With the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer still burning up the interwebs, fans are starting to get over the initial "Holy $#!%" reaction and come to one grim realization: this is a Joss Whedon movie, so somebody's got to die. It's not looking like it's going to be Captain America, so who gets it when Ultron takes the screen in 2015?
"Somebody's got to die" isn't just one of Biggie Smalls' more nuanced album cuts, it's one of the guiding principles behind just about any Joss Whedon production. Over at The Atlantic, Christopher Orr pointed this out, saying that he hopes Age of Ultron won't go too grim but being somewhat resigned to the possibility given the movie's intense trailer.
Why are some so glum? Spoiler alert: Joss Whedon sort of can't make it through a movie without killing a character fans love. In the first Avengers movie, it was Agent Coulson. Before that, it was Wash in Serenity and Penny in Dr. Horrible. The man's a monster. Like George R. R. Martin, but with less flowery writing.
"You go to the movies to see people you love suffer," Whedon told EW back in 2013, "that's why you go to the movies."
So whom do we get to see suffer in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Well, it looks like just about everybody.
The team looks to be in utter disarray in many of the shots, whether it's Captain America's broken shield; Thor, Black Widow, and Bruce Banner looking like they just got done watching a Lars Von Trier flick; Scarlet Witch doing her best Wolverine pose; or Thor going all Latrell Sprewell on Tony Stark.
But who's going to die? Whedon has been coy about this so far, not committing to anyone dying but not saying it's off the table. Whedon is Whedon, though, so it's a safe bet that someone is going to bite it.
Early odds were on Captain America, what with the broken shield and all. That seems like a pretty good visual indicator, no? Plus, it would give either the Falcon or the Winter Soldier the chance to pick up the shield (fragments) and carry on the tradition.
That's a bit iffy, though, considering that Chris Evans is now a bona fide star thanks to the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Plus, if Marvel is actually going to go all Civil War-style with Captain America 3, they'd need the original Captain America there to give the story line a bit of oomph.
So Captain America is out. Considering the news that Robert Downey Jr. is going to be in Captain America 3, we can also consider Tony Stark a non-starter. Ditto for Hawkeye, who will also apparently be in the third Captain America movie. Who's left?
Thor, oddly enough, is a definite possibility due to one fact: Marvel has not yet announced a Thor 3. There's also the fact that Thor: The Dark World only pulled in –ha! "only" – $206 million after its 2013 release. Plus, the stakes don't get much higher than the death of a god.
There's also the possibility of Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury finally biting the big one, which could be quite likely given how little Fury actually winds up mattering to the action in Marvel movies so far. The death (and return) of Fury, though, was a big draw for Captain America 2, so Marvel is unlikely to play that card again.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will be making their first full appearances, so they're unlikely to kick the bucket. Ditto with the Vision, even though he didn't make an appearance in the trailer.
That leaves just two other Avengers: Black Widow and the Hulk. And there's a very Whedonesque reason that one of these two is a prime candidate for the big sleep.
Check out that trailer again, and look closely. You'll see a ballerina scene and a scene where Scarlet Witch and the Hulk appear to be having a tender moment. They're one right after the other.
The ballerina scene, as ComicBook.com points out, is likely a flashback to Black Widow's past, as Natasha was once brainwashed into believing she'd been a Russian ballerina. Why does that matter? One of the things Whedon loves to do is make you love and identify with a character right before killing them, so giving us a bit more background on Black Widow would be a perfect lead up to something like that.
What about that Black Widow-Hulk tenderness? The first Avengers movie established a link between the two, and it looks like Age of Ultron will continue to explore that territory, maybe with the ultimate goal of breaking your heart.
One of the working theories out there is that Black Widow is the one that gets offed in Age of Ultron, and that that's the reason the Hulk winds up fighting Iron Man later in the trailer. If Age of Ultron does indeed establish some deeper connection between the two, and if the Stark-created Ultron winds up killing Black Widow, that does seem like enough reason for Banner to Hulk out and go after Tony Stark, no? Or maybe the Hulk is dying, and Black Widow is saying goodbye?
That is, of course, assuming that anyone dies over the course of Age of Ultron. We could just see a happy movie where the heroes beat the evil artificial intelligence and then sit down for more shawarma once it's all done. We could, but we won't; it's Whedon.
So, is there a bright side? Well, there is if you're a Disney shareholder; Age of Ultron looks like it's got a great shot at surpassing Avengers' mind boggling billion-plus box office total and raising the hype level for Captain America 3 to near unbearable heights. For the fans, though, it looks like we'll be getting a pretty grim tale for the screen; more Empire Strikes Back than A New Hope. At least we're likely to get a Black Panther movie out of the whole ordeal, though.