ultron, essentially disrespecting himself and all of humanity with the statement that Earth “needed” Ultron for protection from outside aggressors. That really got under Thor’s skin and made him angry.

Now unlike Tony, Thor did get a glimpse of future events when Wanda messed with his mind. He knows that the dancing of dead Asgardians in Hel was probably an illusion – but there was truth mixed in with the fantasy. That is what he goes to find when he searches out Eric Selvig and the “water of sight” after leaving the Barton farm.

But does this mean that Thor’s vision in the dream well changed his attitude toward Iron Man? After all, he helped activate the Vision.

No, I do not think Thor’s faith in humanity has been shaken just yet – if it ever will be. Thor understands that his vision was not a prophecy of destruction but a warning. He knows the future is not written in stone, that these “shadows” need “not remain unaltered.” Somewhere down the line, one simple act of kindness or goodness can upend an evil plan like that. (*Author snaps fingers.*) Thor realizes that his vision was a notice that he and his friends were being used. Through his dream he learned that things are about to get much, much harder. And they are going to get hard very fast.

This again highlights the differences in Thor and Tony’s reactions to past sins. Thor’s response to his vision was different from Tony’s reaction to his hallucination. He did not act in fear; he looked for answers. And when he found those answers, he pursued a specific course of action to prepare for the battle he knows is building somewhere on the horizon.

Thor realizes in the dream well that the Infinity Stones have something to do with the coming storm. Knowing what he does about the Infinity Stones, Thor recognizes that they have to be guarded. Locking them up in the basement on Asgard or the core of a dead, dark world are not good enough precautionary measures. These powerful rocks have an ungraciously bad habit of being discovered by the wrong people and then being used for destruction.

The Stones have to be hidden, yes, but they also have to be kept separate. And they need to be protected. This is why the Tesseract is in Odin’s basement, the Collector was given the Aether, the Nova Corps is keeping the Power Stone… and this is why Thor helped bring Vision to life. The Infinity Stones are powerful enough to wipe out and then remake the universe a number of times over when used together, according to Marvel lore. They cannot be entrusted to just anyone. (This, naturally, makes one wonder why Sif and Volstagg gave the Aether to the Collector. Whatever Loki has up his sleeve, it is going to be nasty.)

Thor saw Vision in his…vision. And he saw him as an ally. Learning about Tony’s latest science project, he recognized the android from his vision and helped bring the creature to life.

This is why he spends so much time with Vision prior to the battle in Sokovia. Thor wants to make sure that this new being understands the universe around him, his place in it, and the very important job Thor is entrusting to him. He is handing Vision the job of watching over his friends while he leaves to take care of other business. Essentially, he is entrusting the keys to his treasure vault (Earth and the Avengers), to a totally new being with zero experience. He does not want to hand that responsibility off to just anybody. Whoever he entrusts the Avengers to has to be of good character and a worthy person. Lifting Mjolnir kind of gave Vision the bulk of the necessary “street cred,” as it were.

But it was not enough. Thor trusts his hammer, but he also wants to interview the candidate. That is what I think he did at the Tower, in the church, and before he left Midgard. His questions, hurried as they may have been, were answered to his satisfaction nonetheless. This is the reason he tells Cap and Tony not to worry about the Vision. “He can lift the hammer, he can wield the Stone. It is safe with the Vision.”

Tony is not willing to do that sort of thing. Instead of relying on his friends, he tries to “control what won’t be,” to quote the Vision. Thor learned long ago that this is stupidity of the highest order. While he eventually mellows toward Tony again – perhaps remembering that, in the past, he was as capable as Tony of making similar, or worse, mistakes – he learned and changed. Maybe, just maybe, Thor hopes, Tony will learn, too.

Then the more impatient part of him adds, He’d better learn it soon, or I AM going to hit him this time around.

Well, readers, this is not the glowing report I was planning to write about Thor’s part in Age of Ultron, wandering off topic as I did. But Thor is not easy for me to write about. I enjoy him, but not as much as other characters. It is hard for me to get inside his head after a point.

Hopefully this article was still illuminating to some degree. I really did like Thor’s portrayal in Age of Ultron, and this post is my first post talking about him. So, without further ado, readers…

For Asgard (and Midgard)!!!

The Mithril Guardian

Prognostications for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Part 4

Whew – was it just me, or did that last Age of Ultron trailer, which came out during the final college football game of the year, skate on the edge of being extremely depressing?

The trailer has very little to add to the speculation we impatient fans have been tossing around for, like, years. For the most part, it is a big exercise in frustration – although it does succeed in giving some of us an adrenaline rush!

I have to admit that this Age of Ultron trailer has largely left me speechless. I am not sure what I can say about it or the movie it hypes. But I have been thinking about it, and the film, a fair bit, and I do a have a few theories to put out there. So, once again, if you are a dedicated fan who wants to know what happens in Age of Ultron only when you see it in theaters (and, later, on DVD), then read no further. If you are one of those fans crawling up the walls trying to guess what is in the pipes for our favorite heroes, here are my theories for where things might go.

Speculation #1: The Avengers in this trailer all seem to be quite willing to tear each other apart. Or, at least, Thor, Tony, and Bruce are.   So far Cap, Widow, and Hawkeye are the only Avengers we have not seen mixing it up with their teammates. However, a glimpse of the middle of Age of Ultron previewed at an event sometime last year hints that Tony and Cap are not feeling too chummy with each other during Age of Ultron.

This trailer shows us old footage of Thor lifting Tony up by the throat, but adds the little tidbit that, before this happened, Thor was chastising Tony for meddling where no man should. While I cannot say that picking Tony up by the jugular was a good way to emphasize his point, the thing is that Thor nailed this one. If I were a member of the Avengers – even if I was only their janitor – and I heard that Tony was building or rebooting an AI to take over the Avengers’ job, I would have told him, “This is a very, VERY bad idea!” (Not that he would have listened to me, of course. Since when has anyone been able to tell the great Tony Stark what he should and should not do?)

The trailer, however, has A LOT of new footage of Tony and the Hulk bashing each other to pieces in the middle of a city. Some people – including me – think that the Scarlet Witch might be the cause of this battle. The reason I feel this way is because, near the end of the new sequence where Tony is battling the Hulk in his Hulkbuster suit, Big Green turns to the screen and we see that one of his eyes is swollen and kind of red. This indicates one of two things. One, Tony hit him in the eye really, really hard. Two, Wanda hexed the Hulk to go on a rampage.

Either theory could be true. But right now, we cannot say for sure. What might be said for sure is that Widow and Hawkeye appear to be the only Avengers who are not angry at a particular teammate. This may be a presumptuous conclusion, but so far they do not seem inclined to start a fight with anyone on their team as Thor, Tony, and Bruce Banner/Hulk do.

Speculation #2: Widow is most certainly getting more screen time in this trailer, and it seems she will be getting a fair amount of limelight in the upcoming film. The new trailer shows pictures of her walking into what must be a fight, carrying some very heavy artillery (for her, at least, it is heavy artillery), as well as a sequence that shows her getting thrust onto an operating table when she was younger. It would seem that we will definitely get to travel with her down memory lane for a glimpse of her dark history, a past that may be darker than even she recalls.

We also get a look at her evolving friendship with Bruce and the Hulk in this new trailer. It appears that, while she and Bruce may have started out on the wrong foot in Calcutta, they have smoothed things over by now. Judging by the fact that she is standing so close to Bruce when Ultron crashes the Avengers’ party, it looks to me like she might have become his unofficial battle partner/handler.

That does not mean they are romantically engaged. It is a possibility, of course, but something about that idea just does not add up for me. Bruce and Widow were never anything more than friends in the comics (as far as I know). Also, Betty Ross, Bruce’s first girlfriend, is still a part of the MCU to the best of my knowledge. I do not think it would be all that healthy if Bruce started to date Widow while his old girlfriend was still out there waiting for him. But I am not in charge of Marvel Studios, so what do I know?

Regardless, Widow’s friendship with Bruce and the Hulk has apparently strengthened to the point that she can calm him down. It remains to be seen whether or not she is the one who ends the Hulk/Hulkbuster battle in the city or not, but I would say the odds are pretty good that she might be the reason the Hulk cools off.

Plus, it is cute to hear her say in the trailer, “Oh, boy.” Yeah, no kidding, Widow! Everybody duck, Big Green’s coming through!

Speculation #3: Andy Serkis gets a brief, though more detailed appearance in this trailer than he did in the previous ones. When I first saw him in the earlier trailers, I could not even name him. I saw him and I thought, “Is that Strucker? No, it can’t be – this guy doesn’t look anything like him. But he looks awfully familiar. Who is he?”

Now, for you Serkis fans out there, I am sorry if this offends you. You will just have to keep in mind that I have not seen Andy Serkis playing anyone but Gollum before, and that when he has been interviewed on television, he has appeared entirely different from the character we see in the new Age of Ultron trailer. So I apologize to everybody (including Mr. Serkis) for not recognizing him immediately. If anything, his makeup artist is to be applauded for making him so unrecognizable that he can hide in an Age of Ultron trailer and a few peons will not know him.

So, now that I know this is Andy Serkis dressed up as the vibranium-obsessed Ulysses Klaw, I can at least tell where he is in it.

Speculation #4: Another scene in the new trailer that has sent the Internet into a tizzy shows an African woman in a cave taking off her coat. The scene has me totally baffled. At first, I was not even sure that the person in the shot was a woman. My first thought was, “Is that a young Black Panther? No way, it’s a woman – wait, is it?”

My next thought was, “What does this have to do with Age of Ultron anyway?” And that thought has not left my mind. The scene is a throwaway in my opinion, and it ruins the flow of the trailer, leaving this viewer with more questions than answers. Some people think the mystery woman might be part of the Black Panther’s all-woman bodyguard corps. For now, that is the only answer to the riddle, though my question still stands: What is this scene even doing in a film that shows the Avengers battling an intelligent AI called Ultron, since it appears totally unrelated to all the previous trailers’ contents?!?!? Only viewing the film will tell….rats…

Speculation #5: Near the end of the trailer, we see a shot of Thor getting lit up by lightning. Some theorize that, since the scenery around Thor is Asgardian, this might be the part of the film where he runs back to Asgard after Wanda has shown him a vision of what is to come. Some have even suggested that, since his hammer is not visible in this scene and it appears that he is not generating the lightning but is, instead, being hit with it, Thor’s powers are being taken from him. Again.

I am not sure I buy that theory. It is a possibility, to be sure, and we are still not certain that the Avengers will not be scattered hither and yon across the Marvel Universe by the end of Age of Ultron. But I think this scene is more likely a shot of Wanda messing with Thor’s mind. How else could she scare him back to Asgard in the first place but by bedeviling him with visions of his home being torn apart? But we cannot be certain what is going on in this scene until we see the movie. Sorry, guys.

Speculation #6: There is one thing that has bothered me since I found that clip showing Tony and Cap chopping wood. It is not the scene itself but its setting: The Avengers have clearly been whipped at this point in the film and are taking a breather somewhere in Middle or Suburban America. The problem I have with this scene is the house itself: Who owns it?

I have a few theories. The first is that the Avengers have shown up on some suburbanite family’s doorstep, beaten and bloody, and asked for asylum. This idea, however, has a big flaw in it. After all, if the Avengers have just had their fannies handed to them on a platter by Ultron at this point in the movie, what couple in their right minds would let the Avengers bunk down and hide in their house, possibly bringing a hoard of human-hating robots down on theirs and their children’s heads? It is possible that they might shelter the Avengers despite the risk, but I think most parents’ immediate reactions would be, “Not on your life!”

The second idea I had is that a member of the Avengers set up the house as a refuge, in case something happened and the team had to go underground. The problem with this is that I cannot see Tony selecting a house in a small-town neighborhood as a team hideout. It is inconspicuous, quiet, and simple – the exact opposite of Marvel’s cinematic Tony Stark.

Likewise, Bruce has not had a place all his own since he became the Hulk. He was on the run until Tony invited him to Stark/Avengers’ Tower to play in the lab with him. While Bruce’s fortunes may have improved because of that, I still do not see him having a house, even as a worst-case scenario hideout for the team. Cap and Widow are both more comfortable in the city; the chances of either of them having a house as a refuge for the team that is in the middle of a small town are slim to nil.

If they have to, Cap and Widow will fade away into the lesser known areas of a city or another such place. Houses in the suburbs are not things they automatically call to mind when they decide to disappear. And Thor stays wherever anyone lets him stay here on Earth; his real home is Asgard, so there is no way he has the house. I am not even sure he thinks in terms of Plan A and Plan B to Z and beyond, like the other Avengers would.

That leaves us with the one Avenger we know next to nothing about: Hawkeye. If the house behind Tony and Cap does in fact belong to him, then that could mean four different things:

One: If Marvel’s Ultimate comic book line – which the company started to get Hollywood’s attention – is as strong an influence on the MCU as I think it may be, this might be the house Hawkeye’s family lived in. In the Ultimate comics, Hawkeye was married and had three young children; he worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. and was partnered with Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent senior to him. Just after the Ultimates – this comic line’s alternate Avengers – were formed, Hawkeye’s wife and children were brutally murdered. The deaths of his family left Hawkeye suicidal and easily angered; his attitude only got worse when Widow was revealed to be the murderer of his family. He later killed her when she was in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained after she had betrayed the Ultimates.

While it seems Widow is not going to be traveling down that road in the MCU (the audience loves her too much for the writers to do that, I think/hope) this does not mean Whedon could not have found a way to retell this incident in Age of Ultron. After all, in The Avengers, we can account for Hawkeye’s whereabouts while he was under Loki’s command only twice before he arrived on the Helicarrier, where Widow snapped Loki’s control over him: the time where he learned Selvig needed iridium and the theft of said metal from Stuttgart, Germany. Besides those two incidents and the Helicarrier, we have no idea where Hawkeye was or what he was doing for the majority of the film.

And we all remember Loki threatened to have Hawkeye kill Widow “in every way he knows [she fears]” during The Avengers. I do not think Loki would be above having Hawkeye lead him to his family’s house so that he could kill his family while Hawkeye stood by and watched. Knowing that worm, we could also surmise Loki would think it was a lot of fun to just stand back and have Hawkeye murder his family himself, as Lorelei had a man shoot his own wife on her orders in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also, a photo has been posted on marvel.com that shows Tony, Thor, and Cap all standing on the porch of what appears to be the same house where Cap and Tony went out to chop wood. Their expressions each border on horrified. They could be listening to anyone, but there is an outside chance they are listening to Hawkeye tell his gruesome story.

This is one theory I really hope does not pan out, readers. I am not sure Disney would let such a story into one of their movies, but Whedon could very well have written this whole scenario into Age of Ultron. I hope he did not, but the thing is that it is a possibility I have been considering for some time now, and it deserves a mention.

Two: The other theory is that this is Hawkeye’s house, but his family is still alive and using the place. I do not know how likely this theory is – Hawkeye only had a family in the Ultimate comic line; other alternate versions of the character occasionally have him married to his “mainstream” ex-wife Mockingbird, and occasionally he has a son named Francis. (Hawkeye’s full name is Clinton Francis Barton, so that’s where his son gets his name.) Some versions of the character have a daughter instead, but I will not go into those; they are too confusing and ugly.

If this theory is the true one – and I have to say I like it better than my first idea – then it would explain why there are so many people on the porch behind Cap and Tony while the two are out chopping wood.

Three: Another option with regard to the house possibly belonging to Hawkeye is that it might be his childhood home. This would tie in with the original comics pretty well; “mainstream” Hawkeye grew up in rural/suburban Iowa. His father was not the greatest, being prone to drinking and abusive to Hawkeye, his mother, and his older brother. If the house is Hawkeye’s childhood home, then that explains how he would own it and why he would bring the Avengers there. Why on earth would he go back to such a place except in the worst of circumstances? If the team just got kicked in the teeth, there would be no better place to hide them then in the very home Hawkeye tried to forget.

Four: The house may be Hawkeye’s childhood home, but he may not be the one who owns it. Remember that brother I mentioned a moment ago? I do not know if Charles Bernard “Barney” Barton was ever in the Ultimate comics, but he is a feature of Marvel’s “mainstream” comics. In the “mainstream” comics, he and Hawkeye had a falling out years ago, then seemingly reconciled just before Barney was killed.

However, Barney survived the incident and was kept on ice by the very same villain who was supposed to have killed him. Ten or twenty years ago, the writers for the “mainstream” comics brought Barney back, this time as a direct antagonist for Hawkeye, though the two have again seemingly buried the hatchet. (Yeah, sure. I still do not buy the easy solution to that feud. Marvel enjoys complicated reconciliations too much these days to let things go that quietly.)

If Whedon decided to play around with this story instead of the Ultimate comics’ story (not likely, but possible) then it could be that Barney lives in the house with his own family. Whedon might have written it so that Barney is the one with a family and Hawkeye is not; he could easily have written the story so that the two brothers do not see eye-to-eye, while leaving Barney still willing to take the Avengers in for a short period of time.

Of course, all these theories could be completely and totally wrong. In that case, I can honestly say that I think I would be largely relieved; some of these theories are things I would be happy to have not come true, readers.

Speculation #7: Two other possible explanations as to who owns the house where Cap and Tony go out to chop wood are these: the house is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house Fury tells the team about, or Maria Hill purchased the place on the off-chance that the Avengers might someday need an inconspicuous hidey-hole to assemble where they could lick their wounds in peace.

Either of these theories seems more plausible than the ones I detailed above. We have no idea what Fury shows up to tell the Avengers; it could very well be that he wants to give them a list of S.H.I.E.L.D. safe places to hide, as he did in the “mainstream” comics’ Civil War story arc (which will be, apparently, the premise for 2016’s Captain America: Civil War).

Maria Hill may work for Tony now, but there is no way in heck that she would abandon her S.H.I.E.L.D. training. I think she would probably rather stop breathing than being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, at heart if not in fact. It would make perfect sense to her to buy a place where the Avengers could lay low until they were ready to enter the public eye again.

A third option in this direction is that the house belongs to Erik Selvig. This seems unlikely, but it is possible, I think. Still, we cannot know anything for sure until we see the movie later this year.

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Wow…. That was some serious speculating, readers. Some of it probably counts more as mere hype and questions rather than conjecture, but this Age of Ultron trailer did not have enough new material for me to write a lot about. I had better sign off now, before my fingers fall off with exhaustion.

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

Incomplete Statements – Joss Whedon’s Take on Character Suffering

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As all you Marvel fans know, Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron will be hitting American theaters May 1, 2015. From the beginning, Mr. Whedon has stated that “death will play a part” in the sequel to his and Marvel’s 2012 SMASH (pun intended) hit that was Marvel’s The Avengers. But, on a side note, for those of you who for some reason hate Hawkeye and want to see him dead, Renner has some disappointing news for you.  According to Renner, the World’s Greatest Marksman is not going to get the axe in Age of Ultron. So unless Whedon has snipers trailing the actors and actresses who performed in the film, I do not see exactly what Renner would gain by lying about Hawkeye’s escape from the chopping block.

Okay, that being said, why am I writing this post? To start to answer that question, allow me to put up a couple of quotes from Joss Whedon, the Writing Jedi Master himself:

 

You’re known for your strong female characters, but often they meet ugly ends. Is there a disconnect there? If I create a strong female character, I’m going to want her to go through things. I’ve killed off characters, male and female, willy-nilly. I have a reputation for it. But if I’m not giving them real pain and hardship and tragedy, I’m not a storyteller. – Joss Whedon to Time Magazine June 17, 2013

 

When asked if he will kill an Avenger: “I’m always joking about that. Um…maybe?… But I’d have to have a really good reason, a really great sequence for [Marvel executives] to go, ‘We’ll cut off a potential franchise, that’s fine!’ They know as any good studio does, that without some stakes, some real danger, how involved can we get? We don’t just rule it out across the board, but neither is the mission statement ‘Who can we kill?’ We try to build the story organically and go, ‘How hard can we make it on these people?’ You go to the movies to see people you love suffer – that’s why you go to the movies.” – Joss Whedon on Avengers: Age of Ultron

 

First and foremost, let me say that I think Joss Whedon is a great storyteller. If we ever met and began talking, we may not agree on much, but I still think he is a great storyteller. Does this mean that, in the case of the quotes I cited above, I believe he is wrong? No, I would not say that. What I would say is that Mr. Whedon did not seem to carry through on his statements.

I believe that the above accounts are only half the answer to the questions posed to him. He is correct when he says that the audience goes to a movie expecting to see the protagonists endure trials. And yes, sometimes the protagonists die at the end of their stories. This is totally acceptable, even if it is hard for some of us to swallow.

But the point I believe Mr. Whedon failed to make – perhaps because he was constrained by the amount of time the interviewer had, or the interviewer trimmed his response for some reason – is why the protagonists, the heroes and heroines of these films, suffer at all.

Why? That is the question we wrestle with, even in real life. Why does bad stuff happen? Why does it have to be so hard? Why do we – and therefore the characters we come to care about – have to get hurt?

I have a theory. Here are a couple of new angles on suffering that might make my theory clear:

Angle #1: Do you know how swords were made, readers? For centuries what one needed to make a sword was a forge, fire, metal, an anvil, and a large hammer, as well as a long set of tongs. I am not clear on all the particulars of sword forging, so I may be mistaken on certain points of the procedure. But from what I understand, once the smith had a rough, properly shaped piece of metal to work with, he had to strengthen the metal so that the sword would not break at the first thrust in battle.

This meant two things had to be done. One, the metal had to be plunged into the fire in the furnace and left there for some amount of time. Two, after the metal was hot enough, the smith pulled it out of the fire, laid it across an anvil, and began beating it into shape.   This process not only refined the shape of the sword, it strengthened the metal. Depending on when the smith – or the man who hired him to fashion a sword – wanted to finish a blade, the process I have just described could take hours, days, or even weeks and months. At the end of that time you had one durable, deadly weapon.

Angle #2: Everyone around the globe has been engaged in constructing something at one time or another in their lives. Whether it is a birdhouse, a human house, a car, a loaf of bread, or even something as simple and small as a homemade thank-you card, we have all shaped something at some point in our lives.

Think for a moment, readers, about the effort that goes into making the items I just listed. Birdhouses are often made of wood, which requires their builder to acquire the proper sized wooden boards, sand that wood down, and cut a hole in one of those wooden boards that is the right size to attract the bird species he wants to nest in the house. Then he has to nail the entire contraption together.

More effort must be expended in putting together a house for humans, or a car, and to make bread one needs to mix the ingredients together to make dough, which must then be kneaded. Even a child’s homemade thank-you card involves tools and effort. Fashioning such a card will most definitely require paper and scissors – and depending on how the child decides to embellish the card, their parents will need any number of items!

So what do these many separate things have in common? What does sword forging have in common with building a birdhouse, a human house, a car, bread, and a thank-you card? Answer: Each activity leads to inanimate objects being beaten, hammered, or cut into the form the shaper wants. And so it is that hardship shapes, or “forges,” characters – real or fictional.

Imagine that you are the sword I was speaking of a few paragraphs earlier. Think about what it would feel like to be thrust into a furnace for what seemed an agonizing eternity. Next envision being hauled out of the fire, feeling relieved that the hellish heat is gone. Then you realize that you are being put on an anvil, where the smith begins to pound you with a large, heavy hammer. And this goes on and on and on, until you are certain the torture will never end. But it does, and suddenly you are back in the fire in the furnace. Just like in Edge of Tomorrow, the process simply repeats and repeats, leaving you with the impression that it will never stop.

But at the end of all the “pain” in the forging process, what would it feel like to be a completed weapon? In some sense, I would think it would feel fulfilling. If you were a newly completed sword, and you looked back on the grinding process that made you what you were, you might think, “Well yeah, it hurt, but just look at me now! WOW!! This is so cool!”

So why do characters have to suffer during a story? Why do we, the people living and suffering in the real world, have to suffer?

In the first case, dealing with characters, on some intuitive level the audience understands that the pain the characters suffer depends in part on their choices and in part on factors outside of their control. The audience also knows that the trials a character experiences can make them stronger. For instance, the “fire” of Loki’s invasion “forged” the Avengers; it brought them together and made them an amazing, bad-guy “SMASHING” team. But we all know that the “forging” process was a painful one – especially for Avengers Bruce Banner, Thor, Tony Stark, and Hawkeye.

Banner had to learn that he had some control over the Hulk before he could truly join the team – but that was not an easy or fun lesson for him to ‘study.’ Tony and Thor each had to grow up and realize that they have limits; sometimes there are things one cannot prevent, people one cannot save. Tony learned he could not save everyone after Coulson’s ‘death.’ And getting stabbed in the gut by Loki finally taught Thor that maybe – just maybe – his “little brother” did not want to be brought home.

Hawkeye, arguably, endured the hardest and most grueling test. Loki took him apart from the inside out and left him to glue himself back together after Black Widow freed him. After being tortured like that, others might have taken the “easy way” out of learning that lesson by the simple expedient of putting a permanent halt on their breathing. Hawkeye did not; he faced it and he learned from it – and just what he took away from that experience will probably be revealed in Age of Ultron.

Now to the second case: why we suffer in the real world. Just like the characters we love, we suffer the consequences of our choices and we suffer because of things outside our control. There are two ways that we – and the characters we care for – can look at suffering. We can look on it with hate and disgust, becoming bitter and unbearable goblins in human skin – or we can look at in the way that a new sword might look back on its forging, “Yeah, that hurt. But I’m ready for the next challenge now! Come and get me – if you dare!”

That is why we watch the characters we love suffer in the stories we enjoy. To see whether they will get through the pain and how they will react to it. Some will become bitter and hateful, but it must be remembered that this is an initial reaction which can later be overcome. After all, Hawkeye was furious at Loki when he joined the Avengers in the first film. It was a natural reaction and completely understandable.

But did he stay that way? Doubtless, Loki had better hope he never meets the archer again anytime soon. But from what little we know of the sequel, Hawkeye has not allowed his anger and pain to poison the rest of his life. A hateful person, after all, would not have been quite so courteous in tone – if a little rude in words – when challenging Thor’s surety of the worthiness enchantment on his hammer. And it has been reported that the manner of his challenge to the Thunderer was as a friend, not as an antagonist.

This is why we watch the characters we love go through hardship. Because we feel solidarity with them on some level, and it helps us weather our own ordeals.

Now whether or not Mr. Whedon would agree with my assessment of his statements I do not know.   It may be that his declarations, as expressed in the quotes above, are his views in a nutshell. Whether they are or not, they set me to thinking, and this post is the result.

This post cannot contain all my views, of course – I am still being “forged.” My views will change as impurities are burned off or hammered out; but the opinions expressed in this post are, at least, a step toward becoming a completed “sword.” It is a long, arduous process that will take time – perhaps all my time. I have no more knowledge of what awaits me at the end of my life than a sword in the furnace or under the hammer does. I will have to wait and see.

Makes life exciting, doesn’t it?

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

Prognostications for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Part 1

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If you, like me, had the pleasure of watching Marvel’s The Avengers when it came out in theaters in 2012 then you are probably as eager as I am to see the upcoming sequel to the film.

Scheduled to hit American theaters May 1, 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron will bring the entire cast of the first film back – with some new arrivals to spice up the story.

These new characters will be Avengers Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision. The lead villain of the film is the fella whose name comes after the Avengers’ in the title: Ultron, the adapting, self-teaching android from the comics who is determined to wipe out humanity in order to save us from ourselves. Since Ultron actually stands higher on my “I HATE this guy!” list than Loki does, I am hoping he will get pancaked in the upcoming movie. Whether or not it will be a permanent cooking heaven only knows, but I can cross my fingers that it will be.

Anyway, I was at first determined to wait and let the sequel Avengers film surprise me. But one thing led to another and here I am: sitting down studying bits of leaked information on the sequel and choking with laughter (or disgust) over some of the rumors surrounding it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Several theories spring to my mind over the news and rumors I have heard about the film since I began keeping my finger on the pulse of news (or lack thereof) coming from Marvel about Avengers 2. I thought I would posit some of those ideas here in this post.
Now, if you are a stronger-willed fan than I am and are determined not to read anything about the movie until a few weeks from its release, you should probably stop reading right about here.

If you are one of those curious people who just has to have something to mull over until the movie hits theaters, or if you are one of those people who was fortunate enough to see the trailer Marvel previewed at the San Diego Comic Con this July, then read on, fellow True Believer! Let’s theorize and speculate, shall we?

Black Widow

Rumor 1: Black Widow and Bruce Banner will be an item in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Apparently someone, somewhere, started saying that Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner would be an item in the upcoming sequel.  I did not hear about this rumor until I began trying to hunt down footage of the trailer for Age of Ultron after it was released at the San Diego Comic Con on July 26.  (I did not attend the event but I heard about the trailer’s preview at Comic Con.)

As soon as I read of this rumor, I had to fight my gag reflex.  Who in the world would make Black Widow and Bruce Banner a couple?!?  Are you out of your mind, rumor monger?!?

Quite frankly, I do not see how such a match up could possibly work.  That Joss Whedon might – MIGHT – decide to put Natasha and Bruce together is certainly an option, but I do not know of any precedent for it.  The two characters have never been anything more than friends in the comics, as far as this reader/writer is aware.

Some say, however, that there is ‘proof’ for this rumor.  This ‘proof’ is a scene in the Age of Ultron trailer where Widow, scared and sad, is once again at the Hulk’s mercy.  Barely managing to stop his rampage, the Hulk apparently has one huge fist very close to a shaken Black Widow.  In an attempt to cut through his rage to help Bruce calm down so he can gain control the Hulk, Widow reaches out and gently runs her hand over the Hulk’s giant, trembling fist.

This sounds more like a sad moment between friends than the whiff of romance to me. There is a fifty-fifty chance that Natasha and Bruce will actually be an item in Age of Ultron, but I am inclined to doubt that.  First, the two characters are polar opposites. Second, Bruce already has a love of his life: Betty Ross.  Ruffalo has recently stirred up hype by saying Marvel is considering a new Hulk film; if such a film were ever to be made, one of the characters in it should be Betty Ross.  I do not see Marvel sweeping Betty aside to replace her with Natasha because she has been his love interest since his debut in the comics.

It is possible that they would do this, but it seems unlikely from where I sit.  The only way to know for sure, of course, is to watch the movie when it hits theaters next year.

Assemble!

Rumor 2: Thor chokes Captain America.

This scene requires a little more conjecture than the first one, obviously.  It also demands some background information.

The first scene introduced in the Age of Ultron trailer apparently shows the Avengers relaxing after a battle.  Hawkeye pipes up during the R&R and starts needling Thor about the worthiness enchantment on his hammer, saying something to the effect of, “Come on, you can’t be the only guy in the universe who can lift that thing! We’re all fighting the good fight – at least one of us has to be worthy to pick up that hammer!”

Thor gamely puts the hammer on a table and lets his teammates have a go at lifting Mjolnir.  I do not know if Hawkeye took a turn at hefting it – it sounds as though that was what he was aiming to try and do when he began nagging Thor about the weapon’s enchantment – but I have heard that Tony, Rhodey (yes, he will be in Age of Ultron), and Bruce each took a turn at lifting the hammer.

None of the three men manage to so much as budge the hammer.  Even with the help of an Iron Gauntlet each, Tony and Rhodey are forced to admit defeat.  Widow declines to try and lift Mjolnir, adding self-deprecatingly that she knows she is not worthy to pick it up and is likely the least worthy person in the room. That is when Steve takes a turn – and manages to move the hammer a little.

Thor blanches at the sight, but Cap leaves the hammer on the table and makes no mention of moving it to anyone.  It seems that Thor is the only Avenger who has noticed that Cap has done the supposedly impossible feat of moving Mjolnir.  To get over his shock, Thor jovially picks up the hammer, tosses it into the air, and then catches it as he states, “You see? None of you are worthy.”

But I think we can all imagine that the Mighty Thor has been given a mighty fright.  It seems the Thunderer has already forgotten the most important part of the enchantment Odin put on the hammer: dear old Dad never said that Thor was the only one who could lift Mjolnir. What he said was, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall wield the power of Thor.”

This means that, as long as someone is worthy, they can pick up Mjolnir any time they want to and swing it with all Thor’s power.  And the Avenger most worthy of wielding Mjolnir after Thor is, unsurprisingly, Steve Rogers.

Now this is my theory on the scene where Thor is seemingly trying to strangle Cap: Remembering this incident in the Tower, if Thor thought that Cap was trying to take Mjolnir from him, he would be desperate to stop him.  Mjolnir is the source of Thor’s power and his best weapon; if he loses his ability to lift his hammer now, then he is in a worse spot than when Odin dropped him in New Mexico.

Cap, of course, would never steal so much as a paperclip from someone he considered a friend.  And there is no way that Steve did not know he had managed to shift Mjolnir.  But since he considers Thor an ally and a friend, he would not take Mjolnir from him because the hammer is not his.  He simply answered Thor’s challenge and proved that, yes, he can wield Mjolnir.

That, however, is all he did and all he intended to do, beyond perhaps satisfying his own curiosity about how worthy a man he actually is.  Much like Sir Galahad of old, Cap is the best knight that was or will be; he can sit in the Siege Perilous as easily as he could lift Thor’s hammer.

Thor may not see things this way, having become so accustomed to the idea that he alone is worthy to wield Mjolnir’s power.  The sight of Captain America, a man he considers a great friend and whom he deeply respects, moving his hammer is enough to terrify him. Letting this fear weigh on his mind makes Thor vulnerable in the worst kind of way: he is no longer focusing on his enemies but on his friends, and he is starting to become jealous of the latter.

This would be something the Scarlet Witch – who is said to be able to hypnotize people in the film (Joss Whedon has stated that she can “get inside your head”) – could play on to great effect.  If she could somehow trick Thor into believing that Cap was trying to steal Mjolnir from him, then Thor would attack Cap in order to protect his power.

That is my theory about this choking scene which someone said was in the trailer.  Since I have not yet seen the trailer, I do not know if the scene was actually in the footage shown. But if it was, then this is the only logical hypothesis I have to explain why Thor would try to kill Cap – although an argument could be made that Wanda somehow convinced Thor that Cap was Loki in disguise, since Loki pulled that trick back in The Dark World in an attempt to get under Thor’s skin.  We will have to wait and see what happens.

Hulk SMASH

My Theory, #1: Scarlet Witch will convince the Hulk to attack Tony Stark in the Hulkbuster armor.

In the first Avengers film, Banner proved he has some control over the Hulk. It takes something pretty drastic to make him release Marvel’s not-so-jolly-Green Giant in an unplanned manner. Yet footage of this film is said to show him Hulking out fairly frequently; it even shows him going head to head with Tony while the billionaire is shrugging on his Hulkbuster armor.

Unfortunately, as the most easily upset member of the Avengers, Banner is the one who could be quickly pressured into causing the most harm.  Some are suggesting the Scarlet Witch would be the person most likely to provoke the Hulk by using her hypnotic abilities.  If she could make him think there was a dire enough threat occurring before him, then Banner would certainly allow the Hulk to step onto the scene to stop the catastrophe.

Of course, once he is out of the bottle, Ol’ Green is not very eager to go back inside. Wanda could throw impossible scenario after impossible scenario at the Hulk and, infuriated by the changing threats that disappeared when he tried to attack them, Hulk would start smashing everything in sight.  Banner would not be able to stop him because he could no more tell up from down or left from right than the Hulk could; they share the same eyes, after all.

If Bruce has been hanging out with Tony since the first Avengers film, as the end of Iron Man 3 suggested, odds are he was not sitting idle while he was crashing at Tony’s place. And, ever the pragmatist when it comes to “The Other Guy,” Bruce might have helped Tony design and build his Hulkbuster suit, just in case he ever lost control and the Hulk had to be stopped by force.

This would explain, to me, the fight between Tony and the Hulk which fans have been anticipating since Marvel let slip that the Hulkbuster armor would be in Age of Ultron. Sent into a rage, perhaps through Wanda’s manipulations, the Hulk barrels around a city and Tony suits up to at least slow him down and possibly make him revert back to Bruce. I for one am not willing to believe that Tony’s first instinct would be to kill the Hulk, since he and Bruce struck up a very strong friendship in the first Avengers film – a friendship that seems to have grown over the course of time since that movie.

Again, we are going to have to see Age of Ultron before we know which theory is right and which theory is wrong.

 

Wow, that was a lot of theorizing, wasn’t it?  I think for brevity’s sake it might be better if I stopped here and picked up again tomorrow.  If you want to hear more of my ideas about what might happen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, then come on back tomorrow for part two of Prognostications for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

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