The blockbuster season is finally upon us with Joss Whedon’s much anticipated Avengers sequel kicking it off. It’s just a shame then that Age of Ultron is the first real disappointment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Age of Ultron catches up with the Avengers post Captain America 2 as they team up to bring down HYDRA in an incredible opening action sequence that tells us there’ll be no time wasted in getting the Avengers together this time round. Now that they’ve been fully established and brought together in the conclusion to Phase One, Avengers 2 feels much more free to explore the dynamics of individual characters and thankfully this means more time spent on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), with emphasis on Hawkeye. Hawkeye’s character development is increased a huge amount and it’s a joy to see more focus on the characters who haven’t yet had their chance of a standalone adventure while Captain America, Iron Man and Thor steal all the slots.
Age of Ultron also boasts one of the most menacing MCU villains yet with the titular character. James Spader’s soothing voice is terrifyingly appropriate as the homicidal AI and his ability to be everywhere at once makes him a credible threat that can destroy the Avengers in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately he goes down the traditional villain routine of biding his time to make his victory all the more sweet but that’s to be expected.
We also get the arrival of two new team members for the Avengers in the form of twin mutants (or ‘enhanced’ as Captain America calls them due to Marvel Studios ban from the use of their own species name) Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). And herein lies the first of Age of Ultron‘s problems.
Although it’s not really their fault, the fact that we have already had a glimpse of Evan Peters’ turn as Quicksilver (albeit a different incarnation of him) in last years X-Men: Days of Future Past made Taylor-Johnson’s appearance hard to digest. While Peters managed to become the highlight of DOFP in one simple yet brilliant sequence, Taylor-Johnson is scattered throughout Age of Ultron and yet still doesn’t manage to bring anything new to the superhero. Again, this is hardly Marvel Studios fault, but with the way they conclude Quicksilver’s involvement in the story, it almost feels as if they saw DOFP halfway through shooting and gave up trying.
This isn’t the only place where Age of Ultron slips up though. Unfortunately, thanks to Marvel releasing information incredibly early, its not too hard to find out that most of the main cast are signed up to pop into the rest of Marvels films up until around 2019 when Thanos is due to finally rear his big purple head in Infinity War parts 1 and 2. Thanks to this, Age of Ultron feels like it can’t take chances with the main cast lest it ruin Marvels big plan and more importantly, the casts contracts. And, knowing that Captain America: Civil War is just round the corner, at times turns Age of Ultron into a 140 minute teaser trailer for Captain America and Iron Man’s upcoming face-off.
All this would be fine and is almost expected by now, yet still Marvel can’t help but turn the final act of Age of Ultron into the usual big action packed mess of CGI destruction that, after 9 films has passed the point of comfortable viewing into just plain boredom. To discuss this more would be to add another page or two of ranting so I’ll instead suggest you read Andrew Jones’ article on the situation here as I can’t put it better myself really…
In the end Age of Ultron concludes the 2nd phase of what it appears will be a trilogy the same way that it began in Iron Man 3. With an interesting story that is eventually butchered with an infestation of CGI robots fucking shit up. One thing’s for sure, if you’re still with the MCU after Age of Ultron, chances are you’ll stick through to the end now. Here’s hoping Phase 3 brings better ideas and adds more risks. And if that doesn’t work maybe DC will have taken over by then…