Avengers: Age of Ultron, as far as I’m concerned, works. Now, to be fair, I’m a fanboy. I’m predisposed to like it and be far more forgiving than others who don’t know Marvel from marvel. This doesn’t mean I can’t find fault with certain elements (I do) but it does mean I’m more willing to give it a bit of lead. I’m also not so tied to the source material that I’m going to freak out becuase something happened on screen differently than the way it happend in issue #183 of the comic. Intention and execution count for a lot with me, as do target audiences and the desire of the writer/director (not to mention the studio) to please as many people as possible.
With all that in mind, yes, I think it works. I think it fulfills its promise to fans and to people who just enjoy good, fun action films. It also ties into the other parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which includes the TV division, despite what Joss Whedon has been saying in recent interviews). Opening with a beautiful battle sequence, the action starts strong as the Avengers, a group of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” is heading to the mythical Eastern European country of Sokovia in search of Loki’s scepter, last seen in the first Avengers film (except for a cameo in last week’s, pre-Age of Ultron release episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). So while it’s not exactly a sequel, it does pick up the action without much gap. Ironically, this is one of my issues with the film.
While I don’t need another montage of “let’s all Assemble,” a sense of at least a little bit of history since the first film would have been nice. Some back story which shows us they’ve faced other foes, have spent some time together, lived their lives, would have been nice. Yes, I wanted the cinematic equivelent of the asterisk and editorial box at the bottom of the panel saying “*see issue 8 – ed.” The little bits of back story we do get, like in the opening battle when Black Widow is assigned the task of calming down the Hulk with something we are meant to infer is a protocol which has been worked out, doesn’t really make much sense. Especially when it’s referenced later on as if it was a first time event. Slightly confusing.
Also slightly confusing are some of the interpersonal relationships. Without going into detail if you haven’t seen the film, We get one relationship from a primary character which is initially lied about and then becomes an integral plot point while a second, involving two other primaries, comes so far out of left field it’s rather jarring when the audience realizes it’s happening. And in the end, it really doesn’t serve the plot other than as a manufactured moment near the climax.
One thing I do think writer/director Joss Wedon gets right (and one of the things he’s known for) is the humor. This is a funny film. It certainly harkens back to the puns and relatively light-hearted nature the 60s comics were filled with. Now, I’m as big a fan of the dark, angst-ridden tortured soul characters which have been populating comics since the 80s. I though the recent 13 episode arc of Daredevil was great and the PTSD of Tony Stark in the last Iron Man film was well-earned, but you know, just having fun munching popcorn and watching the good guys and bad guys trade quips while beating teh crap out of each other is a great way to spend 2 1/2 hours. In fact, I’m already excited for the DVD for the extended scenes and hoping they put out the 3 1/2 hour director’s cut becuase I’d love to see that.
I haven’t mentioned performances becuase this is a top notch group. The primary cast all earn their stripes and battle scars. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) has learned subtlety with a nice eyebrow reaction whcih speaks volumes while the CG capture of Mark Ruffalo‘s face while he’s the Hulk is top notch. These are all movie stars, in the bigger, 1940s sense of the word and I like that. They are over-the-top without being sloppy and cartoonish.
So, yeah. I’m in. I can’t wait for the slate of films over the next five years to reveal themselves. I’m on board with the connected universe storytelling approach. I want my heroes as big as I can get ’em (even Ant-Man).