Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
Warning – this post contains mild spoilers.
Is it better than what we’ve seen from the 2012 The Avengers? Let’s think realistically here, Joss Whedon created an astonishing film adaption of the assembled Avengers team which managed to evoke the right amount of humour, action and seriousness. Did Age of Ultron ever have a chance of competing with its extremely successful predecessor? Well not really. But that doesn’t mean Age of Ultron wasn’t a good film, because it absolutely was. Incredible actions scenes, dramatic character insights, and snarky humour throughout the film made us feel right back in 2012; yet the darker elements and various plot threads in the film were hard to compress into a two-hour and thirty minutes film.
The film kicks off right where Captain America: The Winter Soldier left us, a HYDRA witch-hunt. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Coulson’s team have become more focused on ‘The other Shield’ and the Inhumans, so that Hydra haven’t been much of a priority (that is other than the latest episode The Frenemy Of My Enemy). This leaves the Avengers with the mission of infiltrating a HYDRA base and recovering Loki’s staff – but of course Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch had to intrude. While the action and fighting sequences here were gorgeous, putting us right in the action left for a very confusing opening. But Ultron puts an end to that.
Ultron as a villain manages to capture the right sinister tone and has the perfect essence of how a villain should be. He’s smart, he’s quirky but most importantly he’s unpredictable. The rapid increase in his strength as he aims to “wipe out the Avengers” leads to disastrous effects to general society and causes another ‘save-the-world from destruction’ plot to be engaging. One main thing I love is how he manages to disrupt the peaceful and charming atmosphere which originates from the bond of the Avengers. In the last film, Nick Fury was focused in making them a compatible team. And in these early sequences they genuinely seem like best friends and the most compatible they can be. It’s Ultron that breaks this narrative equilibrium and causes a conflict to arise between the team. The lack of trust and the arguments of what the right thing to do is was one of the better darker elements brought in. Other things have changed such as Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff becoming intimate; it feels odd that this bond grown happened off-screen, yet the onscreen chemistry and Natasha’s protective instinct towards Bruce makes it all worthwhile. Ultron manages to put these relationships to the test, and it works out amazingly.
One character who’s given more of a spotlight since the last film is Hawkeye. His character was significantly underused last time, and now his characterisation in Age of Ultron was one of the highlights of the film. Whedon acknowledges that little was known about Hawkeye, so he gets the best dialogue, the best chemistry and a very interesting revelation. This focus on Hawkeye works well as Jeremy Renner manages to uphold him being given a more vital role. My main peeve from this film is how the unrealistically crazy plot with vast characters is extremely condensed so that things feel rushed or hard to follow. Hawkeye doesn’t succumb to this as he manages to be a standout character with his characterisation not being rushed at all. In fact, I love how he makes a meta-joke about how insane the entire events are, it really enhances just how amazing Hawkeye is this time round.
“We’re fighting an army of Robots. On a floating city. And I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes any sense.”
The matter of fact is that it doesn’t have to make sense. The film is still incredibly fun to watch, with beautiful action scenes, snippets of witty dialogue every five seconds and great characters. Even though it does try to embody itself in a serious tone, we cannot dismiss that this is a comic-book film. It’s why -despite them being hard to follow – I loved the introduction of Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and Vision. Marvel are evidently using Age of Ultron to transition to phase 3 of the MCU, with the extended roster of Avengers and this small feud between Captain America and Iron Man. The MCU Avengers are more than who we’ve seen in 2012, now being an Avenger is broader than just the standard heroes we’ve previously seen. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were welcome additions to the MCU as they’ve particularly felt they fitted in the Universe. Vision on the other hand is abruptly introduced and seems to be featuring in the film for the purpose of him being in it. Yes he’s an Avenger, but I felt his character felt very unlike what Marvel have been building in their cinematic Universe the past few years.
Marvel also had an evident missed opportunity. From seeing many of the teaser material posted online, I felt like I had already witnessed most of the film anyway. There’s a lack of surprise which causes some parts to be stale, no matter how eccentric the scenes actually were. The promotions could’ve been less revealing so that scenes actually felt new, but alas much of it we had already seen. Other missed opportunities is interlinking the MCU television series’ to the film. Agent Carter somewhat has relevance in the film, yet that’s to do with Peggy and Steve’s relationship opposed to plots from the series. Daredevil is more distanced from the actual Avengers plot-line and it makes sense that it didn’t contribute to the story. Yet Marvel’s flagship show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D had a completely open window to tie-in to the film. Nick Fury and Mariah Hill feature in the film. Surely at a time when cities are collapsing around them, S.H.I.E.L.D would be more involved in it rather than Nick and Mariah who are apparently no longer in S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s even a moment where backup is called, and just a small reference or cameo of Coulson or May would’ve been perfect. I understand that there was already too much to fit in as it was, but it would’ve been a great moment for fans of the series.
If you’re looking for the best Marvel film, this probably isn’t the greatest choice. Fans following the Avengers must watch the film, and even those less aware of the universe should be intrigued too. But of course those who also read the comics are bound to be excited more due to more teases of Thanos, and more of the infinity stones. Phase 3 is so near, and with Ant Man commencing soon, we’ll soon see the Civil War. Whilst the execution was slightly sloppy, Age of Ultron still makes an unforgettable ride. Personally, I’d recommend that you re-watch the film several mores times to make sense of the variety of hidden jokes and references.
+ Steve really wants you to watch your language. The banter exchanged between the characters was so entertaining.
+ This realistic portrayal of Hulk and his inability to cope with his rage was beautiful. I think Bruce and Natasha really suit each other as a pair. But also the CGI used was gorgeous too, leading to amazing fighting battles.
– Too rushed. Perhaps the story needed simplifying a bit so that it is less to take in.