Avengers: Age of Ultron is the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon.
Right at the start of the movie, the Avengers infiltrate Baron Strucker’s (Thomas Kretschmann) base in Sokovia in an attempt to retrieve Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers movie. Along the way, they encounter two “enhanced humans” (because the term “mutant” is still owned by FOX in the context of superhero movies). They are twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olson, respectively), though they are more commonly known as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. After a mental warning from Scarlet Witch, Tony Stark manages to retrieve the scepter and reverse engineers it with Bruce Banner to create the Ultron program without the knowledge of the other Avengers. The intention of the Ultron program is to create an A.I. capable of enforcing world peace by deterring unusual behavior. The Avengers celebrate a job-well-done in retrieving the scepter by hosting a party with several returning members of previous movies such as Col. Rhodes and Maria Hill. The mood immediately shifts when Ultron gains control of Stark’s Iron Legion to eradicate humans, whose inability to change is slowing the process of peace.
While the movie relies on the character development established by the previous 10 films of the MCU, the movie still makes an effort to show the personal relationships between characters instead of their duties as a team. With the characters that are new or never had a back story (such as Black Widow), their past is also mentioned in their own scenes to help get a better understanding of them.
There’s a fair amount of technology-based dialogue to show off Stark’s and Banner’s intelligence. For the location scenes, the speaking actor’s have distinct accents significant to the area. Wanda and Pietro consistently have strong Eastern European accents.
Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of religious context in the movie. There’s a particular plot point that takes place in a church and Ultron, with his god complex, removes any subtlety to that fact. Something else, as mentioned earlier, is relationship that each of the Avengers share with each other as opposed to being forced together for a single cause. Ultron also makes it a point that not being tethered to limitations or being “held by strings” allows him to adapt (evolve) much more quickly than his human opponents.
Unfortunately, the “No Strings on Me” music is almost non-existent in this movie. While it was blasted in several of the trailers and made to be a big point, the song itself is only in one brief scene. Other licensed music is used in the movie, but the most obvious is the Avengers theme introduced in the previous movie.
Everything is bigger in this movie, whether it be the villain, scope of destruction, or team synergy. Particular moments are Hulk vs. Hulkbuster (called V.E.R.O.N.I.C.A. in the movie) and Maximoffs vs. The Avengers.
There’s a big celebrity list previously established with the other Marvel movies. The newest faces are Elizabeth Olson and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, both of whom starred in another large-scale movie a year ago.
Of course it’s more monster than machine.
James Spader also joins the fray as Ultron, a large performance for a great Marvel villain. Finally, Paul Bettany reprises his role as J.A.R.V.I.S. and also as a new character to the MCU, The Vision.
Who to Watch With
If anyone has watched any of the previous MCU movies, they will already have an inclination to watch this movie. On the other end, movie goers without any prior knowledge of the movies or the characters they are based off of will have a hard time following the movie. It hinges a great deal on the character establishment of the other movies.
This is more or less then end of the second phase of the MCU, and while the movie was overall more enjoyable than the previous Avengers, the future of the franchise relies on the audience’s complete obedience to keeping up with the rest of the MCU with movie releases, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and other soon to be released series. It’s a lot to keep up with and may turn off some people from getting too invested in it.
The Marvel story arc Age of Ultron is much different from the movie due to the screenplay being written alongside the release of the comic, leaving very little overlap. Also, Ultron was originally created by Hank Pym, a character that will be introduced in the MCU later this year. Instead, Ultron is a program made by Tony Stark as seen in the Heroes of Tomorrow story. As the MCU drives forward, I sense it will drift further away from the Marvel comics they are based off of. This is more or less forced due to the movie rights being owned by separate companies (FOX and Sony). Of course with several different stories to choose from, it may be in the best interest for the directors to take their stories in a different direction to make something unique, much like the different writers for the same Marvel characters.