Earth’s mightiest heroes resurge in the highly anticipated sequel to 2012’s box office smashing hit only proving that the Marvel Cinematic Universe and director Joss Whedon formula is what the people want and it’s what the people will get…and that’s okay.
Snarky one liners, emotionally charged heroes, and a wise-cracking villain with a clone army that threatens to level an entire city, throw in mentions of Hydra, Infinity Stones and a quarter of a billion dollars, and you have yourself an Avengers movie.
*Spoilers below, you’ve been warned*
This time the Avenger who’s responsible for the new baddie on the block is none other than Iron Man himself, aka genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who’s meddling with stumbled upon Artificial Intelligence leads to the creating of a snide homicidal robot, Ultron (voiced by the incomparable James Spader) intent on leveling the world from a small town in Germany. When Ultron and the Avenger’s clash, be it at Stark Tower in New York, a port off the coast of Africa, South Korea, or said small fictional German town, it makes for some pretty badass action scenes.
It’s this AI conundrum that Whedon poses with Ultron and then with humanoid hero, Vision (Paul Bettany, who, up til now was the voice of JARVIS) about humanity. Taking a glimpse back to old Whedon a la “Buffy” and “Firefly” times and it begins just as quick as it ends. Because as learned in the Marvel Universe, nothing good lasts too long….except Captain America.
It’s hard not to wince when thinking of Stark’s own established daddy issues and then the banter that plays between him and his AI monster-robot, but it seems Whedon forgot about that. In fact the only mention, be it vague, of Stark’s father comes in the form of two new Hydra Twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. The German orphan experiment super-twins are portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”) and rising star Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley. Pietro’s quick wit and charming smirk accompany his sister’s ruminating disposition and harsh bite, but together they work.
And again with the mind control…..
It’s Hawkeye, (Jeremy Renner), who says it best….been there, done that, not a fan. We get it, Scarlet Witch has telekinesis and mental manipulation abilities, which makes for some pretty cool scenes, and seems like a good idea at first, but it just seems to go nowhere after causing some internal personal turmoil for nearly every Avenger. Then again, I guess tearing The Avengers apart from the inside is being saved for “Civil War”, the third installment of the “Captain America” series.
Speaking of Hawkeye, it was nice to see a different side of the arrow-slinging superhero. After about three lines in the first film, and little to no backstory, audiences finally get to see a surprisingly human Clint Barton in “Age of Ultron.” It was Barton who got to deliver some of the best lines from the film, both serious and snarky. People are definitely going to walk away with a newfound respect for the archer with a heart of gold.
“Age of Ultron” also gave a bit of a backstory to The Avengers leading lady, Black Widow. Scarlett Johansson’s Romanoff is as badass as ever and with just the slightest peek into her Russian assassin training origins, it’s beyond unfair just how much we don’t know about arguably the greatest and deadliest lady in MCU. If this glimpse taught us anything is that we need more Russian ballet assassin Black Widow. And because everything now-a-days needs a romantic subplot, Romanoff and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) suddenly have an unrequited romantic tension that ends up making Romanoff give off some damsel in distress vibes. Which is the slightest bit unsettling, only because it has no real plot progression and really only gives an outlet for some extra Banner and Romanoff screen time.
Don’t think I forgot about Cap. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), he seems almost un-phased after walking away from the emotional toil that was “Winter Soldier”, granted Whedon-verse is different from Russo-verse, but still you don’t just walk away from a battle with you former best friend who you thought was dead for decades and comes back as a brain washed Russian super soldier sent to kill you and think nothing of it. But that’s Cap for you. He settles himself into realizing that he’s a leader and a soldier. It seems like Whedon doesn’t touch too much on Cap after the Russo brothers and Evans have characterized him so well in the stand-alone films. He knows his place as the leader and voice of the team, and he does that well.
“Age of Ultron” is beautifully shot and the graphics are beyond comprehension. The film credits nearly 19 graphic production teams. It’s truly a marvel to watch. It will be no surprise when the film opens domestically with a $500 million weekend. In all honestly the film is great and fun. There’s no doubt that audiences will be pleased with it and merchandise is going to cover the aisles of Target and smother Disneyland shelves. It’s just Whedon has worn out the MCU and his exhaustion is apparent in his film making.
So as Whedon says goodbye to The Avengers, seeing as The Russo Brothers are taking over the two part “Infinity Gauntlet” films, it’s safe to say that his time couldn’t come sooner. Whedon does leave a legacy though, without him it’s unsure of how well the first Avengers film would have done and where the MCU would be today. But after two spin-off television series and stand alone films that definitely hold their own, as well as the new kid on the block “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the Marvel Universe has moved on and beyond Whedon.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars