You know the drill. All of our favourite Marvel superheroes team up as The Avengers, an all-star, alien-fighting, earth-defending troupe of macho misfits. That’s Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and The Hulk. But haven’t we seen this movie before? Yes, we have. Twice.
First in 2012’s The Avengers, and then again last year with (practically the same movie, just dressed up in alien clothing) Guardians of the Galaxy. So is there any more story left to tell? Especially after we’ve already seen Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man star in four movies previously?
Well, what The Avengers: Age of Ultron definitely succeeds in, is elaborating and expanding our understanding of the individual characters who make up the super-team. Each character is made deep, relatable, and has some piece of backstory revealed. In this way, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as the collective universe of Marvel superhero movies is known) stays fresh and interesting, while steering clear of 90 minutes worth of mindless action.
But speaking of mindless action, there is plenty of that too. The action sequences and robots and explosions are as brilliant and impressive as you’d expect them to be. The film delivers the same visual thrills you’ve come to expect from Iron Man flying past camera, Hawkeye sharpshooting arrows at flying robots, Captain America tossing his bike into a Jeep, and Black Widow… well… looking like Scarlett Johansson. The visual effects in the film are breathtaking, though the stereoscopic 3D effect was hardly noticeable, and certainly not worth the more expensive ticket price.
The film’s main antagonist, an artificial intelligence called Ultron (who lives in the interenet, but sometimes appears physically with a robot body and James Spader’s deliciously slimy voice), is definitely a fascinating character. On some levels he is a robot version of Tony Stark, but also an emotitonal, scary, and funny anti-Iron Man. He’s an intriguing character, but falls slightly flat in the larger picture of Marvel bad guys, where he isn’t nearly as interesting as Loki, The Mandarin, Iron Monger, or Ronan the Accuser. In a similar way, the humour in this film, though comfortable, distributed, and well-delivered, feels stale and old. Maybe we’ve seen enough films with these characters, and we’re starting to grow tired of them.
Luckily, Marvel’s superhero movie franchise is far from over. They’ve already scheduled ten films in the future, including some old familiar faces like Thor and Captain America, but also introducing new and lesser-known heroes, like Ant-man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Also, Avengers: Age of Ultron seems to address and accept that things are changing, and that the films and characters will have to start moving on, changing up, and maybe even retiring, soon.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Movies category on Running Wolf’s Rant.