Avengers: Age of Ultron
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Don Cheadle,
Everything about Avengers: Age of Ultron is exhausting from the cast list, to the running time and especially the never ending onslaught of comic book movies. We watch the same hero’s fight the same battles and save the world over and over. ‘Ultron’ feels in every possible way like any franchises middle part. The Avengers (2012) was the first time we had witnessed a gathering of such monumental comic book hero’s and top billed actors in one movie, the new has certainly worn off this time around. The saga that runs throughout the Marvel universe, stringing stand-alone Captain America, Iron Man and Thor films together feels weighty for a common viewer. With the universe once again on the line, there is always time for an Iron Man versus Hulk battle while the bad guys refuel, dragging this action flick once again beyond the two hour mark.
S.H.I.E.L.D has collapsed as we saw in Captain America: Winter Soldier, now the Avengers reteam to conclude their disbandment of Hydra and obtain Loki’s Scepter which contains the infinity stones they have been collecting. They also discover a new program in which Tony Stark (Downey) attempts to manipulate into a force for good. The result is an infiltration into the Stark systems and records, creating villain Ultron (Spader) who is a nearly unstoppable, evolving machine. Annihilating all the Avengers won’t be enough, Ultron wants to rid planet Earth of all lifeforms and allow his metal to rule. Two new forces, Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and Quicksilver (Johnson) realize they have chosen the wrong side and will become one of the greatest aids to the superheroes in their time of need.
These films are for the masses, the preprogrammed ticket buyers who want exactly what they got last time.
“None of this makes sense”, Hawkeye (Renner) explains to Scarlett Witch during the heat of battle. Perhaps that was writer/director Joss Whedon’s way of apologizing for the $250 million dollar headache inducer. Apparently the sequel, which will be a hit with audiences even before they see it, was so stressful for the director, he has bowed out of the upcoming Avengers sequels. Nearly half way into the two hour plus film we finally get the first moment of real acting, occurring between Renner’s character and his wife. Thankfully Whedon does continue to explore the Black Widow (Johansson) character in these ensemble films since the sexism of Marvel refuses to offer that character a stand-alone film, or even her own Avengers action figure.
This marks the first film where Tony Stark appears without Pepper Potts although she is mentioned as being “busy”, while Natalie Portman’s Jane is also referenced but not included; further examples nudging the few women out of the series. Long gone are the origins of comic books which served as allegory to modern social situations, these films are only about violence, hero’s repeatedly saving the day and leave the intelligent moviegoer with little substance. ‘Ulton’ does finally break the Marvel/Disney unspoken law and kill one of the characters, a huge step in the right direction, but far from the gripping success Game of Thrones presents each week where no character is safe. Marvel characters shouldn’t be invincible, nor should each journey and battle be without tremendous sacrifice because how can you incur suspense when you know everyone will be alright for the next episode. These films are for the masses, the preprogrammed ticket buyers who want exactly what they got last time and the time before; they are not for those seeking a unique and meaningful cinematic experience.
Age of Adaline / Age of Ultron both stories about things that never change.