Abstract

In Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), the advent of AI causes a crisis on the homefront for the characters. This is not a surprising development, however, as Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013- ) had earlier depicted the impossibility of reclaiming home, at least in the traditional sense. In Age of Ultron, Clint Barton/Hawkeye is the only character for whom domesticity is rendered a possibility. The farmhouse, coded as the “safe house,” is revealed to the other Avengers as a dream. Steve Rogers/Captain America cannot afford to live in his old neighborhood in Brooklyn while Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Bruce Banner/the Hulk say that they are unable to have “normal” family lives. Thor abruptly leaves the farmhouse, saying that he can’t find answers there. Ironically, where Barton had been under Loki’s mind control in The Avengers, in Age of Ultron, he is the only Avenger able to resist Scarlet Witch’s spell. That the revelation of his idealized domestic life coincides with his resistance to programming is significant. By the end of Phase Two of the MCU, the “age of Ultron” introduces a systematic reprogramming of ideas about domesticity.

As S.H.I.E.L.D. arguably represents the homefront for the agents and superheroes, the television series provides a foundation for the MCU films on the small screen. The dismantling of the organization post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) sets the stage for the loss of the domestic homefront in Age of Ultron. Age of Ultron realizes the illusory nature of home that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suggests from its beginning. At the end of the pilot episode, Agent Phil Coulson and Skye leave the white farmhouse where they relocated Mike Peterson’s son Ace. There are no “safe houses” for the characters in S.H.I.E.L.D.: Skye, an orphan, is homeless, living in a van working with Rising Tide when she is discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D.; Melinda May loses her husband and home after a crisis within S.H.I.E.L.D.; Grant Ward burns his family’s home to the ground after killing his family; Mike Peterson loses his job, son, and home after joining Project Centipede; and the Inhumans face losing their safe haven, Lai Shi (“Afterlife”), at the end of season two. As Phase Two of the MCU comes to a conclusion with Age of Ultron, the Avengers admit the impossibility of domesticity for themselves but attempt to save the Sokovians as their country is destroyed. Traditional ideas of domesticity are not a reality for the MCU characters; however, at the end of Phase Two, Rogers and Romanoff, two characters with “nowhere to go,” find meaning and purpose, a resignified home fitting for the future.


Presenter Biography
Lisa K. Perdigao is the Humanities Program Chair and Professor of English at the Florida Institute of Technology. She has written three papers on superhero narratives (covering Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron) slated for publication in the next year, and she has also published two papers on Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse.