Avengers: Age of Ultron
dir. Joss Whedon
written by: Joss Whedon
starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo,
Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, among others
3.25 out of 4 stars
Yes, I’m late to the game on this, but sometimes you just get busy. Avengers: Age of Ultron arrived with explosions, and all of those explosions were filled with money as the US box office has already crossed $400 million in less than a month. Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye have joined forces again to fight the forces of evil, even those forces that one of them may have accidentally created. That would be Ultron, the android who really thinks he can fix things and that might involve destroying a lot of things along the way. So, of course, it is up to this superhero team, with an ever expanding cast of superpower superpersons to take care of business.
Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, a.k.a. one of the best casting choices ever, is trying to bring peace to the world made violent by his family business of weapons manufacturing. Since the man in a metal suit, an old timey hero (“Language!” Priceless.), a Norse god, a big green angry guy, and two exceptional assassins are stretched thin, Stark thinks advancing technology with Ultron can save these heroes from their endless battle. Unfortunately (except for the whole need-a-villain thing) Ultron is not fond of how the Avengers take care of their foes, and he decides to take things into his own hands. Battles ensue across the world with flashy, enthralling fury, from giant Iron Man vs Hulk to epic, high flying Russian villages.
The heroes remain enjoyable throughout even when their stories make a purist groan “What the…?” Robert Downey delivers his snark as Stark with his reliable skill, and Chris Hemsworth is a huggable, handsome god per usual. Chris Evans continues to prove why his solo movies are my favorite Avenger asides. He makes the cap likeable even when attacking his own team members. He’s just and fatherly, and I mean, again, “Language!”. Just that alone cements his excellence. However, outside of the action, Joss Whedon has deflected the spotlight from these three to focus on the heroes without solo empires. Whedon peels away at his monsters to reveal where the human has been hiding. Renner plays the hero away from home and comes back to genuine roots. Johansson and Ruffalo, noticable age difference aside (30 and 47, respectively, but crazy enough they were born the same day), their connection can be heartwarming with tenderness unseen in public, beauty and the beast in their private moments. The actors work with an arc derailing from the characters’ usual personae with skill, but the choices left me (and apparently the internet at large) cold.
New to the gang are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, siblings raised by the enemy. “He’s fast, she’s weird,” quips the well-utilized Agent Maria Hill (Colby Smoulders, proudly breaking away from sitcom monotony). Aaron Taylor-Johnson takes on a post Kick Ass role and zips around without the thrill that Evan Peters gave in Days of Future Past. Elizabeth Olsen continues to impress as the Russian psychic. She’s scared but vicious when provoked. James Spader’s voice aids to the cunning deviance in a character, and his Ultron is a brilliant mastermind of keeping the ethical peace.
Of course, praise is owed to the always fantastic Joss Whedon. Anyone who goes from a worldwide blockbuster to a Shakespearean black-and-white comedy shot in his own home is a truly versatile artist. The humor, as usual for a Whedon project, was spot on and the characters are brave but vulnerable (except for their bodies in certain characters; those can take a beating). The superhero genre is not played out; these characters have spoken to our strengths and very human weaknesses for generations, and the world around continues to love them, as the $1.15 billion worldwide gross has already 4-times the budget. The world still loves them, and there are still numerous stories to tell.
Ant-Man, an original Avenger, premieres later this summer. Netflix has numerous Marvel stories to follow their superb Daredevil success. Then there’s Civil War coming up and so many rumored and anticipated adaptations coming, and people are going to continue to see them. Let’s just all be glad it’s actually quality entertainment they are going to see!