Three years ago, “The Avengers” came out, and it was one of the greatest cinematic spectacles the world had seen. Now, as “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens in theaters, people wonder what the sequel holds for Marvel’s leading team. The answer: More action, more characters and, most importantly, more humanity.
Ever since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the Avengers have become Earth’s first line of defense against anything and everything. Though that is why the team was called together in the first place, everyone is beaten down and has a notably darker mood as the movie starts.
This feeling of darkness and, more importantly, a tiredness from always saving the world, is most evident in the actions of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.)
Banner is dealing with his other half (the big green guy), desperately trying to simply be a normal person with a normal life. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow, is also trying to help him while helping herself. We learn a bit of Nat’s tragic past and see why she has such a connection with Bruce and that relationship plays through the film wonderfully.
“Do you think you’re the only monster on the team?” Widow says as she pleads with Banner to let her in, to let them be together.
Stark, meanwhile, is haunted by the Battle of New York and is determined to never let something like that happen again. Following an attack on a Hydra base, Stark obtains the technology to create a powerful artificial intelligence to create “a suit of armor around the world.”
What Tony makes, with Banner’s reluctant help, is the Ultron program. Though Ultron was designed to protect the world, he quickly loses sight of that vision. Ultron, played to perfection by James Spader, quickly turns malevolent and works to “save” humanity.
“The only path to peace… is your extinction,” Ultron ominously declares.
But Ultron wasn’t the only thing to come out of the Hydra base. Two empowered siblings, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) escape during the attack and join up with Ultron. The twins are better known to comics fans as Quicksliver and Scarlet Witch, who have the powers of incredible speed and telekinesis and other psychic powers.
In the words of Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), “He’s fast and she’s weird.”
As the movie progresses, viewers realize that while Ultron’s plans may be nefarious, he isn’t the crux of the movie. What the movie is truly about, and where the movie shines, is in the inter-character development and dialogues. Ultron simply serves as a vessel to get the team thinking, wondering why it is that they do what we do.
“Isn’t that why we fight, so we can end the fight and go home?” Stark angrily asks Captain America (Chris Evans) at one point. Tony and Cap have two very different viewpoints on this issue (*cough* Civil War *cough*), but at this point at least, they are willing to put aside their differences for the greater good.
But just because Whedon’s sequel is full of his signature emotion and pathos doesn’t mean that it lacks exciting action scenes. On the contrary, “Age of Ultron” has a variety of action packed moments, with scenes ranging from Cap facing off against Ultron on top of a speeding truck to the long awaited Hulk vs. Hulkbuster scene.
And all of that is before the final, climatic battle, in which the Avengers– who now include the mysterious and powerful Vision (Paul Bettany) and the Maximoff twins– face off against Ultron and his army of drones as he attempts to go through with is misguided plan.
“Ultron doesn’t know the difference between saving the world and destroying it,” Wanda warns the team when she and Pietro defect from Ultron’s side to join the Avengers.
“Age of Ultron,” for all the hype it received, neither fails to meet nor exceeds expectations. It perfectly meets them, seamlessly mixing the characters we all know and love with that classic summer blockbuster feel. “Age of Ultron” is the quintessential Marvel movie and, having been teased since 2013, it proved itself to be very much worth the wait.