It’s here. It’s FINALLY here. The sequel we superhero junkies have been waiting for since that final shawarma scene. The sequel that comes after an amazing second phase of films. The sequel we hoped would wrap up some loose ends and give us some hint at what’s to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Age of Ultron.

This film was in my top three most anticipated films of 2015, and I had no doubt in my mind that it was going to be awesome. Phase two has been fantastic as far as I’m concerned, with perhaps a few missteps along the way but nothing major. Phase two spans across two TV series, one Netflix Series, and four (so far) released films this was building up to be even bigger than the first Avengers film. And as a sequel to one of the most successful films in history… it rightfully should be. But could it live up to the hype? I’ll save you the suspense- yes, it can and it did I think for the most part. While not without faults Avengers: Age of Ultron was not only the best way to kick off of the Blockbuster season of 2015, but an overall satisfying semi-conclusion to phase two (semi-conclusive because we still have one film left to go technically.)

As always, spoilers ahead so… well, you were warned.

This film starts off with a bigger bang than Avengers and it fully keeps that momentum throughout. It centers on the fact that Stark has created, with the help of Loki’s scepter and the infinity gem (mind gem) inside of it, the ultimate AI- Ultron. Of course this is with the best intentions, which are to save and protect the human race. But Ultron can only see one way to peace- the extinction of the Avengers and ultimately the human race. I mean… it’s not like Nazi’s have been messing with Loki’s scepter or anything. Probably should have checked on that first. But anyway…

See, he's not an orphan! Oh, wait... wrong Quicksilver.Ultron enlists the help of Quicksilver and Scarlet-Witch, two mutants…erm, I mean two “enhanced” humans who have it in for Stark since his weapons made them orphans. But they soon realize Ultron’s plans to irradiate all human life and join the Avenger’s in stopping Ultron. But these heroes won’t be enough. No, a new hero has to be made, which is exactly what Stark does… even though that didn’t really work out the first time. It synthesizes a body for the Jarvis AI and out pops Vision. But will that be enough? Will the Avengers win!? …

Why is that even a question?

It’s all fast and furious, rough and tumble, and kind of jumbled throughout the film. But you get used to it and even through all the noise you’re still able to grasp the story that is spanning out in front of you. Whilst not to say that there aren’t any quieter moments in Age of Ultron they are scarcer than they were in the first Avengers film. I think that’s mainly due to the fact that director Joss Whedon feels comfortable with just picking up where everything left off in the films, and Agents of Shield (Age of Ultron picks up almost IMMEDIATELY after the events in this week’s episode of the critically acclaimed television series.) He doesn’t feel like he needs to backtrack and explain each character again because he knows the audience is there with him. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time because while we don’t necessarily need to know about who Stark or Rogers are, or how Banner became the Hulk I feel like some details about newer characters are kind of glossed over.

In addition to the roster we know by now Whedon introduces two [kind of] new faces to the mix. We’re introduced to Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen )- the Maximoff twins. Their origins are discussed in the film but I feel they are rather glossed over. Now… I totally understand why that is the way it is… *cough*Fox*cough*X-men*cough*. But still I would have liked a little more character development on these two.  They suffer from the same fate as Hawkeye in Avengers. Half the film they’re bad then by the time they’re on the good side we can’t backtrack at all because, well big action is happening. I’m sure that in the future they (or, well, at least one of them) will be more flushed out like they tried to do with Barton/Hawkeye in this film but it still feels like the characters were just kind of there for convenience. Still, they offered some really spectacular moments of action and wit- a great addition. Age of Ultron does a fantastic job of opening up the universe even wider than it already was, which is something that I think felt left out of the first Avengers film. In the first film the MCU was all self-contained to the characters that already had their solo films (or two in Iron Man’s case.) All we really got was Thanos at the end, and that was it. In Age of Ultron they do introduce new characters and heroes like the Maximoff’s, Vision, the official inclusion of Wakanda and Ulysses Klaw. Then, to top it off, we have Falcon and War Machine (yep, we’re back to War Machine again instead of Iron Patriot) as well as Thanos again in the end credits scene and all of the infinity gems are kind of explained and wrapped up by the end of the film- setting up the next phase/next two Avenger’s films perfectly.

I also do love what little is actually added on to the characters we already know. This mainly happens after Scarlet-Witch makes each Avenger see/”experience” their worst fears with her powers. Some of them have flashbacks, some of them see visions, and others just kind of… well, Hulk out. But that leads to character development later on where Banner still is gripping with the monster inside himself, and… well, the monster is gripping with Banner. We see more of Black Widow’s backstory, and she has the most gut wrenching story out of any of them. The scene in which she tells all to Banner is moving, as well as heartbreaking and Scarlett Johansson knocks it out of the park. We also learn a lot more about Hawkeye and see more of him in this film than we did in the first film.  It’s wonderful because while he’s not the only human on the team (even though the film kind of makes it seem that way) he might be the most human one on the team. He has a family, a home, and we see him get wounded in the field, badly. We’re feeling for him from start to finish. That kind of brings me to my next point as well though….

Really, I only have two major complaints about the film. One is I actually thought there was too much humor. A staple in all of the Marvel films is the use of wit and humor. But literally  it got to the point that nearly every other sentence in the film ended with a punchline of some kind, even in the really serious moments. The jokes really start to undermine the situation/stakes.

I also really don’t like how much time is spent on building up the red herring that Hawkeye is going to die. From nearly the beginning of the film to the end it plays off the fact that Hawkeye is human, and that he has this family who loves him, and that he actually can get hurt because he did early on. It reaaalllly lays it on thick and it was just too much and it got to the point that one of two things was going to happen: one- he was going to die, and it would no longer be a shock or two- someone was going to sacrifice themselves for him, and therefor THAT wouldn’t be a shock. Either moment should be incredibly powerful but knowing that one of the two of them was going to happen ruined it. And when Quicksilver does give his life, it is sad but I felt way more for Scarlet Witch losing her brother and seeing her anger and grief than I did over seeing Quicksilver dead. The fact that his death is kind of glossed over in the, and that there was ALSO a joke slapped on by a still somewhat wounded Hawkeye once he lays down next to Quicksilver’s dead body doesn’t improve matters. I actually think he isn’t dead, to be honest. I mean… they have this amazing machine that can repair cells like crazy and essentially build an entire body out of nothing. That mixed with his metabolism, probably excelled healing… I’m sure he’ll be up on his super sneakers in no time.

Also as kind of a minor nitpick, I also wasn’t quite sure why Falcon wasn’t joining the final fight. If he’s able to join the Avengers team at the end… why wasn’t he allowed to be in the Ultron fight? I mean we all heard him talk about that “missing person’s case…” but really, the end of the world seems a little more problematic than Captain Roger’s best ex-best friend.

Some final notes: James Spader is absolutely FANTASTIC as Ultron. Something that’s been kind of missing from phase two of the MCU is a good villain. While there is Hydra, and each solo film has had a villain none of them, I think, have been very good. They’re all fairly basic, and one dimensional. Not bad by any means, but not really original. Ultron was menacing as all hell, and while his plan wasn’t necessarily new by any means his story arch, overall technique, and dialogue in the film was. It was refreshing to see.

The Hulk vs. Hulkbuster Iron Man was AMAZING. There were film angles and shots that seemed a bit off to me but visually it was amazing through and through and it offered one of the best fights ever in a super hero film.

Overall this film was great. I honestly can say I don’t know if I’d rank it above Winter Soldier or Guardians, but it is an amazing movie and is not only fun but is thrilling and engaging all the way through. A few hiccups are present, with the story feeling jumbled due to simply the amount of characters present but it’s all rectified by the satisfying ending that is everything we ever hoped for in an Avengers sequel.


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