Avengers: Age of Ultron – I finally saw this movie on what I believe was its next-to-last day in the nearby theater. There are some pretty major spoilers in this post, but everyone else who wanted to see it probably already has. I believe I’ve now watched all the films considered to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s nice to see the ensemble cast in action again. Speaking of which, I do kind of wonder why they used an excuse to write out Pepper Potts and Jane Foster when other supporting characters from the solo films put in appearances. I guess Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman demand higher paychecks than Hayley Atwell or Idris Elba. The basic premise this time is that Tony Stark creates an artificially intelligent computer program to maintain the peace, and it ends up going berserk and trying to wipe out humanity. The voice of Ultron is provided by James Spader, known for his portrayals of sleazy jerks, and while exterminating the population to achieve peace has a certain cold logic to it, his personality is mostly snide and sarcastic. He probably got some of that from his creator. He at first gets help from the twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, but they turn against him and help out the Avengers after learning his true plans.
And because every superhero movie needs an action scene with cool special effects and a blatant defiance of physics, Ultron levitates a city and attacks the good guys with wave after wave of easily-destroyed robots. Then there’s an out-of-nowhere romantic subplot between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff.
Didn’t the previous films suggest Natasha would get together with Hawkeye? Well, here we learn that she knew all along that he already had a family (he’s married to Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks), making her available. This Playboy article, written before the release of Age of Ultron, provides a good overview on how Natasha is set up as a potential love interest for everybody who doesn’t already have one. Also, are we totally forgetting about Betty Ross? Hawkeye does get more development here, and most of the others make some progression on their character arcs. I could have done with a little more characterization for Scarlet Witch, whose part in the story basically seemed to be, “I want to kill the Avengers! Wait, this robot wants to destroy all humanity? I love the Avengers now!” True, they didn’t immediately welcome her with open arms, but it still came across as a bit sudden. A few other things I wondered were:
- Why was the Iron Man suit talking to an Eastern European crowd in English? Wouldn’t a genius like Tony have programmed in other languages? For that matter, why was the assassin trainer in Natasha’s flashbacks speaking English?
- Was Tony jokingly quoting Neville Chamberlain what made Ultron turn evil? See, humor can hurt!
- Shouldn’t Thor’s mom having (apparently) recently died have been addressed? Although Thor was the one who came up with the vision that eventually saved the day, I feel that his character was given short shrift here. I guess we’ll have to wait for Thor 3 to find out what happened with that, and with Loki impersonating Odin. Apparently there was a Loki scene in the screenplay, but it was cut.
- That Thor’s hammer could be lifted by a robot was established in an early Thor story, and I believe there was a complaint about it on the letters page.
- A benefit to Disney owning Marvel is that they probably didn’t have to pay a whole lot to have Ultron sing a song from Pinocchio.
- I knew beforehand that there was no post-credits scene, although I always stay until the end of the credits anyway. There is a mid-credits scene with Thanos, however.
- I noticed a reference in the credits to a robot from Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky. Didn’t actually see it in the film, but I understand it was on one of Tony’s shelves.
- Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are apparently Magneto’s children in the comics, but I guess they won’t do anything about that in the Cinematic Universe due to rights issues.