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Avengers: Age of Ultron

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 heroes fight the same battles and save the world over and over. ‘Ultron’ feels in every possible way like any franchise’s middle part. The Avengers (2012) was the first time we had witnessed a gathering of such monumental comic book heroes and top-billed actors in one movie; the news 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 (Robert Downey, Jr.) attempts to manipulate into a force for good. The result is an infiltration into the Stark systems and records, creating the villain Ultron (James 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 (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-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 (Jeremy 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 that he has bowed out of the upcoming Avengers sequels. Nearly halfway 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 (Scarlett 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 allegories to modern social situations; these films are only about violence, heroes repeatedly saving the day, and leaving the intelligent moviegoer with little substance. ‘Ultron’ 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.

Final Thought

Age of Adaline / Age of Ultron both stories about things that never change.

C

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