With its interconnected uber-franchises, Marvel Studios has effectively turned every movie into a trailer for every movie to follow. The tidal wave of anticipation for this sequel to the biggest comic book movie ever extends beyond this May, all the way to 2019. Between now and then, rabid Marvel-ites will get Avengers 2.5 thanks to next summer's Captain America: Civil War, then Avengers: Infinity Wars Parts I & II starting in 2018. So much of the hype for Age of Ultron is about where these neon gods will end up by the time the credits roll and what that will mean for the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Not only is this next round of avenging a trailer for all the super-shenanigans to come, it's also a feature-length commercial for the endless parade of Avengers merchandise marching through global culture right now. The movie itself is a handy way to move tons of cheap plastic, poorly made clothing, and even sugar-coated breakfast cereals.
But Avengers: Age of Ultron is just around the corner, arriving in much of the world on April 22nd and Stateside May 1st, so this is technically a final enough trailer, we suppose. It's a damn good one, too, conspicuously underlining the greatness of Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, one of the truly wonderful surprises of the first Avengers.
This emphasis on Johansson's indomitable secret agent is part of Marvel's grand plan to diversify its audience a bit and move away from the "no girls allowed" sense that's sort of inevitable on a team of five men and one woman.
In order to bring more women into the Marvel blockbuster flock, Marvel is starting a series of young adult novels starring the MCU iteration of the character. Black Widow: Forever Red by Beautiful Creatures author Margaret Stohl, hits shelves this October.
Johansson will be back in Captain America: Civil War, which finds Cap (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) getting into a colossal pissing match. Before that, though, she'll once again kick ass and put her Y-chromosomal compatriots to shame in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Returning writer-director Joss Whedon recently commented on the relative scarcity of female cinematic heroes, even in spite of the success of The Hunger Games. "It's a phenomenon in the industry that we call 'stupid people'," said Whedon. "There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on. You hear 'Oh, [female superheroes] don't work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago', there's always an excuse.”