Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are two of the stars in writer/director Joss Whedon’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’
It is a tough task to have to go out and make a sequel to one of the biggest movies of all-time — not to mention a staple of recent pop culture. You could just go out and do the same thing over again, but that isn’t what people necessarily want. Instead, they want to see the same thing, but with a new face on it.
Joss Whedon has the impossible task of coming out and creating something brand new with these figures that we are so used to seeing now. Since his first Avengers movie in 2012, we have grown even more accustom to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and the Hulk as more and more movies came out in between the first movie and this latest installment, Age of Ultron.
But just because we are now two phases into this cinematic universe that Marvel is making, with countless heroes and personalities involved, does that honestly mean that we need to see them all in the same room together and that instantly makes a good movie?
It is easy to pipe dream the ultimate team-up and it is hard to deny that didn’t come to mind multiple times after viewing The Avengers or even a more recent team like Guardians of the Galaxy, but maybe that thought should be put away after watching the at-times very clouded Avengers: Age of Ultron that sometimes bites off way more than it can chew.
What worked so well about the first Avengers was the way Whedon could integrate all of these heroes into one harmonious collection and be able to connect everyone into one for a battle or scene. While the director still possesses this power, it seems like maybe the list may be too big as the latest installment adds the likes of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) to a line-up that didn’t alter any from the first to second movie.
Age of Ultron finds the Avengers fighting the good fight once again. This time, they are searching for the reminisce of HYDRA after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. during Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This leads to them recovering the scepter that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) used during the first movie and putting away this HYDRA business once and for all. Too bad this happens in the first 20 minutes so you know it won’t stick.
Still a curious mind, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), with the help of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), starts to use this technology to power an idea that he is having — an A.I. with the capabilities of Iron Man that can allow this team to retire and not have to take care of any impending threat on the Earth. This idea, in theory, is great but it turns catastrophic when Ultron (voiced by James Spader) is born and doesn’t take to Stark’s ideals as much as he would’ve hoped.
Spader infuses much more personality than probably all of the previous Marvel villains (save Loki) combined. He is devious, cunning, and incredibly sarcastic but still lacks what Marvel really needs — fear. Sure, we know that Ultron probably has enough power TO beat the Avengers, but is that ever seen?
In the first movie, it was easier since Loki’s powers were relatively established in Thor so we didn’t have to worry about introducing a whole new slate outside of what he was given prior to the film. In this one, it is frustrating to see Ultron not live up to the expectations that are given him because he is so fun to have around. Spader brings the sensibilities of having the actual James Spader around as a villain into this hyper-intelligent robot, which feels so fresh for a universe that has given us stale villain after villain.
I think what is most frustrating about the Marvel mold is how ADD it feels at time. I never got the feeling in Age of Ultron that we were just sitting in place with no future plans (as Cap references before the final fight, “I’ve got no plans for tomorrow.” Yes you do Cap, you have three more movies.) Instead, it feels like we are always pushing for the next film.
Thor is taking baths halfway through the movie that feel like one of the famous end-credit scenes but an hour and a half into the movie. Captain America and Iron Man are fighting and laying the groundwork for Civil War. The only characters who are living in the moment of this film are Black Widow and the Hulk and that’s only because they won’t be getting a movie of their own so this film is all they have.
There is a lot I liked about Avengers: Age of Ultron that is going unsaid. I commend Whedon for giving us these character moments — whether it is Black Widow and Hulk or Hawkeye and his family — they are welcome breaks from the constant set-up that this film feels the need to have. You can understand why he is leaving Marvel because while he has enjoyed the success, his true passion is in creating rich characters and he seems frustrated with having to put that on hold in these films for future plans.
The fight scenes are still stellar — while not as well-done as the first film — they still show that Whedon is skilled at bringing together all of these personalities into one condensed scene and allowing us to see all of our favorite heroes working together.
But by the end, I just felt letdown. Maybe this is how Whedon feels as well. This source material is rich and there is so much to do with it, but it never seems enough when the company is looking over their shoulders at the next plan. As excited as I was for the future slate of Marvel movies, maybe in the future they should wait for the closing act Avengers film before setting their course because judging from this last effort, it continues to taint an otherwise strong product.