“Avengers: Age of Ultron” gives us some thrills, mostly superhero fatigue
At a certain point during “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the titular villain makes the claim that “everyone creates the thing we fear.” Within the context of the film, he refers to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) creating the evil Artificial Intelligence (AI); further examination could show that Marvel Studios — and president Kevin Feige — have created something they fear as well: superhero fatigue. Sadly, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a bloated CGI fest that gives us too much of what we have come to expect from these heroes and too few surprises.
In an attempt to “create a suit of armor around the world” and protect the planet from similar invasions seen in the first film, Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) create Ultron: an AI intended to protect the world. Playing out like a Mary Shelley novel, the science quickly turns against our heroes and plots massive human extinction.
While no doubt an exciting battle between good and evil, the film spends entirely too much time retreading old territory. Director Joss Whedon knows the strengths of these films and relies on them entirely too much. We can only watch Bruce Banner struggle with his alter-ego as The Hulk, Tony Stark crack wise in the face of danger, or the team battle a hive-mind army so many times before the act becomes tiresome.
“Age of Ultron” also cannot help but feel like filler, effectively tying up loose ends from previous movies, while burdening itself with filling us in on the future. Too much of the runtime ends up devoted to explaining things such as the “Infinity Stones,” and the African nation of Wakanda, which will play key parts in Marvel’s Phase Three films. A much more effective use of this time would be to properly flesh out Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) or actually explain Ultron’s endgame to the audience.
That is not to say that the film does not have its merits; nobody will argue that the effects do not look phenomenal. However, a perhaps overly aggressive marketing campaign showed us almost every action set, so there were very few surprises.
We’ve seldom seen chaos and destruction on this scale — the fight between Hulk and Iron Man in Wakanda is particularly well done — but the problem is that the films have begun to veer into Michael Bay territory. For future films, Marvel could take a cue from the success of “Daredevil” by taking a more subdued approach and creating visceral action.
Across the board, everyone involved gives good performances: the anger between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark lays groundwork for next year’s “Captain America: Civil War.” The best aspects of the film are the ones used sparingly: Don Cheadle’s War Machine, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, and a surprising turn of events for longtime J.A.R.V.I.S., Paul Bettany. These faces will be the one’s to watch in the coming years.
Overall, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” does what it set out to do: entertain. The biggest issue is that it feels like a pit stop that uses familiar tricks while establishing a world for Marvel’s third phase of movies.
What did you think of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”? What could have been improved? Comment below or tweet @connerws to give us your take!