in Retrospecticus, Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Original Review: Golden Living Dreams of Vision (four stars)

I realize now the folly of me being the one re-reviewing these movies is that I am predisposed to liking them. I’m the guy who buys tickets at five in the morning a month in advance for Avengers: Endgame, and whose Google News feed is full of articles about how toys are hinting at spoilers, and who would want to watch 20-odd movies again in less than two months. That enthusiasm doesn’t blind me to the faults in these stars, but it does make it easier for me to overlook them. So, instead of me writing again about how much I love watching these super freaks save people, I’ll try to take you through everything that is wrong with Age of Ultron. But, honestly, I think it’s awesome.

The most glaring problem with Avengers: Age of Ultron is its editing. This was the one opportunity to show this Avengers team on a regular mission, so I’m sure Joss Whedon wanted to fully take advantage of that opportunity. Plus it’s the MCU introduction of three new Avengers, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision. But it doesn’t stop there, it also has to pick up threads from Iron Man 3 and The Winter Solider, lay the groundwork for Civil War and Infinity War, and drop in details that can be tied into Ragnarok and Black Panther. And we thought the first Avengers was ambitious! Marvel is trying to have its cake and eat it too, along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one gluttonous meal. And as everyone knows, that much eating can only lead to the liquid shits.

So we get things like Thor leaving the team to… make Selvig watch him take a bath? What was that artifact box thing Selvig had? Is this the last appearance of this character? Undoubtedly this is part of a longer deleted scene, but the final product feels like a bizarre waste of time. Another sequence that bothers me is the fight after the party, because it begins and ends with Ultron giving a monologue. They could have cut the entire fight and the scene would have been exactly the same – so what’s the point?

That actually ties into my next problem with the movie: Ultron. He’s not so great. The idea is sound: an evil android that is sort of like the dark shadow version of Iron Man. But the execution is disappointing, as he keeps dancing between diabolical speeches and lighthearted, almost goofy, villainy. For example, in the scene when he chops off Klaue’s arm, he goes from scary rage at being compared to Stark to immediately apologizing for going too far, in the same way someone might apologize for spilling your drink. It’s like they’re trying to use comedy to undercut the horror, but when it’s all the same guy it’s just off-putting. Plus, Ultron goes from wanting to destroy the Avengers to wanting to end humanity without really making a case for why he feels that way. It’s a shame, because James Spader’s doing his best creepy voice and everything.

The third thing that bums me out is how this movie treats Black Widow. Her character had really grown since Iron Man 2, so it’s a bummer that her story in this one is mostly about having a crush on Bruce Banner. One of the overall complaints about the MCU is how sexless the movies are, so I get the appeal of making an actual couple out of two Avengers instead of just having a love interest side character. But aside from the mutual flirting, the big relationship scene is Widow saying she’s a monster just like Hulk… Because her spy bosses made her sterile. Yikes. Right after that she gets captured and has to be rescued by Bruce too, so, yeah, great stuff. Also, let’s not forget Age of Ultron was the one that released Avengers action figure sets that excluded Black Widow. All of this is terribly embarrassing, and the movie should have been better. But I don’t think this makes the movie bad, Black Widow does get to kick a lot of ass, it’s not the end of the world.

OK, so there it is. The movie is over-stuffed and poorly edited in spots, Ultron is an inconsistent an disappointing villain, Black Widow deserved better than this. My sense is that for a lot of people, that’s enough to make Age of Ultron underwhelming, or maybe even outright bad. Not me though! I think everything else in this movie is terrific, and altogether an incredible follow-up to a movie that was impossible to follow. It’s the best Hawkeye movie! They give him a cute family and make him the butt of everyone’s jokes! He’s really good at darts in one scene, that is neat!

The one new canon thing I noticed this time is that Thor mentions four Infinity Stones had appeared recently. Since only three of them made it to Earth, we can assume that means he’s aware of the Power Stone incident on Xandar, which Infinity War confirms. Cool. Mostly, it’s character development that carries forward from this: Stark recognizes his obsession with saving the world has gone too far, so he quits the team. On the flip side, Steve admits he’s all about the team, so they move upstate where he assembles some new recruits in Scarlet Witch, Falcon, and War Machine. Hulk steal a plane and flies into deep space somehow… I don’t get that part. Thor starts on a mini version of Tony’s arc, heading off to try to prevent Ragnarok. Shout-outs are made to Pepper and Jane, who are definitely still dating those boys. And our boy Hawkguy, everyone’s favorite? He gets to retire.

MCU Power Rankings: Because of it’s numerous shortcomings, I’m gonna keep this one below the Captain America movies. But this an intensely comic book-y movie, 100% my jam, four stars. So it’s in the top five for now.