Wednesday, 20 May 2015


The twelveth instalment to Marvel's cinematic universe hardly needs any introduction, the film's characters have become so ingrained in modern culture it has become difficult to remember a time when Iron Man wasn't on the superhero A-list. Avengers: Age of Ultron sees Earth's Mightiest Heroes team up for another time to fight against Tony Stark's bot gone bad, Ultron, whose master plan involves humanity's extinction. With no S.H.I.E.L.D to back them up the job of defending the world comes down to the  Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor, not to mention the massive green monster, The Hulk. But saving the world isn't easy when you have mutants, sorry I mean experimented humans, Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlett Witch and Aaron Johnson's Quicksilver. 

The chemistry between the team members was the first film's selling point, bringing multiple franchises together not been tried before and it proved incredibly fruitful for Marvel. In the team's second outing together things are a little different. The character's familiarisation with one another has drained the comic relief, there are a few funny lines such as Thor and Iron Man competing to see who has the better girlfriend, come on we all know it's Thor, but the sequel lacks it's predecessor's comic chemistry. With so much storyline to cram into two hours it is no surprise some characters get more to play with than others, Hawkeye finally gets his time to shine as Whedon reveals more about the man behind the bow, becoming the teams' anchor. Black Widow and Bruce Banner strike up a relationship, revealing the Widow's dark past. Yet the likes of Thor, who seems to be doing his own thing for most of the film and Captain America get very little to do other than go hand to hand with Ultron. While many have been waiting the whole franchise to see Iron Man's Hulkbuster smash down with the big green, it ultimately boils down to a Man of Steel level of destruction. 

Whedon devotes a large portion of screen time to the newbies, Olsen's Scarlett Witch, a mind meddingly mischief and her twin brother Quicksilver, a fast footed fiend (or foe). You may recognise the name Quicksilver from a previous superhero flick from last year but here Whedon doesn't have has much fun as Bryan Synger had in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Whedon's quicksilver isn't rewarded with a slow-mo action seen that will leave you speechless and the character's power is never consistent, one minute he seems a bullet flying through the air and then next minute he is taken out by Hawkeye. But the film belongs to the new guy, The Vision. Hidden throughout most of the marketing for Age of Ultron, many wondered just how Whedon would tackle a fan favourite and safe to say he succeeded in translating the character from comic book to silver screen. The Vision, played by J.A.R.V.I.S' Paul Bettany, steals the show with this film's "Puny God" moment.   

The big bad this time is Ultron, the ultimate tin man with daddy issues. Fuelled by his rage for humanity and the avengers, Ultrons ultimate aim is to send cap and his team the way of the dodo. Marvel's biggest flaw has always been their villains, Red Skull, Malekith, that guy with electronic whips, they all are instantly forgettable apart from Loki, the God of mischief who gained an army of fans in Thor and then Avengers Assemble. With Loki elsewhere, Ultron takes to the stage and while eclipsing the Red Skull and Malekith, he pales in comparison to Hiddlestone's Loki. His CGI existence creates a 2D character whose lack of presence gives us nothing to fear. James Spader does his best to aid the animation with a snarky, sarcastic tone but its undeniable Ultron is missing something.   

The film itself is tangled in strings, Thor's sub plot sets the ground work for Ragnorok and the infinity sequels, there are hints to what we can expect in Civil War with the relationship between Cap and Iron Man, Black Panther's seeds are sown and could Marvel be treating us to a Planet Hulk storyline? With twenty five films lined up including the likes of Inhumans and (another) Spider-Man reboot, it does make you wonder how long the superhero bubble will last and Age of Ultron already shows signs of popping. Each Marvel film is a piece of patchwork that creates a massively expensive quilt but with each film tightly woven together individuality is lacking. Storylines are moulded to build up to future films making each one feel a little distracted.    

Even with it's undeniable flaws and imperfections, how many times do Marvel expect us to watch their something-is-failling-to-Earth third act, this sequel has already grossed well over a billion dollars worldwide thanks to legions of Marvel and Whedon fans whose blind love for the franchise may blind them from criticism. With two more instalments to this franchise you have to wonder how long Marvel will keep up momentum, oh yeah with Ant-Man...    


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