Avengers:Age of Ultron was such an awesome movie, and Jamie (my six year old son) and I loved it! The characterisation was spot on, the action was intense without being horrendously violent and there were plenty of cool Easter Eggs for this old comics geek to be excited about. Some of them were right up front, while others were a little more hidden (or perhaps required an intuitive leap which Joss Whedon did not plan on people making). Of the Easter Eggs hidden throughout the film, I enjoyed the most (whether they were intentional or not !)
Be warned! If you’ve not seen the movie yet then read no further as massive spoilers as throughout this feature.
1. Steve Rogers almost lifts Mjolnir. This was not just the funny set up to a hilarious joke later in the film (when Vision lifts Mjolnir easily) but also a call back to one of my all-time favourite comic panels. In Thor #390 the Avengers’ Hydrobase (a floating island in the Manhattan harbour) comes under attack from Thor’s latest foes – warrior minions of the evil snake god Seth. In the melee that follows Thor drops Mjolnir as he is overwhelmed by the warrior minions, leaving him stuck at the bottom of a literal mountain of minions ! Seconds away from being defeated, all hope seems lost for the son of Odin, until….Steve Rogers recovers the lost Mjolnir and hurls it to Thor, reuniting the warrior and his weapon. Thus is Thor able to easily dispatch the minions, saving Hydrobase and all of Manhattan from the evil Seth.
(Image orginially from Comic Book Resources)
NB: In this era Steve Rogers was disbarred from using the name Captain America and unable to wear the costume or use the famed shield. Not one to be put off, Steve creates a new persona “The Captain” and continues fighting for truth, justice and the American Way.
2. “The Roy Thomas Players”. During the horrific dream sequence brought on by the Scarlet Witch, Steve Rogers finds himself confronting the past not to be: In a dance hall he keeps his date with Peggy Carter, as the sweet sounds of the band drift around them. The name of the band is The Roy Thomas players, an obvious homage to the great marvel writer and editor-in-chief. Why Roy Thomas? I’m glad you asked! He was the second writer on the Avengers, taking took over with issue 54 when Stan Lee moved on to other projects (appropriate for the second Avengers film I reckon!). More importantly, he was the creator of the robotic Vision! The Vision first appeared in Avengers #57, written by Thomas with artwork by John Buscema. He was created by Ultron to infiltrate and destroy the Avengers, however after witnessing their heroism changes sides and helps the Avengers take down his “father”. Hmmm, might make a decent plot for a film…
3. Vision carries Scarlet Witch. The Vision rescues Wanda from a swarm of Ultron drones by sweeping her up in his arms and flying away with her cradled in his arms. This reminded me of the way a new husband carries his bride across the threshold, as it was probably meant to. You see, in the comics Vision and Scarlet Witch fall in love and eventually marry, so it was entirely appropriate for him to carry her that way. The event occurred in Giant Sized Avengers #4 , which featured a double wedding in which the two were married alongside team-mate Mantis and an alien spirit using the form of Mantis’ dead lover Swordsman (yep, it was pretty crazy !).
4. Cap’s Kooky Quartet. I was hoping this would be the team at the end of the movie, and while I was disappointed we did not I still loved the fact that for a brief, shining moment we had on screen my favourite iteration of the Avengers – Cap’s Kooky Quartet! Early on in Avengers history, the founding members all decided they needed a holiday and left the team in the capable hands of Captain America. Having free reign to create the Avengers he wanted, Cap made some interesting choices when choosing his team. He chose three villains who had recently reformed, believing they needed only a firm hand and a little inspiration to grow into top-flight heroes. So it was that in Avengers #16 we had a team consisting of Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Despite having two members without powers (Cap and Hawkeye) the team fought and defeated heavyweight villains such as The Masters of Evil and Kang the Conqueror. Oh, the team fought amongst themselves too, all the time! Sadly the team was only a quartet for a handful of issues, as Wasp and Giant Man rejoined the team and new heroes like the Black Panther joined. During their time, though, this team cemented the Avengers ouvre, with “second-string” heroes defeating the worst villains of the Marvel Universe whilst bickering amongst themselves !
5. Captain America shouting “Avengers Assemble !” The cover of Avengers #16 (shown above) was also referenced at the very end of Age of Ultron, when Captain America looks over the new team od Avengers he has inherited and shouts “Avengers….” Sadly the famous battlecry is cut short in the film, but all of us geeks knew what he was about to say (some of those geeks may have finished the battlecry themselves, then realised a) they were in a cinema and not at home and b) their six-year old son had made dad proud by also shouting “Assemble!” at the screen. Some, but not this intrepid blogger !!) . Whenever those words are spoken in a comic I get a tingle up and down my spine, as they herald a mighty moment of my favourite heroes getting ready to face a threat no single hero could withstand.’ Nuff Said !
6. Widow’s bath robe costume. While relaxing at Hawkeye’s farmhouse the Avengers get out of their costumes and wear “civilian clothes”. One such outfit worn by Black Widow is a simple grey bath robe, with lines at the cuffs. This is very reminiscent of the costume she wore for many years: It too is grey, and the cuffs boast lines too, though in this case they are the launchers for Natasha’s famed “Widow Sting”. This beautiful cover from the incredible David Mack is an awesome showcase for this costume, which Natasha did wear predominantly during her time with Daredevil.
7. Pizza Dog! During the climactic battle Hawkeye takes a moment of time to ensure all the innocents have fled the battlefield to safety. As he does so, he watches a dog race on to the lifeboat to be saved. In the hugely popular – and totally awesome – Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series Clint does more than watch a dog be saved, he actively works to save a dog after it escapes from its abusive owners and is hit by a car. The dog survives his many injuries – as does Clint – and as the two of them lament their day and lick their wounds Clint decides to name the dog “Lucky” (but not before a hilarious scene in which Clint checks the dog’s tags to see his name is “Arrow”). Lucky, aka Pizza Dog, becomes an important part of the series, staring in his very own issue ! Hawkeye #11 sees Lucky investigate a murder – and consume pizza – in a story which is written entirely in pictograms, to represent the way he as a dog would sense the world. It is tricky to follow in parts, but a comics masterpiece well worth the time you will spend reading it.
8. Ulysses Klaw searching for Vibranium. Ulysses Klaw is the scientist who becomes a villain plaguing the Fantastic Four (and notably for the Marvel movie franchises, Black Panther). Klaw attempts to steal the rare metal Vibranium to complete his “Sound Tranducer”, a device which would convert sound waves into physical mass. He is confronted by T’Chaka, but Klaw defeats and murders the Wakandan king. The Wakandan prince T’Challa witnesses the murder and stops Klaw from stealing the Vibranium and gains revenge by cutting off Klaw’s right hand. This is echoed in the Avengers movie, as once again Ulysses Klaw (this time a mercenary) loses his right hand after securing Vibranium for Ultron.
In later comics changes himself into a being made of pure sound, and uses version of his sound tranducer as a prosthetic for his right, which he can use to create physical objects made of sound. He again fights T’Challa, who is now the hero Black Panther (see below) and is once again defeated. Klaw continues to be a thorn in T’Challa’s side for many years, and is my pick for the villain who will feature in the 2018 Black Panther movie.
This fictional African nation has played an important role in the Marvel comics universe since its early days. It is home to the precious and extremely rare metal Vibranium, once used (along with Adamantium) to create the alloy which makes up Captain America’s famous shield. It is the presence of Vibranium which has allowed successive kings to create a techno-utopia within the nation, so that lush jungles teem with state of the art technology. Wakanda being mentioned in Age of Ultron is important for another reason: it is the home to the heroic Black Panther, Wakanda’s protector and king. Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966 (making him the first African superhero !) and first joined the Avengers in issue 52 (May 1968). The title of Black Panther is a ceremonial title given to the Wakandan king, who is permitted to consume a special “heart shaped herb” which confers great strength, speed, stamina, reflexes and agility, along with superhumanly acute senses (it may be that the herb allows the imbiber to form a mystical link with the Panther god, who bestows these abilities on those deemed worthy).
There have been many brilliant Black Panther stories through the years, from the story “Panther’s Rage” in Jungle Action issues 6-24 to Christopher Priest’s epic run on the character in Black Panther volume 3 (my personal favourite !) .
My son Jamie and I were a little disappointed Black Panther did not make an appearance in Age of Ultron, and are hoping T’Challa is introduced in next year’s Captain America: Civil War before he graduates to his own movie !
10. Thanos and the Gauntlet. Once again the end credits show us the cosmic tyrant Thanos, this time expressing his frustration and telling the audience he will “do it himself” as he picks up a gauntlet. The gauntlet, which keen eyes viewers will have noticed has six slots in which gemstones can be fitted, is called the Infinity Gauntlet and it has been wielded to great effect by Thanos over the years. The Infinity Gauntlet is intended to house the Infinity Gems, manifestations of cosmic forces and artefacts of tremendous powers. Thanos collected the Gems in the Thanos quest miniseries, thus gaining godlike power – he had the ability to completely wipe the universe out and recreate it as an exact replica. I do not want to go into great detail about the subsequent Infinity Gauntlet storyline, as it is epic in scope with many cool moments and interesting twists (also, it is clear that the next couple of Avengers films will play around with the ideas presented in the story). Instead I recommend you seek out the series for yourself, and marvel at the time Captain America and the other heroes of the Marvel universe stand up to the Mad Tyrant himself !
There they are, the Easter Eggs hidden in Avengers: Age of Ultron I found the most tasty. Which were your favourites ? Let me know in the comments below!
GS Blogger: Brett Harris