This post may contain spoilers for Age of Ultron but considering it’s just my speculation, anything posted here that’s not in the trailer is pretty much just guessing. There are references to other MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies I suppose, so if you’re not up to date, then spoilers I guess. I also want to throw in that while I am pretty knowledgeable on the characters of Marvel, I actually don’t read a ton of Marvel comics so this is mostly speculation on what is in the movie or gleamed from Wikis, not necessarily “this happened in the comics so it will be this way in the movies”. I also have not seen Guardians of the Galaxy but I suspect that GotG has little impact on what’s happening in Age of Ultron.
Anyway, here is the trailer:
What we Know From Previous and Future Movies
So there has been some build up of events that we know or strongly suspect that may or may not have any impact on the events of Age of Ultron.
Avengers 3 is supposed to be Thanos and the culmination of the current underlining plot. Thanos first shows up at the end of Avengers 1 during the after credits sequence. Almost every movie so far in the MCU has had some aspect or influence by one of the Infinity Gems, though they aren’t called that. This ultimately will culminate in Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. I can’t really say how this I likely going to work in with Avengers 2 but my best guess would be something to do with Ultron and his origins.
Captain America left to investigate some Hydra stuff at the end of Captain America 2. Also, Winter Soldier is still alive. I have no idea if it will happen in the MCU but in the comics, Winter Soldier eventually replaces Rodgers as Captain America. I have some doubts that Winter Soldier will show up at all in Avengers 2.
There was a short vignette after Iron Man 3 about Trevor aka the “Fake Mandarin” in jail. I think it was on one of the Blu Ray releases probably either Iron Man 3 or Thor 2. Trevor is kind of a big shot in jail from his Mandarin days but he is kidnapped by agents of the “Real Mandarin” who is unhappy that his image was being ripped off. MY speculation is that the Fake Mandarin is in fact the Real Mandarin, and this was just an elaborate escape that even his own lackeys were not in on. Mandarin is all about manipulation and illusion, so it would fit. I don’t think they will pull out Mandarin for Avengers 2. I feel like it’s more likely Mandarin will return for Captain America 3.
Captain America 3 is supposed to follow the Civil War plot line with the core Iron Man vs Captain America conflict. This implies there will be some falling out between the two during this film. I’m not sure how well Civil War will work because MCU has considerably less super heroes than actual Marvel and I am pretty sure a lot of the plot of Civil War involved Mutants vs Non Mutants and MCU can’t officially use Mutants.
Ant Man is coming out after Avengers 2. Ant Man in the comics had some relation to the origins of Ultron but it’s not clear if this will be the case in the MCU. I have heard that the Ant Man flick has had some production issues and may be the first real “flop” in the MCU, the studio knows this, but apparently the plot of Ant Man is fairly crucial to the over arching Thanos thing that’s going on so they pretty much HAVE to continue. I have no idea how accurate that is.
There seems to be little desire or effort to mix Agents of shield with the overall MCU in any meaningful way. I keep hoping someone from Agents will at least make a cameo as background people at some point. We have Deathlok running around and they are introducing Mockingbird but I doubt either shows up in Avengers 2. MAYBE everyone will be pulled in for the showdown against Thanos in Avengers 2. Maybe.
What we see in the Trailer
So, there is some things we can gleam from this trailer as well. there are a couple of major points here and some other subtle ones. Ultra shows up a few times and does a voice over, his name is in the title. Ultron is the villain here. He may end up being manipulated by someone else but he’s pretty much the main antagonist. Iron man breaks out the Hulkbuster armor and throws down with Hulk. Captain America runs around in a forest.
Let’s start with Hulkbuster versus Hulk. I feel that this will be the opening scene or possibly the second major scene and set piece. It’ll pretty much be an excuse to pull everyone back together. For whatever reason, Banner goes nuts as Hulk and Stark has to take him down. Thor probably shows up to help him. My main issue with Thor is I can’t think of any major motivation for him to come back to Earth. I guess there is always so he can hang out with Natalie Portman. We also know Hydra has Loki’s Staff (this was at the end of Cap2). Maybe Thor is looking for Cap’s staff.
Stark also apparently decided that destroying all is armors i Iron Man 3 was a dumb idea, he obviously has at least the Hulkbuster armor and a normal set of armor. I was kind of hoping they would use the opportunity to phase out Stark into a consulting role and replace him with War Machine/Iron Patriot. Just to shake up the group a bit. Anyway, Iron Man vs Hulk is a total throw away sort of plot point.
Captain America is running around a forest. It also appears that Hawkeye is running around in the same sort of setting. This is my second option for opening events scene, to set things up a bit before the big flashy IM/Hulk brawl. Cap is off in Russia or something looking for Hydra, Hawkeye joins him or tracks him at least looking to bring him back. They find the Hydra base, maybe find Loki’s staff and MAYBE Thor shows up looking for the staff. I’m not sure they will actually find Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver but at the very least they will find signs of those two. There will also be some remains of what was going on with Winter soldier. I feel like what was going on with Winter Soldier was not super clear in Cap 2, going to the facility where he was being kept in Chryostasis would give a good chance to explain that.
So we get Cap searching for Answers, Hawkeye catches up to him, they find some remains of a Hydra base, they return to help IM and Hulk throw down, maybe SW and Quicksilver show up and wup all over them. There is a scene in trailer where Banner is looking really shaken up and everyone is looking sad in a jet that I suspect occurs just after the Hulkbuster fight.
Now we get to total speculation mode…. At some point they all end up at Stark’s place, he has a bunch of dead armors around, Then Jarvis/Ultron shows up as a dead armor (in the trailer.) I’m going to push another angle besides Jarvis. Captain America 2 introduced a sentient AI from Hydra. I forget the dude’s name but it was Red Skull’s helper from Captain America 1. It’s possible that Ultron is controlled by this AI. Probably indirectly. I feel like this AI component, which felt pretty throw away in Cap 2, is going to have a bigger role.
So there are two elements not really covered by this Trailer. Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver are major players. In the comics, they are both well known Avengers, which is the loop hole that Marvel is using to get around the “No Mutants” policy. They will not be Mutants and they will not be the children of Magneto and Mystique(?). They will just be “magic people”, maybe empowered somehow by Loki’s staff or maybe by some Hydra version of the Super soldier serum. They seem to start out as Hydra Agents and are shown with Ultron in the trailer, but they are pretty likely going to be partnered with the Avengers by the end.
The second element, comes from previously released posters. The core cast, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlett Witch, Quicksilver, and Hulk, each got posters that could be joined into one large scene. The scene had them all battling it out with an army of Ultron robots. This is pretty much guaranteed to be the end climax of the film, regardless of who, if anyone, is ultimately manipulating Ultron.
After the Film
So, there are some potentials here. The trailer shows a broken Cap shield, this is probably a Red Herring but it’s possible this is a dead Captain America, with Winter Soldier taking his place during the final act.
I’ve also heard speculation that Jarvis and/or Ultron will end up being fixed/turned and become Vision, who is a pretty prominent member of the Avengers and is a robot. This could be pretty cool if it happens. I’m not holding my breath. Maybe this will be part of the Ant Man plot instead. Who knows, that’s part of why this is all speculation and it’s all probably wrong anyway.
Over the recent Labor Day holiday, Star Trek Online (STO) had a promotion with free items each day. This inspired me to play a little bit more of the game. Slightly irritatingly, the free ship was only available for players level 40 and above. I’m only level 10.
I really want to like STO, and it feels like they have changed and simplified things since I last played, but I find the whole thing just… confusing and cumbersome. Maybe I’m just not used to it, but I keep having a hard time figuring out where I need to go and what I need to do. I recall before I had some trouble even distinguishing between the little mini map icons for missions and the different NPCs.
I also really have no clue how to outfit my ship or what is good and what’s not good. It almost feels like my early days in WoW, except this time I know that "I’m probably doing something wrong and need to find the right way to make it work" instead of my old WoW days of blindly running along with Cloth armor instead of Plate and whatever weapon i thought looked cool.
I did manage to find my active missions, which seemed to only be one, defend some starbase. This actually ended up being kind of fun because there were other players participating in the battle, plus like 100 Klingon ships. On one hand, a bunch of allies made things super easy. On the other hand, I’m not sure if I was being helpful or carried, which doesn’t help me know if I am doing anything right when it comes to outfitting my ship.
After defeating the Klingons I got a distress call about "Borg activity" asking if I wanted to join the battle. I figured what the hell and was dropped into another large scale battle. Things played out pretty similar to the Klingon battle, Borg were killed then a large boss ship warped in and we all fought it together. Then my ship got destroyed because "Borgs". Fortunately, like any good MMO, the ship is easily repaired in seconds and I was able to re enter the fray, blindly charging the enemy as if I know what the hell I am doing.
I didn’t end up participating in any away missions, just space battles, and I never did turn in my missions for rewards because, fuck if I know how to do that. It tells me to head for "System X" on a massive map of systems. I also feel like I’m doing something totally wrong when navigating around because it’s a lot of sitting and staring at stars rushing by. It’s not like WoW or LotROL or other MMOs where you might have to fight mobs between destinations, it’s just, stars flying by.
It’s pretty neat and "epic" the first few times but it feels like I’m missing some way to skip it after a few dozen long space flights.
I am a fan of comics, I like the idea of comics, I like super heroes.
I don’t actually read all that many comics. The ongoing monthly cost is more than I care to bother with and I hate the whole multispan multi book story arch aspects (multibook Crossovers, not bultibook within a series). It also feels like there is too much long tail and too much filler to really "get into" anything these days. I really love collections and Graphic Novels. They tend to highlight the best aspects and they tend to be self constrained consolidated stories. The only DC hero I really care for is Batman, and maybe Power Girl (and not for her enormous plots). It’s probably not a coincidence that my favorite Marvel heroes are Iron Man and Mr Fantastic (and the FF by extension). I like the sciencey inventory gadget types. My exposure to Batman is is still mostly limited tot he various movies and TV shows.
I’ve been reading through a bunch of Batman graphic novels recently, and mostly enjoying them. They apparently are not all in continuity with each other but it’s good enough for my level of interest. (I picked up ten books on Comixology during their 75th anniversary sale).
I started out with Hush. I wanted something from a more slightly modern era that I had heard (meaning it must be relatively famously decent). Hush fit the bill. It’s also possible that it was just first in the list and this the first one to finish downloading. It turned out to be a decent book to start with, not because it’s super great but because it covered a pretty wide birth of general Batman history and almost all of the major villains make an appearance at some point as well as many of Batman’s allies.
Ok, I’m assuming these random appearances are at least somewhat less common, maybe Joker is in every other issue, Arkham Asylum seems to be a literal revolving door of entry and exit for these bad guys. It’s kind of comical just how bad the security is on a prison that holds all of the cities most dangerous psychopaths. Anyway, Batman follows through a series of encounters trying to track down this new criminal mastermind. His journey even takes him through to Metropolis with a brief appearance by Lois lane and Superman.
While I enjoyed the art and the overall story, the book suffers from the over use of the red herring plot device. There are at least 3 people who wear the same outfit for various reasons in an attempt to make you think they are the real villain, not to mention the other "could he be the mastermind?" moments with people not dressed in a coat and bandages. This is made even more annoying by the fact that it’s pretty obvious who Hush REALLY is from very early on including his motivations. This results in a decent ride with a lackluster, and obvious ending.
Despite this complaint, I really did enjoy Hush. Its a great quick primer for someone like me who is less familiar with how the character dynamics work in the comics. It also has a few set ups that I imagine are expanded upon in the future mainline series of books.
The Long Holloween
It’s kind of funny reading through The Long Halloween just after reading through Hush. It’s an older book, but it has a fair number of parallels to Hush. Specifically the whole "who is the mysterious killer" aspect as well as the "All of the rogues gallery will make an appearance" angle. You even have the subplot of Catwoman showing up to help out. I suppose the reality is that these gimmicks are probably just the way Batman books always work.
Unlike Hush, the "secret main villain" (Holiday, as in the Holiday Killer) is slightly less obvious from the get go. It also saves most of it’s big reveals until the end, and it actually has a nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming yet it totally makes sense and fits. The core plot follows Batman tracking down Holiday, a killer who is systematically murdering high level Mob figures through out Gotham, except each murder falls on a Holiday, starting with Halloween.
There is a secondary point to the story but it’s a bit of a spoiler, so I’m going to throw it in this paragraph. If you want to avoid spoilers you can just skip ahead to the next paragraph or the next book. Anyway, now that there is a bit of space in there, I’ll go on an say, the basis of this book acts as an origin story for Two Face. This is part of why i wasn’t certain of the true identity of Holiday despite my suspicions. Harvey Dent plays a pretty major roll in the story, but I know Harvey Dent is a character who isn’t just Two Face. I had my suspicions that in the end Harvey would become Two Face, but it was entirely possible that Harvey would just spend the entire story helping Jim Gordon search for Holiday. It helped that there were several other possible candidates for Holiday, however unlike Hush, the entire story wasn’t spent setting them up and knocking them down as suspects. Most, if not all of the suspects lasted up to the end of the book.
Also, I may be imagining things, but this book really felt like it had served as the root of the recent film, The Dark Knight (aka the good one). The Dark Knight is certainly a way different plot than The Long Halloween, but it shares a lot of the core ideas and characters. The Joker, the Mob characters, Harvey Dent, i think there was even a money burning scene in both books (I’ve been reading a bunch of these and they are starting to blur). The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movies for sure and this book really kept hitting a lot of the same notes that movie does.
The Killing Joke
The last book for this round of discussion is The Killing Joke. Both of the last books were essentially collections of like 8-10 issues covering an arc. The Killing Joke is considerably shorter and by rough estimate covers 2 or three issues. It’s considerably less "epic" and only involves Batman versus the Joker. The most notable thing about it is the slightly iconic cover, which may be less iconic than I feel it is as most of my experience with the cover involves a remake for Transformers involving Megatron and Reflector.
(Some spoilers ahead) Despite how short it is, several notable things happen in this arc. I am not sure how impacting on the overall world some of these events are given how Comics sometimes handle continuity, but they seemed important based on what I know. One, Barbara Gordon gets show and crippled. This is important because Barbra used to be Batgirl, later she is the wheelchair bound Oracle. Knowing comics, there has probably been a back and forth on this, but for my purposes, this serves as a point when Barbra’s character became permanently changed. None of this happens IN the book aside from the shooting. Batgirl doesn’t show up at all and Oracle doesn’t show up to help Batman track down the Joker.
This book apparently also is the basis for a change in how the Joker is depicted in all future books. The Joker spends most of the book torturing a naked Jim Gordon with BDSM midgets, it’s kind of bizarre more than freaky, but I suppose I can see the change. Instead of being a kind of comical "Joker" he is more of a deranged psycho. Ok, admittedly, I don’t really see the change, but then almost all of my Joker exposure is to the "Psycho Joker" so he just feels more or less like, The Joker.
There is also a subplot revealing the Joker’s origins. It’s really watered down though, which makes it more disappointing than insightful. Part of the Joker’s "thing" is that no one knows his true identity. Even after this origin we still really don’t know his identity other than he had a wife and was somewhat tricked into becoming the Joker. It sort of explains why he is the way he is but it really doesn’t feel like it gives enough motivation for why he is who he is. It also doesn’t help that the Joker is an Unreliable Narrator and the story may in fact be entirely untrue.
The point is, I can see why this is an important story in the Batman Mythos, but it’s also kind of a mediocre leaning crap story at it’s core. It adds to the mythos in several big ways, but it’s done in such a lame way that it’s hard to really care.
This is commentary on the Beta and is not intended to be a review. Also, as far as I know, the game will eventually be a "Free to Play" title so for now, I’m filing it under F2P.
Landmark is an upcoming Sandbox MMO title from SOE (Sony). I think. I’m actually a little lost on what it is ultimately going to be. I know it’s related to Everquest Next, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s going to replace it, or be a partner to it or what. At this point, it’s just a gather and build title. Combat is supposed to be added soonish (I have heard in a month or so). Whatever the case, being a free form building title, it had my interest. I enjoy Minecraft, but find the blocks to be a bit limited. I enjoy Second Life but that whole thing has just become some sort of spiraling ball of crap spiralling off into oblivion. SL has issues, hopefully they can be addressed in Linden Lab’s new thing that was announced recently (SL2). I’m not really here to discuss Second life or Minecraft though, but Landmark. Landmark almost strikes me as a cross between the more open building of Second Life, the gathering of Minecraft, and eventually the questing and combat of an actual MMO.
Supposedly eventually players will be able to build little mini quests and games into their creations for other players to interact with. It could be fun. Hopefully there is some mechanism to help prevent the world from turning into a hodgepodge mess like Second Life’s mainland is.
I have not gotten the chance to really explore the land and building aspects in depth yet. All I have done is mine. The system seems to be surprisingly robust. You can run your little pick axe and chop balls of materials out of the world or cut down trees. Except the world looks like an actual game. It’s not like Minecraft where everything is a grid of blocks, it’s a fluid flowing land. Chopping chunks out even looks natural in the end.
You can dig pretty deep too, I chopped a tunnel through a mountain for instance. One session I pan to just dig straight down as far as I can and see where it gets me. I do worry about potentially getting stuck though. I am not sure how easy it is to escape from a deep pit.
Anyway, I was a little leery about investing in the Beta after some of the negative aspects I was reading about but so far everything has been smooth. I have not had any frame rate issues. I’ve seen many complaints about low frame rates. Granted, I have a pretty beefy set up pushing the game along. I have heard complaints about the lack of actual game, but I’m ok with a complete sandbox system. There is some sort of material upkeep involved with owning a piece of land, materials which can be mined in world, but I don’t know how much mining will be involved as I have not staked a claim yet. The upkeep costs Copper Ore, and after an hour or so of really loose play I had amassed 700-1000 Copper, which is plenty if the upkeep is say, 50 copper per day, but it it’s 300 copper a day, I can see that becoming a massive chore. I’ll know more once I stake out a claim and start building on it.