“I’ve got no strings to hold me down” says Marvel’s creative director. Multiple global filming locations? Sure! Cameos with nearly all notable characters from prequels past? Why not! A love story between Black Widow and the Hulk? Big, green light! In Avengers: Age of Ultron the story jumps from fight scene, to fight scene, to argument, to another civilian-populated fight scene.
We begin with the Avengers tracking down that magical blue scepter from the first installment, The Avengers. Once Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gets his hands on it, however, he can’t help but play with the possibility that its power can be used to fulfill his lifelong dream: world peace via artificial intelligence. His plan works and everything is lovely, the Avengers disband, the end! Kidding. Ultron (voiced by James Spader) comes into being and concludes that humans, particularly the Avengers, are the greatest threat to a peaceful Earth. Captain America/Steve (Chris Evans), Black Widow/Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk/Bruce (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye/Clint (Jeremy Renner), and Thor/Almighty Son of Oden (Chris Hemsworth) fall into their protect-the-earth mode. But conflict within the team distracts them from stopping the hostile robot with a killer personality. Ultron steadily builds his power base, constructing robots, strengthening his body, and bringing the super-powered Maximoff twins, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), onto his side.
How does Age of Ultron work with so many characters? Well, they’re rarely all in the same room, for one thing. Thor goes on a soul-searching quest, Banner cowers in various empty corners like a hedgehog during the day, and Hawkeye is constantly the odd man injured. Even so, Age of Ultron has double the amount of fighting compared to The Avengers. The Hulk vs. Ironman’s Hulkbuster is particularly epic, with punches flying every which way, buildings crumbling to the ground, and sub base volumes so deep you can’t even hear them. No expenses were spared. There are so many fight combos – with the enemy, amongst themselves, with a mashup of enemies and allies – that the Avengers eventually run out of ways to hit each other and resort to talking it out.
Ultron is the master villain who multiplies, manipulates, and manages to move his lips with great articulation despite having no actual lips in a face of solid metal. He is just the right amount of crazy, striving to cleanse the earth of all humans but seemingly in need of a companion at all times. He quotes Pinocchio, builds his own friends, and comes up with an absurd plan to wipe out the Earth that is actually quite clever, given that he has the means to pull it off. I feel like he and the Joker would be great friends. Ultron doesn’t necessarily become more powerful as the movie progresses, only better equipped. Although, how he learns earthbending is beyond me.
The Avengers themselves haven’t evolved much since the first movie. Thor bought an encyclopaedia, Natasha’s new Tron suit makes her a standout in the world of espionage, and Captain America has clearly encouraged the team to always be ready with a white handkerchief in case someone nearby is bleeding to death. But, Stark and Cap. still bicker, Bruce is still unstable, Thor still fits in like a Dungeons and Dragons fan at a cage fight, and they all still talk to each other through what must be cranial implants since they are clearly not wearing earpieces.
The twins are a nice new addition to this ever-expanding Marvel cinematic universe, even if their Eastern European accents drift in and out. Their story is quite different from the comic books (if you were wondering how Marvel can put two mutants in their movies without being able to say “X-Men,” “Magneto,” or “mutants”). With everything else going on, they aren’t given very much to do besides look worried. However, their powers are super nifty, and who doesn’t love random characters with nifty powers?
James Spader plays an excellent crazy A.I. and steels (ba dum ching!) the show with his twisted charm and insecurity. In the hero department, Stark has dangerous ideas, Natasha’s romance feels like a necessary break from all the face-smashing, and Captain America shows us every variation on a Frisbee throw plus how to break your fall with a windshield. The Avengers: Age of Ultron does what it sets out to do: entertain with action and tidbits of humour. It doesn’t quite have the round-em-up united feeling of the first installment or the depth of The Winter Soldier, but it does throw all of your favourite characters together and faces them off against a colourful villain. I’d say Age of Ultron is roughly a 7/10.
Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer