Avengers: Age of Ultron is finally upon us and despite the overwhelming weight on its shoulders, it successfully manages to bring Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to an epic crescendo.
Warning: Minor Spoilers follow.
Avengers: Age of Ultron has a whole lot riding on its shoulders. Lofty expectations from fans, the pressure of setting up the next phase of the MCU, tying up the plot threads left by the aftermath of the previous phase(including movies and tv shows), all while telling a self-contained story which unites the earth’s mightiest heroes. Its a marvel (pun intended) that it doesn’t collapse on its own weight.
It is also a testament to the writing of Joss Whedon. He is at his best here, even while losing the novelty of the Avengers first coming together on screen he manages to make the reunion feel as special. Right off the bat we see the team actually acting like a team. Coordinating with each other on the battlefield and adhering to various roles just like a cohesive unit. It is amazing to see them in action in those first few minutes and it gives one a sense that this team has spent a significant amount of time together. Time which translates not only on the battlefield but off it. In the Avengers down time, we see relationships form and characters gravitate to or polarize from each other. It is interesting to see how naturally one member of the team interacts with another, especially because its shows us a different side to our heroes and helps them feel more fleshed out.
What is also interesting is how Whedon dives into the cast here giving us characters we are familiar with while at the same time showing more of what makes them tick. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is once again front and center with his trademark wit and charisma. However, when an event taps into his previously established paranoia and PTSD, we see him react drastically and make decisions which are questionable at best. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Scarlett Johanssen’s Black Widow have seem to have developed somewhat of an affinity for each other. And Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers/Captain America stays steadfast in his ideals even if it clashes with someone elses. Sadly, in retrospect, its Chris Hemsworth’s Thor that feels underused this time around. But its Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton/Hawkeye that really gets the character spotlight here, no doubt making amends for his taking a backseat in the first movie. The character goes through some really meaningful moments which emphasize his bravery and the emotional weight of his heroism.
In the new blood, we see Elizabeth Olsen deliver a pretty solid performance as Scarlet Witch. With the character herself being a pivotal piece in advancing the plot. Aaron Taylor-Johnson gives us a cool take on Quicksilver (however, slightly less impactful than the Quicksilver we saw in Days of Future Past but then again, its not a fair comparison to make, one was played for effect and one needed to be interesting and relevant for a whole movie) Paul Bettany finally brings the Vision to life on the big screen but theres not much to write home about his overall performance.
James Spader as the titular villain Ultron, definitely steals the show here. He gives us a menacing, nuanced villain which poses a physical and philosophical threat to the Avengers on and off the screen. He always seems to threaten the Avenger’s existence, whether its tearing the group apart by the ideals he represents or posing a threat in more overtly physical ways, Ultron always seems to be a looming danger to the team.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is not without its problems though, albeit some minor ones . There is some pretty confusing editing throughout some of the Thor segments and feel more like it bogs down the movie than move it forward. A certain character show up after a long absence and the team somehow accepts it as fact. Plus, a few more things in the end part which feel unaddressed. But all in all nothing world -breaking.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a character-driven movie and the franchise is all the better for it. The biggest takeaways aren’t the big, hulking (pun intended, last one promise) set pieces and well thought of action scenes (though there are plenty of those in stock) but the relationships fostered and the personalities that are defined moving forward with the next Phase of the MCU.
4.8 Hulkbusters out of 5
Raffy Leynes is a geek of all trades (master of fun). He loves videogames, comicbooks, movies, cartoons, wrestling, science and art. Lately, he’s been liking his geekery with a dash of “Indie”. He doesn’t know what the f*ck musings are but he is told he does them on his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.