Avengers: Age of Ultron

Warning: contains spoilers

avengers-assemble

Another installment in the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Another action packed superhero movie. It cannot be said that this movie is better than 2012’s Avengers, but it does not have to be. That movie set a rather high standard and this one comes close enough.

Before you go on, read a few good reviews out there including:

Guardian, Telegraph (7 questions) and Den of Geek (22 questions)

So here is the thing: The first Avengers movie marked the end of “phase 1” and was the Avengers Assemble movie. Before that we had seen standalone Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America films. So here we got Nick Fury pulling all these heroes and more into one (sometimes bickering) team. All fun. This second movie does not have that feeling of threads coming together. In some sense we can see the threads fraying – although not as much as we could have gotten.

What works is that the characters and their inter-personal relationships are what drive this movie. The introduction of what is essentially the New Avengers is handled reasonably well too. Vision is great. Hawk-eye gets the best lines and the best story. And we get a glimpse into Black Widow’s background. The latter two are important in some ways as they don’t have origin stories or standalone films yet. In a way this explains why Hawk-eye was missing in Captain America: Winter Soldier. He was busy with family.

What they could have done better is integrating with the overarching plot.

Iron Man seems to have forgotten the events of the third IM film. It would have been more satisfying if we found that Stark had given up on the iron suit and gone back to inventing (in secret) and developing and AI that would shield the world (pun intended). Perhaps the AI gets completed when Loki’s sceptre & the mind stone comes into contact with it. But Ultron needs more of an introduction than just being cooked up over three days by Stark and Banner. If they had led with a version of Ultron helping the Avengers raid Stucker’s castle, the later fall of Ultron would have had a larger impact. And indeed justified the use of the term “Age of Ultron” in the name.

The events of Winter Soldier also seem to have been forgotten. Cap shows some of the conflict over war and politics that he felt in WS, but not enough. The difference between Cap’s and Stark’s approaches could have been played up better and them ending the films as best buds seems out of place (given that Civil War is coming up soon). WS also saw SHIELD imploding as HYDRA takes over from within. Now those of us watching Agents of Shield know that there are at least two bits of SHIELD still trying to put together things while fighting each other, but Nick Fury dropping in with the Heli Carrier was a confusing Deus ex Machina in a Deus infested movie. What does this mean for AoS then?

Marvel now seems to be in a rush to get the Infinity stones out there before the next Avengers movie starts. There are two more to go and enough movies to introduce them. Putting a stone in Loki’s sceptre seems an easy “out”. But think of this: after Dark World, Loki is now in control of most of the stones assuming Thor returned the mind stone to Asgard.

At the end of it all there is a kind of farewell/disbanding going on. Hawk-eye is back home, Hulk off in a plane possibly crashed into the ocean, Stark leaves. The Captain and Black Widow remain to train the new incoming batch of Avengers. This is promising seeing as it brings together some previously seen faces (Falcon, War Hammer) and new recruit (Scarlet Witch). Too bad Quick Silver met with a quick end.

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