OK, you’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now you’re curious what you may have missed or at least want to confirm what you thought you saw? We’re gathering up all the references to Avengers comic book history, other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies or general trivia you can find within Avengers: Age of Ultron. Obviously this contains spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie, you probably don’t want to read this article. Otherwise, let’s talk about the deep cut references found within!
The Comics References
Captain America has a new bit of tech, seemingly based on what Tony Stark used in Avengers and Iron Man 3. Cap can have his shield magnetically return to his wrist guard. This was created by Tony Stark in Avengers #6 (1963).
Hawkeye has an updated uniform in the movie, which is based on a recent costume he wore while going by the codename Ronin (first appearance was New Avengers #26 in 2007).
In the movie, we learn that Hawkeye has a family, which is likely why we didn’t see him in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and also why he steps away from the team at the end of the movie. This is based on the Hawkeye from the Ultimates, an updated version of the Avengers comics. Basically the comics version of a reboot. Their first appearance was Ultimates #2 (2005).
When the team is relaxing together after Tony’s party, Black Widow opts not to try to lift Thor’s hammer. In an alternate comics story (What if…?! Age of Ultron from 2014), the Natasha Romonaff of Earth-23223 (the main Marvel Universe in the comics is referred to as 616 out of an infinite number of parallel realities) did lift Thor’s hammer and gained his powers. In the comics, not too many people have been worthy of lifting Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Captain America has been one of the few (he nudged it in the movie).
In the movie, we meet Helen Cho, a scientist who works with Tony Stark. In the comics, its her teenage son, Amadeus Cho, who is an important character. He’s a teenage genius, within the ten smartest people in the world. He starts off as a supporting character in Hulk comics and becomes the best friend of Hercules, a longtime Avenger. He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy, Vol. 2, #15 (2006).
Ultron and the Avengers track down Ulysses Klaue, an arms dealer, in the movie. He’s been branded a thief for stealing Vibranium from Wakanda. In the comics, Wakanda is the highly advanced African nation ruled by King T’Chaka initially, and then his son, T’Challa, best known as Black Panther. In the comics he was known as Ulysses Klaw and first appeared in Fantastic Four #53 (1961). He was a scientist with an expertise in sonics who kills T’Chaka. Klaw escapes from T’Challa’s wrath but loses his arm, which he then affixes a sonic weapon to. Chances are pretty good that we could see Klaue again in the future Black Panther movie, with a similar weapon, since Ultron cuts his arm off in Age of Ultron.
In the movies, Wanda and Pietro are given their powers by Baron von Strucker’s experiments. While Marvel can use Wanda and Pietro, they don’t have the rights to call them mutants because 20th Century Fox has the film rights to Marvel’s X-Men and all mutant characters. So their film origin actually mirrors the comic book origins of Fenris. Fenris is the combined team of Andrea and Andreas von Strucker, the twins of the Baron. He performed experiments on them and gave them powers. They first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #194 (1985).
Early on in the movie, Ultron recruits Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. When they first meet him, he’s wearing a red robe. This is a reference to his first appearance in comics. Ultron originally disguised himself as a new supervillain called The Crimson Cowl in Avengers #54 (1963), only later revealing that he was a robot.
When Captain America’s mind is messed with, he sees himself at a USO event. The band’s name is The Roy Thomas Players. Roy Thomas was the writer of The Avengers comics who invented Ultron and Vision, among many other contributions to Marvel comics.
Tony Stark’s “Hulkbuster” armor first appeared in Iron Man #304 (1994). In the movie, writer and director Joss Whedon codenamed it Veronica. This is a reference to Archie comics Betty and Veronica because Hulk/Bruce Banner loves Betty Ross. Betty is always the sweet one to Archie and Veronica always causes him pain.
During the Hulk/Iron Man fight, Hulk is thrown through a truck that says Crawford. It may be a coincidence, but in the comics, Bruce Banner’s mentor, Dr. Geoffrey Crawford, becomes his enemy called Ravage (first appearance in Rampaging Hulk #2 from 1998).
Also, that fight was initially planned to feature a grey-colored Hulk instead of green. Wired interviewed special effects team ILM who said:
Initially, Hulk was actually planned to turn grey when he is angry Hulk in the Hulkbuster sequence, but hey, everybody wanted the green guy. So in the end, ILM just changed his eyes to make them look more sullen when he is under the control of Scarlet Witch.
Hulk first appeared grey in Incredible Hulk #1 (1962) in the comics but it was hard for colorist Stan Goldberg to keep the shade of grey consistent so Stan Lee changed him to green. Writer Peter David later revisited the grey Hulk idea in issue #302 (1984) with the idea that Bruce Banner has Associative Identity Disorder and the different colored Hulks represent different personalities within him. Grey Hulk is more crafty and devious but Green Hulk is stronger so he usually dominates.
Towards the end of the movie, Tony Stark loads a new AI into his armor. He cycles through a list and selects F.R.I.D.A.Y. (a reference to the film His Girl Friday, which Joss Whedon often lists as one of his major influences for writing strong female characters). But one of the other options is Jacosta. In the comics, Jacosta is an AI that Ultron creates to be his companion but, like Vision, she rebels against her creator and joins the Avengers. She first appeared in Avengers #162 (1977).
In Tony Stark’s vision of the future, he sees the Avengers dead and Captain America’s shield shattered. It’s only been broken like that a few times in the comics but it could refer to a scene from Infinity Guantlet, a six-issue series in 1991 where Thanos becomes all-powerful and kills all the superheroes. One of the last is Captain America, whose shield is destroyed.
Ultron has a speech in the movie about how we create what we fear. He says “Those seeking peace make machines of war, people make… little people? Children!) and invaders create avengers. That is probably a reference to the superhero team The Invaders, a precursor to The Avengers. It was a superteam comprised of Captain America and Bucky (the future Winter Soldier), Human Torch (an android, not the Fantastic Four version), Toro, and Sub-Mariner. It was a WWII era team referred to for the first time in The Avengers #71 (1969) by Roy Thomas.
There’s a subplot in the movie where Thor tries to learn more about his futuristic vision by visiting a mystical well. This refers to the Well of the Wyrd which first appeared in Thor Annual #11 (1983). He sees an apocalypse of some sort in Asgard which is quite likely to happen in the next Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok. It’s enough of a scare to make him leave the Avengers at the end of the movie.
At the end of the movie, Vision saves Scarlet Witch’s life. Who knows where this could lead but in the comics, Vision and Scarlet Witch fell in love and even got married and had kids somehow.
At the end of the movie, the remaining Avengers (Captain America and Black Widow) meet their new recruits: Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine and Falcon at a new building called the New Avengers Base. It’s probably a reference to New Avengers #1 (2004) where Captain America recruits a new team (but with a different roster than the movies).
Stan Lee gets his obligatory cameo. This time he plays a WW2 veteran who drinks Thor’s 1,000 year old Asgardian alcohol and mumbles out his signature catchphrase, “Excelsior.” Stan actually did serve in the Army during WW2. He joined in 1942 at age 20 and was assigned to the Signal Corps. He repaired telegraph poles and other communications equipment and then was transferred to the Training Film Division where he wrote manuals, film scripts and did some cartooning.
When we see Baron von Strucker, he is accompanied by Dr. List. We first saw both of them in the mid-credits scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dr. List appeared in three episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of the leaders of Hydra. In the episode leading up to the film, Phil Coulson’s team finally defeated the last remnants of Hydra and located Loki’s scepter along with Baron von Strucker, the last leader of Hydra. Coulson contacted Maria Hill with the intel in that episode, which leads directly into the Avengers’ attack on Baron von Strucker at the beginning of the movie.
In Age of Ultron, the Avengers work out of Avengers Tower. In the first Avengers movie, a leviathan crashed nearby, destroying the Grand Central Station statue “Transportation” designed by French sculptor Jules-Felix Coutan. In the movie, it’s been replaced with a new statue of first responders who saved lives during Loki’s invasion.
Producer Kevin Feige is a huge Star Wars fan and decided that all of the Phase 2 movies for Marvel should have a reference to the second Star Wars movie. Specifically, Luke getting his hand cut off. This movie continues that tradition. In order: Aldrich Killian gets his arm chopped off in Iron Man 3, Loki fakes Thor’s arm being cut off in Thor: The Dark World, Bucky/Winter Soldier loses his arm in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Gamora chops off Groot’s arm in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ultron cuts off Ulysses Klaue’s arm in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
If you paid attention, there is a technician navigating the Helicarrier for Nick Fury that we’ve seen before. Actor Aaron Himelstein played the S.H.I.E.L.D. Launch Technician in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as well. He refused to launch the Helicarriers for Hydra in that movie, even though Brock Rumlow had a gun to his head. I guess Nick Fury appreciated that loyalty and recruited him.
At the end of the movie, Thor has realized someone must be manipulating events because four of the six infinity stones have appeared in recent years. We get confirmation that Loki’s scepter from Avengers (given to him by Thanos) housed the Mind Stone, which is why he could control people by touching them with it. It may be a coincidence, but the names of the stones in the cinematic universe appear to be spelling out Thanos. Thanos is the big purple guy who we glimpsed in the Avengers post-credit sequence, a few scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy and in the mid-credits sequence of Avengers, Age of Ultron. In the comics, he gathers all six stones (called gems in the comics) which allow him to control all of reality. He worships the physical embodiment of Death and wants to exterminate all life to win Death’s love.