In case you’ve been living under a rock, the new Avengers film, Age of Ultron, comes out in theaters this weekend.
Everybody dies. Then, in true comic book fashion, they’re resurrected. Except now, Thor is a woman. Hugh Jackman makes an appearance as Wolverine and saves everyone.
Obviously, I’m kidding.
Let’s start with the good. Age of Ultron is everything you’d want in a summer blockbuster. Big explosions, lots of action, cool stunts, the works. Director Joss Whedon is back with his firecracker wit and ability to infuse humor into any situation. Hawkeye FINALLY gets some character development. Whedon cleverly finds a way to give us some more background on how Natasha Romanova became the Black Widow. And Bruce Banner is still struggling with being the Hulk, a sign that things didn’t magically become better for him at the end of the last film. These three characters are the center of the story this time. Cap, Iron Man, and Thor have all gotten their own films. We know them by this point; here’s our chance to get to know the rest of the team.
Age of Ultron had some advantages over the last Avengers movie. We’ve gotten to know the characters, so the film can take time to focus on their relationships and backgrounds, setting up Captain America 3: Civil War. The quiet moments occasionally feel forced, but, for the most part, they work.
Now for the bad. I’ll admit it, I really didn’t care for Ultron. The filmmakers tried to inject some humor into Ultron’s character and he ended up feeling like more of a bumbling fool than anything else. Perhaps I need to watch the film again, but he didn’t feel like a real villain to me. He was a shell of a character. He didn’t seem to care about his objectives and the most angry he gets in the entire movie is early on when someone asks if he belongs to Tony Stark. He and the Vision have a nice little exchange at the end, and there were flashes of intelligence and a philosophical mind. But in the end, I feel like they could have done more with him. Quicksilver, disappointingly, was a one-dimensional character, and Thor was almost nonexistent for part of the film. The Tony Stark vs. Steve Rodgers theme was tiresome. Rather than have a thorough debate, it felt like they were arguing just for the sake of arguing.
Overall, Age of Ultron was an enjoyable experience. It was funny, it was mostly well-paced, and the acting was pretty good. I guess my main problem with the film is that it felt unimportant and a little flat. Maybe Marvel shot itself in the foot by announcing its complete film lineup for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with Thanos looming on the horizon, this film just seemed like filler. I can’t help but wonder if I’d like it better if I didn’t know what was coming. For example, Wakanda is mentioned in the film. I can imagine fans going crazy on Reddit and other forums trying to figure out if Black Panther would be making an appearance. But we already know he will, so it ruins the surprise. Thanos makes a brief appearance and basically confirms that we’ll be seeing the Infinity Wars on-screen, but I wasn’t excited because it was old news. In short, Age of Ultron was a good fluff piece that was entertaining even if it wasn’t quite as fun as the first film. I certainly don’t regret seeing it, but I probably won’t be seeing it a second time.