Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
2012’s The Avengers is like lightning in a bottle. It was a first-time experience of witnessing all of our favourite superheroes together and that feeling can now never be duplicated. The pressure to create something equal to, or better than, the first film rested solely on Joss Whedon’s soldiers, and that may be too much to put on one man.
Worried that they might not be enough to save humanity, Tony Stark (Downey) encourages Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) to help build an artificial intelligence peace-keeping programme names Ultron (Spader). When Ultron goes rogue and decides on his own plan to save humanity, the heroes must once again team up to save the world.
The movie is by no means terrible, but somewhat of a disappointment after the highs of the first. The Avengers felt like its own encapsulated story, without any distracting subplots or narrative, running tight without any fat. Unfortunately, seemingly because of studio interference, the sequel adds in far too much world building for its own good, referencing future moves that Marvel will make far earlier than they need to.
Take, for example, poor old Thor (Hemsworth). After a run-in with Ultron, Wanda “Scarlett Witch” Maximoff (Olsen) and Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff (Taylor-Johnson), the group regather at a farm house to collect their bearings. Thor, however, decides to take it upon himself to find some answers, and travels to a cave in the middle of nowhere and receives a vision of the Infinity Stones. This is completely pointless; we don’t need to see the stones together just yet, and you can probably wait until they’re all together anyway. The reason for this is to set up Paul Bettany’s Vision, as he contains the Mind Stone, but, just like before, that’s all set-up, set-up, set-up.
I’m also not too fussed on this iteration of Captain America (Evans), who seems to be a completely different character to the other three film in which he’s been. More quippy, with less conviction than previously held, he’s somewhat side lined, despite being the actual Avengers’ leader.
This isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have its merits; the cast is still pretty much the selling point for the film. Johansson ups her game as Natasha Romanoff, particularly in one scene when describing some of her backstory to Banner, and Olsen manages to get to grips with her character far quicker than some of her counter-parts, even though this is her first time as the character.
James Spader, as Ultron, has the perfect voice for a menacing A.I., however, the villain himself lets him down (this is, after all, an MCU film). I think it’s safe to say that we should be close to the end of trend in which villains wish to destroy the majority of humanity in order to save it. It’s been done countless times, more even in this franchise, and it’s grown tedious for an audience who wants something new.
The action is decent, though not riveting; the CGI is somehow not as clear as the first film, and the third act is essentially the Avengers versus disposable robots. It is, however, still incredibly fun to watch the Avengers play their powers off each other, particularly when it comes to Thor and Cap.
I don’t hate the movie, but it’s all set-up and very little pay-off, making it feel like a filler episode in a long form TV show. It doesn’t make much of an effect on the rest of the MCU, unless you want to know Vision’s origins. If you don’t want to watch it, you can probably skip this one.