The most important piece of technology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron and it is more important than Iron Man’s armor, Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer. More important even than the benevolent android with the Infinity Stone for a crown.
The most important piece of technology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Dr. Helen Cho’s Cradle.
Why? Because it will be the thing that revives the heart and soul of the Avengers during Infinity War. It will be crucial in the fight against - and eventual defeat of - Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet.
Helen Cho’s Cradle will give Steve Rogers new life.
(From here on out potential spoilers abound, so consider yourself forewarned)
Age of Ultron
As you’ll recall from Age of Ultron, Dr. Helen Cho, friend of Tony Stark, is the creator of an incredible medical device called the Cradle. The Cradle is essentially a rapid bio-prototyper and one of its most amazing features is the ability to create mostly artificial tissue that grafts to and integrates with the tissue of an injured man or woman, healing serious injuries in minutes.
It’s used to help the injured Clint Barton recover from an injury that would have kept him sidelined otherwise. It’s also used to create the android, Vision.
At the end of the film, we presume the Cradle finds its way to the New Avengers Academy. Cho has joined the team, after all, happy to help Fury, Rogers and Romanoff develop this new team of superheroes, and, eventually, gives the Avengers back the thing they need most to save the world.
We’ll likely see Cho, if only briefly, in the next big Marvel event, Captain America: Civil War. Most know that the new film, filming now, pits Cap against Iron Man in a ideologic war about civil freedoms and free will.
The movie, like the Marvel Comics event, focuses on passage of the Superhero Registration Act, a law requiring enhanced individuals to register with the government and become both licensed and a government employee. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is already laying this groundwork, almost playing with a mini-Civil War storyline, as S.H.I.E.L.D. works to place enhanced Inhumans on the Index - a Registration Act precursor.
Comic book readers know how Civil War ends, and there’s no reason to assume the Russo Bros won’t weave a similar story. The key pieces are already on the board: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Crossbones, Agent 13.
At the end of Civil War Steve Rogers - Captain America - is assassinated.
A brief trip to the astral plane
As fans, we’re likely in shock after Rogers’ death. We knew it was coming - we just didn’t know how hard it would hurt. And in terms of Phase 3, we won’t connect with our Avengers friends for some time. Not until Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 in 2018.
Between Civil War and Infinity War we meet Doctor Strange and visit the Guardians of the Galaxy again. While we’ll likely see some old friends, there’s a bigger chance those films will focus on Strange and Star-Lord more than any Mighty Avengers.
But we could get a glimpse of Rogers in Doctor Strange. It may be that Stephen Strange captures a glimpse of Cap on the astral plane - a metaphorical level of existence - a kind of psychic crossroads. It would be our first clue that maybe Rogers isn’t quite dead.
Rock the Cradle of life
Rumors suggest the first round of Infinity War won’t include any of our heavy hitting Avengers, including Captain America. At least the Steve Rogers version.
My guess is this new crew has a tough time taking down Thanos. Not that they don’t have the talent and the firepower but what they will lack is a true leader. They will falter with the heart and soul and steady rudder that Steve Rogers provided.
You know who knows this? Tony Stark.
Stark knows - even now - that Cap is the true leader of the Avengers. He says as much in Age of Ultron.
As he does, Stark has plotted and planned reparations for the death of Captain America - for his friend, Steve Rogers - since the end of Civil War.
Thankfully, the technology to bring Cap back from the brink of death - maybe even from just on the other side - exists.
Cap’s super-soldier body, which helped him survive decades frozen in the Arctic, works in tandem with the Cradle to restore his lifeless body.
Cap’s resurrection restores faith in the Avengers, gives hope to the world, is a signal to Thor and Hulk and Hawkeye to return to action and persuades Stark to put the armor on one more time.
So three cheers for Dr. Cho and her Cradle - the most important piece of tech in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.