Disney and Marvel return for the second outing in what is the pinnacle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Earth’s mightiest heroes return in the sequel to 2012’s unprecedented “The Avengers.” Amidst constant rumors, spoilers and reveal after reveal, all set atop massive expectations, Age of Ultron has endured only to surface as a reminder to all the reasons why comic books have been imprinted into the makeup of pop culture’s psyche.
Instead of requiring the audience to go through more exposition plus the obligatory reintroduction of characters and scenarios, Age of Ultron blasts straight into action. The movie makes good on the fact that this is indeed the expanded universe. Picking up on the events of Winter Soldier, the Avengers are attacking the last remaining Hydra cells. This Avengers team is upgraded and evolved. It is during this incident that the team meets its first opposition in the form of “the twins” Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, first introduced in the Winter Soldier post credits scene. As the plot develops it becomes clear that the script has retained all of the clever dialogue and humorous quips now a synonymous a trademark of the MCU. What made Avengers a unique accomplishment in the first place was the combination and development of key main characters transitioning in full continuity to a shared space which simultaneously recognizes the past and current events of every major character in their own separate outings. Age of Ultron not only maintains this approach, it runs with it. It is a treat to see familiar faces of the MCU interact and appear on screen engaging in clever and funny dialogue again.
If Avengers was unprecedented in bringing together the Earth’s mightiest heroes, then Age of Ultron is unique for bringing forth gripping character adaptations of Ultron and the Vision, amongst a backdrop of truly epic set pieces. Ultron, an artificial intelligence masterminded by both Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, comes off as a very aware and very intelligent cynic– a more developed and sleek General Grievous comes to mind. Producers spared no expense in defining Ultron’s mannerism and expressions. These details are sorely needed as Ultron is every bit the wordsmith as Tony Stark. Paul Bettany as Vision arguably steals the show, he is interpreted remarkably in this adaptation. Bettany has a sense of calm that transfers over seamlessly in his incarnation as Vision. He also shines in any action sequence he is featured in and is instantly likable as a new member of the team. The film delivers in sowing the seeds for upcoming stories and further developing each character’s roles. There’s a lot going on, but it somehow works for both the readers and the non-readers.
My only concern though would be with all these references and hints and introductions, I can imagine non-readers and casual movie viewers might be oblivious to the easter eggs and the subtle introductions (Klaw, Wakanda, Crimson Cowl, etc.). Not saying that the casuals aren’t capable of digesting an offering like Age of Ultron, I’m just worried that this movie can potentially become pretty dense to the movie crowd, while fanboys and fangirls will love. To quote a friend, “that’s a lot of capes.” With every major set piece in place from Vibranium to the infinity gems, there is a lot of information to sift through which could be a bit intimidating for those not familiar with the Marvel Universe. It is very easy not to know where to look, and this intimidation isn’t eased with the quick pace Age of Ultron runs at either.
Avengers Age of Ultron is by no means perfect, however it stays true to the bigger picture and brings every ounce of energy and fan service to the table. At its heart, Age of Ultron is too exciting to ignore. Structurally, the film is almost a duplicate of its hit predecessors-- The Avengers and The Winter Soldier-- team dynamics centered around ego and coming together, mind control, and the idea of eliminating a threat before it's realized... The amount of information to process can easily be the deciding factor for those on the fence, butr for those who have been following the MCU from day one will likely enjoy this installment-- at least from the action and the same smart-ass remark that follows each tense situation. Just be sure to watch your language!-BAlexander