It’s been a long three years since THE AVENGERS (or AVENGERS ASSEMBLE if you’re in the UK) graced our screens, which for me brought to the screen one of my favourite movies of recent years and confirmed that Marvel are a force to be reckoned with when it came to comic book movies.
Bringing a close to ‘Phase Two’, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is now released to the masses. We have seen the return of ‘Tony Stark’ in IRON MAN 3, ‘Thor’ in THOR: THE DARK WORLD, ‘Steve Rogers’ in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. and we met ‘Star Lord’ in one of the biggest surprises in the form of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. The ‘Phase Two’ movies, for me at least, have been a bit hit and miss (mainly IRON MAN 3 and THOR: THE DARK WORLD), but the superb sequel to CAPTAIN AMERICA more than made up for it. We’ve known the endgame for ‘Phase Two’ for a while now; that being AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
Facing the Avengers this time is ‘Ultron’, a kind of demon love child from ‘Tony Stark’, derived from a new A.I gone wrong (played/voiced by James Spader) and aided by the twins which were seen in the end credits scene of THE WINTER SOLDIER, ‘Pietro Maximoff’ (aka Quicksilver) and ‘Wanda Maximoff’ (aka Scarlett Witch). All of the team are back: ‘Tony Stark’, ‘Steve Rogers’, ‘Thor’, ‘Clint Barton’, ‘Bruce Banner’, ‘Natasha Romanoff’, and ‘Maria Hill’ (working out of ‘Stark Towers’, which has been aptly renamed ‘Avengers HQ’). There’s also small appearances by ‘James Rhodes’, ‘Sam Wilson’ and ‘Nick Fury’. As I’m talking about the guys, too, whilst they are all still superb, I have to give a special mention to ‘Hawkeye’. Previously, to me he’s been a more supporting member of the team rather than being fully integrated as an Avenger. With this movie, he really comes into his own, solidifying himself as a crucial member of the team, even having probably the best line in the movie, too! When you see and hear it, you’ll know what I mean! I could take the twins either way, if I’m being honest. Initially, I didn’t care too much for them, especially ‘Quicksilver’, but they do play a good part to the movie. I won’t talk about ‘The Vision’ as I think he’s best left untouched, in all honesty, and that you should wait to see him on the big screen.
Having Joss Whedon back to direct was most definitly the right choice. All the guys work really well together, bouncing off each other with some great timing whether it is in reference to comedy, fighting, drama or tension. It really just works and having just over 140 minutes to play with, everyone is given ample screen time to shine. I do believe if anyone else had directed this (or the first movie), they would have struggled in my opinion. Hearing that Joss won’t be back for INFINITY WAR is a shame as I do believe he’ll be missed in the directing chair, but no doubt he’ll serve as an executive producer, so he will at least have some input and oversight over what the recently announced Russo Brothers will do when they sit in the directors’ chairs for the next CAPTAIN AMERICA as well as both INFINITY WAR movies.
Marvel haven’t been shy about releasing promo material for the movie, especially over the past few months with every week a seemingly new trailer or TV spot released. I did admit to thinking that they might have released a bit too much footage and it was going to spoil my viewing, but I’m very pleased to say that was not the case. I’m not going to discuss the main plot as every person and their dog will have seen at least one trailer for the movie. There is plenty more to see than what you’ve already seen in trailers and TV spots.
It’s been no secret that I have been extremely excited for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON ever since it started production. Did I like it more than the first movie? Honestly, I have to say no. The first movie still beats it for me, but only just. One of my main issues was that I thought ‘Ultron’ was going to be very dark and pure evil, but he was quite the opposite. I expected to see this menacing villain that would near-on tear the Avengers apart, but what I witnessed on screen was a kind of robot version of ‘Tony Stark’. He always cracks a joke, oozes sarcasm and is seemingly fairly easy to beat amongst his various stages of form; exactly the opposite of what I was expecting to see. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense as you could look at ‘Ultron’ as the bad version of ‘Tony Stark’, who are ultimately both trying to reach the endgame but both have polar opposite directions in which they want to achieve their endgame. I must also take this moment to explain that I have never read any of the comics/graphic novels, so maybe for you Marvel experts out there, this was something you might have already known?
Speaking of comedy, there is a load of it in AGE OF ULTRON; certainly a lot more than I was expecting. I did not think it was too much at all, and it fits in the pacing of the movie perfectly well in my opinion. When I was watching it, I did ask myself if it was a little bit too much, but after the movie had ended, I really thought it was just the right balance. There is also the right amount of action, which counterbalances the amount of comedy throughout the movie (the Hulkbuster vs. Hulk fight is brilliant!). Not as much drama or tension, especially when you compare it to the likes of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, but it all culminates in what I found to be a thoroughly enjoyable movie that I cannot wait see again.
Of course there are deeper meanings to everything, but I don’t want to go too much into it as with the movie being so new and fresh, I don’t want to risk spoiling anything for anyone. The way the movie ends and looking at the structure of the future Marvel releases (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, BLACK PANTHER, THOR: RAGNAROK, CAPTAIN MARVEL, etc. and ending with INFINITY WAR), you can kind of see the direction that Marvel wants to take things. Also, be sure to stick around for the ‘traditional’ Marvel mid-credits scene (but no end credit scene!), which also shows the way these movies are going to go. Marvel’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is a success, already dominating the box office and on course to be just as big, if not bigger, than the first movie. I’ve already booked up for a second viewing at my cinema! It goes without saying that I cannot wait to see what happens next in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR!