To be honest, I almost put the year 2014. But I had to be honest with myself. The real pivotal point in the MCU won't actually come until the end of act two; like all good plays. Remember Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back? That is a great example of a great second act film. After the heroic victory in A New Hope, the heroes find themselves reeling as Luke loses his hand and finds out Darth is his Father. Leia loses Han to the Bounty Hunter, Boba Fett. And all seems lost.
THAT is what [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) is going to be for the Avengers first story arc.
BUT, before we even begin to address that, we must look at the movement in the movies this year toward the disastrous second act.
FIRST, we have the demise of S.H.I.E.L.D. in The Winter Soldier. Not just a set back but a complete breakdown. No more S.H.I.E.L.D., right? The security net for the whole planet just got taken down! That leaves the Avengers in charge of saving the world from dangerous threats that they couldn't handle themselves. To me, that is a nice way to make the Avengers EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES (Which could be the title for the third movie).
This would explain why Age of Ultron has the Avengers all over the world, quite literally. Their filming in South Korea, South Africa and, even, England. This gives them the international peace keeping look. But, mark my words, there is disaster in the Avenger's future. A failure of massive proportions is coming. On top of that, I predict the death of, at least, one of the Avengers, if not more. This will leave the world wondering if they are truly safe.
The second part of this sad opera will be [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073), which will hit theaters in August. The latest SPOILERS suggest that Ronan, the Accuser, will retrieve an 'artifact' aka Infinity Stone. And, in return, Thanos will destroy Xandar. This may not seem like much, until you realize that Xandar is the home of the Nova Corp.
The Nova Corps was originally a space militia and exploration group for the planet Xandar. It consisted of 500 soldiers ranging in rank from Corpsman up to Centurion and its leader Centurion Nova Prime. The source of the Nova Corps power is called the Nova Force which is an unlimited energy generated by a living computer called the Xandarian Worldmind. The Nova Corps have two priorities: defend the Xandarian civilization and protect and safeguard the Xandarian Worldmind.
What the Nova Corp become is one of the most powerful forces for good in the universe. If Ronan is successful, it would be the galactic equivalent of S.H.I.E.L.D. taking a nosedive. So, maybe Hydra failing was a part of Thanos' plan. Destroy the stabilizing force on Earth and, THEN, take out the good side to the balance of power and the Universe as a whole is yours.
Also, there is a comic story arc that has Nebula obliterating, not only, the Nova Corp, but all of Xandar. Is this the 'sadistic' thing that Nebula actress, Karen Gillan, hinted at? Most of the speculators out there think so.
What we are given in the end is an opportunity to see, not only, Earth at its wits end, but the entire universe on the verge of collapse. This is the perfect backdrop for Thanos (GREGG HENRY?) to step in and take the Infinity Stones!
Also with the destruction of Xandar comes the origin of the man who would simply be called NOVA. A man from Earth who was given the power by a man played by John C. Reilly; Rhomann Dey. Please say it's so, Marvel!