After more than a decade of cinematic superhero magic, the Marvel film to end all Marvel films, Avengers: Endgame is finally being unleashed on the world tomorrow.

In the lead-up to the release of the hotly anticipated flick, I’ve taken a look back at every offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and their significance to the overall story and I can’t help but feel like Avengers: Age Of Ultron was robbed of the glory it so deserved.

Its release in 2015 was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans and its own director Josh Whedon trashed the film, describing the creation of the movie as a “really, really unpleasant” experience.

Watching the film, however, was the opposite experience. Yep, it’s my contention that Avengers: Age Of Ultron is one of the greatest movies Marvel has ever produced.

Look, I’m sure that our mentions are going to be murdered as a result of this proclamation, but I reckon the movie is absolute gold and a very important cog in the Marvel wheel.

So yeah, go ahead and @ me all ya want, but below I’ve itemised all the irrefutable reasons as to why AOU is a v. important film and deserves nothing but our respect.

1. Beef begins between Captain America and Iron Man

The film kicks off with the Avengers in full force, working together to take down the baddies.

See this epic slow-mo scene for reference:

But throughout the course of the film, things start to get a bit hairy as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner defy logic and reason to accidentally create the murderous robot, Ultron, much to the anger of their fellow Avengers, especially Steve Rogers.

As the scientist duo are on the verge of creating another creature (Vision), the superheroes take sides, resulting in a mini battle between the heroes which foreshadows the even bigger fight in Captain America: Civil War.

The rift that kicked off in AOU still hasn’t been resolved in present day and according to the Endgame trailers, it’s a theme that will very much be explored in the finale.

2. Introducing Scarlet Witch and Vision

If it weren’t for AOU, we wouldn’t have met two of the most important players in the future of the MCU: Scarlet Witch and Vision.

Scarlet Witch’s painful but poignant journey begins with this film and we’re introduced to her as a complicated villain who later becomes a valuable member of the Avengers and goes on to save the day on several occasions in future films.

As for Vision, he, too, is a powerful team member who becomes the holder of the Mind Stone and selflessly agrees to be sacrificed in order to save the world in Avengers: Infinity War.

Sure, his plan fails and he, along with half the planet, is killed by Thanos, but we *know* he ultimately survives somehow as Disney recently announced that a series based on Vision and Wanda’s love story is being spun for their streaming service Disney+ called WandaVision, making them v. important heroes in the next phase of the MCU.

3. Another dimension to Hawkeye

To be honest, prior to AOU I didn’t care much for Hawkeye. Like, at all.

His existence in the MCU seemed rather insignificant and the character didn’t have much substance other than being that brooding spy bloke with a bow and arrow.

But in this film we see a different side to the character and start to value within the Avengers.

He is integral in finding Black Widow using “old school spy stuff” after she’s kidnapped by Ultron.

He inspired Wanda to shake off her past and become an Avenger which, as I previously explored, is a pretty huge fkn deal.

And lastly, we learn that he has a wife and kids living on a farm somewhere which becomes the gang’s hideout after they’re hexed by Scarlet Witch.

As Hawkeye is one of the only Avengers to survive Thanos’ snap, he is also rumoured to be a massive part of Endgame which only has significance to me as a Marvel fan due to the fleshing out of his character in AOU.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the dude is copping his own spin-off which, frankly, no one would care about had he not been portrayed in such a fun light in this film.

4. Puts the wheels in motion for Thor: Ragnarok

Due to the events of the film, Thor ends up flying back home to Asgard to suss things out and Hulk takes off on the Quinjet, much to Black Widow’s dismay.

So basically if it weren’t for AOU, the pair wouldn’t have crossed paths in Thor: Ragnork (AKA one of THE best Marvel flicks ever).

5. Hulk’s iSsUeS

After Scarlet Witch hexes the gang, Bruce Banner develops problems transforming into the Hulk which is a recurring theme in Infinity War and will presumably be a heavily discussed matter in Endgame.

6. Next phase of the Marvel MCU

The film ends with Captain America and Black Widow training the newest recruits including Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine and Falcon.

This was a huge clue that the aforementioned team (minus War Machine) would ultimately become a major part of the next phase of the MCU as Scarlet Witch and Vision have copped their own Disney+ series WandaVision and Falcon along with Bucky Barnes will be the focus of another upcoming limited series, Falcon & Winter Soldier.

7. G’day Thanos

And lastly, as seen in the post-credits scene, Thanos is so pissed off by the events of AOU that he decides to get the job done himself, thus setting the scene for Infinity War.

Gasps were heard across the cinema during this moment when I first saw the flick ‘coz punters knew exactly what this meant: (infinity) war is coming.

So in essence, one could argue that the events of AOU set the foundation for IW and Endgame, the grand conclusion, and therefore it will always be a valuable part of the MCU.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron is now streaming on Stan.