There is a LOT going on in Marvel’s newest movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Which is to be expected, since Age of Ultron must bundle together loose ends from several tangential properties, including not only each of the character films (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America), but also bits of Agent Carter, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And if that wasn’t substantial enough a task, Ultron must also ultimately help propel the franchise into what is known as “Phase Three” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With such a heavy burden to bear, Avengers: Age of Ultron becomes a dense, almost bulky film, gracefully made lighter by some killer performances and Joss Whedon’s skilled writing.
What’s New in This Avengers?
Avengers: Age of Ultron goes deeper into the history and psyche of a few of the characters, most notably Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Bruce Banner (the Hulk). It also brings back a few crowd favorites like War Machine and Falcon, and introduces the “enhanced” twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
The discrepancies between these latter two characters and their comic book counterparts is bound to annoy many Marvel fans, but I think most people understand that Marvel’s hands are tied by Fox owning the term “mutants” (thanks to the X-Men movies), which then changes the twins’ origin story and the explanation for their powers.
What’s the Same?
Tony Stark, Captain America, and Thor stay solidly in their lanes as the narcissistic rebel, righteous soldier, and regal god, along with the steadfast Maria Hill and sage-like Nick Fury rounding out what’s to be expected from an Avengers film.
There are also plenty (plenty) of bang-em-up, shoot-em-up action scenes and superhero-flick violence, consistently laced with Whedon’s perfectly-timed humor.
Who Steals the Show?
Ultron. or The Vision. Or both, really.
Ultron was a visually stunning, verbally cunning psychopath, and he was marvelous! James Spade was absolutely incredible in this part, and now I can’t imagine anyone else having done it. What was so ultimately creepy about Ultron was that you knew he was the bad guy, but sometimes he made a lot of sense. And sometimes – again, thanks to Whedon – he was actually pretty funny.
And every scene with Paul Bettany as The Vision was perfection. The audience roared when he leapt from his cradle into life, we cheered at a particularly awesome scene with Thor, we hooted and hollered as he faced off against Ultron. Honestly, I would watch an entire movie with Paul Bettany as The Vision. I enjoyed him so much!
Any Parental Concerns?
The language and sexual content are kept to a minimum in Age of Ultron, but the violence seems to have been amped up 10 times. In fact, here’s a tip: if you need to use the restroom, watch the first 30 seconds of the battle between Hulk and Hulkbuster, and just imagine it on repeat for about 15 minutes as you run to the bathroom. It’s definitely what I would call “over the top.”
As a parent, you might also want to know that the Avengers aren’t always shown in the best light (except for Captain America, who without fail manages to come off as squeaky clean). If your child is younger and one who idolizes these characters, there are moments when it appears that maybe they are the bad guys. This is ultimately Ultron’s doing, but he does have a point.
Finally – Any Bonus Scenes?
Marvel has trained its fans to wait for a mid-credit and post-credit scene. Age of Ultron has just one at the mid-credit point. (<—don’t click that link if you haven’t seen the film. if you have seen it, the link provides a great explanation of what the scene means.) All that is shown at the post-credit scene are the words “The Avengers will return…” leaving my audience, at least, to shout “WHEN?!”
While I think I enjoyed the writing of the first Avengers film more, I appreciated the meatier story and new characters in Age of Ultron. I agree with my audience in wondering when the next one will come out!