Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

Who gives a shit about Hawkeye? Honestly? No one gives a shit about Hawkeye. Hawkeye barely gives a shit about Hawkeye. In a battle involving a genetically enhanced super soldier, a playboy billionaire in a flying iron suit, a pretty girl in a tight leather costume, a god and a hulk, why should we pay mind to Jeremy Renner with a bow and arrow? 

Well, I just got back from my screening of Avengers: Age of Ultron and I figured it out. Joss Whedon gives a shit about Hawkeye. Joss Whedon values character and relationships and brilliantly clever dialogue amidst all of the expected chaos of battle, and that is why I admire the hell out of him and his work. With modern day technology and bloated budgets, it's easy to make things look pretty and then have them explode. Pretty much anyone can make an audience gasp at the sight of a collapsing building, but it takes actual talent to make them honestly, deeply care about the people inside it. 

Now let me get some of the brief negatives out of the way before I continue gushing about everything Avengers: Age of Ultron did right. This isn't the game changing, defining moment of the MCU that some may be hoping for. I entered the theater with a mentality that this would be not just Avengers 2, but Avengers 2.0, and with an expanding cast and elevated stakes the entire experience would be bigger, bolder and more bombastic, but really this didn't feel like it was on a different level than either the first Avengers or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What I am trying to honestly figure out at this very moment though is whether or not this is really a flaw or just a matter of perception? I may have been expecting a new level of epic, but was that ever the intention? Would that have even been a good thing had it pulled a Spinal Tap on us and gone to 11?

Also, there is a love story going on here that I can admire the attempt, but I didn't really buy it. Giving these characters a deeper connection seems like a smart way to make an audience care more, as their fates suddenly transcend being merely their own and instead directly relate to each others mental well being, but I didn't feel the chemistry that Whedon tried pretty damn hard to build through multiple quiet scenes between the two characters. Actually, despite very little screen time devoted to it, I was more captivated by the bond between newcomers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as twins than I was by the romantic angle. Did you noticed I am being vague about who exactly is in love here? That's on purpose in case you haven't seen it. Some people get pretty pissed about even the less consequential spoilers. 

While the love story may not have completely worked for me, on an individual level I probably cared more about the members than I ever have before. That is because over the years and multiple films I have grown to really like these characters and I think I know why: because despite their status as superheroes, they are just vulnerable enough to feel real. Avengers: Age of Ultron does a fantastic job of continuing that tradition, showing us that every single member regardless of the strength of their powers is, on some level, human. They are haunted by their dreams, the visions that bring about their deepest fears, and it is becoming more and more clear that every one of them is mortal and could meet their demise at any moment. Underneath the costumes and weapons and capes and shields are beating hearts, blood that can be spilled and minds that are capable of being shattered.

At the end of the day, Avengers: Age of Ultron works for the same reasons the first Avengers did: because it is written by a man with an immense amount of talent who knows how to hit all the notes needed to make people buy in. We laugh, we gasp, we are in awe of the action and we are moved by the heroism on display. Most of all, this is pure, joyous entertainment, the type of picture that leaves absolutely no doubt regarding whether or not the experience was worth the price of admission. 

Joss Whedon gives a shit about Hawkeye, and Avengers: Age of Ultron is all the better for it. 



  1. Back in Buffy, Whedon broke ground by transforming the pompous bloodsuckers of the night into wisecracking, sarcastic smartasses. Very cute, very entertaining.

    Nearly two decades, and a thousand copycat writers, later, I find myself intensely weary of smartass villains. I'd love just one pompous megalomaniac, just for a change. Ultron did not have to be some stilted dry robot, but I couldn't stand Heckle Q. Jeckle, the standup comic robot.

    As with many super duper movies, they stuffed in one plot line too many. Ultron, introducing the Wonder Twins to the franchise, introducing the Vision, laying the groundwork for the Magic Rocks, laying the groundwork for the next five Marvel movies...too much.

    I wanted it to grab my heart and brain like "Avengers". Instead, it was merely...entertaining. Not "must see again!"

    1. It's funny Blaze, immediately after watching Age of Ultron I was totally over the moon on the experience, and I am still a fan, but as time has passed I not only see what you are saying, I agree. I do think Ultron was too comical, too cartoonish. I loved his evil moments, but it went the other way too far at times.

      It was very crammed in with plot lines, which is the thing with these expanded universes. On the one hand it is a blessing because it is exciting to see where stories go and how everything ties together. On the other hand it is a curse because we essentially cannot be privy to a single story and a single vision anymore, it has to be jam packed with easter eggs and as you said, laying groundwork to set up not only the next film but five films down the line.

      Thanks for your thoughts, really appreciated!