“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is the 11th (ELEVENTH!) film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. By now, it should go without saying that you’ll probably be mildly confused if you haven’t seen the other 10 movies prior to this one, because one of the great things about these movies is that they build on one another (click here for plot summaries of the previous movies). After all, these Avengers movies are cross over events, they’re pure fun, but they really only work with the help of the solo films in between, where each character is given time to develop.
Just like the first one, ‘Age of Ultron’ is straight up awesome. Comic fans will love it and I think general audiences are going to enjoy it as well. Thing is though, I’m not sure how I would rank it among the other Marvel movies. I’m tempted to say it’s not quite as good as Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, BUT it might have more of a re-watch factor going for it, if that makes sense.
In a lot of ways it tops the first Avengers outing with the humor, action, plot and character development, but it does (inevitably) lack the wow factor of the first Avengers movie, being that the first one was also the first ever major live action super hero team up film. That said this is a really solid sequel.
Once again, Joss Whedon deserves a lot of credit for bringing these elements together with multiple main characters and really making it work, because it easily could’ve fallen flat, or come across as super cheesy. This is one jam-packed movie and yet Whedon manages to balance out this immensely dense cast, no easy feat considering all the failed super hero ensembles that came before it.
I LOVED all the returning characters in this movie. The Avengers cast has such great chemistry, and they really let it sparkle this time around. Every character is given great moments, from great one liners to introspective reflections. In addition to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, we’re also introduced to Quicksilver, Scarlett Witch, AND The Vision! Even War Machine and The Falcon make a few guest appearances.
The movie opens with The Avengers taking on a Hydra base in
Slorenia Sokovia against Baron Von Strucker. It shows them working together like an experienced team, which I was completely geeking out over, like a kid playing Marvel vs Capcom for the first time. We’re also introduced to Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, two twins powerful enough to take go toe to toe with the gang.
Tony Stark, still dealing with the trauma of the alien invasion, is given a dark premonition of a future in which he fails to save everyone he cares about. This ultimately leads him to create worldwide defense network, an artificial intelligence called: Ultron. Ultron of course becomes self aware and almost immediately decides that the human race needs to be destroyed. This not only poses a serious threat to the team, but it also causes some serious tension between them.
The absolute best fight is without a doubt The Hulk vs Iron Man. This scene is heavily featured in the trailers, but trust me, those clips don’t do it justice. Hulk goes on a berserk rampage through an African city and Iron Man is forced to bring out the big guns… er, the biggest gun: The Hulk-Buster armor! This sequence is truly epic and well worth the price of admission.
Even though ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is one of the most action packed movies I’ve ever seen, it’s the quiet moments between characters in between all the chaos that really makes this movie more than just a popcorn flick. There’s a very poignant love story that I won’t spoil, but I felt was handled really well. When The Avengers have a run in with the Scarlett Witch, she creates nightmarish illusions for all of them, making them each face their worst fears: Natasha coming to terms with her past, Steve handling the loss of his former life, and Thor being unworthy. We also get to learn more about Hawkeye and his family life, and really see things from his perspective.
The movie is also filled to the brim with laughs. At one point Hawkeye points out that he’s fighting an army of robots with a bow and arrow. There’s this great scene where Hawkeye, Tony, and Cap attempt to lift Thor’s hammer to no avail and Black Widow teases them about it. At one point, when they confront Ultron, Tony asks, “What’s the vibranium for?” Ultron responds with one of the best lines ever, “I’m glad you asked that, because I wanted to take this time to explain my evil plan…” before blasting him.
One of my only major criticisms I have with the film is the primary antagonist of the subtitle, Ultron himself. He’s certainly not a bad villain, and I enjoyed James Spader’s performance as the robotic megalomaniac, but there were times when he didn’t really feel like a credible threat. I was hoping he would really scare me, but he just kept reminding me of a poor man’s Megatron. And while I’m nitpicking it apart, it really bothered me that his ‘lips’ moved, it made him feel a little too human. I feel like a cold machine could’ve been more effective. However, I did like how his personality was reflective of Stark’s.
And then there’s The Vision. Vision looked pretty good for the most part, considering I personally was never a fan of his design from the comics, but there were times where he didn’t seem all that believable. I couldn’t help but think about how uncomfortable Paul Bettany must have been in that makeup. Still, Bettany did a good job as the character, which came as no surprise considering he brought JARVIS to life.
As a fan of the source material, this movie does leave a lot of questions to be answered, which is not necessarily a bad thing, unless of course the next Avengers-related movies don’t address said questions (Civil War anyone?), but I can’t really go into detail here without spoiling it.
For fans of the comics, some things to look out for: references to the Infinity stones, a serious amount of foreshadowing, various Marvel character appearances, Stan Lee’s requisite cameo, and a mid-credits tease.
All in all, I gotta say this is a must see – as in physically go see it in theaters when it comes out. It’s a worthy successor that ties everything together and gets you pumped for the next few movies in the franchise. On it’s own, ‘Age of Ultron’ is a fun action movie with a nice mix of comedy, drama, and sci-fi.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters this Friday – May 1st!