SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you haven't seen Age of Ultron yet.
I did what every other red blooded geek planned on doing this weekend... see Avengers - Age of Ultron. It had everything you would expect from a Joss Whedon movie and the amount of cameo appearances was impressive. But this isn't a review of the movie, there are plenty of sources for that. At the end of the movie I was left wondering about what's next for the Marvel universe. Here are the three big questions I had walking out of the theater.
Is he coming back?
Was Ultron really destroyed at the end by Vision? Honestly, I don't know and I'm not sure I care. The bigger point alluded to in the movie was by Tony Stark when he was talking to Maria Hill about how Steve Rogers was really the leader of the Avengers team. But at the end of the movie we see the team at a new Avengers complex. While the complex appears to have had Tony's fingerprints all over it, it's not the Avengers tower we saw earlier in the movie nor what we've seen in most comic books.
There have been differences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Marvel comics, but the team that Steve Rogers has assembled1 at the end of the movie did not include Iron Man. In my opinion, the team we saw at the end of the movie looks quite a bit like the West Coast Avengers. The closing scenes in 'Age of Ultron' have the same good-bye vibe we saw in 'Iron Man 3'. However, much of the upcoming MCU storyline has Tony Stark/Iron Man at the center of the plot.
Now part of the charisma of any screen character comes from how well the character has been played by the actor. And Robert Downey Jr. has owned the screen with his interpretation of Tony Stark. In 'Age of Ultron' you really got a feel of the side of Tony Stark from the comics of 'the ends justify the means' mentality. Downey nailed the character flaws we see in Tony Stark as we lead up to 'Civil War'. But with the repeated stories that Robert Downey Jr. is asking for as much as the low to mid 8 figures per movie, you have to wonder how much longer Marvel studios is going to work with Downey and those kind of numbers. If push comes to shove, and Robert Downey Jr. is out due to pricing, how is Marvel going to transition to a new Tony Stark?
Is he dead?
Is Ultron dead? Again, I don't know and not sure I care. What I do wonder about is if Pietro really is dead. If the team being assembled for the next movie is a pseudo West Coast Avengers style team, then Pietro needs to make some sort of resurrection or clarify that he was only "injured" in 'Age of Ultron' in the next movie. I know Joss Whedon has recently commented about the return of Agent Coulson and how he wishes he hadn't done that. What I'm not sure if Joss was lamenting about Coulson and how that will mix in the MCU down the road or if Whedon was cryptically griping about how he has another dilemma with Pietro and future MCU movies. What happens if Marvel and Fox come to an agreement on the X-Men? I know the MCU is it's own universe, but seeing the studios interweave storylines along one constant storyline would be absolutely mind blowing.2 Regardless of that fan boy fantasy, is Pietro really dead?
Did they really have to cut that part out?
Most people are talking about how Marvel commented that there isn't a snippet at the end of the movie, which has become a staple in every other Marvel movie to date. Yep, they didn't lie, there's just the 15 second blip with Thanos right after the credits start to roll. My guess is they needed to cut the original movie snippet because of the recent team-up with Sony that will bring Spider-Man home to Marvel and/or that 'Infinity Gauntlet' is so far out on the MCU timeframe.
No, my issue is that they cut Captain America off from saying the phrase. Closing the movie with 'Avengers...' was the only hollow moment in the movie for me. Fans have wanted to hear that phrase since the first Avengers movie was announced. Whedon even teased us with Iron Man coming close to saying it just before the final battle with Ultron. I would have been more inspired to hear Captain America say 'Avengers Assemble' and then cut to credits. End on a high note and leave us wanting more. Did other fans feel let fans down by Marvel for not letting Captain America finish his sentence?