Avengers: Age of Ultron was the movie that showed me that I will never be happy.
This time around, it’s less extra-terrestrial meddling and more rouge AI bringing the team together. Following a number of Hydra raids, The Avengers reclaim Loki’s alien sceptre in a raid on the fictional European nation of Sokovia. From there, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) seeks to create his vision for peace in the form of a sentient peacekeeping AI called Ultron. Sadly, the trend of every genius having not seen 2001: A Space Odyssey continues and, of course, the AI goes bad and concludes that peace can only be an option if the human race becomes extinct.
On the fighting, holy hell is it much more satisfying. I’m so impressed that the individual fighting styles of each character has been carried over from their respective second outings. Captain America (Chris Evans) is still wonderfully brutal in his beat downs as he was in his Winter Soldier, Iron Man is still tactfully graceful and the teams combo attacks are wonderfully overpowered.
There are a few moments that really are competing for the stand-out scene, but any time The Vision (Paul Bettany) is on screen, amazing things happen. This may be one of the most graceful ways that a comic book character has ever been handled, and given that this is his first appearance and he’s not exactly the easier hero to explain in a limited amount of time, you can see the great deal of care that has gone into making these new heroes so enjoyable. Taking into account that he isn’t in a lot of the film either makes the effort all the more sweet. It’s an odd parallel to the ‘I’m Always Angry’ bit in the original Avengers movie; it’s a much more refined and mature ‘oh shit moment’, but an ‘oh shit’ moment nonetheless.
Well, I’ll be blunt with this one: James Spader kinda blows as Ultron and really brings the whole affair down. Is this the fault of Spader? I don’t know, but I know it’s not entirely his fault. If I could squarely place a finger of blame, it would be with Joss Whedon. Let me explain why I think Whedon ruined Ultron.
Ultron is a sentient AI housed in a robot body that wants to end all human life. He thinks of the human race as a vermin that needs to be exterminated in order to save Earth from themselves. He is a cold, calculating villain that will do whatever dark act is necessary in order to see his primary objective’s completion. He is efficient, ruthless and intimidating. So why is it then that Ultron spends most of this film wisecracking to everyone he’s trying to intimidate?
Also, sidenote, the Black Widow/Hulk romance is actually pretty fun to watch, but did I miss that ever being set up? It feels largely crowbarred in and ever so slightly unbelievable, but then a huge chunk of the ‘Avenegrs are monsters’ phatic subplot is. It’s a pretty useless script padder that I really could have done without on reflection, but shouldn’t hinder a general enjoyment of the movie a whole lot.
It also doesn’t help there are scenes I’d feel comfortable rewriting myself with better links to the wider world of the MCU. I mean, people know that Daredevil and Spider-Man exist in this world, so why are they being ignored? Not even the Agents of SHIELD crew get an appearance or shout-out. Given how much the previous stories have always talked about New York, it feels strange that the amount of fan-pleasing references and cross-pollination might be at a new low for the MCU film series. Also, that mid-credits scene was less of a scene and more of a friendly reminder that yes, a certain character won’t just be sitting on his arse from now on.
There is plenty to enjoy here, for all levels of Marvel fan and all levels of action and superhero fan. It is a fitting escalation of what we’ve seen in the Marvel movies so far, but its definitely more of a second movement of a three/four part symphony than it is a crescendo to a second saga. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a heck of a lot of fun, but knowing what lies ahead, could quite easily get overshadowed as Marvel continue to get better and better at their own game.
The Editor in Chief of Foul Entertainment, Mike edits most of what you see on the site. He runs the production of our podcasts, and currently pens Pop Culture Club and The Death of Video Games.