Captain America punches out a terrorist, who had explosives wired on his body so he could blow up a building. As the terrorist falls down and gets surrounded by the other members of the Ultimates, Cap mocks the terrorist and jokes that they know he has a bomb.
Later, the event gets reported on several talk shows and is heavily discussed. Interviewer Dave thinks that drug busts, hostage situations and house fires is just the stuff the emergency crews have been doing for years. He really wonders if the Ultimates are really worth that extra eighty-seven billion dollars Nick Fury just secured from Congress. Janet waves the bad publicity away, asking Dave to be serious. The Ultimates do all that stuff in their spare time. Their main job is still national defense, and sarcastically asks if he has ever seen a Polaris Missile save a kid from a burning building. She then recalls how Captain America earlier saved a little kid from a burning house.
Next, Janet is a guest on the Oprah show. Oprah tells Janet they had her friend, Betty Ross, on last week talking about her feelings after the execution of Bruce Banner, but Oprah knows that Janet too had her share of heartache, obviously. She asks if Janet ever hears from her ex-husband after he was dismissed for that disgusting behavior of his last year. Holding Oprah’s hand gently, Janet admits she doesn’t hear from Hank directly, but hears he’s been kept busy enough. It’s all in the hands of their attorneys right now so she’s afraid she can’t say too much.
Meanwhile, Hank himself is busy working in his lab, wearing his Ant-Man helmet.
Interviewer Jay talks about urging anti-war protestors to do whatever it takes. It sounds to him like Thor’s trying to stir things up. He wants to know if the Ultimates can’t have a word in Thor’s ear and straighten the hippie out. Janet smiles that Thor might not be a member of the team anymore, but he is a private citizen and entitled to his opinion. That said, if Thor keeps spreading these stupid rumors that the Ultimates are being sent to the Gulf with some European super-guys, she’s going to have to give him a smack.
Elsewhere in town, Thor flies up in the sky, holding his hammer strongly in hand. Lots of people protest against the war and cheer for the mighty god.
Talkshow host Leeza smirks that six foot three, two hundred and eighty pounds of super-soldier muscle mass and a face like Brad Pitt has to make her wonder how it feels like to be living with a guy who’s just been voted The Sexiest Man in America. Janet jokes that she likes to think Steve is the lucky one in their relationship.
Later, at the old Archonis Gym…
Watching Steve work out with weights, Janet wants to know what he’s doing in this dump. There’s sweat stains on the carpet as old as her mother. Steve thinks that just shows people actually work out down there. He hates all those other gyms with their iPods and their MTV and their stupid, overpriced isotonic drinks. Janet reminds him that the Triskelion has a ten million dollar sports facility and she can’t believe Steve is still paying ten bucks an hour to hang around something that looks like a prison workout room to her.
Steve explains that this gym has been around since the thirties. He used to pass it every day on the way to his old job at the bakery, and Janet has no idea how much it means to him to be a member now. Janet just wants Steve to remember to take a shower before he’s coming home, as they are going over to Hawkeye’s place for dinner tonight. Tony and Natasha are maybe coming too and Wanda and Pietro just called to say they were definite. Steve doesn’t want to go tonight. They’re going to that ballroom dancing thing with Bucky and Gail. Janet admits she completely forgot about that and asks if they can’t put them off. They can’t, as Steve already bought tickets and booked the cars. Bucky has been looking forward to this for ages, and Gail bought a new dress and had her hair done this afternoon.
Janet states that it’s not like she doesn’t want to go or anything. She means, Bucky and Gail are hilarious, but she asks Steve, doesn’t he think it might be nice to hang out with someone his own age every once and a while? Steve doesn’t know what Janet is talking about: Bucky and Gail were a year behind him at school. Janet sighs.
The billionaire bachelor club, Switzerland…
Jarvis asks all the rich men to have their attention for a moment. Sir James wants to know what Jarvis is doing here, as someone told him he was about to dish the dirt in somewhat –the-butler-saw memoir he managed to strike a deal for. He mocks Jarvis, wondering if Stark isn’t letting him go. Jarvis pours a glass of champagne, smiling that he’s afraid loyalty to his employer far outweighed the little offer Sir James is talking about, as is the check his young Master Tony had the good sense to cut by way of compensation.
No, he still runs Stark’s household at this precise moment in time and have traveled there on Master Tony’s behalf to impart the most terrible of news. Another rich guy jokes that he doesn’t want to hear Stark had another suicide attempt. He thought this whole Iron Man business was keeping Tony’s black dog at bay for a while. Jarvis drinks from his champagne, correcting Mister Rockefeller it’s far worse than suicide. He’s there to inform them all that Tony has finally found the harlot of his dreams. Master Tony has fallen in love. Everyone cheers for Stark and drinks a glass of wine in his honor.
St. Petersburg, Russia, the open skies…
Natasha soars through the skies wearing a new black armor Tony built for her, and thoroughly enjoys it. Happy asks Natasha if she thought of a good name yet. Natasha quotes that Tony suggested the names Cybernatrix or Iron Maiden, but she thinks they both sound a little silly. There’s plenty of black in this birthday gift Tony designed for him, so Black Widow still works. She’s ready to approach mach three and flies at top speed.
Iron Man joins her and admits to Natasha she looks amazing in that armor. She looks like something out of one of those dirty little Japanese cartoons and he must confess that he’s quite turned on. Natasha compliments the armor is the most amazing present she ever got. The nanites feel like second skin to her. Tony takes her hand, asking her to follow him, as the suit was only half the surprise.
They fly through the skies together, with Natasha telling Tony he should have seen the dirty look Janet gave him when she told her about all the other stuff Tony delivered her this morning. Janet hates her more than all the others put together, and asks Tony if he can believe Janet told Hawkeye she was only after his cash. Tony jokes Janet only said that because she has never seen him naked. Or seen how unhappy he was when he was dating Christina, Paris and all the rest of those little airheads. Natasha is the first real person Tony has ever actually met, and one thing the tumor has taught him is never to pass a golden opportunity when he sees one.
Natasha looks down, and can’t believe her eyes. Tony says it’s the other half of the surprise. Natasha can’t keep her eyes off it: on the land below her, the following words are spelled: “Will You Marry Me?” plus a heart is formed underneath it.
Natasha asks if those letters are actually being formed by people. Tony admits that. It’s three million of them, which is the entire population of Natasha’s old home city. She wouldn’t believe how long it took him to organize them like this, or how many labor laws he had to break. Still, a hundred dollars a head and a warm cup of coffee and it’s amazing how long these guys can stand around in the snow. Natasha opens her helmet and looks quietly at Tony. He thinks he asked too soon. Natasha cries, denying that. It’s not too soon at all. They share a hug and kiss.
Tony’s crew is happy for him, and Happy notices Pepper cry. He asks if she always cries when people pop the question. Pepper denies that: she just cries when billionaires ask it.
Half a million people protest against rumors of European super-soldiers. The police have the hardest time holding the folks at bay and throw tear gas grenades at them. They start smashing the officers with their guns and start pushing them away. One of the protestors begs the officers to stop. He’s an American citizen and this was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration.
During the tumult, nobody notices a strange, black-haired person just quietly standing, smiling at the devastation.
As the officers keep smashing people, not hearing them claim they weren’t going to do anything, thunder flashes suddenly strike them. Cars explode and fire appears. A large figure goes to stand on the destroyed cars, holding his weapon ready. It’s Thor! With rain falling all over his body, Thor points his hammer at the officers, telling them to leave these people alone.
Hawkeye’s wife watches the news about the riots. A reporter states they’ve yet to hear a statement from the Italian authorities, but Thor’s shocking attack on the city’s police has been condemned. Two of Hawkeye’s three kids tell their mommy that their daddy is coming up the driveway now. They all happily rush to him.
Holding a bag in his hands, Clint asks what happened to the security detail. They’re supposed to have six guys on this place twenty-four seven. Laura jokes that they’re helping Mrs. Bernstein get her cat out of the dryer. She doesn’t think it matters. She tells Clint she has been trying to call him all day and asks if she didn’t get his messages. Clint stares at his cell phone, joking he can never figure out how these stupid things work. He asks what happened. Laura admits it’s about Thor. He finally flipped. He just took out a hundred Italian cops and Nick Fury’s called an emergency meeting. She thinks they’re sending Clint to Europe.
On that very moment, a helicopter arrives to pick Clint up.
The Dome, Brussels…
Nick Fury leads Captain America, Janet, Natasha, Pietro, Wanda, Hawkeye and Iron Man into the building. He introduces them all to meet Professor Sir James Braddock of the European Defense Initiative. Sir James has been overseeing the super-soldier program out there for the last two years and he’s as big a name in bio-engineering as Bruce Banner was back home. James apologizes for all the papers and mess lying on the floor, but they’re still six to eight months from going public with this place. He asks if anyone fancies a cup of tea.
Steve shakes hands with Captain Britain. He tells him Tony was telling him all about that submarine rescue he and the others did a few weeks back, and it was pretty amazing. Brian smiles that Tony is hilarious. Everyone there just absolutely loved him. They’ve all been very excited about meeting Steve as well. He asks if he knew he used to have a poster of him on his wall when he was a pupil up at the Fettes College in Edinburgh.
Sir James jokes that other boys have posters of John Lennon or Che Guevara, but his son was the ultimate icon of military imperialism. He proudly introduces everyone to Brian Braddock, aka Captain Britain, who is the only man under seventy-five who’d agree to wear a Union Jack on his chest. Brian tells Cap not to listen to his dad, as he designed the exo-suit. He jokes his dad is just ugly enough to look intelligent.
James further introduces everyone to Carlos Fraile from Spain and Hugo Etherlinck from France. The Parliament hasn’t finalized their code-names yet, but they’re thinking Captain Spain and Captain France anyway, just to keep things nice and simple. Both Carlos and Hugo wave “hi” to the Ultimates. James also introduces the gang to their moody Italian friend as Umberto Landi, who is Captain Italy. They might have seen those leaked training photographs of him on the news lately. Umberto doesn’t want to be blamed for the protests, as it’s not his fault if security doesn’t know how to keep a secret.
James guides everyone further into the building, explaining there’s nine member states involved in the initial state of the program, but these are the only ones ready for the kind of combat the Ultimates are about to get involved in. Hawkeye asks the Professor what he means by that. Iron Man agrees with that question, also wanting to know what any of this has got to do with Thor. James suggests that Gunnar could explain it to the heroes.
Gunnar, standing on a stage, presses on a button and opens a presentation screen behind him. He introduces himself as Gunnar Golmen. He has been heading up the Norwegian team for the last twenty-four months. They did a lot of market research before they started work on the country’s representative and the national icon they’ve selected was Thor, the Viking god of Thunder. Like the Americans, they were unable to crack the secrets of Captain America’s super-soldier serum and opted for a bio-mechanical approach to the post-human they were developing.
Using North iconography, Gunnar designed a harness that would imbue the wearer with flight, durability and a level of strength unseen in even the mutant community. He shows them images of the armor, which are similar to the one Thor’s wearing. However, Gunnar continues, their biggest success was the power battery they created in the form of Thor’s mystical hammer. This hammer could ionize the environment and artificially manipulate the weather or even use its four-dimensional engine to teleport the wearer anywhere in the world.
Of all the super-soldiers they designed, Thor was unquestionable the most formidable and would have been the leader, were it not for Gunnar’s lunatic brother. He doesn’t need to remind the Ultimates they’ve with no doubt met his brother Thorlief, or Thor, as he’s been calling himself ever since he stole Gunnar’s hardware.
Tony wants to know if this is a gag.
Gunnar can only wish it were. He has always been very close to his brother. Everyone has to understand that. Thorlief might be a little odd and lack social skills, but he’s all the family he has and Gunnar tried to spend a lot of time with Thorlief after his nervous breakdown. Thorlief himself was a nurse himself before he went into the hospital. He was always interested in animals and the environment. Gunnar never thought his brother could hurt him like this, or could destroy the lab the way he did after he stole the armor and hammer.
This all happened eighteen months ago. Eighteen months and Gunnar and his team are still picking up the pieces of what they lost that night.
Janet wants to know what Gunnar’s saying: that Thor is a fake? Is his hammer and stuff just stolen hardware? Fury admits that’s exactly what Gunnar is saying. They’ve known about this right from the start, but figured it was time everyone else got brought up to speed. Hawkeye can’t believe it.
Tony doesn’t think this makes any sense at all. He wonders if Thor was running around with stolen goods, why didn’t Fury just do something about it? Fury doesn’t know what they could have done about it. Thor was designed to be the most powerful superhuman on the planet. That belt protects him from even psychic attacks, and asks Tony if he was maybe going to take him down.
Besides, Gunnar adds, Thorlief might have had his problems, he might have had these insane delusions, but nobody could say his heart wasn’t in the right place. He helped the Ultimates out a few times. It’s just the recent things that’s been dangerous… encouraging violence against democratically-elected governments.
Captain America asks Fury what he wants them to do. Fury wants Thor brought in tonight, before this gets any worse. He wants all seven of the Ultimates to work with these guys from the European division and, of course, they’ll be backed to the hilt by Fury’s own conventional people too. Tony apologizes, but he doesn’t know if he can do this. Fury tells Tony he can believe him, as he doesn’t want this any more than he does, but Thor’s becoming a serious problem out there. Janet thinks it’s unbelievable. This is just completely unbelievable… she smirks at Fury, joking this sure is a good way to ruin their first team-up.
Norway, the snowy forests…
While his followers are partying behind him, Thor prays alone, holding his hammer straight down on the ground. Jane approaches him quietly. As he hears the wind changing, Thor asks Jane to get everyone out of there. He powers up his hammer and pushes Jane away, shouting at her to just do as he says.
While soldiers get a lockdown on Thor, Quicksilver rushes at him top speed, holding his fists ready. Unfortunately Thor spots him and strikes him down, shooting thunderbolts from his hammer.
Thor asks if this is how it’s going to end. Creeping up on him like he’s some kind of criminal? But he won’t be going anywhere! He just wants his friends to be given the time to get out of her. He wants to at least being granted that courtesy.
Above in his plane, Fury can see Thor on his monitors. His soldiers ask what they have to do. Fury agrees with Thor. He wants his followers to be given twenty minutes to pack their things, as they don’t want civilian casualties any more than he does.
Twenty minutes pass, and soldiers watch how Thor’s followers are ready to leave. Jane refuses to go and says this to Thor. Thor tries to explain to Jane that, if she stays, she’s only going to get killed. She can trust him on that. He knows what he’s doing there. He knew this would happen sooner or later and he’s ready for whatever they throw at him. Jane thinks that if everyone stays, the Ultimates won’t be able to attack. Thor kisses Jane on her head, joking she’s being crazy now. He tells her to just go with the others. He’ll be fine. She just has to have a little faith and this will all work out.
As the people start to leave, Fury’s soldiers report that the forest is clear for a mile in every direction. The US and European soldiers are on standby and await further orders.
Captain America and all the other Captains merge from the forest trees. Thor tells Steve he doesn’t have to do this. Steve strongly disagrees with that. Thor tries to explain to Cap he’s being tricked. He’s being deceived by his evil half-brother. He thinks this is all Loki’s masquerade. He can’t believe the Ultimates don’t see this. Loki can shuffle time and space, and just made all this up.
Tony asks Thor to be serious. Thor knows this, admitting the same thing happened in the restaurant when he was talking to Volstagg. He didn’t notice it at the time, but there was a ripple in the scenery. Just before Loki gave things a little nudge and turned all those dates and times against him. Janet asks Thor not to make this any harder than it has to be. Thor tells Janet that the guy they met back at the complex isn’t real. He’s the Asgardian god of Mischief and he’s laughing up his sleeve at the Ultimates. He only sent them there to spoil his father’s mission. Tony asks Thor to stop. He thinks Thor’s sick, and a danger to himself and to other people now.
Thor disagrees. He tells Tony he only believes that because Loki has twisted reality. That’s what he does. He asks Tony if he doesn’t see it. Loki just twists things around to cause problems for him. Janet admits to Thor that they’ve read his file, and that all this is just happening in his head. Thor begs to Captain America to make them listen to him.
Captain America apologizes to his chum. He’s nuts and he’s going down!