Conquering heroes The Avengers return in their second outing as an ensemble cast. This time they must defend Humanity against a peacekeeping AI developed by Tony Stark after it goes rogue.
Is it wrong to say anything negative about a Marvel property these days?
*Cinema Cocoa brings up the blast shields*
Okay so it is fair to say that the sequel has less limitations than its predecessor Avengers Assemble, since all the characters are established now and the story can give us both barrels, but is it possible that during the revelation that Avenger films work Marvel has become… overconfident?
Age of Ultron could be evidence to support this.
Now I am not saying it is bad: action set pieces are incredible; peaking at the Hulk Vs Hulkbuster fight, the humour is still top notch; everyone gets a go, even Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Ultron himself!
Speaking of Hawkeye, he is probably the best character for development. The poor guy starts out the movie getting injured and out of commission again, but miraculously Renner is given character material to work with that some of the lead cast haven’t had! Well done, Marvel.
Ultron himself is cool, voiced by a gravely James Spader, here’s a villain Marvel has been looking for. Malicious, calculating and born from all of Tony Stark’s worst traits.
Another boon for the film is its heavy representation of our heroes saving civilians. It is worth remembering that Avengers Assemble had been directly compared to DC’s Man of Steel as being the better representation of superhero justice. One can’t deny that this feels like a direct attack on DC’s property.
But telling you this film has great dialogue and great action is a no brainer. I think people would have left half way through had those things not been present; this is an Avengers film, if you even remotely like the first one you will find enjoyment here.
This film feels sloppy. It feels rushed, and more importantly it feels utterly careless with what the non-Marvel fandom audience can consume. In an effort to outdo the first film, Ultron cuts narrative corners, makes unreasonable logic jumps without explaining it and possibly the worst offender for me: random exposition dumps.
I can accept, barely, characters literally jumping from place to place between cuts, but having the Avengers (our lead team of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) learning about the crucial Infinity Stones through some ridiculously contrived illusion/dream/prophetic vision of Thor’s, that’s unlocked by newcomer Scarlet Witch’s powers, and distilled by standing in some underground pool…. No.
We know what Infinity Stones are: Star Lord and friends had them explained really really well in Guardians of the Galaxy, don’t make it look like you are laboured in finding a place to tell your main protagonists this incredibly important information. Especially when your screenplay is so heavily invested in explosions and battles.
Another very unnecessary addition were “The Twins”, introduced in Captain America 2’s end credit stinger, Quicksliver and Scarlet Witch. While they aren’t in any way bad, and I can see how the franchise wants to move forward, for this film they are completely unnecessary.
A final note that almost slipped by me, Ultron’s final act does little for the female characters; the usually strong and capable Black Widow is randomly imprisoned. I have no idea why, and it is so brief that I almost forgot about it.
Oh dear, that’s a lot of negatives isn’t it?
Avengers: Age of Ultron is an excellent showcase action movie, it has a quick fire pace and really does have some great moments between the characters. It feels like a reunion party with Don Cheadle’s Warmachine helping out among others, and an early drunken scene of “Who can lift Thor’s hammer?” is memorable. Many quips too, Captain America absently saying to himself: “If the hammer is in an elevator, the elevator isn’t worthy,” all give a great chuckle from me.
Marvel need to be careful. Bonanza is all well and good, spectacle will bring the crowds for a short while, but you are trying to tell a story, a narrative, over hours and hours of film. So tell it.
Don’t get stuck in a formula (which you already have, in my opinion) otherwise I will become less intrigued by Avengers milestones and more intrigued by new properties ala Guardians.
Just, write good.