I love comic book movies a bit too much. Not in an excessive get a doctor kind of way but in a "I'm seriously considering camping out a day or two in front of a theater when Age of Ultron comes out". I've been emotionally invested in this film since way before the first trailer came out. As with many other stories, my brain goes into speculation mode and I try to tease out just what could happen. With Ultron, as with all serials, it's not just about the one movie but rather about the series as a whole so with every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe made so far and so many more to come, the pieces of the story need to fit with past and future story lines. I wanted to do a checklist of sorts of what I think will happen in Age of Ultron, much in the same vein as what Neil Patrick Harris did at the Oscars, but my imagination can't stop at mere narrative bullet points. I need to do the whole thing. There are a lot of things I probably won't get right but I feel like I need to do this if only to appease my own nerdy curiosity. [Originally written as a post for my blog, link here.]
What follows is my attempt to write out the entire film while still glossing over most of the action and dialogue sequences. The dream (besides being able to say "I told you so!" to the screen and friends upon getting one or two things right) is that somehow Marvel higher ups see this and say, hey this guy is pretty smart maybe Kevin Feige or Joss Whedon need an assistant of some sort. Alternatively, someone at DC could read this and consider me as a counter writer that could foresee what the competition is writing for future films so they can step their game up. I'll try to limit my justifications for certain decisions or why certain moments fit according to what we've seen in the trailers so far. If all goes well, my descriptions should explain what's going on. As with all cool MCU things, this will be a 5 arc story plus denouement. Time for my most ambitious "rose garden story" post ever. [Edit: Wow, it's hard to give Hawkeye any good moments]
Act 1: Avengers Assemble
We open on the snowy hillside of a rural area. In the distance, we see what looks like a castle surrounded by a forest. Because Marvel, let's say the place is in Eastern Europe, maybe even Latveria because fictional places aren't owned by titles (maybe). The Avengers (sans Thor but with Iron Patriot) are surveying the area. The team is divided in pairs with specific objectives. Iron Man and Iron Patriot are giving air support and recon from behind the cloud bank, ready to strike when the moment calls for it. Captain America and Hawkeye are in infiltration mode, on the ground and moving closer to the castle. Black Widow and Bruce Banner are coordinating the operation from afar, making sure to cover escape routes and we see them kiss once or twice. Let's say they are in a special Quinn jet which is in stealth mode but parked nearby. We have playful banter going on between the heroes as they easily dispatch any patrols along the way. We hear some exposition as to what's going: Baron von Strucker is running a HYDRA style group and they have alien tech from the Battle for New York. At one moment Rhody goes off com to talk with Tony, he asks him the serious stuff no BS. The topic of Pepper shows up and Tony is quickly dismissive but still concerned. Something is wrong but it is clearly a secret. The tension is broken by explosions as Cap is breaching their defenses and is beating up EVERYONE. Hawkeye takes out some of the automated defenses with explosive arrows and such as they make their way in. Alarms run through the castle and the Baron realizes his lair is under attack and sends all his soldiers to defend the "miracles". He places Loki's Staff in a special case, unlocks the cages to the twins (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) and tells them that people are here to take them so they need to escape, NOW!
Captain America, Iron Man, and Iron Patriot are going through every level of the castle while taking out anyone in their way with ease. Hawkeye hacks into a nearby computer and pulls schematics to the castle, he finds there is an underground escape tunnel and relays the information to the team. Black Widow heads to the tunnel to cut off the enemies retreat, she convinces Bruce to stay behind and keep being the lookout. "If anyone makes it past the team then you go into Smash mode." Baron, the twins, and some soldiers make their way through the tunnels as explosions are heard from above. Soldiers are sent back to make sure the rest can escape. Black Widow appears and quickly takes out the remaining armed guards. Quicksilver runs up behind her and grabs her (obviously taking her by surprise) and Scarlet Witch does a hypno hex on her. Baron and twins get to escape vehicle and leave while Black Widow stays behind. When the rest of Avengers show up, she says that their targets went in a different direction. Bruce senses something wrong in her voice and then notices the jeep hightailing it through the woods. He goes Hulk and gives chase. It seems like the bad guys are about to escape until a lightning bolt crashes in front of them and Thor appears to stop their retreat. A small battle takes place with the entire team taking on the bad guys, Hulk smashes the ground to make an earthquake, thus the disabling the speedster and witch, a few tranquilizer darts to neck of the bad guys later and the heroes do the silent head nod of a job well done. Cue the Marvel logo. Intro montage shows that bad guys are taken prisoner and their stuff is taken as they clear out the castle. A few helicopters with the SHIELD logo appear later to take unnamed soldiers to jail but lead bad guys are on the Avengers Quinn jet.
Act 2: The Fall
The Avengers team arrives at New York City as the people cheer and give them a hero's welcome. Stark Tower is now Avengers Tower (Stark Enterprises has been moved elsewhere). Maria Hill, who is now the CBO (Chief Branding Officer) of the Avengers greets them but is still kinda treated like a secretary by Tony. Hill tells Tony that he has an important call he needs to take in his office, rest of team starts unloading stuff. Tony is having a video call with Robert Gonzales (aka Commander ADAME) head of SHIELD who congratulates the team but tells them that all things recovered from the mission and the prisoners must be in SHIELD custody in 24 hours. Tony speaks with casual disregard to authority but accepts the terms. Gonzales hangs up and we see that Director Coulson of actually SHIELD but not really has been listening in also via phone. Phil tells Tony good work and he's glad that the intelligence his team had on Baron von Strucker panned out. Tony invites him to hang out at the tower since they're going to have a huge party tonight. Phil says thanks but no thanks and reminds him that last time he was with the team he ended up going "to Tahiti" as he hangs up.
The team moves the twins and Baron into some special holding cells they have in a secure sub-basement of Avengers Tower. Thor says that his primary mission is to retrieve Loki's staff (which has far too much power for humans to handle) and that he must return to Odin soon. However, Tony says that there is going to be a feast later tonight and that Thor should stay at least to celebrate with the rest of the team. He also tells Maria Hill and Rhody to give Thor a tour. The team slightly splits up again as the tour begins, the scientists head to the lab, and the rest get back to work. Black Widow and Hawkeye use good cop/bad cop on Baron but don't get much info out of him. Cap decides to talk to the twins, he realizes that their wills are broken and were probably more prisoners than guards. Bruce and Tony are off to the lab to check out some of the stuff they took from Baron's lair. They talk about Ultron, this AI of awesomeness that they programmed to fight evil. Computers can't be turned evil or be turned like SHIELD agents to HYDRA so this is clearly the way to go for world safety. One problem though, it's still in Beta mode, has a few bugs, and arc reactor tech seems to interfere with it's ability to control that many other "drones" of itself, because let's say the equivalent of radio static. Tony pays close attention to the case and reveals Loki's staff and starts to run tests on it. Bruce asks him how Pepper is doing, Tony stays distracted and says that the new treatment shows promise. They also quickly mention JARVIS and how his/its new job is going well. Thor finishes the tour and is impressed enough to consider maybe becoming a full-fledged Avenger. Maria mentions that if he did join then Jane (Natalie Portman) would be very happy. But Thor immediately turns sour and flippant. Tony gets on the intercom and tells people to head to the penthouse because the party is about to begin. He says he needs to work on a few things first but that people should enjoy themselves without him.
The whole gang is having fun, drinks are had, jokes are told. They start doing play by play of their past successes. Bruce asks Thor about Mjolnir since he remembers that even as Hulk he couldn't pick it up. The whole "if ye be worthy" thing is explained and everyone tries to pick it up. The fun is interrupted as Ultron goes out and takes control of the sound system to do weird noises and then turns it off. He/It shambles out in a still under construction body and starts doing his speech. The gang is completely freaked out and get taken by surprise as some Iron Man style suits head crash through the wall and head straight at them. Bruce is about to Hulk out but Tony insists that he needs Dr. Jekyll, not Mr. Hyde, to solve the issue at hand. Thor and Cap quickly stop these drone style robots, Tony tells Maria to evacuate the building ASAP and sends her down an emergency elevator, try to get everyone out. Everyone else is trying to figure out what is going on. Turns out that Ultron is slowly taking over more and more of the surrounding tech. The team picks up their gear, Tony gets suitcase Iron Man suit and they try to stop Ultron/deactivate him or at least minimize his expanding control. Ultron sends a wave of robots that basically engulfs Thor (the biggest threat right now) as It is basically blowing up floors downward. Ultron reveals that he has set the building to blow up as more drone suits keep attacking them. Cap sounds the retreat call to the Quinn jet parked on the roof. Bruce is about to Hulk out but sees that Rhody has been injured and his medical finesse is needed. The Avengers escape as the tower partly collapses as leftover personnel and Maria Hill escape. She pulls out a phone, makes a call, and says something like "initiate omega protocol". Ultron makes his way to the basement which is still super secure as jail/panic room as it is clearly the safest place in the building. Baron pleads with it but gets quickly dispatched. Ultron heads towards the twins but reads some strange energy, says something like "you aren't exactly human, how delightfully strange." Twins, which are super afraid, call themselves "miracles" (Baron's words). Ultron basically gives them the old serve me or die ultimatum, they hesitate but accept. The Quinn jet flies off into the night sky, Bruce is trying to operate with what he has on hand but Rhody is losing a lot of blood. The injury is very similar to what Tony first suffered to make him Iron Man but worse. Tony and Natasha try to help Bruce but Rhody is fading fast. He looks at Tony and with a weakened breath says his final words "This isn't your fault." The team is clearly distraught, Bruce turns Hulk enough to destroy his clothes but a quick hug from Black Widow calms him down to human levels. Cap asks where they are going, Tony gives a voice command as he is choking back the tears to initiate Omega protocol and the ship gets new coordinates.
Act 3: Regrouping
The team is now in an isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere, probably rural Canada. While it looks completely ordinary, this is a safe house Tony set up after the events of Iron Man 3 just in case. The team is super depressed as to what has just transpired. A lot of explanations and consoling is done on all parts. There are a lot of questions, so Tony decides to gather everyone and takes responsibility as he explains the situation. After the Battle of New York and the fall of SHIELD, Tony realized that the world needed a lot more firepower to protect itself but in the wrong hands the weapons would just be turned back on the people. Tony enlists Bruce to do something once thought impossible, an Artificial Intelligence that could work as a world police of sorts with one or two drones per major city under the control of an unhackable and uncorruptible force, Ultron. During this explanation, Steve realizes that this sounds a lot like the Helicarrier deathbringers that he and Black Widow took down and Tony admits that he got the idea and some of the tech from when he hacked SHIELD databases during the first movie. Cap is pissed but wants to know why he put Ultron online. Tony says that he didn't, he and Bruce were still months from fully activating it. The power source was all wrong; they needed something more compact and concentrated than an arc reactor, that's why he was studying Loki's staff especially the gem. Thor at this point gets super pissed as he thinks that Ultron has that power inside it.
At this point the story will probably cut back and forth between the Avengers and Ultron plus the twins. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver explain that Baron von Strucker had a plan that involved Ulysses Klaw, a crazy evil engineer that is currently stationed in Wakanda and is working with vibranium. Ultron scans the twins and explains that his own energy signatures are in them but what is it that makes them so special. Cut back to Thor, who starts explaining what the infinity gems are and how they work. The Tessaract had almost infinite energy but it's true power comes from an ability that comes from a proper conduit, that's why they needed a proper machine to use it as the Space gem and activate portals across the universe. Loki's staff was a conduit for the mind gem, which allows the wielder to both expel extra energy and take control over someone else's mind. Cut back to the twins and Ultron. Both of them have been infused with the power of the gem for a while now but have different effects. Quicksilver's main power is rapid thinking, and the extra energy manifests through super speed. Scarlet Witch can manipulate minds Jedi hand wave style and slightly take over via hypnosis/hexing, the extra energy turns into telekinesis and energy blasts (think Psylocke). Ultron calculates that the gem (which is his power source and is inside) gives him sentience beyond any other robot plus near infinite energy and remote wifi control over technology.
Cut back to Thor, who explains that with the right conduit any gem can be catastrophic. Says that he learned about them after their last battle, and explains that they were lucky that gems basically cancel each other if they touch each other but with no other gem on Earth things look bleak. Even with people's limited concept of robotics they realize Ultron could pretty much destroy the planet. Everyone is super mad at Tony who is filled with self-pity and destruction. Bruce is the only one to defend him. Tony says how he tries but fails to do what's right. With being Iron Man, with making the Avengers team, with building Ultron, with trying to save Pepper... A few questions and tears later we learn that Pepper's exposure to the EXTREMIS didn't result in her exploding like everyone else but in her energy being consumed like a candle at multiple ends, it's like she's already aged 20 years. Nothing seems to work. Empathy and sadness start to pour over the team, especially Thor, who explains that Jane is going through a similar withering away, after exposure to the Aether (which works as the Reality infinity gem) but rather than aging, she is literally fading away. Thor alternates between staying at her side and travelling the cosmos looking for a cure but has found nothing so far. Tony and Thor, hug it out, the former pledges to help Jane any way he can. Team decides to take a break from the emotional overflow as they go their separate ways but still stick close to the cabin. We get back to Ultron, who has a plan: have the twins contact Klaw, make it look like he is another of the Baron's creations, says that they will go to him so that the next part of the plan can take place. They make the call and all goes well, Ultron takes control of a submarine and they make their way to Wakanda undetected.
We return to the cabin, the team is lounging about when a knock on the door startles everyone. "Candygram!" Nick Fury comes in, says that things must be bad if Maria Hill called him with an Omega protocol to get him out of hiding. He gives everyone a pep talk that reinvigorates the Avengers and gives them Intel, turns out a message from Avengers Tower was sent to Wakanda to an abandoned metal works factory where they think Ulysses Klaw is operating. SHIELD files have him as a kind of mad scientist who's been giving the local government there a lot of trouble. The team regroups and decides to take on Ultron before he takes over the world. Tony says he'll meet them there; he needs to take care of something and get a secret weapon but before leaving gives Maria Hill a note. She opens the note once the team leaves, it says "Find Jane, take her to Pepper." Cut to Wakanda, where the twins and Ultron come face to face with Klaw. The scientist says he and Baron had a previous arrangement to help each other and he's worried as to why the timetable has gone up and why isn't he with them. Scarlet Witch does her thing and Klaw proceeds to pimp Ultron out with basically a new vibranium body. Klaw recognizes that he is being messed with and pretty much abandons his factory/metalworks as shiny Ultron emerges and towers over the twins who almost bow to their new robot leader.
Act 4: Team Splintered
Tony Stark with suitcase suit goes straight to Stark enterprises and goes to a special floor that has basically been converted into a hospital area. Upon entering Jarvis's familiar voice comes from the walls and welcomes Stark. A robot appears (looks like Vision but not in hero mode) Jarvis's voice comes from it and he says that Jane Foster is slated to join them soon. Tony goes to Pepper who is hooked up to a lot of machines and looks like she is on her death bed. Tony comforts her and gives Jarvis robot a flash drive with a design for something, he jokes to Pepper that he isn't good at buying her jewelry so he's going to make her something. Pepper jokes back that redesigning Jarvis into her favorite hero from when she was a kid (hence the color scheme and such) and rededicating him so that he's solely there to take care of her is already a big enough gift. Jane Foster shows up in a special gurney with Dr. Erik. They all share their appreciation for the help and their company. Tony apologizes that Thor isn't there with him but they are dealing with a crazy situation. He tells Jarvis that he is taking the special "anger management suit". Jarvis asks if he can help but says that he is only to take care of Pepper and Jane and to get to work crafting that "gem".
Meanwhile, Ultron realizes that the vibranium body has made him invincible but has messed up his ability to remote control tech at long range (waves vibrate in air, vibranium blocks path). Luckily, he still has the perfect plan: use Klaw's factory to make robots by the thousands and give them a coating of vibranium. He sets up the machinery as the twins are in awe of the side they have chosen. Ultron has kept saying that only the objectivity of a machine can save humanity from itself but he seems to be turning megalomaniacal. Almost as if the sentience from the gem is overriding his program the twins blind devotion is quickly changing in perspective. Ultron leaves the factory on autopilot and says that they need to get to a super transmitter/radio telescope located over by some ruins on the other side of Wakanda because with it he can can control the drone robots from super far away. As the plan materializes, the Avengers Quinn jet is spotted. The twins are tasked with creating overall havoc to distract the heroes as Ultron heads to the transmitter. A handful of drones also come along with Ultron as Quicksilver is wrecking everything and Scarlet Witch is hexing anyone who comes near her into fighting the rest of the Avengers. Thor and Hawkeye are having some luck against the drones but Ultron is damn near impregnable in his defenses. The team immediately gets into damage control as an enthralled Hulk starts destroying everything. And then from the sky comes in Tony Stark with his Hulkbuster suit.
The battle is almost kaiju versus gundam as the destruction is getting into Man of Steel territory but they are at least heading toward the general direction of where Ultron is headed. The rest of the team are still taking on Ultron and the twins and are slightly successful in at least slowing them down but nothing seems to put a dent in Ultron (plus he is still a highly functional Iron Man suit with flight, missiles, lasers, and whatnot). As they pretty much reach their destination of the transmitter, Hulk literally punches Iron Man out of the Hulkbuster suit (but Tony still has a decent Iron Man suit on) before the hex effect wears off. They're too late as Ultron reaches the transmitter and summons his full swarm of robots. Tony's suit especially designed to not be hacked so Iron Man isn't in Magneto puppet format. Ultron basically declares that with this ultimate power he can do what he needs to do to make the world right, extinction of the human race as is army of drones comes closer and closer.
Act 5: Battle Royale
The team takes some cover and tries to think of a strategy. Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Cap have already figured some weaknesses so drones are defeatable. The twins are at another hiding spot mulling their options as they are pretty sure that Ultron will kill them sooner or later. Maria Hill comes in through their comm systems, she is with Pepper and Jane. Dr. Erik suggests that they might be able to reverse the polarity of the transmitter and with any luck fry Ultron's circuitry through the sudden surge of information. Plan now becomes an escort mission for Hawkeye, Black Widow, and maybe Iron Man to get to a control room and hack the system while rest of team keep them safe and blow up as many drones along the way. In the meantime, Pepper and Jane ask Jarvis about this shiny gem that Jarvis seems to have carved. He explains that they were Tony's design upon research of similar entity. In essence, it can store excess energy and has the potential to slowly remove the EXTREMIS and the Aether from their bodies and saving them (the process should take about a week).
Cut back to the team and they are barely holding it together, there's just too many of them. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch do a heel/face turn and try to confront Ultron directly but are quickly dispatched. Maria Hill is getting info as to how they are just barely surviving the onslaught. Pepper says that they need to send in the cavalry, they need an extra hero, they need The Vision. She, Jane, and Erik devise a way for the gem to take all of their extra energy through alterations to the design and have that be Jarvis's new power source so that he can help them out. Maria warns that if they don't do the siphoning slowly the energy imbalance could put their bodies into shock and definitely kill them. With fear but no hesitation Jane and Pepper say that if they don't stop Ultron now they'll all be dead soon enough. Cut back to the battle royale as the heroes seem to be getting closer to their goal. Scarlet Witch runs some distractions and Quicksilver with his super-fast thinking and typing skills helps reverse the system. Ultron is kind of messed up in the process as everyone breathes a sigh of relief but they are immediately left in despair as their enemy looks unscathed. The infinity gem is just too powerful. The drones seem to be rebooting so they have a chance for all of them to come together and have one full teamwork supermove.
Meanwhile, Jane and Pepper basically kamehameha wave the Extremis and Aether remnants into the gem. Jarvis puts on the combat mods that Tony set up for a super emergency (including a bitching cape) they insert the now supercharged gem into Jarvis. Jane and Pepper hold it together as they send Jarvis/Vision into battle who can phase through the wall (because reality gem power) and then flies off at supersonic speed to Wakanda. The ladies collapse and go into shock immediately. Comms go off as Maria Hill and Dr. Erik try to stabilize the once super powered heroines. Cut back to Ultron who is no longer the cold calculating super robot and is legit pissed at the heroes. He senses the Hulkbuster armor and decides to eliminate his biggest threat in Hulk. The oversized suit comes to life, wraps itself around the Hulk and fires the afterburners sending him upwards at an intense speed. The suit at the very least provides a fish bowl space helmet to allow for breathing as Hulk is blasted off into space. Ultron insults Tony for his mercy, if he was going to design counter system to Hulk it should be fatal. Ultron (instead of overriding the safety measures) focuses the remaining energy of the transmitter to take control of a nearby space station to take an incoming passenger, then programs it to fire boosters and get it out of orbit and into deep space. Tony is overwrought with guilt and the thought of the darkness of space gives him full PTSD. Captain America rushes at Ultron, gets a few hits in before he is stripped of his shield and Ultron shatters it. The drones start to awaken and the team is clearly about to lose when Vision ex machina comes to save the day and he quickly changes the tide of war. Tony awakens from his stupor at the sound of Jarvis's voice and is very much confused as to what is going on. Waves of drone robots fall but more come in. Cap has a crazy enough plan upon seeing that Jarvis can phase through stuff. Plan goes as follows: Cap, Tony, Black Widow, and Hawkeye are going to keep rest of the drones busy. Thor is going to create a tornado of sorts with Quicksilver's help which will make a wind tunnel. Vision will phase into the wind tunnel uses the ultra magnified super speed to launch himself into Ultron phase through him and get the Infinity gem out. And for good measure, Scarlet Witch will use telekinesis on Mjolnir to shoot at Ultron as well. The plan works, thanks in large part to the minor essence of the reality gem in Vision which cancels out the Mind gem and without the excess energy Ultron (even with advanced Ai and vibranium) has his head knocked clean off. The remaining robot drones fall and the battle is finally over.
Tony frantically tries to contact Maria Hill to see if she can stop the space station from being lost but the order is already given. Hulk and the rest of the crew are lost in space but they have supplies for a few years so hope is not completely lost. Cut to a large green hand touching the window of the space station as the Earth looks smaller and smaller as the hand reverts to Bruce. Black Widow is super mad at Tony and slaps him. Tony tries to explain that it was a contingency plan just in case Hulk lost control but Bruce was and still is his closest friend and he vows to rescue him. Vision explains how he got his powers and asking Maria Hill for a status is only responded to with a vague, you need to get here now. The team gets the gem and the pieces of Cap's shield. The twins are allowed to escape as they did help and there are bigger concerns at hand. They arrive at the hospital room broken and bruised to find that Pepper and Jane had died, their bodies just couldn't take it. Both women had left some notes to the men that ultimately couldn't save them saying how much they loved them and how it wasn't their fault. Thor is straight up going to smash Tony's face in with Mjolnir as the rage and grief consumes him and a defeated Tony is pretty much going to let him. Vision gets in the middle and just before impact, Heimdall calls Thor and says he needs to get back to Asgard right now with the gem. Any hesitation is met with the fact that this is a direct order from Odin! A teary eyed Thor heads to the roof to leave via Heimdall's portal. His parting words, "I hope I never have to come back to this planet of despair."
Captain America tries to console everyone by saying that at least they saved the world. Tony bawls out in pain and agony that the world that's left isn't worth living in. "I've lost the women I love and the two friends I came to trust as family, all gone because of me." Cap is no stranger to loss and says that yes the pain is great but not insurmountable. He takes his share of the blame before he leaves. The team is broken buy they vow to rebuild, Tony says that he has failed as Iron Man, but that maybe there is a way for Tony Stark to better serve the world. What's left of the Avengers stare into the sunrise over the bay to the east with tears in their eyes but a determination that they will make things right.
Cue credits: First post credit scene shows Paul Rudd (future Ant-Man), running around the streets of New York City. He sees a mugger go off with some old lady's purse. He follows the bad guy into an alley and by the time he gets there he sees that the bad guy is upside down and hanging about 10 feet in the air in some kind of web based cocoon. "Huh, don't see that every day." He picks up the purse, takes a few dollars for himself, and returns it the old lady.
Credits continue: Final final sequence shows, the twins in the middle of nowhere trying to find what to do with their lives. A familiar voice says that if they're lost, he can help them find their way. Pan out and we see Bucky with a band of Inhumans from Agents of SHIELD asking to join his group.
[This crazy fan speculation of the film has bee brought to you by Gabriel Romaguera aka Ranzunar]