Saturday, October 5, 2013

Age of Ultron Meet and Greet: Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch

 Avengers: Age of Ultron promises to be one of the biggest grossing films of all time when it is released on May 1, 2015.  The finale of Marvel's second phase in their ever-expanding cinematic universe, Avengers: Age of Ultron will see the Earth's Mightiest Heroes face off against an almost unbeatable foe: Ultron, a sentient robot bent on the destruction of human-kind, starting with the Avengers.  The team will have to reassemble to face this threat and, as of now, we know there will be two new additions to it: super-powered twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff: the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
The addition of the twins is of great interest to those who have long followed the twisted path of the movie rights of Marvel's characters.  both these characters have deep ties to both the X-Men (they are mutants and the offspring of Magneto) and the Avengers (along with Hawkeye and Captain America, the twins made up the second edition of the group).  Interestingly, their movie rights fall into some grey area which allow both FOX and Marvel to use them in their films, with some limitations on how their explained and what background they have.  While a lot of fans are feeling some anxiety over how this works, I prefer to focus on the fact that we'll see these long-time Marvel comics mainstays on screen and that, no matter how they are explained, their powers will finally be on display.  Just what can we expect from Wanda and Pietro in Avengers: Age of Ultron?

In the comics, Wanda and Pietro are introduced as villains: part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants before ultimately joining the Avengers.  Certainly, despite not being able to be in the Brotherhood in Avengers, the twins are not going to be good guys right away, as Joss Whedon has told us.  We know that, at the start of the film, they will be under the control of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, one of the big bads of the Marvel Universe. The mutant twins have very unique abilities, unlike anything any current member of the MCU Avengers possess.  Quicksilver possesses super speed both mentally and physically; his mind works just as fast as his feet and it also causes him to be quite impatient with those around him who operate at what must seem like a snail's pace to him.  The Scarlet Witch's powers have evolved over time but, at the core, she has the power to alter reality by controlling probability through focused "hexes" that she casts through some Vegas-style machinations.  It has often been the case that her powers are greater than she knows and her use of them has sometimes had some very dramatic effects on the rest of the Marvel universe.  Recently, the Ultimate versions of the twins underwent some drastic changes which included some grody incest, something we are unlikely to see on screen.

So what purpose would Whedon have for bringing the twins into the MCU?  Some fans like to believe he did it just to do it because he could and take a stab at FOX; that doesn't seem right to me. We know the twins will open the film on the outside looking in but that, at some point, they're going to join the team.  I would imagine there's something specific to each of them that is going to help in the eventual defeat of Ultron.  In the comics, Scarlet Witch has used her hexes to cause malfunctions in the circuitry of Ultron; Quicksilver could easily do nothing more than work up a cyclone/whirlwind around Ultron while the rest of the team takes their shots.

But, almost certainly, the twins inclusion in the sequel is more about their effect on the dynamics of the Avengers and the MCU than it is about what they can do to Ultron.  Wanda's powers are going to be visually interesting but she has been a catalyst of some big events in the comics.  She will also certainly draw the ogling of Hawkeye who, along with Cap, will take responsibility for making sure she can can handle herself in physical combat.  I do not see her being a one-off character.  I know Whedon will kill off someone soon, but I don't see it being one of his female characters.  Quicksilver will also but an entirely different set of powers on display with his super-speed and associated abilities; however, I think one of the best things he will bring to the dynamic is his mercurial temperament.  He will almost certainly rub every single one of the male Avengers the wrong way and, at least once, his arrogance and cocksure nature will jeopardize the team.

Both the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have connections to the bigger Marvel universe that can be exploited to expedite the additions of some new characters.  I would not be surprised to find us introduced to the Inhumans as a result of this film. Quicksilver has a long and storied history both with his Inhuman wife and his exposure to the Terrigen Mist. Scarlet Witch and The Vision, who could make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, get married and carry on some funky human-on-android love.  Wanda's powers also provide an opening to the world of magic and demons(she is fated to be the focal point for all of Earth's magical energy, the Nexus Being) that will be further explored in Doctor Strange. In my extremely uneducated opinion, these two characters are going to survive the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and have larger roles to play in the MCU.

Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) have been cast as Wanda and Pietro. Both are incredibly talented young actors and have a great deal to offer the MCU. I'd look to find out that both Olsen and Johnson have signed multi-picture deals.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be a dark film.  Ultron will do damage to the Avengers and to Earth and, in the end, he won't truly be beaten, only delayed.  Ultron will never go away; he just requires a body to host his evil consciousness.  The Avengers will win, but at some cost (this guy doesn't expect well see a whole lot more of Clint Barton in future MCU installments); I don't believe that cost will be these twins, who I believe to be gateways to the further expansion of the MCU.