Minor Spoilers ahead guys! I recommend seeing the movie first and then coming back and reading my thoughts! 🙂
Okay, I have probably deleted and re-typed this entry about three times. One reason being so much happened in the movie that I needed extra time to form and edit my thoughts before finishing this post. The second reason is my fear of being shunned by my die-hard Marvel and Joss Whedon fan friends after the statement I am about to say.
I have a confession: I was not a huge fan of the first Avengers movie. Before I saw it, it was severely overhyped for me. The friends mentioned above were all saying how this was one of the best movies they had ever seen, and that’s a big standard to live up to in my book. Unfortunately, the first Avengers fell short. A lot of it was due to my unfamiliarity with the Marvel universe, which I will explain later. There. I admitted it (prepares for internet backlash).
However, I enjoyed Avengers: Age of Ultron a whole lot more than the first one, and here’s why.
Since the first installment, I have been adamant about seeing Marvel movies the first thing after they come out and before I can hear too much buzz about them. I’ve been paying more attention, and I have been getting more used to this style of comic book films and these Marvel action flicks. My two favorites in the second phase of Marvel movies were Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. Individual franchises, but each still had it’s own unique flavor and style. I began to appreciate the characters and even started paying more attention to the subtle references that could tie into the future Avengers movies. I missed out on that experience with the first installment. I actually think the only two I saw before the Avengers were the first Iron Man and maybe Thor, and that contributed a lot to how much I cared about any of the superheroes.
It’s a tough job to pull together so many main characters, each with significantly different stories and different personalities into an action film. This is the appeal of the series. I felt that in Age of Ultron this aspect was improved upon even with the introduction of a few new main characters. Despite the constant amount of action and movement, Joss Whedon still slowed down enough for the characters to each show their own. The best examples of this are the romance and connection between Dr. Banner (The Hulk) and Black Widow, and the normal life that Hawkeye juggled along with his superhero career. It’s revealed that they aren’t all untouchable gods. These superheroes have weaknesses, and that’s okay.
The introduction of the twins Quicksilver and, specifically, Scarlet Witch and her unique ability to manipulate the minds of the Avengers, gives way to their emotional and physical weaknesses and significantly contributes to the story and character development. Tony Stark’s vision is particularly important because it starts his idea in creating a peacekeeping program, which goes awry and revs up the main part of the plot. I’m a little confused as to what’s going on with Thor’s vision, but it’s clearly a set up for his next movie.
Ultron is a fun villain and one of my favorite parts of the film. James Spader’s voice acting is fantastic and I enjoyed his sarcastic attitude, clearly showing some flare of being Tony Stark’s partial creation. I found the “destroying the Earth to ultimately save humanity,” plot to be a little cliché considering Ultron is an artificial intelligence. Not saying it doesn’t work, I’ve just seen it before on both smaller and larger scales (I’m looking at you Mass Effect). Ultimately, Ultron dominates every scene he’s in. He leaves me both empathetic and persuaded with his seemingly human moments, then taken aback and nervous in the moments when he fought our heroes and remembering he’s a villain and AI.
That’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have its flaws. While it does an excellent job of bringing all twelve main characters together and maintaining it’s action scenes, I found some of the humor to be…forced. I’m not talking about the enjoyable scenes like at the cocktail party where everyone tried to pick up Thor’s hammer, or even the running joke throughout the movie where everyone made fun of Captain America’s sensitivity to cursing. I’m talking about the random one-liners, which were barely funny and felt out-of-place.
I also think this movie is suffering from middle movie setup narrative. They’re spending too much time setting up for the next phase of movies, like what I mentioned before with Thor’s vision. They’re also setting up for something else huge that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m not a comic reader, so I don’t think I’m expected to know what’s happening, but I would love to try to figure it out. It personally leaves me struggling to grasp and remember the little details, and I haven’t been able to decipher it yet. Maybe a re-watch in the future will help me figure it out, but Avengers: Age of Ultron just feels like a huge distraction for what’s about to come and a means to bring in the new members of the Avenger team.
Despite my feelings of wanting something more, I’m really looking forward to next installments. This is a perfect action movie to start the summer season off with. According to my comic book obsessive friends, who understood every little minor reference happening in the film, everything will play out in the last two installments of the Avengers, and it’s going to be phenomenal.