While a lot of people are talking (and spoiling) Avengers: Endgame and complaining about the mistakes of Captain Marvel I’m way behind in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve been unemployed, I’ve been sick, I’ve been unconscious, I’ve been busy. Also it seems like every movie my friends and I get ready to see one of us gets sick or the weather’s bad. Sometimes we’ve had other problems but that’s been the big three: my lack of money, illness, or bad weather. So that’s why it took so long to get to Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the second movie of the Avengers series and I’m not sure how far into the MCU movies. I had to see this one on the USA Network (where they messed up the credits sequence because TV networks hate to acknowledge the people who made a show or movie these days) and even then I recorded it in June and just finished watching it a few hours ago.
Up to this point I’ve enjoyed the MCU movies although with two movies that came out after this but already reviewed in previous installments of Finally Watched, both Ant-Man and Spider-Man: Homecoming have had adaptation issues. (Mostly with the latter but in Spidey’s case it may have something to do with the weird issues with Sony.) It’s Ant-Man’s alterations that had an adaptation impact on this movie, but does it work out?
RELEASE DATE: 2015
RELEASED BY: Walt Disney Productions and Marvel Studios
RUNTIME: 2 hours, 21 minutes (3 hours on TV)
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Helmsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffolo, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson , Elisabeth Olsen, and James Spader
SCREENWRITERS: Josh Wedon
DIRECTOR: Josh Wedon
GROSS INCOME: $1,405,413,868 (worldwide) out of an estimated budget of $250,000,000
The Plot: Retrieving Loki’s staff from Baron Strucker, the Avengers take some long deserved downtime. Meanwhile, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffolo) study the staff before Thor (Helmsworth) brings it back to Asgard and finds a computer design they can use in their secret “Ultron” project, a defense network in case the world is invaded again. However, something goes wrong and Ultron becomes self aware and determined to destroy humanity, especially the Avengers. Aided by two superpowered people, Petro (Johnson) and Wanda (Olsen), who have a grievance against Stark, the Avengers may face their greatest challenge yet, which may divide the team before Civil War can have a shot, or make the team stronger.
Why did I want to see it?: You must be new around here. It’s a superhero movie with the Avengers and Iron Man. I have no other reason. The first movie was good and I wanted to see if the second one is good. I don’t care if the sequel is better than the first movie, I just want it to be good and continue the tale of the characters.
What did I think?: Let’s get the adaptation problem out of the way. Yes, any classic Marvel fan knows that Ultron was actually the creation of Hank Pym in a story that ruins his characters. He’s never really shaken off that story not because he created arguably the Avengers’ greatest joint villain but what happened in the story, a result of the artist getting a bit overeager in his depiction of Hank pushing Janet aside, instead drawing it so it looked like he smacked her aside. They couldn’t talk themselves out of that so it’s remained part of their history. It’s kind of a shame that a simple artist error ruined a character who was already at his lowest point.
However, in the MCU this never could happen. Hank Pym’s time as Ant-Man was over long before the Avengers could show up. His character arc wasn’t the same as it was for the comic’s version, and currently in the MCU Scott Lang is the Ant-Man and he doesn’t have the skill needed. On the other hand this does fit in with Tony’s MCU character arc, a path of redemption after letting Stane use his company to do evil while he partied and invented without a care for the business. He also saw first hand the threat Earth was under (although still lacking details like Thanos) and pushed by Wanda giving him a psychic vision of a world where the Avengers lose in the future it makes more sense for him to be Ultron’s creator, aided by Bruce because he knows more about genetics and they want to give their creation a better AI. They just chose the wrong AI.
Bruce has his own redemption path for all the damage he does as the Hulk. It’s one that leads to a rather extreme solution at the end just as he and Black Widow (Johansson) are getting closer due to her own damage. I’m wondering if that will be expanded on in her own film or if it ends up being as lame as the “real” reason Nick Fury lost his eye? Natasha doesn’t get to do as much in this movie but holds her own in a fight and is clever in how she lets the team know where she is when Ultron captures her.
In the same vein Captain America (Evans) doesn’t have any big character moments but his dealing with a soldier’s life usually gets explored in his own movies. The same goes for Thor but they use the whammy Wanda tries to put on him to tie in Thanos so that he can appear in the two-movie story to follow. It’s honestly strange to me why his vision somehow leads to info on the Infinity Stones that he then has to go to a special well to learn more about. Then again, Thor’s world is rather strange to begin with.
They gave Hawkeye (Renner) a family and seemed to indicate that this is his last mission. This isn’t the case. He shows up in later movies and will be getting his own series soon. (IMDB says TV but it’s actually going to be on Disney+. That’s streaming, which means it’s a web series, but that’s a dirty term in Hollywood. Old media hates new media but will gladly co-opt and restrict it to fit something it recognizes. Remember, the folks who hated comics wanted them to be more like books. And before I get to the new characters I should note that both War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) both get to do their superhero thing in this movie. Hopefully this builds a case for giving them their own movies or Disney+ series in the future.
Now for the villains. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (who don’t get their codenames in the movie) started out as villains in the comics before reforming and joining the Avengers. This is why Marvel reworked their histories in the comics (this would be the second time, the first to make them Magneto’s kids instead of kids of Golden Age hero Whizzer and Miss America) to pull them away from the mutant comics so they could use them while Fox still maintained their hold on the X-Men arms of the Marvel Universe. I wonder if this will change now that Marvel owns Fox and thus got the X-Men and Fantastic Four back the hard way? There isn’t a lot to them beyond their powers. Wanda’s is changed from probability altering to more psionic abilities while Quicksilver isn’t as much of an angry putz who is overprotective of Wanda as his counterpart, which I guess is a plus but it doesn’t give him a lot of depth. “We were stuck in a whole with a dud bomb Stark made and now we hate him” is not much motivation even given the issues Stark Industries created under Stane’s influence and once they do their heel turn the only monumental thing that happens is a spoiler and that just ends their own flimsy redemption arc. I hope later appearances make better use. (No spoilers please. I haven’t seen the other two movies. Three if you count Captain America: Civil War but I’m avoiding that on general principle. It’s why I stopped watching Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They teased Civil War, Secret Invasion, and I think even Extremis and that was my three count. I was out.)
Ultron is a good solid threat for the Avengers, but he usually is. That said, he’s really more of the same. Oh look, the robot wants to replace humanity with machines. I know that’s Ultron’s routine in the comics and that at least makes him faithful to the source material, but once you break out the Pinocchio cliche you’ve officially just gave up. As you see in the trailer above trying to make Pinocchio’s “There Are No Strings On Me” into his theme song, which is also a recurring reference, shows how lazy they got. They do TRY to connect him to fears about creating what you’re fighting against, tying him to Stark’s theme of sometimes making things worse instead of better, but Wanda is more responsible for that than Ultron since she’s the one making the heroes see their darkest fears to manipulate or stall them. It’s only Ultron’s actions and his quips that make him interesting or a good foe for the movie.
Vision is now a mix of vibranium and artificial tissue. Okay. Not sure what I think of that, although if they purse a Vision/Scarlet Witch romance like the comics it does make things a bit easier if he’s not necessarily all metal when it comes to kissing and those romantic nights. I do have to spoil this so if you’re as far behind as I was move to the next section: THIS IS THE MINOR SPOILER PART: They made the JARVIS computer program into Vision. Can we now have the proper human butler as an odd coincidence? Maybe not since they move from Stark Tower to a new complex, instead giving us Friday, an actual AI from the comics. Although I’m surprised they didn’t go with Jocasta, who is basically Vision’s sister since both are supposed to be Ultron’s creation. :THAT WAS THE MINOR SPOILER PART
Was it worth the wait?: I have to say yes, although the USA presentation messed up the credits bit and I think they dropped a moment or two even with the longer run time. However flat the villain is the threat is real and handled well, the character arcs of trying to stay together (is this the theme of EVERY Avengers movie…it has the potential to get old and Civil War seems to stick to that theme from what I can tell), and it has probably the best Stan Lee cameo of them all. We’re going to miss those. I do want to get the DVD at some point to see the proper presentation but it is a good continuation of the Avengers and the MCU. Now I just need to finish catching up to the rest of the movies.