Time To Exhale – Avengers: Age of Ultron

A week after the premiere felt like the proper amount of time to digest Marvel’s “Phase II” epic, Avengers: Age of Ultron and to comprehend what that was I saw in IMAX 3D.

Rather than write a “review” of the movie, I consider this as a collection of thoughts and reaction regarding what I saw on the screen and heard from people after. If you haven’t seen the film, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. THERE ARE PROBABLY, MORE THAN LIKELY, SPOILERS! I would recommend going to see it and coming back to this for discussion though.

So let’s begin now…

Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t great, but it didn’t have to be…

The movie itself was a blast. The action scenes were incredible and it was cool to see each Avenger have fighting chemistry with their teammates right off the bat as they took on Baron von Strucker’s snow covered Hydra base…most notably the combo uses of Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield. The banter and Joss Whedon’s influenced snappy comebacks also kept the mood light…not just with the Avengers while they experienced their own turmoil, but with Ultron himself (which I’ll talk about further on).

However, the editing was choppy and there were some excruciatingly slow moments that took away from the action packed ride. A comment from WGN and Rivet Radio host James VanOsdol stuck out to me on Twitter when he referred to it as “The Age of Dulltron”,  right before I went to see the movie. I really don’t blame him for thinking so, but I also found a lot of the film to be more necessary than anything.

Much of ‘Age of Ultron’ was heavy for character development and plot…especially for what’s to come in “Phase III”. (Here Come Some of Spoilers so it’s on you now if you haven’t seen the movie) 

I’ll begin with the day dreams that Scarlet Witch placed in each of the Avengers’ minds, whom were effected:

Tony Stark: Tony is the first to have a spell casted on, which sparks the creation of Ultron…and his apparent “heel turn“. While getting a good look at von Strucker’s basement weapons of mass scariness, Scarlet Witch casts her spell, which forces Tony to envision his greatest fear…He sees all of his Avengers teammates laid up on meteor-like platform, either dead or dying. It looks like something we’ve seen Thanos standing upon in his collective brief appearances. Tony is the last Avenger standing while Captain America grabs for him, and in his dying breath says “You could have saved us.” And so begins the tension we see between Tony and Cap throughout the film, foreshadowing to the plot of Captain America III: Civil War.

Tony also gets a good look at what appears to be a fleet of aliens on their way to annihilate Earth…So much for Earth’s mightiest heroes. My instant thought was, “Is this a look at the eventual endgame film, Infinity Wars?” This would be a good time to call the Guardians of the Galaxy, right?

Thor: This was the other more significant vision that was casted by Scarlet Witch. During the run-in with Ultron in Wakanda, Scarlet Witch’s purpose is to tear apart the Avengers from within their minds. Thor’s dream involves him seeing Asgard in absolute terror, and a one-on-one battle with Heimdall (played by Idris Elba). Heimdall blamed Thor for what appeared to be war and destruction in his supposed kingdom, which eludes to the next Thor film “Ragnarok”. Ragnarok refers to Asgard’s version of the apocalypse. With Loki on the throne posing as Odin and Thanos in hot pursuit of infinity stones, seems like a recipe for that kind of disaster. Thor’s vision does prompt him to further investigate the significance of the infinity stones and who may be after them, so it all makes sense.

Black Widow: Natasha’s vision seemed more relevant to the present than what could happen in the future. It also gave the audience some insight to how she came to be and how she views herself. I actually correlate it more with the storyline from the ‘Agent Peggy Carter’ series, as we saw Russian girls being trained to become absolute killing machines for presumedly Hydra. I’ll go into Black Widow’s storyline (and apparent backlash) later, but this dream did seem to go on for too long.

Captain America: I don’t think Scarlet Witch’s spell caused conflict for Steve Rogers as much as it helped him overcome a hurdle in his arc. The hopeless romantic in me was excited to see Steve finally getting that dance with Agent Carter, even if it wasn’t real. Captain America’s mindset had been stuck in the past for more than 3 films now and it was about time for him to leave it there. Having the opportunity to start SHIELD back over and run the New Avengers training facility gives him purpose again. Captain America can finally be the new man that came out of the ice…not the one that was frozen there.

I’d be terrified to see what Bruce Banner saw in his vision…

Ultron was SO James Spader…

It was really hard to not picture Red from ‘The Blacklist’ or Robert California whenever Ultron spoke…

Ultron was very much more human than I anticipated. He cared about being compared to Tony Stark. He cared about what he looked like. And he cared about Scarlet Witch…That last part may have surprised me the most.

I liked that about Ultron. He showed some vulnerability throughout the film that you don’t get from robots or computer programs, like Jarvis. That’s what made Vincent D’Onofrio’s adaptation of The Kingpin so good in Daredevil. At times, you found yourself rooting for the villain…until he did something so despicable that it was hard to keep the pom poms up.

I never found myself rooting for Ultron, but I did consider him to be likable. He was very witty, with some Tony Stark influence. A comparison to Loki would be fair, with better one-liners. Ultron didn’t seem to like hurting innocent people, not until the end at least. Even when he cut off the hand of Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis…yes, the same guy who does the voice of Gollum from Lord of the Rings) in a fit of rage, he felt bad about doing it…at first.

You could try to compartmentalize what Ultron was doing. He was designed by Tony to protect the Earth, not necessarily humans. And although an attempt to eliminate billions of people sounds pretty harsh, he did seem to care for a few…the Inhuman Maximoff twins, that is. But at the end of the day, Ultron wasn’t going to do much past this film and it’s for the better that The Vision took care of that.

The Black Widow thing…

There has been a lot of backlash toward the way Black Widow was depicted and I don’t really get it. Are superhero romances a little weird in movies that are meant to be that action packed? Maybe…But didn’t it make sense? A comparison I liken Natasha and Bruce Banner to is that of another Joss Whedon produced couple…Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

Referring to the vision she had under Scarlet Witch’s spell, Natasha explains that she is no less of a monster than Banner is as the Hulk. There’s nothing wrong with sympathizing with two characters you don’t expect to do so with. Like Buffy, Natasha has lived a life of killing and sticking to the mission. Like Angel, Banner has always been the one terrifying EVERYONE. What’s the matter with either of them growing in a way you wouldn’t expect?

Then there is the perception that Black Widow was portrayed as a “damsel in distress.” – You realize that the Avengers wouldn’t have found Ultron if she hadn’t been taken captive and created her own makeshift radio/homing beacon, right?…And continued to kick ass in an almost impossible battle.

Other things…

  • The introduction of Klaue and Wakanda segway to the eventual debut of Black Panther, who was confirmed today to appear in Cap 3: Civil War along with Ant-Man. Since Wakanda is now officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ll see more references in Ant-Man this summer or perhaps get the debut of Black Panther/T’Challa
  • The “my girlfriend’s better than your girlfriend” argument Thor and Stark have is adorable, but I wish Jane Foster and Pepper Potts were actually in the movie.
  • When do Agents of SHIELD finally appear in the Marvel films? With Agent Coulson “dying” and igniting the team in the first film, wouldn’t they be thrilled to see him in the second? The Agents would probably have loved dealing with the Maximoff twins as well.
  • I liked the Avengers take on Quicksilver. Obviously with FOX having the rights to X-Men, he had to be very different than the Evan Peters version. Still good, but THIS will forever be one of my favorite superhero movie scenes ever.
  • Hawkeye may have been the funniest character in the whole movie, and having him as a moral compass (kind of like Coulson) was refreshing compared to the first film.
  • The Vision RULES! And that’s all I’ll say about that.
  • With Thanos assumedly jumping into the action, how soon do we see him come face-to-face with an Avenger? My bet is Thor 3: Ragnarok, as he is hunting for the Infinity stones in Asguard’s keeping. Thanos would also bring the type of chaos that Loki would want…and also regret.
  • Anyone else stay ALL THE WAY TILL AFTER THE CREDITS? Of course you did. And you were disappointed when you found nothing, like I did.

Comment here with your own thoughts and reactions. You can also Tweet me @Mike_PiFF03.

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2 thoughts on “Time To Exhale – Avengers: Age of Ultron

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