5 Best Guesses for Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron doesn’t come out till May 1st, but we’ve put our heads together to predict some of the situations we’re in for during this second go-round of the popular Marvel franchise. 

1. There will be Racial Pushback

War Machine in Avengers: Age of Ultron

War Machine in Avengers: Age of Ultron

One of the Avengers’ black dudes is going to die.

It’s not going to be Sam Wilson, The Falcon.

It’s probably not going to be Nick Fury, because …

It’s going to be James Rhodes, War Machine.

War Machine will die, because I’m willing to bet the studio thinks the Avengers roster can’t have four black guys in the starting lineup between Nick Fury, James Rhodes, Sam Wilson and T’Challa.

It’s a total bummer, because (a) Don Cheadle’s War Machine was the most enjoyable part of Iron Man parts 2 and 3, (b) War Machine is a killer character design, and (c) Black Panther is going to be the stud of Marvel’s Phase 3 and is more or less an interesting version of Batman.

War Machine’s death is going to pull the curtain back on racial casting even further than it was when Terrence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle, who, while great in the role, essentially got the part for being the ‘next-most-available-leading-man-black-guy.’

Put this one in the books, kids. Daddy had this hot take before anyone else.

2. There will be Feminist Pushback

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

And deservedly so. At the time of this writing, we are 10 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies deep, and totally without a female-led box office jammer. Understandable to a degree: The first two phases relied largely on establishing a universe hinged on the most historically developed, accessible Avengers, all of whom happen to be dudes. No big there.

But then you realize this: Iron Man came out in 2008, and Captain Marvel—ostensibly set to the be first female-led Marvel flick—is supposed to come out in 2018, and will, inevitably, suffer further pushbacks due to the production of Spider-Man. On top of the likely 10-year spate between the release of the first MCU film and the first female-led MCU movie, the super-duper star MCU ladies are occasionally painfully trope-y. Black Widow and Gamora, while totally played to the nines by Scarlett Johansson and Zoe Saldana, are straight-talkin’ tough girls from the wrong side of whatever team they’re on, and exist to spur the winsome male lead.

Joss Whedon’s pick to bolster the girls’ roster in Age of Ultron? The Scarlet Witch, whose insane and poorly defined powers over the years have been pushed to their apexes by Victorian-era female infirmity. Burn some bras over this one, ladies. Seriously.

3. Someone’s going to get sequelitis

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

Sequelitis takes a toll on everyone in the media. Look at Jon Stewart—he’s leaving The Daily Show because he got tired of making election sequels. And a pair of the MCU’s cornerstone stars, Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, have made their mercenary attitudes toward their superhero work abundantly clear.

Evans feels like a sellout; he spends his free time starring in go-go indie action thrill rides and poorly timed action serial killer dramas in which he wears a Susan Sarandon wig (apparently), has spoken openly about his intention to eventually leave Captain America behind, and wants to either quit acting or, like, go direct art movies.

Downey Jr. wants money. Which isn’t to say he’s not getting a lot of it. Dude banked $70 million for Avengers, and will unquestionably pull down more for Age of Ultron. He’d surely want a tidier sum to stick around for Iron Man 4 or head toward the end of the MCU, and while he hasn’t been as much of a wishy-washy woe-is-me nerdboy about not wanting to play one of the world’s most beloved superheroes as Evans, it’s not impossible to see him stepping away from the franchises he’s submitted his life to once Marvel tells him that no, he can’t have the GDP of Gabon for sixty days of work.

Let’s not forget who was hired to play the Hulk, by the way. Serious-actor Mark Ruffalo is pining for his own flick, and there’s no way he’s getting one with the Marvel calendar stacked through the maybe-end of the Marvel Universe in 2018. Now, Ruffalo’s way into playing the Hulk—he’s been loud about it—but it’s important to remember his serious-actor predecessor and good bro Edward Norton bounced for fear of becoming attached to the role.

Avengers: Age of Ultron, barely even the halfway point of the MCU’s plans thus far, will cause a case of rich-people fatigue in someone. My money’s on Ruffalo exiting prematurely.

4. With the Success of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Will Make a Fantastic Four movie

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four

The insane success of Avengers: Age of Ultron—projected to yield more than the first Avengers movie, which brought in more than $200 million on its opening weekend—will knock down the walls of red tape and lawyer speak separating the MCU from its siblings held in high, weird towers by Fox and Universal. What I’m saying is that the cracks in a non-unified Marvel Universe have begun to show. Sony realized that Spider-Man was way more profitable and viable in the MCU—not to mention the fact that they must have had a big drink and cry when they thought that one of their best ideas was to make an Aunt May spy movie, turning Parker over to Marvel.

This summer’s grim-and-gritty-and-grr-and-miserable Fantastic Four, a Fox production, is set to be a body-horror inspired ‘new-take’ on the franchise. It looks like it’ll be okay, but the Fantastic Four don’t have that big a property once you get past Dr. Doom and Silver Surfer and, uh, Mole Man. I look for Fox to split the difference with Marvel on the Fantastic Four within three years of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The X-Men will be soon to follow once they realize that, without Hugh Jackman or Nick Hoult, the series will focus on a bummed-out Professor X leading angsty-boring-teenage Cyclops through … puberty?

It’s been projected that the MCU has plans through 2028. I’m saying, right now, that those plans hinge on Age of Ultron being such an impossible money machine that the other studios have to turn the keys over to the juggernaut and watch the money print right into their wallets from behind impotent, incapable eyes. Dollars to donuts, Marvel has a Fantastic Four movie planned.

5. Philadelphia magazine will have to reimburse me at least $40 so I can see the movie four times to form a fully clotted opinion

Sorry guys. Maybe you can write the popcorn off, tax-wise. Oh, and also Quicksilver’s going to die. Stop putting Aaron Taylor Johnson in all my damn movies.

Follow the author on Twitter: @quinnocallaghan