Rachel Paige
May 01, 2015 1:00 pm

TODAY IS THE DAY. IT’S FINALLY HERE. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON OPENS IN THEATERS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES!!

I’m sorry for yelling everyone, but that’s how excited I am. This is what football fans must feel when their home team makes it to the Super Bowl. Age of Ultron is my Super Bowl.

We’ve already seen 10 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and we are now officially at number 11. We’ve got Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Solider, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Plus, there’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel’s Agent Carter which also tie into the MCU  — and also, Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix, but I seriously don’t want to overwhelm anyone right now.

That’s a lot to keep track of, I know. Maybe you didn’t re-watch every single one of those movies over the past few weeks, and maybe you’re a few episodes behind on S.H.I.E.L.D., but don’t worry. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most important things you need to know before heading off to see Ultron this weekend.

Wait, so who’s who in the cast?

Iron Man/Tony Stark = Robert Downey Jr.

Captain America/Steve Rogers = Chris Evans

Thor = Chris Hemsworth

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff = Scarlett Johansson

Hulk/Bruce Banner = Mark Ruffalo

Hawkeye/Clint Barton = Jeremy Renner

Super important, WHERE IS LOKI???

I DON’T KNOW. Technically he “died” during Thor: The Dark World. Last we saw him, he was masquerading as his dad, Odin. But he’s gotta show up in Ultron, right? Wrong. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you won’t see him in this movie! As Joss Whedon told MTV, Loki just didn’t fit! “We did shoot something, but it didn’t play. The movie has so much. It’s so filled. We didn’t want it to feel overstuffed. I really wanted to have Loki in it, but I understood the decision that there were now too many voices in the chorus.” Don’t worry too much, though! He’ll be in future movies.

Phil Coulson is still dead. 

OK, he’s not really dead, but the Avengers think he is. In a heroic act trying to defeat Loki in the first Avengers, Coulson (Clark Gregg) is killed by Loki (our Internet boyfriend Tom Hiddleston). It’s the moment that brings all the Avengers together as a team and when they unite, they’re able to save the day.

But, Coulson isn’t actually dead. He was dead for a little bit, yes, but then he was brought back to life on S.H.I.E.L.D. (through a project called. T.A.H.I.T.I.). As far as we know, Iron Man and company have no idea Coulson is still around.

Nick Fury is also dead.

Oh yeah, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is “dead,” too. He faked his own death during Winter Soldier, in order to escape Hydra (more on Hydra in a sec). He’s actually totally alive, and in hiding, but without his eye patch (because he torched everything about his life in a fire, and the eye patch went with it). As far as we know, not too many people know he’s still alive. It might just be Steve and Natasha, unless they’ve told the others.

Oh, and BTW, S.H.I.E.L.D. is in shambles.

So Hydra, huh? During Winter Soldier, we learn that the terrorists secretly infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., and then destroyed it from the inside out. It kinda doesn’t exist anymore, but there are still rogue S.H.I.E.L.D agents out there (like the ones on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D). These rogue agents are the good guys! But, S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t come out of the shadows and rebuild, because Hydra is everywhere. Their line is, “cut off one head and two more shall take its place.”

Maria Hill now works for Stark Enterprises.

The kickass former S.H.I.E.L.D. deputy director, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) lost her job when S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed. Now she works for Tony Stark. She’s in contact with Coulson, and it does not appear that Tony knows she’s in contact with Coulson. BRB, drawing up a chart to clearly explain who thinks who is alive/dead in the Marvel Universe.

There are some new kids.

Two brand new characters for Ultron are Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). They’re siblings, and after they go through some “testing” with Loki’s tesseract, they gain superhuman powers. TECHNICALLY, these two are mutants — think, X-Men — but there aren’t officially mutants in the MCU. With that in mind, they will probably end up being classified as “inhumans,” which nicely sets us up for The Inhumans movie set for 2019!

If you want a quick refresher of the very first time we saw these two, check out the Winter Soldier credits.

Who’s Colonel Rhodey again?

James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is Tony’s BFF. He’s also War Machine, who’s Iron Man’s BFF. He’s super-suits up for Ultron.

And Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård)??

He’s a researcher who was working with Jane Foster (Thor’s main squeeze) during the events of both Thor movies. He was also kidnapped by Loki during The Avengers.

Hey, where actually is Jane Foster (Natalie Portman)?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Jane likes to sit these missions out. Also looks like Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is MIA.

But Peggy Carter is here, and she’s the BEST.

Peggy (Hayley Atwell) worked a lot with Steve Rogers during WWII. He then “died” (AGAIN, I know), and was missing for 70 years. During this time, Peggy went on to form S.H.I.E.L.D. with Tony’s dad, Howard. You can watch it all unfold on Agent Carter. She pops up in Ultron, whether in the past, or present day, remains to be seen.

Let’s talk about Thanos and the Infinity Stones.

Thanos is a bad guy. We saw him at the very end of Avengers, and then he popped up again in Guardians of the Galaxy. He wants to rule the universe, control everyone, he’s the manifestation of death, the usual bad guy stuff. Thanos is after the Infinity Stones, which have been discussed across many of the Marvel movies so far. Basically, whoever collects all the Infinity Stones ends up with a ton of power.

There are six of these stones all together, and we’ve seen four of them so far: Loki’s scepter is one, the blue tesseract box is another, the red stuff (Aether) that got into Jane Foster’s blood stream in Thor 2 is another, and the Orb everyone was after in Guardians is the last one. Maybe we’ll find another stone in Ultron, maybe not. Even if we don’t see another one, Avengers: Infinity War is still happening in 2018 and 2019.

Is there anything from TV’s S.H.I.E.L.D. we should know about?

There’s some mysterious project called “Theta Protocol,” and Coulson has been secretly funding it. Maria Hill knows about it. It has something to do with the Avengers. Sounds like a good time to round them up, eh?

Now that you’ve been debriefed as to what’s happening with Earth’s mightiest heroes, what are you waiting for? Avengers: Age of Ultron is playing EVERYWHERE right now.

Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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