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The new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, explained for people who don't read comic books

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

The second trailer for Marvel's hotly-anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron dropped on Monday. The trailer was brimming with mysteries, new characters, and even more footage of what looks to be a glorious fight scene between the Hulk and Iron Man.

But it also left a lot of burning questions. Who is the weird bearded man who looks like Gollum? What, exactly, is going on with that mysterious lady in the cavern?

Here, with the power of frame-by-frame GIF analysis, are some explanations.

Who is this guy?


The man pictured above is actor Andy Serkis, and as of right now, he doesn't have a credited part on the Avengers: Age of Ultron IMDB page. And Serkis has been tight-lipped about who he's actually playing. The current speculation in the comic book community (and it looks very solid) is that Serkis is playing a villain named Ulysses Klaw.

Stop and appreciate this man's menacing chin beard (Marvel)

Mr. Klaw is a silly character who can shoot sound waves out of his tiny claw. But he's connected to many characters in the Avengers universe and to the stories that Marvel wants to tell in the movies (which is why the Klaw rumors appear to be solid).

One of Klaw's most iconic feats is stealing a metal called vibranium from a fictional country called Wakanda (to make his dumb claw). Wakanda is basically the only place in the Marvel universe this precious metal can be found.

In trying to obtain the vibranium (for his silly claw), Klaw runs into the Wakandan chieftain T'Chaka, kills him, and becomes a primary villain to T'Chaka's son T'Challa, a.k.a. the superhero Black Panther.

If Black Panther sounds familiar, it's because Marvel announced that Black Panther would get his own movie in 2017. This could lay the groundwork for the character and open up the world of Wakanda to the audience.

But there's also another connection. Klaw loves his vibranium, and knows how to manipulate it. And according to Chris Hemsworth, Ultron is made out of vibranium, and that's how he can hurt powerhouses like Thor. The actor revealed this kernel of information at Comic Con last year:

Really thick metal. He could be made of vibramian, vibrainian - is that what it's called? ‘VIBRANIUM." That's it... Look, he's physically strong, this villain, but also highly intelligent. He is artificial intelligence and has access to every piece of information that is and ever was, so he's able to manipulate all sorts of things - including the dynamic of the team - and split us up.

How Ultron gets this vibranium is a mystery. As we know from the trailer, Ultron often resembles something closer to scrap metal:

Age of Ultron Trailer


But he also looks like a crazy, metallic behemoth:


At some point in the movie, then, Ultron goes in for a metallic facelift, but it's unclear when or how. It's very unlikely that Tony Stark would offer a free upgrade to someone who wrecked (what appears to be) the Avengers tower. And according to Hemsworth, that metal is vibranium.

Thus, Klaw could be how Ultron gets his hands on vibranium.

Who is this woman?


In this shot, what appears to be a mysterious, svelte black woman disrobes in a mysterious cavern. This footage doesn't appear in the first trailer.

The comic book speculation is that the character could be Shuri, Black Panther's younger sister and princess of Wakanda. Fans are alternatively speculating it could be a woman who is part of the Dora Milaje, a group of badass personal bodyguards to Black Panther. There's a subset of this group called the Midnight Angels, and those women are often bald or have shaved heads:

A member of the Dora Milaje (Marvel)

Those are two solid theories. It would be really awesome to see some kickass women of color (or any women of color, actually) in the Marvel cinematic universe.

What we're pretty sure of is that it looks more and more likely that we're going to see Wakanda in this movie.

How powerful is Scarlet Witch?


One of the biggest questions surrounding the second Avengers movie was what kind of powers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) would display. In the comic books, they've been a jumble. She's been given powers like reality manipulation, chaos magic, probability manipulation, and flight.

But we still don't know what parts of her power set are going to make it into the movie. Whedon has been vague, hinting in the past that it might be telekinesis and a bit of telepathy. She "can weave spells and a little telekinesis [moving objects with her mind], get inside your head," Whedon said last year.

In the movie's first trailer, we see Scarlet Witch shoot a red flash out of her hand. And in this second trailer we see what appears to be Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) getting knocked out by that same red flash (above).  You get some indication about how powerful she is, if she's tossing Iron Man around like a rag doll.

But here's where it gets tricky. That red flash above might not be from the Scarlet Witch. If you look closely, it looks like she's moving outside and into the daylight, but Iron Man is getting thrown against what looks to be an interior of a building. And it isn't a continuous shot, it's a jump cut.

Granted, this could be a building with a weird courtyard and very odd floorplan that doesn't believe in open kitchens and layouts. But there's another tidbit in the trailer: Ultron fires off some laser beam-like energy from his hand at someone off-screen.


Ultron is indoors there. And the energy that comes out in strands looks like the type of energy signature that is knocking Iron Man out:


So, if it's Ultron knocking Iron Man out instead of Scarlet Witch, we're (unfortunately) back at square one again. There's another shot of the Witch, with explosions going off around her, but again, it's unclear if they're her doing:


Are we going to find out more about Black Widow?

It looks like it.

We don't really know a lot about Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson), other than that she is a master assassin who's really good with firearms. Her origin story is a mystery. But the trailer reveals what looks to be a flashback, because Romanoff is sporting some disastrous bangs:


There are tried and true ways to measure time. Having bad hair and bad bangs is one way that people know something takes place in the past.

Unless flashback-Romanoff figures out a way to get herself out of this ominous situation, it looks like there will be (will have been?) some creepy medical experimentation performed on her. There's a hint of this in the comic books, where one of her origin stories (writers have re-written her history multiple times) explains that she has been experimented on and enhanced.

A more expansive look at Black Widow's origins would also explain the ballet scene in the first trailer, since a different account of her origin story places her as a ballerina (in the comic books these turn out to be fake memories):


The movie could be blending Romanoff's varying origin stories into something more cohesive.

How powerful is Ultron's robot army?

Well, here is Captain America getting throttled:


Captain America is, of course, one of The Avengers's heavier hitters. He is not Hawkeye.

What is happening to Thor here?


I have no idea, and it sort of looks silly, because Thor (Chris Hemsworth) doesn't look to be fully in control of the lightning popping out of his chest. There's also, if you look very closely, a woman in the background who looks to be unfussed by the lightning being discharged from this man's body, and is waving her arms like she's dancing or directing traffic.

Why are Iron Man and the Hulk fighting?

The action scenes that have dominated the first two trailers have been of Iron Man and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) taking each other out. There are some spectacular sequences of stuff getting destroyed and heroes getting walloped:


But we still don't know what causes the two to fight. There are a few theoriesVulture's Abraham Riesman has some good ones — out there, including hacked Iron Man armor, or the Hulk just being the Hulk and going berserk like he did in the first film. There's also the idea of mind control — Whedon did point out that Scarlet Witch can "get into your head."

If the movie is indeed changing Scarlet Witch's powers to some form of telepathy, then it might explain why Hulk's eyes are so, well, red:


Compare those eyes to a more calmed-down version of Hulk's eyes here with Black Widow:


How long do I have to wait until this movie comes out?

The movie comes out on May 1, 2015. That's 108 days.

Last question: can I have one more Hulk gif?

Yes. Of course.


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