You’ve seen the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, because lord knows everyone else not living in a cave without internet did. It’s the sequel to a heavily-planned comic book movie project that shouldn’t have worked but somehow did; that we as pop culture aficionados and content curators are INCREDIBLY thankful for.
The wait isn’t long: it’s just a week-and-a-half more until the film comes out in Singapore for all to see (you can book a ticket now if you want). But surely you’re curious about the origins of the titular villain Ultron. Or wonder which Avengers comic series you should jump into if you’re fresh off the comics-reading boat. Or inquiring about where else the Avengers have popped up apart from the 2012 film.
Fret not, for we shall churn out whatever relevant Avengers trivia we have so that you can boost your own knowledge that’s relevant to Marvel’s ace superhero team that doesn’t start with an “X”.
Let’s start off with the television medium. Yes, there are quite a number of animated adaptations of Marvel’s star superhero team, ranging from Next Avengers to the current Avengers Assemble by Disney. But these are either one-shot films or a what-if battle royale featuring 1/4th of the team. For something as dynamic as the Avengers, you’ll need something serialized and fleshed out.
Therefore we recommend Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes because it captures the fantastical flavor of the comics where the team faces many foes and scenarios both popular and obscure. The TV show covers the Skrull Wars, the Asgardian crossover, the Ultron arc, the Kree infiltration and even Kang’s time-traveling shenanigans. They even feature others like Baron Zemo, the Wrecking Crew, and Graviton (in the first few episodes). Hell, the first episode featured Graviton, a one-time powerful Avengers villain who controls gravity in case you couldn’t tell by the obviously 70s-coined name.
It even features Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers version voiced by Fem Shepard Jennifer Hale), Hawkeye and Black Panther at their best. The three of them steal the show because they provide the newbie perspective of things, the womanizing comic relief, and insightful aspects of the show respectively. The
B-List New Avengers were even featured in their own episode; we see Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, The Thing, War Machine and Wolverine trying to team up and take on Kang & his time-warping council.
Despite the theme song sounding like it came out from an amateur Avenged Sevenfold copycat, the show had a lot of awesome stories and moments derived from its source material. Yet it also had its own take on the group dynamic and know who to focus on in each episode.
If you can find the DVD or Blu-Ray collections of the series, go for it! It captures everything the Avengers is about more than the direct-to-TV animated films did, because anything as big as Marvel’s superhero team requires more than an hour to entertain. You’ve got a week-and-a-half; that’s enough to finish the two seasons of this unappreciated show, right?
We’ve seen DC Comics having their own fighting game and a few Marvel star players fighting in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. But what about a videogame featuring just the Avengers themselves?
The old arcade game from Data East is one way to start; it’s called Captain America & The Avengers. It’s a 4-player beat-em-up where you can pick between (surprise surprise) Captain America, Iron Man,, Hawkeye and Vision. They all play the same from their projectiles to their regular attacks. The novelty that draws people to this money-muncher is the four-player mode. You and your couch surfing pals beat off legions of bots, mercenaries and badass supervillains like Crossbones and Ultron.
The simple controls and on-the-ball action hit all the right notes; not only do you scroll left to right beating up goons, you also participate in simple 2D shooting segments. It’s obviously light on story, but it’s worth a few runs as a couch game solely for the solid-yet-simple fighting and the atrocious-yet-hilarious voice-overs.
There’s the second Marvel Ultimate Alliance game for the PS3 and Xbox 360 if you want something a bit more RPG-like and customizable in nature. This four-player drop-in drop-out co-op action RPG is set during an alternate version of the famous Civil War arc. Halfway through the game, you’ll have enough members to form the Avengers and tank the game through there.
This title will require a bit more time to finish due to its plot and RPG gameplay, but at least you can save your progress to continue another day.
While there aren’t any tunes focused solely on the Avengers, there are at least songs paying tribute to the founding members.
.moe’s “Captain America” is not really so much about the Cap himself, but rather it’s about getting advice from the supersoldier himself lest you want to end up dead in life figuratively. Its berrating chorus about being stuck in the middle is meant to be a wake-up call within its upbeat tempo vibe of the rock song. Its scant lyrics on Superman choosing to be president and Captain America telling you to inadvertently fight the system has so many political overtones layered into it. At the very least, this tune will make a good party conversation piece if Captain America somehow gets brought up.
Manowar’s “Thor (The Powerhead)” is straight-up power metal song fantasy. Lyrics like “Thor the Mighty / Thor the Brave / Crush the infidels in your way / By your hammer let none be saved” brave on while a guitar solo crashes in to fill the gaps for an experience unlike any other.
The Traits’ “Nobody Loves The Hulk” is the tragic tale of the Hulk told in punk rock Misfits-esque form. This relic of a tune is worth a listen if you’re into the 80s. Lines like “The explosion made him feel so strange/For his molecules had been rearranged/Into the Hulk!” are anything but subtle.
Because we’re pretty lazy, we’re just gonna throw in Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”. It may not be a correct representation of drunkard billionaire genius playboy Tony Stark, but it’s still a rockin’ tune with a solid guitar riff that has earned its place as the trailer music to the first Iron Man film.
Last but definitely not least, we think it’s best to head to the original source material to boost up your Avengers trivia. But there are so many Avenger issues to go through. Which ones are the best to start to know more about the big bad bot Ultron? We’ll share the definitive ones you can’t live without.
Avengers #227 help explain his connection with creator Dr Hank Pym in what could be one of the many Greek tragedies displayed in Marvel format. You know, the one where the term Oedipus Complex came from, since Ultron wants to kill his “dad” yet somehow fashioned a robot girlfriend after his “mom”.
Avengers Volume 1 #54-#55 displays Ultron’s debut role as a puppeteer, leading the second Masters of Evil group against the Avengers.
Avengers Volume 1 #66-#68 is also a good one, where Ultron rebuilt himself using everybody’s favorite made-up indestructible metal used by that one X-Men member a lot. Naturally the Avengers got their asses kicked by him, but SHIELD’s interference prevented him from finishing the job. And something about self-hypnotizing too.
For a full-blown adventure featuring that sentient man-hating bot, go for the Ultron Unlimited arc in Avengers Volume 3 issue 19 to 23, where Ultron-16 plans to invade the made-up country of Slorenia and the Avengers risk life and limb to stop him and his huge Ultron army. Plus, it also has that semi-famous Thor quote that will 100% be in the movie.
If you want to see a rather interesting take on Ultron, Mighty Avengers #2 onwards sees Tony Stark’s infected armor turning into a sentient half-machine woman. You can insert your own innuendoes and Oedipal Complex comments here.
For something a little more recent, you should go for Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run. Starting with Avengers World, the writer follows the kind of forward story-planning previous writers like Kurt Busiek did, but for 2013 and beyond. It’s more full-blown adventure than character-driven mini-stories, but the Avengers have always been about big epic life-or-death adventures.
If you’re on the flip side of things and want something a little more personal in your Avengers stories, go for Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers. With solid character writing complemented with lively art from Jamie McKelvie, this series is definitely worth checking out if you want a superhero group comic with an alternative kind of dynamic storytelling and narrative structure.
Got any other Avengers story, games or series to share that can help enlighten you about the superhero group? Anything big we missed out that’s revolving around Marvel’s big superhero group? Give a shoutout on the comments below.
Jonathan is an avid self-proclaimed connoisseur of films, video games, music & comics. Prefers screwdrivers over martinis. Fears oblivion.