The second conglomeration, ensemble flick in the Avengers initiative was Marvel continuing to do right. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON works because they took a lot of characters, found the interesting parts about them, gave them a simple goal against a badass antagonist who legitimately poses a threat, and then let the characters drive things.
Tony Stark continues his Better Living Through Technology initiative, and with Bruce Banner at his side, they’re very successful. The fruit of their labor, however, turns into an ultra destructive android named Ultron who turns out to be powerful enough to take over the world. As the Avengers celebrate a successful mission, Ultron wrecks the party and kicks the film into the second act.
The way it’s presented on screen makes a lot more sense, trust me.
The film does a great job at doing a few things:
1 – Establishes a badass bad guy who puts in motion a plan which forces a group of SUPER heroes to overcome significant odds. That’s one of the biggest problems Avengers films have to face, is raising the bar high enough that the task seems potentially insurmountable for a group of badass protagonists who are each powerful enough to be interesting focal points of their own standalone films.
2 – Shows off some badass fight scenes including plenty of teamwork mixed in with the individual battles along the way, and an incredible Hulk vs Hulkbuster battle that basically destroys a large portion of a city.
3 – Sets the stage for Civil War by getting enough animosity between the protagonists. You can already see the seeds of frustration starting to sprout between the ideological differences dividing Captain America and Iron Man, a thread which is going to be pulled in a very, very significant way in the upcoming Civil War film.
Were there problems with the film? Yeah, but I didn’t get as bent out of shape about them as some viewers did. I liked the interactions and budding relationship between Black Widow and Bruce Banner / The Hulk. I don’t choose to believe that the film was trying to make any statements about women in the same situation as Scarlett Johansson’s character is in the film, other than to say that some women can have these emotions, and they explored it a little bit in what ended up being an interesting juxtaposition between one of the more powerless characters in the group with one on the opposite side of the scale in just about every way. I also didn’t have a problem with the fact that when a retreat was necessary, that Hawkeye takes the group to his home because I don’t feel like he was putting his family in any clear and present danger. By all accounts, the tactic worked.
In terms of my rating, it’s probably too high, but the film is everything you want from a huge superhero ensemble film. It does everything it sets out to accomplish, we get character development without a huge hit to the pacing of the film. The paths for the respective follow-up movies are made clear, some interesting new characters are introduced, and no one really gets lost in the shuffle this time.
My rating: 92 out of 100