The summer blockbuster movie season is here! Age of Ultron hit theaters across the country last night, and it definitively proved to be one of Marvel’s shining jewels. The audience felt it all – happiness, sadness, entertained, surprise – it is very much a Marvel movie. But, does it all pay off?
Readers: beware. Spoilers ahead…
Marvel’s Age of Ultron picks up some time after the events of the first Avengers film. The team has been working together to rid the Earth of any remnants of Hydra. In doing so, they re-locate Loki’s scepter and decide to let Thor return it to Asgard. However, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) ask to be allowed a few days to study it and learn from it in order to bring their idea to life: Ultron (James Spader). Through their attempts to implant the “mind” from the scepter into one of Stark’s robots, something goes terribly wrong and Ultron is born.
This scene is especially interesting, as we hear Ultron literally come into existence. He begins to scan the internet, searching for information about the Avengers team. His mission: “peace in our time.” Though the trailers depicted an Ultron that arrived at his solution in a logical sense, the Ultron that we get is one filled with rage and disgust for the human race. He takes a physical form after destroying J.A.R.V.I.S., and though his physical body is destroyed by the Avengers, he escapes through the internet and takes another form.
The rest of film follows this cat-and-mouse scenario, as the Avengers wait for Ultron to make his movie. As shown in the trailers, the Maximoff twins (Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) come into play in a major way. Scarlet Witch utilizes her powers to get inside the minds of the Avengers, which results in a climactic battle between an enraged Hulk and Iron Man. The city is devastated by the Hulk’s rampage, and the Avengers must go into hiding. What the Avengers didn’t first realize was that Ultron wasn’t merely trying to exterminate them, he wanted to “evolve.” Ultron manages to secure a lot of vibranium from Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis), which he intends to use for a perfected body.
Long story short, Ultron’s attempt to create a better version of himself leads to the creation of the Vision (Paul Bettany). Imbued with the power from the Infinity Gem known as the Mind Stone, the Vision quickly becomes an important ally for the Avengers. By the end of the movie, the Avengers now include the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and War Machine. Ultron’s endgame: create another “asteroid event” that will destroy mankind. However, the Avengers aren’t able to come up with a solution to stop Ultron’s machine. Instead, their only option is to vaporize the entire city that Ultron plans to destroy the Earth with. The team is able to evacuate the city with the help of Nick Fury and (sorta-) S.H.I.E.L.D. but it does often seem that there are heavy casualties in the film.
One of the biggest casualties in the film: Quicksilver. He valiantly saves Hawkeye and a young boy from certain death, and is honored by Hawkeye, as he later names his newborn son after Quicksilver. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the Avengers are able to subdue Ultron and pretty much save the city. The result of this ordeal is noticeably felt, though. Hulk/Bruce Banner escapes the fight and flies off towards some unknown location. Thor decides to return home now that he seems to have a general idea of what is actually going on with the re-emergence of the Infinity Gems. It seems that Tony Stark decides to step away from the team, as he is seen saying his goodbyes to Steve Rogers. Now, Captain America and Black Widow are left with a new team of heroes: The Vision, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch.
And, of course, the post-credits scene. In perhaps one of Marvel’s best “tags” to date, the scene begins with the opening of some sort of vault. As the opening of the vault begins to illuminate what’s inside, a hand reaches in. It’s the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos has come to take it! As he puts on the Gauntlet, he remarks, “I guess I’ll do it myself.” This definitely sets us up for the events to come in Avengers: Infinity War.
I honestly can’t remember a film that I was this excited to see. Age of Ultron was on my most highly anticipated films of the year, and it definitely met my high expectations. The action in this film was thrilling and felt bigger than many of the other Marvel films. Of course, what else would you expect from Marvel at this point? The scope of this movie is huge, as it takes place all over the globe. How the world feels about the Avengers becomes an interesting point of the story, and it will probably be something that comes up again in Captain America: Civil War.
Besides the action, where else does the movie really shine? The introduction and development of Ultron in the early parts of the film were done extraordinarily well. As described above, his sudden “birth” is captured superbly by James Spader, and his fascination with religious ideas is juxtaposed with his maniacal plans. In search of the vibranium to build his perfect body, Ultron quotes the Bible, “And on this rock, I’ll build my church.” In this regard, the audience does get to see into the mind of Ultron. His allusion to the Bible says a lot about how he feels about himself and what he believes his actions to be. Ultron sees himself as a “second coming” for humanity, a savior that has come to give civilization a fresh start. Even when first meeting the Maximoff twins, we see him sitting in what appears to be a throne, centered in the middle of a church. He feels that what he is trying to accomplish is righteous, though it means wiping out humanity like in the story of Noah (which he also alludes to).
The chemistry between these characters is also what makes Age of Ultron so much fun. Tony Stark, as expected, is constantly the guy to make things light-hearted around the Avengers camp; there’s even a long-running joke about Captain America throughout the film. The budding romance between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff takes place suddenly at the beginning, but develops over the rest of the film. Clearly, the point of this romance was not only to give those characters a bit more time to develop, but also to make Banner’s send-off at the end that much more emotional. Still, the relationship between the two begins to feel more organic than anything by the end of the film.
Are the events of past films still ongoing in this one? Yes.
In a brief exchange between Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers, we understand their search is still underway for the Winter Soldier. Also, Pepper and Jane are also still involved with Tony and Thor, but are not shown in the movie. What’s more interesting is what Age of Ultron sets up for future movies. Despite one of Marvel’s next films being Captain America: Civil War, we do not see a lot of development towards that movie. There are some tense moments between Tony Stark and the Avengers, but the two seem to end on a good note. What does this mean for the plot of Civil War? Well, if I were a betting man, it seems that Captain Rogers will have the new Avengers team behind him, including Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and Falcon. Besides that film, Thor returning to Asgard will surely bring up something major for his next film, Thor: Ragnarok.
Despite the overwhelming amount of positive aspects about the film, it wasn’t entirely perfect. Ultron quickly becomes the one-note villain after his initial development in the film. Some of the most interesting scenes with him involved his conversations with Tony Stark and the Vision, both of whom were essentially “family.” As a matter of fact, a lot of this film felt a bit rushed. The character development for many of the Avengers felt organic, just a bit quick. It seemed that the “climactic” ending was wrapped up pretty neatly, but should it be? One thing that the trailers seemed to show was the consequences that the Avengers faced, and many fans believed that we would see a key member die in this film. Though Quicksilver became an Avenger by the end of the movie, his death wasn’t as strongly felt. Though it may have been a tough decision, I would’ve been okay with seeing a major character die. In a film as big as this one, the stakes were raised high but this wasn’t capitalized on. This raises the question: will we ever see one of these major characters die? Only time will tell.
Age of Ultron also hit on some of the same beats that the first Avengers film did. These disparate characters come together, something horrible tears them apart, they come back together to defeat villain, and the city is saved. Is that a good or bad thing? Though I recognize the formula, it definitely still works and I still thoroughly enjoyed the film. Thankfully, we have the Russo brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) working on the next set of films, so we may get an entirely different feel the next time around.
Overall, who cares about these bad things? Avengers: Age of Ultron was over two hours of non-stop fun, action, and laughs. Marvel is at the top of their game with this franchise, and I am excited to see where we are going next (um, Thanos). What did you think of the movie?