The Avengers have reassembled! This weekend saw the first major opening of the summer blockbuster season (although, you know, technically it’s still Spring).
The superhero sequel to its highly successful and acclaimed 2012 predecessor brought back loads of the same witty banter and provocation between the group of far-from-perfect heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and The Hulk.
We also saw the introduction (and departure) of several new fascinating characters from the Marvel Universe, such as Quicksilver, The Scarlet Witch, Vision, and of course, the morbidly villainous Ultron.
Age of Ultron does a fantastic job of reintroducing us to the group of heroes, while also acting as a distinctive plot point for these characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before progressing into the following phase of its Film Universe: Captain America: Civil War (2016), Dr. Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017), Thor: Ragnarkor (2017), and finally, the two Avengers: Infinity War films being released in 2018 and 2019. Because several key members of the Avengers will not be returning for Infinity War Pt. 1 and 2, Age of Ultron has introduced us to the new Avengers that will be filling some very large shoes (metaphorically and physically).
This is in addition to the circulating rumors that Spider-Man will be joining the Avengers by the time Infinity War rolls around, along with a merging with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, we’ve got three years to see how exactly that plays out.
As a sequel, director Joss Whedon has been very effective in reutilizing the techniques he introduced in his first Avengers film.
Particularly in terms of balancing explosively breathtaking action scenes and the humanization of the characters in these scenes, showing that they are real people behind their masks and powers—sometimes defined as character flaws rather than supernatural talents.
Age of Ultron also has much more heart and an expertly developed storyline than its predecessor, and major props have to be given to Whedon for this accomplishment.
He is undoubtedly a master of his art, and Age of Ultron is his perfect love letter to his directorial departure from Marvel. However, Age of Ultron sometimes feels much too familiar to its predecessor to fully appreciate as a whole—laughs, explosions, plot-twists, and repeat. While this makes for a highly entertaining superhero film, it almost feels formulaic being this is the 11th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Nevertheless, Age of Ultron is an undeniable achievement for comic book cinema and a compelling setup for Marvel films to come.
Age of Ultron opens with a stunning fight scene presented in one continuous long shot, going from superhero to superhero as they take down multiple attackers at once, each shooting witty quips at one another during the battle.
We ease back into their uniquely electrifying dynamic, and it is truly a marvelous feat.
They are raiding a Hydra outpost in hopes of retrieving Loki’s scepter, where they encounter twins Pietro and Wanda, better known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
Pietro is cunning in his trickery as is Wanda, who enchants several of the Avengers with perturbed visions of their past or future.
Upon retrieving Loki’s scepter, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (AKA Iron Man and the Hulk) are seen discussing one of Tony’s newest promising ventures—artificial intelligence.
As expected, Tony acts selfishly and recklessly (can you tell I hate Iron Man?) and his A.I. program wreaks havoc at one of his lavish evening parties.
This is when we first encounter who is possibly the darkest and most sinister of all of Marvel’s villains to date: Ultron.
Ultron’s dialog is gritty, macabre, and flows like poetry. He speaks of rebirth yet understands only death and destruction as a means of achieving this.
Much of his contemplation and logic reflects that of Tony Stark, given he was experimenting on his own thought process before initializing the Ultron program—a program meant to provide global security though the use of artificially intelligent machines.
This logic, however, becomes skewed in Ultron’s cognition, to which he deduces global genocide to be the only true form of Earth’s redemption, due to the consistent fallacies of the human race.
We have Tony Stark’s cynical mentality to blame for Ultron’s reflective nihilism. (Did I mention I hate Iron Man?) Ultimately, it is up to the Avengers (and one intriguingly captivating new character named Vision) to defeat Ultron and his army before he decides to eradicate the entire human race, because by A.I. mentality, that’s exactly what we deserve.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is everything a sequel should be. It not only keeps the momentum as high as its predecessor, but it improves on its character development and humanism.
The Hulk and Black Widow are no longer simply portrayed as such—they are Bruce and Natasha, who are in love and must deal with both inner and outer demons in an attempt to have a genuine, working relationship.
We also get an entire backstory for Hawkeye as well, as we learn that Clint is in fact married and has children—shocking all the superheroes as well as many audience members unfamiliar with his character.
Age of Ultron is as heartfelt as it is vehemently intense as a whole, in addition to its never-ending satire and highly quotable one-liners.
Though never quite acquiring its own sense originality, Age of Ultron is undeniably impressive and lively.
Furthermore, it marks a very distinct point for the MCU as a film and where the plot will progress from here. Those smart enough to stay after the end credits (which should come with no hesitation to any Marvel fan) will get a very fitting introduction for where the story is headed in Infinity War.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until 2018 to see the Avengers back in action.