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‘Avengers’ for Dummies: Everything Newcomers Need to Know Before Seeing ‘Age of Ultron’

Get up to speed on everyone from Captain America to ”the twins“ without having to sit through nine movies

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is the 10th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the past nine installments setting up complicated histories and mythologies for its ever-growing cast of characters.

But that’s not to say you need to have seen every movie in order to enjoy the latest in Marvel’s action franchise. Here’s a guide to everything newbies need to know about all of the major players before seeing “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”


The Avengers

The basics: A dysfunctional group of big personalities with even bigger superpowers who spend as much time arguing with each other as they do banding together to save the universe, the Avengers were so named and brought together by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D. Because they each have such constant comic book-level drama in their lives that they need their own movies most of the time, they only come together for the major threats, like an alien invasion.

captain america-winter-soldier-straight-on

Marvel Studios

Captain America

First appearance: “Captain America: The First Avenger”
The basics: The de facto leader of the Avengers due to his military training and natural leadership qualities, Steve Rogers was genetically altered in the 1940s to become a super-soldier in the fight against the Nazis before being cryogenically frozen and thawed out in the present.
Where he left off: Last seen in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Cap was front and center for the reveal that villainous organization Hydra had been infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades, forcing the real good guys to run for cover.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

Iron Man

First appearance: “Iron Man”
The basics: A self-described “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist,” Tony Stark has no superpowers, but uses his superior intellect to build and control a series of weaponized armored suits, the first of which he designed after a trip to a war zone gone wrong. He also funds the Avengers’ operations.
Where he left off: At the end of “Iron Man 3,” Stark seemingly hung up his armor and left his superhero days behind him. But as his presence in both “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War” demonstrate, that’s easier said than done.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios


First appearance: “Thor”
The basics: An actual god, Thor was the arrogant, party-hard prince of Asgard before he was cast out by his father to learn humility. He landed on Earth and learned to channel his immense powers — which include wielding a magical hammer — for good.
Where he left off: In “Thor: The Dark World,” he returned to outer space to save Asgard, not the mention the galaxy. Luckily his hammer, Mjolnir, provides easy transport between worlds.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in "Marvel's The Avengers"

Marvel Studios

Black Widow

First appearance: “Iron Man 2”
The basics: A superhero with no superpowers, Natasha Romanov was trained from a young age as a master assassin — for the bad guys. A change of heart put her on the side of the Avengers, and she’s frequently partnered with Hawkeye in the field.
Where she left off: As the female lead in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Black Widow was instrumental in helping Cap, Falcon and Nick Fury take down Hydra from within S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios


First appearance: “Thor”
The basics: Like frequent partner Black Widow, Clint Barton has no real superpowers, but is known as the world’s best marksman and is always armed with his signature bow and arrows.
Where he left off: In “The Avengers,” Hawkeye spent much of the time working against his fellow Avengers as he fell under the spell of Loki. He’s back to work for the good guys, though he hasn’t been seen much since 2012’s first team-up film.



First appearance: “The Incredible Hulk”
The basics: Dr. Bruce Banner is a brilliant scientist, but a lab accident created a Jekyll-and-Hyde effect in the usually calm, collected man. When he gets angry, Banner transforms into a green monster called the Hulk, who’s the size of a small building and can sometimes control himself, but most times cannot. Banner does everything in his power to take charge of the Hulk, but will let him smash when the situation calls for it.
Where he left off: Reluctantly drawn in to help the Avengers take on Loki in 2012’s first team-up film, the green beast has laid low since, though Banner was seen counseling Tony Stark in a post-credits scene from “Iron Man 3.”

scarlet witch age of ultron

Marvel Studios

Scarlet Witch

First appearance: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
The basics: More aligned with the X-Men universe in the comics, Wanda Maximoff is traditionally a mutant, daughter of villain Magneto, but with Fox owning the cinematic rights she will have a different origin in “Age of Ultron.” She possesses the power of telekinesis and the ability to manipulate the minds of others through her “hexes.”

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios


First appearance: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
The basics: The twin brother of Scarlet Witch, Pietro Maximoff, a.k.a Quicksilver, has the power of superhuman speed. The character previously appeared in Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” but will be given a new origin story for his role in “Age of Ultron.”