It’s taken me a long time to write this post about Avengers: Age of Ultron. In fact, it’s taken me so long that its function as a review is largely irrelevant, as I’m pretty sure that everyone in the country would have seen the film by now. But the fact is that the notes I made when I came out of the film were riddled with typos (personal favourite: ‘astonishgung’) and repeated uses of the word ‘eep’. When the initial enthusiasm wore off and I struggled to remember precisely to what those notes were referring, I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to put a proper post together – the kind that a film like this, which I’d been looking forward to seeing for ACTUAL YEARS, deserved – without having seen it a second time. Which I have now done. So buckle up, everyone. I’m about to turn full nerd.
It will come as a shock to precisely no-one who has read this blog before that I was predisposed to like Age of Ultron. I’ve liked everything in the MCU before this point – I even quite like Iron Man 2, and I think I’m in a pretty small group there. As I’ve already mentioned, I’d been ridiculously excited about seeing this team back together since I left Cineworld Southampton three years ago after an amazing first viewing of Avengers Assemble. Still, while my positive predisposition meant that it was quite likely that I was going to enjoy it, it wasn’t a guarantee. That was sealed during the opening sequence of the film, as the Avengers launch an attack on Baron von Strucker’s Eastern European headquarters. I’m not going to spoil the first line of the film, but both it and the following exchange convinced me that from here on out I was in for a fun time. The action sequence itself, as well as sections later in the film (unspoilery spoiler: there are quite a lot), contains precisely what I want out of these movies: HUGE fights combined with real character moments and genuine emotion. From its very beginning, I was hooked.
I can’t even begin to summarise the plot concisely, and I could probably only do it proper justice if I went full spoiler. This is a film that is FULL of plot, with about eighteen major players all with some kind of individual story. This both works and it doesn’t: some are really nicely presented alongside one another while others are perhaps missing a little more detail. Still, even the characters that are a bit under-served have at least one moment to shine. Thor – probably the main victim of this (if someone can explain certain aspects of his storyline to me properly I’ll love you forever) – gets several, and might just be the funniest character in the film. Whedon makes all of these characters believable, and it’s genuinely a whole lot of fun spending any time with them at all. Even Ultron, who you might have guessed isn’t the friendliest of robots, is quipping all over the place, and while you can’t exactly root for him, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment he was on screen.
This is a film full of brilliant bits. The fight between Hulkbuster and the Hulk is particularly outstanding (“Dick move, Banner”), and the impact of Scarlet Witch’s powers on most of the team is amazingly rendered – those two sequences might be my highlights, but it’s so hard to choose when all of it is of such high quality. As you’d expect from a Whedon script it’s snappy and fun, tinged with horror – I’m making it sound like a comedy, so I’ve got to throw the fact that it’s really not all hilarious into the mix – and honestly it just made me so happy in a way that I can’t fully articulate. It isn’t perfect, but then what film really is? When you consider some other recent superhero outings, Marvel is still the best studio out there. And this is Marvel at the top of their game.
Bring it on, Phase Three.