Avengers: Age of Ultron
Directed by Joss Whedon, U.S. 2015
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is nothing if not an ambitious project. Marvel Comic Books have decades of storylines and thousands of characters with hundreds of powers (there are quite a few duplicate powers in there). Creating a true cinematic “universe” means spending a lot of time introducing new characters into new movies.
The best superhero film sequels typically spend very little time introducing new characters. Both The Dark Knight (2008) and Spider-Man 2 (2002) take advantage of the fact that the origin story movie is over and throw us right into the action. Other than the villains, there are no significant new characters in either movie. For better or worse, a sequel to an Avengers movie has no such luxury.
Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces a lot of new characters, and this bogs down the film a bit sometimes. The more familiar you are with the Avengers comic books, the less the problem with knowing who all of these people are. Of course this doesn’t help moviegoers who know the stories primarily from the movies.
Even so, Avengers: Age of Ultron is certainly in the top tier of franchise sequels. It spends much needed time exploring the backgrounds of the characters from the first film (not all of the Avengers have the luxury of two or three stand-alone films to flesh out their characters), but does so in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the action.
Ultron (James Spader) himself is one of the better villains introduced in a comic book film. In the Marvel Comic Book Universe, Ultron is the most dangerous primarily Earth-based supervillain (surpassed only by Galactus, Thanos, and the Phoenix Force overall), and the film’s portrayal certainly lives up to expectations there. He is also hilarious at times, in a very dark and mad scientist sort of way.
Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t quite as good as its predecessor, but overall it’s a fine superhero film and a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
You might like Avengers: Age of Ultron if: You enjoyed the first movie, enjoy Marvel Comics and/or Marvel Studios films, and are looking for a solid, summer popcorn movie.
You might not like Avengers: Age of Ultron if: You find comic book movies annoying and/or confusing when they spend a lot of time introducing new characters.
(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe