SparkNotes Blog

Your Avengers: Age of Ultron Primer

Avengers: Age of Ultron is happening this week. REPEAT: AGE OF ULTRON IS HAPPENING THIS WEEK. How did it come to this? How is it already here? Was it really three whole years ago that we watched the gang feast upon shawarma together?

In between finishing our opening night cosplay, we’re cracking open the comics, or at least Marvel’s online archive of comics, to answer our questions. Questions like: just who is this Ultron guy, anyway? Why is he wearing two Bluetooth headsets at the same time? Why is he so clearly anti-Avenger? You’ll get all the answers if you read on. And since it looks like the movie’s going to diverge from the main arc of Ultron’s tale, these handful of comics and shows will get you a solid grounding in Ultron canon, no matter which direction the movie careens.

Comics to Reference in Your Upcoming Ultron Thesis

Avengers: Ultron Unlimited (Issues #19-#22) (2001)
Kurt Busiek, George Perez
If the movie trailers didn’t give you enough of a hint: Ultron is the literal worst, and this comic run just proves the point. The guy completely destroys an Eastern European nation and turns its citizens into robots to fight the forces sent to stop him. Who does that? Needless to say,  the Avengers are less than thrilled, so they go after Ultron (and the gazillion versions of him) and deliver a beat-down before things can get any worse. This goes—well, eventually it’s fine, but they have to wade through a lot of crap before they get there. Superfans are super hopeful that Chris Hemsworth will deliver Thor’s mic-drop (Mjolnir-drop?) line of the series: “Ultron, we would have words with thee.” Since Thor does this with his pecs bursting through his torn shirt, we can only hope Whedon kept this bit in the film.

Age of Ultron (2013)
Brian Michael Bendis, Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco
This 10-issue tale is actually a crossover comic, meaning not only do we get the Avengers, but also Wolverine, Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and an entire credits sequence of others. The gist is that Ultron has ruined everything (SURPRISE), and our heroes gotta turn time back to the way it was—by dipping into the future and past at the same time. Our heroes meet doubles of themselves, cause even more trouble, and emote enough angst to fill a helicarrier. We cannot stress enough just how many heroes actually make an appearance. It’s like a super-person parade, with a heaping of side-character confetti.

Avengers Origins: Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (2013)
Sean McKeever, Marko Djurdjevic
Wanda and Pietro Maximoff—aka the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver—aka those other superheroes you’ve seen running around the Avengers trailer—have a nifty and complicated history in the comics universe. In fact, they’re Magneto’s kids, which X-Men: Days of Future Past hinted but never revealed. Yeah, that Quicksilver (“Whip. Laaash.“) is technically very same character as the Avengers one. He’s a sassy speedster, while his sister flings all kind of cool magic (and has a thing for warping reality). This series follows them as kids on the run, learning the limits of their powers and finding out where they fit in the Marvel universe.

All the TV You Need to See

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Available on: Netflix
Episodes to watch: Season 1: 3, 18, 19, 22, 23. Season 2: 14-17
ALLLLLWAYS WE WILL FIGHT AS ONNNE. Okay, seriously, the theme song gets catchy if you have no choice but to listen every twenty minutes as you binge-watch to get your Avengers fix. Here, Hank Pym (that is, Ant-Man) invents Ultron as an AI experiment, because what else do scientists do if they have apparently unlimited cash and super-sweet laboratories? At first, Ultron just wants peace, which seems reasonable until “peace” includes completely eliminating humanity. The Avengers are all, “Nope,” and proceed to take him down with the help of Vision—one of Ultron’s robotic creations, who betrays Ultron in favor of the Avengers. Drama!

Avengers Assemble
Available on: Netflix
Episodes to watch: Season 2: 13-17
In this show, Tony Stark builds a bot called Arsenal to absorb the energy from the Infinity Gems (which you know all about after Guardians of the Galaxy). It works great until Ultron takes over Arsenal, absorbing all that delicious Infinity Gem energy for himself and using it to run amok, take over various high-powered entities (like Hammer Industries, Roxxon, and even the communications at SHIELD), and turn the Avengers against one another. Yikes.

Future Reading for Bonus Class Credit

A year from now, we’re gonna get Captain America: Civil War. In fact, it kinda looks like the events in Age of Ultron (and the lumberCap pics) are setting up to make it happen. If you wanna have a comics base in where that happens, check out the titles in the Civil War series, like the appropriately-titled Civil War (2007) and Civil War: Captain America (2007).

Have you read any of the above titles? Are you so ready to assemble for Age of Ultron this weekend?