I think it is pretty much a given that Marvel’s new ‘Avengers Age of Ultron‘ movie is going to be the highest grossing movie of all time before its done. But are you a bit concerned that the quality of the movies in the Marvel Pantheon may begin to suffer if they start to get lazy, and just think they can put anything out there and people will consume it? In that regard, some people have already seen Avengers Age of Ultron, so hear what they think about the quality of the movie below, and share your thoughts after the JUMP!
THE NIGHT I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron, Neil deGrasse Tyson made his umpteenth appearance on The Daily Show. During his conversation with Jon Stewart, he once again trumpeted the rise of the geeks. “We only enter the future,” he said, “on the intellectual capital brought to this world by the geekosphere.” And then Stewart asked him who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman.
We won. Nerd stuff is everywhere. Resistance is futile. At almost any time, and almost anywhere—the cinema, on network TV, wherever it is that we watch Netflix—there’s a superhero staring back at us. But if there’s anything to be gleaned from seeing the Avengers and Tyson (a hero in his own astrophysicist right) on two different screens in the same night, it’s that maybe we won a little too much.
Or maybe “won” isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s “want.” Watching Age of Ultron, it becomes awfully clear just how many fans writer/director Joss Whedon is trying to please—including himself. There are new fan-favorite characters, sure, but there are also Easter eggs from the comics, tie-ins to Marvel Universe shows like Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hello, Wolfgang von Strucker!), and even winks to Internet memes like Science Bros. It’s not that anything here isn’t pleasing, it’s just that…there’s kind of a lot of it.
(Mild spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron to follow.)
We open on a Hydra compound in the fictional Eastern European nation of Sokovia. Remember Hydra? They were huge in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and S.H.I.E.L.D. (as recently as Tuesday). Turns out Strucker has been using Loki’s scepter to weaponize twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver—though not the same one from the X-Men franchise … oh, never mind) and develop artificial intelligence. In the first of many retina-popping battles complete with comic-panel-ready slo-mo shots, the Avengers reclaim the scepter with plans to give it to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for its return to Asgard.
Still with us? Good—because all that happens before the title card even pops.
Back in New York, Stark and his Science Bro, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), start working on decoding Loki’s scepter and discover Strucker’s AI plan. Stark immediately realizes this could be used to guard the whole world. “What if the next time aliens roll up to the club—and they will—they can’t get past the bouncer?” he says in one of many lines clearly straight from the pen of Joss Whedon. This is an obviously terrible idea to everyone but Tony, and after his Ultron program wakes itself up, it’s ready to crash the Avengers’ party at Stark’s high-rise. (So much for that bouncer analogy.)
From there, Ultron is pretty much a nonstop thrill ride with romantic entanglements, cameos from old pals like Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and War Machine (Don Cheadle), some pitch-perfect archly evil voice work from James Spader as Ultron, no fewer than three city-crumbling fights on three continents, and enough fan service to keep pretty much everyone happy. (Except maybe those who enjoy the Matt Fraction version of Hawkeye.) The general plot, in case you’ve missed it in every trailer, is that Ultron becomes self-aware and immediately becomes a genocidal smartass, one requiring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop him. There are at least a half-dozen subplots along the way (don’t worry, you’ll get your Hulkbuster), but as you might guess it resolves with Stark and team facing off against the very monster he created.
And while these things all serve great narrative purposes—especially the introduction of Andy Serkis’ Wakandian vibranium dealer Ulysses Klaue, though we’ll likely have to wait for 2018’s Black Panther for that one—you can almost feel Whedon’s movie buckling under its own dense sprawl.
Luckily, it doesn’t. There may be a lot happening in Age of Ultron, but it moves swiftly enough that even if you miss something because you literally blinked, there’ll be plenty to pick up on Blu-ray. It’s 142 minutes and flies by. It actually could be longer; it would make it easier to catch your breath. (Joss, maybe release the 3.5-hour director’s cut?) There may be so many subplots you’ll forget who you’re supposed to care about at any moment, but by the time it’s all said and done, it feels like the craziest rager you ever went on with your favorite superhero friends. (And, too be sure, everyone gets plenty of screen time in Ultron, especially non-standalone-movie-stars Hulk, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and Hawkeye—so your favorite character won’t be left out.)
Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t perfect. (I’m still struggling to decide if it matches its predecessor, TBH.) But it was given the task of tying together everything from Agent Carter to Guardians of the Galaxy while sling-shotting the Marvel Cinematic Universe into its Infinity Wars-dominated Phase Three. No other movie could’ve done that better than this one. Even if it’s a hot mess, you can’t say that its blood ever runs cold.