Avengers: Age of Ultron – Collaborative Review

Ultron posterHannah and I thought it might be fun to do a review of The Avengers: Age of Ultron together, so you get two opinions for the price of one!

First we’d like to deal with Ultron, and the delightful portrayal by James Spader – it might only be his voice onscreen, but his presence was stamped all over the robotic villain.

1 Ultron

Mel: Ultron made for a highly entertaining supervillain. His crazy genius was in turn highly amusing and downright terrifying. His arrogance surpassed even Tony Stark’s, which makes sense, since Stark created him. Seeing a range of tonal and even facial expressions on a robot, has to be one of the funniest things I’ve seen – at least in a while. And that voice. When he spoke I paid attention, even when his grandiose statements made me groan! In the interests of being constructive, the only real criticism I have, is the rushed introduction to Ultron’s hatred of Tony and the other Avengers. In the space of a few seconds (yes I know he’s incredibly smart), he turns against his creator – without even having interacted with him. I connected the dots, but it would have been nice to see greater conflict in the beginning.

Hannah: Ultron was one of my favorites too! I thought his dialogue was very skillful — he mimics the sort of villain who has a grand (but misguided) scheme for making the world a better place, but he’s not that kind of villain. His plan didn’t make much sense, but that works… He’s a flawed program built from an alien weapon and Tony Stark’s fear. It all comes back to Tony as the movie’s villain, the self-proclaimed mad scientist whose creation is out of control. Yet he’s on the heroes’ side, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of structure before! That brings me to my VERY favorite part, though: The Vision. One of the (many) new characters added in this movie.

2 Vision

Mel: I loved Vision too. This may have something to do with the fact I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Jarvis! I loved that Vision incorporated his essence – that dry, unaffected sense of humour – love it! In relation to Ultron, I enjoyed the fact that, ultimately, Ultron is responsible for Vision’s creation. In a way, Vision is the balance – the positive effect of Tony’s creation and his evolution was thrilling to watch. The hammer moment was particularly clever, because it cut through all those questions about his morality – it also added to the overall humour. I enjoyed the twins, especially Wanda, but the person who really stood out for me was Hawkeye. He might not be a new character, but we certainly saw a new side to his character. I thoroughly enjoyed the way he became almost like the glue that held them all together.

So, Hannah, what are your thoughts? I know you’re dying to talk about Vision!

Hannah: They really did a good job of balancing so many characters! I thought Hawkeye’s development was a little implausible, but cool and creative all the same. And I definitely appreciated the moment he stopped Wanda from messing with his mind, after all the fuss about that in the first movie. But The Vision was absolutely my favorite part. He is so, so good. He’s perfect in the story, as the final form of what Tony was trying to create. I think Tony had in mind a more comprehensive system of defense, but what he really wanted was The Vision. Something insanely powerful and transcendentally good. Instead of having a flawed, weaponized beginning, Vision is created from a combination of good things, Jarvis foremost among them.

Cap

Funnily enough, I hardly know the Vision at all from the comics, so I can’t say much about how he’s the same or different. My main reference for how much I love him in the movie is actually Superman, or Captain America in the MCU. Lots of people don’t like “good” characters because they think they’re boring, but they don’t have to be. Cap is a good person, despite all the darkness he’s seen, without being naive and cutesy or boring. That’s what makes him inspiring, and it’s the same in a really good Superman story. Vision being so colorful is related to that. It’s okay for him to be a little more stylized and have a flowing golden cape because he’s symbolic in a way the other characters aren’t. I could go on about this forever, I really could. Of course, anything could happen now. Maybe his Ultron origins will come back to haunt him, or his alien point of view will cause him to act against the Avengers.

This whole movie seemed transitional, tying in to Loki’s staff and whatnot from the past and thematically connected to Iron Man 3, but mostly foreshadowing future events. How does this movie fit?

3 Hawkeye

Mel: Before I answer that question, I wanted to go back to your point about Hawkeye – the way he prevented Wanda from messing with his mind. This was a powerful scene for me (I think I may have done a mini fist pump) because his mind is one of his sharpest tools; his focus. Clint has a deep sense of honour and Loki took that away from him. In Age of Ultron we got to see who Hawkeye really is, and I think he helped to humanise the team in a way – to be their anchor. Anyway. On to the questions about where the movie fits.

The movie certainly set some of the groundwork for the transition into the next phase. It will be interesting to go forward with the current team. As it stands Thor has returned to Asgard, Hulk is goodness knows where (for the time being), Tony took a step back, and Hawkeye is hanging out at the ranch. So that leaves us with Cap, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, the Scarlet Witch and (happy dance), Vision! These additions still offer a powerhouse in terms of ability, and at the same time, a new dynamic. So, though I don’t see this team lasting very long, it will be fun to see where they take us, and how they fit into the next phase.

I think the destruction inadvertently caused by the Avengers in this movie, definitely set things up for Civil War. First we had the debacle in South Africa when Hulk lost control, and the obvious battle in Sokovia. If this isn’t the cause of the civil war, it’s certainly fuel for the fire. How do you think these storylines will fit into upcoming movies, like Civil War? Are you happy with the development of the characters so far?

Hulk Smash!

Hannah: The movie certainly highlighted destruction, so they may well be using that as a sticking point in Civil War. They make an effort to save civilians, but they can’t always be successful. For instance, Tony picked an empty building to throw Hulk through, but he didn’t do anything to protect all the people in the street when the building fell. So, I think it’ll be a worthwhile debate rather than a contrived conflict.

Age of Ultron did a good job of giving each character a little bit of attention, but not too much. It’s essentially a character-driven movie, a very simple plotline serving as a vehicle for little bits of character development. I see it as almost a cutoff point, tying up dangling threads so they can have standalone movies and then come back. We’ve basically set up “intervening events” rather than “the next Avengers movie.” A smart way to do it.

Mel: I couldn’t agree with you more about the character-driven plot. It was one of my favourite elements; the unity within the team. We’ve come to expect the humour, but this time there was a level of cohesion we haven’t seen before. I wish I could give you a favourite quote, because there are many great examples, but I’m having a hard time deciding! Certainly the running joke about Cap’s language highlighted their camaraderie, and the way they now work together (especially Cap and Thor), was just wonderful.

4 Avengers

We could talk about the visual effects all day, because they were truly magnificent. I’ll just talk about my favourites. I absolutely loved Veronica (Tony’s Hulk buster!), especially when she sent in reinforcements. I particularly enjoyed the opening scene, not least because it set things up in terms of how seamlessly the team work together. I loved Natasha’s ‘Can someone take care of that bunker’ – cue Hulk! And then, of course, there is the scene where the Avengers unite (including Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) – taking out Ultron’s robot army and basically kicking ass!

What about you Hannah? Which scenes stood out to you? Do you have a favourite quote?

Hannah: I think the answer to that is, “I need to see this movie again!”

While the plot is simple, the characters are complex, and there’s plenty more to say. Leave your Age of Ultron reactions in the comments!

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58 thoughts on “Avengers: Age of Ultron – Collaborative Review

  1. I want to see it again too. I really enjoyed the joke about ‘language.’ And Thor’s nervousness when Cap tried to pick up the hammer. I got a little lost about where Thor when with Eric and figured out his vision. But it was super fun to watch and I will own it as soon as I can.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, me too – I can’t wait to own it! Hannah and I talked about the ‘language’ line and the running joke. We could have done a post on that alone 😉 And the look on Thor’s face when Cap almost lifted the hammer…classic!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Same! And I thought for sure there would be a moment at the end with Cap wielding the hammer and revealing he was just faking at the beginning to make Thor feel better… But I like how it turned out just as much. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

        • I just read that last night – he up and leaves, and the story is picked up in the new Thor #1 (which I had read earlier)… he is told something and is no longer worthy. Not sure if they’ve revealed what it was yet! Also not sure they’ve revealed who the female Thor is. Really basically just a lot of hanging threads.

          Since Thor can’t be defeated by normal means, I guess you need these sorts of plot/psychological means to stop him.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yup. Part of it was the sister, which was all explained in The Tenth Realm (one of the Original Sin tie-ins), but then there’s also the thing that made him not worthy. No idea what that is or if it’s been revealed anywhere.

            Good point about psychological obstacles, hadn’t thought of that!

            Liked by 2 people

  2. This was a fabulous idea, and the format works well. I love the back-and-forth.

    I fell off the Marvel movies after Thor/Iron Man 2. I really thought they were going downhill from there. I wish I’d kept up now. I’m gonna have to bite the bullet and catch up as far as I can with a Netflix binge soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Gene’o – I really enjoyed working with Hannah on it. As far as catching up goes, I think you would enjoy the movie without seeing the other films (I’m presuming you’ve seen the first one). There are a few references you may miss, but they’re only minor. At least in my opinion. People who have seen the shows/movies enjoy to seek out the ‘Easter eggs’ but, really, the Avengers movies can stand alone. Not that I’m trying to talk you out of a movie marathon because, well, movie marathons are cool, and Marvel marathons are cooler still!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Thor is my personal favorite of all of them, but Iron Man 2 is the weakest. Opinions vary sharply on pretty much all of them, though. You do absolutely need to see The Winter Soldier, because I think you’ll appreciate that one. And you might wanna keep up with the main Avengers thread either way — I know I would even if I didn’t like them, because I like to know what’s up, and the MCU is what’s up.

      But that’s not a problem because I love them all. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • My impression of them is favorable. And yes. I need to see the Winter Soldier. That’s the one that spun my head around and made me go “oh no, Gene’O, why did you not keep up with this stuff?” And I kinda-sorta know what’s up myself.

        I did not like the Kenneth Branaugh-directed Thor, thought the first Cap movie was so-so (although the flagpole scene was absolutely brilliant), and thought the second Iron Man was a rehash with different antagonists.

        They just lost my interest, and now they have my interest again, but who has time to watch that many movies?

        Liked by 1 person

        • The first Cap may actually be my least favorite because the pacing issues are unforgivable, although it’s very close with Iron Man 2 which is just Not As Good in general. Iron Man 3 is probably my favorite except for Thor, though, and my favorite in a totally different way — so, so smart. Instead of trying to one-up Avengers, they backed way down and did a very personal story for Tony.

          But anyway, yeah, the traditional “rewatch all the movies before each new movie” marathon is getting unwieldy. I know some theaters did a 24-hour marathon.

          Liked by 3 people

    • No one else mentioned it, so I need to: you stopped off right before the first Avengers! You’ve gotta watch that. Joss Whedon at some of his best. And honestly, Avengers, Winter Soldier, and then Avengers 2 and you’re set. If Iron Man 3 sounds interesting, that can fit in too but isn’t necessary in the same way.

      They’ve done a really good job of having the movies connected, but not dependent, on one another. It’s a fine line, but one they are following. I commented on this weekly with Agent Carter, as well – it stood alone, referring almost exclusively to only one movie, the first Captain America, which it was a direct sequel to story-wise and chronologically.

      Similarly, Daredevil is standing alone – with only the barest hints at New York getting wrecked in the Avengers. Know that one fact and you’re there. But I’ll leave @mbarkersimpson to say more on Daredevil, over on Comparative Geeks 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the collateral damage thing – I do believe it is setting up for Civil War, since in the Cinematic Universe they only have the previous movies to build on, unlike in the comics when they literally have superheroes running around for decades before CW… And the attention to civilians and collateral damage is one of the big divides that made Marvel come out on top waaay ahead of DC so far in film. I am thinking Man of Steel where no such thing really got addressed. Marvel shows people in the cars that crash, the bus Cap falls into, the buildings, the streets… and even when there are none, they explain why not. I love that about Marvel movies so far. Yes, there is flashy action, but they don’t pretend it is not hurting the bystanders, and the heroes have to deal with that too.

    And one again, yay for Hawkeye’s personality! Now he just needs a dog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s going to be the hardest part of Civil War, investing it with that much meaning. I think they’ll have enough movies and characters and shows by then to make it work, but even with all of those, there’s no way to catch up with the comics’ history. You’re right, though — it’s given MUCH more attention in Marvel movies already, and I think it’ll become even more of a point.

      Yes, doggy! And also I would like him to fall out of a helicopter or something and make an in-joke to the comic. Because, for once, I would understand that reference. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right. The heroes do take a lot of responsibility, and they highlighted that beautifully in Sokovia – the sacrifices they made. Then there’s Bruce and his conflict over the ‘big guy’. The scene where the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Cap worked together was incredible. And, Hawkeye…maybe if he’s ‘Lucky’ they’ll give him a dog (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

      Liked by 2 people

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  5. I for one hope to watch this again shortly after I get back home. It’s not a perfect movie; some things feel rushed after all, but it’s overall better than the first. Ultron is a great villain, and unlike Loki in the first, he wasn’t held back by an unexplained villain like the Chitauri. I’m wondering if the extended edition will expand on everything that feels rushed, and whether it will be the full 3 and a half hour long movie, or somewhere in-between that and the theatrical cut.

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  6. I found it a little strange (as a sometimes comic book reader) that Iron Man Hulkbuster and Hulk could do so much damage in Wakanda (I’m assuming the African city was in Wakanda) without even a comment from Black Panther, given that he IS the king of the country. Andrew thinks that they may open the Black Panther movie with a press conference about the destruction or something to smooth that out. If you haven’t listened to our podcast about Age of Ultron, you should! http://wp.me/p3xJ1S-238 -t

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have no doubt they’ll work it in! Because there will undoubtedly be consequences. Many seeds were planted in the movie, so it will be fun to see what they grow into! But I know what you mean about a lack of response. It happens quite a lot. It’s one of the things which annoys me about the individual movies. They’re friends, and they’re a team, so why don’t they help each other out when trouble is brewing? The other avengers could make an appearance without stealing the show. Anyway! Thanks for the link, I’ll check that out 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would say that it’s a movie deal thing, but that’s not 100% it. It happens in the comics too. For instance, in the Extremis storyline (which Iron Man 3 is heavily based on, obviously…) Iron Man deals with it all himself, just like in the movie. Even though he has friends and could probably have used them in that scenario…

        I really liked that in the Captain America movies, he’s had friends, and that will continue into Civil War. I guess I’m counting Peggy Carter and Bucky and the Howling Commandos as friends in his first movie…

        And in Thor 2 there’s very little time on Earth, so not a huge amount of time for a response… Hawkeye and Coulson in Thor 1, Black Widow in Iron Man 2…

        I guess what I’m saying is, they’ve had friends for some of them… but there’s not a great excuse for their absence in the other films. And meanwhile, they hint at all these adventures they’ve been having together attacking Hydra bases, and we only get to see one!

        Liked by 2 people

    • So I don’t think that was supposed to be IN Wakanda, but perhaps close to Wakanda. Klaw (Andy Serkis) had stolen from Wakanda – so I’m thinking he was not hiding out in the country. And the fight happened near there.

      Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that Black Panther is slated to show up in Civil War – so he may have strong words to say about what happened! It also makes me think he would be on Cap’s side, to be against Tony’s side. But that ruins all my they’re-forming-the-Illuminati theories!!! Argh just going to have to wait and see.

      Liked by 2 people

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    • lol! Thanks. It was a tremendous amount of fun!

      In terms of the hammer…I’m going to drop one of my favourite parts of that scene-

      James Rhodes: Are we even pulling?
      Tony Start: Are you on my team?
      James Rhodes: Just represent! PULL!

      Liked by 2 people

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  9. Favourite quote? I am paraphrasing, but the “A thing is not beautiful because it lasts” quote. especially since it summons up the movie so well. It was basically the end of the Avengers as we know them, but that doesn’t make the time we spend with them less rewarding.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true. I’m really looking forward to the next phase. If I may, one of my favourite quotes from the movie is…(Tony referring to Cap as being the boss) – “I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler” He’s a mad scientist with an ego the size of a small planet, but we love him!

      Liked by 1 person

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