Welcome back to Second Union’s coverage of the MCU films! Today, we’ll be taking a look at the second Avengers film, Avengers: Age of Ultron. It follows our heroes as they attempt to stop a peacekeeping program gone wrong. Ultron intends on annihilating the world and driving the Avengers to extinction with the help of his army, making him a formidable foe for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This film is the penultimate entry in Phase 2 of the MCU, and it gets a lot of hate for bringing in too many plot elements, too fast. As such, it’s considered one of the best examples of how not to do a sequel. Does it really deserve this hate, though?
It’s safe to say that Avengers: Age of Ultron definitely could’ve cut some things out. There are way too many subplots in the film, and it ends up feeling very much overstuffed, to a point where it gets confusing. The film starts out perfectly fine. It shows the Avengers making their way into Baron Von Strucker’s HYDRA base, kicking major butt (of course). The opening is made to look like one shot and it’s glorious. One by one, you get to see the full scope of the battle, and this creates a great first impression. The banter between the heroes is always welcome, and the epic action is fast-paced and fun. However, after this is when things start to get a bit cramped.
We’re introduced to the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda, who have been experimented on with Loki’s scepter and given superhuman abilities. Later, we’re given a look at Helen Cho, another new character, who is an extremely brilliant scientist. Then, Ulysses Klaue, a black market arms dealer. Then, Hawkeye’s wife, who he has three kids with. This film is constantly adding characters and leaving them when it pleases, which is extremely annoying when it comes to wanting a more grounded story. In terms of setting up future films, it does an alright job, but it really feels condensed in parts, which takes away from the experience.
Ultron himself is one of the more enjoyable villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s consistently entertaining and he can be extremely funny at times. However, his motives are lacking in realism, which can be seen through his prophetic outlook on human extinction. One of the more tired genre tropes is a villain that has a god complex. It’s quite played-out, and Ultron is ultimately one of the biggest examples of this. Ultron’s robot army is also very lackluster and literally are obstacles for our heroes to get past. They never pose any significant threat and are pretty much useless.
The new heroes, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, are redeeming in terms of their ultimate payoff. Quicksilver sacrifices himself to save a little boy. Scarlet Witch learns more about what being a true hero is. Both of these scenarios involve Hawkeye, who is also much more engaging and entertaining than in prior MCU outings. He is involved heavily in the film’s plot, which is a welcome change, and he also plays a bigger role in the final battle. His bow and arrow really did come in handy.
One of the best scenes in the film is when Scarlet Witch manipulates the Avengers’ minds, sending them into a struggle with their mind. You get to see their inner fears and torments. Captain America sees what would probably have happened if he hadn’t crashed into the ocean stopping Red Skull. Black Widow sees her past, where she trained to become an assassin and underwent forced sterilization. Thor sees himself leading Asgard to Hel, along with a glimpse at the Infinity Stones. This is an incredible scene because it shows what’s at the core of these heroes: fear. They’re human, after all, and this makes them vulnerable.
Avengers: Age of Ultron gets a lot of hate it probably doesn’t deserve. It has some plot points that feel unnecessary and characters that don’t contribute much to the story. The villain, while entertaining, is clichéd and isn’t able to be fully appreciated. However, the film’s action sequences are fantastic and the character development is highly engaging. To those who don’t like it, it is the sequel to what many consider the greatest superhero film ever made. In that sense, it was impossible to live up to expectations. Rewatch it before Infinity War. You won’t regret it.
Avengers: Age of Ultron stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by Joss Whedon.