Warning: The following article contains massive spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron. We’re talking end-of-the-movie stuff here, folks. Read no further until you’ve seen it!
In addition to telling a self-contained story, Avengers: Age of Ultron is crammed with all sorts of teases meant to set up future Marvel movies, including Tony Stark’s hero-shattering Infinity War vision and … well, whatever was going on with Thor. For my money, though, the most significant and exciting tease is the one that comes in the final frames of the film, when Captain America and Black Widow assemble a new Avengers team that replaces exiting members Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye with promising new recruits Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Falcon, and Vision. It’s a weirder, groovier, more intriguing team than what we’re used to, and I am here for it! For however long it lasts, then, let us now sing the praises of the New Avengers.
One of the primary pleasures of the very first Avengers movie was seeing how these very different superheroes would work together: Which costumed crusaders would butt heads, and which would become instant BFFs? That thrill is tempered by familiarity in Age of Ultron — we already know the ins and outs of how our primary six superheroes relate to each other — but it’s renewed at the very end, when the new Avengers lineup presents all sorts of intriguing match-ups and dynamics. Can you imagine how these weirdos will get along? Because I’ve been doing it all weekend!
For example, what if Falcon and Vision become adorably mismatched roommates in Washington, D.C.? Will Falcon take Vision out to bars to teach him how to pick up women, and Vision will respond to each instruction with a faintly bemused nod, even though at the end of the night, he excuses himself to send a loaded, emotionally ambiguous drunk text to Scarlet Witch?
Will War Machine — who spends Age of Ultron trying to buff up his superheroic bona fides — trade juicy Tony Stark gossip with Captain America and Black Widow? You can bet that those two S.H.I.E.L.D. alums would think themselves above the fray at first, but after Tony pulls whatever insufferable stunts he’s got up his sleeve in Captain America: Civil War, they’ll come running to War Machine to spill all the good tea.
And will Scarlet Witch use her formidable mind-control powers to smack some sense into Jeremy Renner, pick up a new red leather jacket for less than the sale price at rag & bone, and bewitch Kevin Feige into casting Jessica Chastain as Captain Marvel?
This is what it’s come to, people: I’m so enamored by the new Avengers lineup that they’ve practically got me writing fanfiction, for God’s sake. But even beyond the potent character combinations, what I really appreciate about this new crew is how diverse it is. Only one member of the 2.0 Avengers, Captain America, is a white male — the rest of the team consists of two women, two black men, and a purple guy. Considering how much ground Marvel still has to make up in a movie universe dominated by white actors named Chris, that represents progress.
The new recruits also have appreciably different motivations and personalities than what we’re used to. Falcon seems to be treating his superherohood like it’s the biggest blast on earth, and his fun is contagious. War Machine is the endearing Luigi of this crew, forever trying to emerge as more than a palette-swapped, second-banana spin on Iron Man. Vision is so freaking weird and chill that I don’t even know, but I want to find out. And Scarlet Widow stands as a nice rebuke to comic-book stories that regularly kill off female characters to feed a hero’s man-pain: She gets to be motivated by the tragic death of her brother, and it’s clear by the end of the movie that she was more important than him, anyway.
I don’t expect this New Avengers lineup to hold for very long, so let’s enjoy it while we can. Upcoming recruits like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man will surely try to pull focus (though the addition of Black Panther might mean we’ll have a squad populated by three very different black men, which is rad), and there’s always the chance that by the time Avengers: Infinity War — Part 1, rolls around, the group will have shed some of the new members in order to reintegrate some of the classic heroes we’re used to. But in the meantime, this is a pretty great hero crew, and if Marvel wants to make more movies or comic books that concentrate on these six characters teaming up, I'll be the first in line.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return to a very serious adult pursuit where I scroll through Tumblr searching for fan art of the New Avengers drawn in the cartoon style of the Muppet Babies. (I will also accept super-deformed versions of Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Captain America just hanging out.) Excelsior!