Twitter Plot Summary: The Avengers return for more action, taking on the sentient robot Ultron, as created by Avengers snark, Tony Stark.
Chalk this one up as one of the biggest films of the year but not the biggest, because Star Wars wiped the floor with everything else when it hit in December. Based on my own experience, and from an IMAX perspective, my screening of Age of Ultron on an early Friday evening was packed, and the following showing at 8pm was completely sold out. If IMAX is getting such impressive numbers, you can only imagine how many seats were being sold in the standard and 3D screenings. The answer is: a lot.
This should come as no surprise, as the Marvel movie juggernaut has been growing exponentially with each passing release. The question is, how do you follow up one of the biggest movies of all time, 2012’s Avengers Assemble (to give it its UK title)? Well you kind of bigger, you kind of go wider, you kind of make things a little more personal for the heroic group. In essence, you put all of the best bits of Buffy The Vampire Slayer into a 2.5 hour movie.
Jeremy Renner fans rejoice, as Hawkeye is given a much more central role this time round, and gets a welcome amount of backstory and a family that makes him much more than his role as Loki’s puppet in the first. By giving him a family it humanises the threat faced by the world and brings things back down to a relatable level, if only for the briefest of moments.
There’s an interesting side step from the comics canon as Bruce Banner and Black Widow get a romantic subplot – who knew, right? There’s great banter between the main Avengers posse – an early party piece where they each try to lift Thor’s hammer Mjolnir is a delight. Then there are the new characters – Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver (a different incarnation to Fox’s X-Men edition of the character), his sister the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Paul Bethany’s Vision, somehow looking equal parts genius and terrible.
I have issues with the finale in that it is once again an example of going large on a threat where it perhaps wasn’t absolutely necessary, and it fits in the same box as Marvel’s Phase Two films whereby a large object is likely to smash into the ground at great speed. But with that said, Joss Whedon manages to bring the action down to ground level and as ever it’s all about the characters rather than the set piece itself.
Ultron had promise as the villain of the piece, however somewhere along the way much of his villainy seems to be have been lost. Rather than the extremely promising villain that appeared in the trailers, his voice full of doom and menace, we get a character that is more content with being a bit sarcastic and little more than a self-replicating comedic tool. In many respects he has the exact level of snark and sinister behaviour to indicate that he’s a Joss Whedon creation, but he’s never given much to do beyond pontificate about his hatred for the Avengers and to engage in some Grade-D villainy. Still, at least James Spader provides value for money.
To some, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now an incredibly bloated place, requiring extensive knowledge of past events before heading into any new film. In other respects, much of the previous story isn’t always necessary. In this case, there is enough to support this story on its own without previous knowledge of any of the MCU. It may also feel somewhat flat when compared against its predecessor, but seeing as that rather splendid effort would have been hard to beat anyway, Age of Ultron is a film that stands quite adequately on its own two feet.