Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Director: Joss Whedon
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Rufallo, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Elizabeth Olsen
Avengers: Age Of Ultron is undoubtedly one of the biggest releases of the 2015 calendar year. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and (many) others come together only once every so often, and their collaborative efforts are eagerly anticipated by the masses in such a way that The Avengers is no longer a nerdy comic book venture, but a pop culture phenomenon destined to surpass $1billion at the box office.
This second Avengers movie ticked the vast majority of the boxes that every sequel must tick. It was more action packed with larger set pieces, it utilised the dialogue better than the original, and it was a story that sought even more investment than Avengers 1. No longer was it necessary to build each character’s relationship to one another and this made Avengers 2 feel more refined with every piece of dialogue becoming necessary to the over-arching plot, leading to a more enjoyable experience in many ways. This refined presentation with regard to character development was emphasised with a huge action sequence at the very beginning of the film that not only illustrated how sleek the film was going to be, but also helped to lay down the marker: “We’re turning it up a notch”.
With many of the characters’ back stories already being presented to us in the previous instalments, Age of Ultron was able to open up the back stories of characters like Hawkeye, Hulk and Black Widow; something that helped to create a welcomed feeling of freshness.
It was, however, the presentation of “the twins” where praise for Whedon’s writing is less easy to come by. Quicksilver was vastly underutilised, and while it was impossible to predict that his appearance would match that of Evan Peters’ in X-Men: Days of Future Past, I did come away from this film thinking that Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character needed a little bit more investment in order for the conclusions to his story to make more of an emotional impact.
Scarlet Witch, on the other hand, was brilliantly presented and could well be the shining light of the whole film. Her development was worthwhile and her difference as a “miracle” was such that she would consistently juxtapose the massive action sequences with her own intricacies and powers. This made her stand out from the rest of the group without needing to do that much talking. Witch’s eventual unleashing of her powers was probably the best moment of the film and was in many ways reminiscent of the awesome opening to X-Men (2000) in which Magneto’s powers came to light because of his permanent removal from his mother’s life in the Nazi POW camps.
Despite the obvious positives regarding the writing and presentation of most of the characters, Age of Ultron failed to live up to the “event movie” status of its predecessor. This is perhaps a natural conclusion to come to given the fact that seeing said characters interact and battle with one another was not totally brand new this time around, but there seemed to be something missing nonetheless.
Another less-than positive outcome from Age of Ultron was (as always seems to be the case with Avengers movies), the villain. The title “Age of Ultron” seemed to have everything set up for the ultimate bad guy that would bring about massive levels of investment at seeing his comeuppance, yet the tightly managed run-time barely left enough of a reason to truly believe in the legitimacy of his threat. Unlike Loki in Avengers 1, Ultron didn’t turn any of the good guys bad nor did he have a solid and humane reason for being like he was. He was a robot who wanted to fix the world and then, for no reason at all, wanted to destroy everyone on it. His character, like much of the movie’s secondary characters, was one that had to be taken at face value to enjoy and was very much presented in such a way that you couldn’t question a single one of his actions or statements because of the unrealistic answers you’d likely receive. Ultron was ultimately used to develop Paul Bettany’s Vision character.
As was the case with Avengers Assemble/The Avengers, Joss Whedon directed and co-wrote a movie that more than lived up to the hype and ultimately delivered what was expected of it: one of the best movies in the franchise. Whether it surpassed The Avengers is a debate that can be left for another time, but there’s no doubting that Avengers: Age of Ultron was a huge success in terms of its value for money. Age of Ultron managed to be a feast for the eyes while tugging on the heart strings and being an almost overwhelmingly good representation of its genre.
Recommended for you: Every MCU Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranked