Avengers: Age of Ultron has plenty of thrills and frills

Rami Chaudhy, A&E Editor

I vividly remember seeing Marvel’s The Avengers on opening night. It was the end of my freshman year, and the movie finished off the year with a bang. For Marvel superhero fare, it was a game changer.

Arguably one of the greatest blockbusters of this decade. It met every Marvel comics fanboy’s expectation, and even exceeded those expectations.

The idea of characters like Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America occupying a single shot on the big screen was wonderful and innovative back in 2012. It had never been done before.

It is now 2015, and time has most definitely dialed down the shine The Avengers once had. Superhero films hit movie theaters left and right nowadays, fatiguing viewers and in some cases ruining the spectacle of it all.

Now, in my senior year, the highly anticipated Avengers sequel has arrived: Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is fitting, since my freshman year ended with the release of the first, but it’s also bittersweet.

I had high expectations for this Avengers sequel. The trailers were flashy and really exciting. Naturally, I wanted the blockbuster to be everything the first one was and more. Way more.

As I sat in the theater waiting for it to start, I kept asking myself if it was going to exceed the lofty heights of the first one. Whether the movie would impress my 18-year-old self just as it did my 15-year-old self.

Bigger and more action-packed than it’s predecessor, Age of Ultron brings the four main Avengers back together, along with fan favorites Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Why? To clean up the mess of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) after he creates artificial intelligence under the Ultron Program. 

Predictably, the AI goes awry, and Ultron becomes the film’s main villain. Elizabeth  Olsen and Aaron Taylor Johnson also star as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. Their presence is welcome but not incredibly important to the overall plot.

I am happy to say that in many ways, Age of Ultron has impressed me. For starters, the action sequences best the first movie in almost every way. There are many ways to induce more adrenaline in audience members. Every character gets their time to shine as well, thanks to director Joss Whedon’s impressive knack for incorporating a handful of characters in a single action sequence.

The film opens with the Avengers mid-mission in the snowy, Eastern European woods of Sokovia. This particular scene highlights both Whedon’s directorial abilities during action scenes as well as his writing chops.

What made the first Avengers movie such a fan favorite was the humorous tone Whedon injected into his screenplay. There was nothing boring or unoriginal as a bunch of godly heroes having playful banter with one another.

Because of this, the scenes that rely on dialogue are just as enjoyable, if not better, than the action sequences. One such scene was a dinner party in Avengers tower, and another was on a farm.

When the Avengers are back to their normal “human” selves, their insight on the world around them is pretty fascinating. The movie also does a fantastic job of humanizing the team. We finally get a sense of why these extraordinary people fight for humanity’s survival.

The human touch is largely provided by a surprising revelation halfway through the film with the character of Hawkeye. In the first film, Hawkeye was nothing more than a puppet, manipulated by the villain to take the bad side. In Age of Ultron, Whedon responded to the negative fan reactions the character received in the first film.

In Age of Ultron, Hawkeye’s backstory is not only delved into a bit, but his stance as an Avenger is clearly defined. We also get a sense of why he sacrifices his life every day, which provides for some of the most emotional and inspiring scenes of the film.

Another component of Age of Ultron was the main villain. Ultron, played by the exceptional James Spader, is not only frightening, but has a dark sense of humor that makes the movie’s tone lighter at times, and incredibly cynical at others.

Ultron was a welcomed change of pace from the previous villains of past Marvel films.

In addition to Ultron, an exciting new character, The Vision, makes an appearance near the end of the movie. For fans of the comics, you know exactly who this person is. For those who just watch the movies, you are in for a real treat.

Unfortunately, the pros are accompanied by a number of cons. Cons that keep nagging my head when I try and ponder the pros. Cons that will unfortunately plague this movie forever.

Just as The Avengers finished off phase one of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Age of Ultron marks the end of phase two.

For those not following at home, phase two consisted of all the Marvel films after The Avengers: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

With all of these movies being interconnected, it can sometimes be difficult to have 100% continuity between them all. In some ways, Age of Ultron feels like a continuation of these characters’ stories, but only slightly. For some of the heroes, their actions and even their presence in the movie is questionable considering what had previously happened to them in the past.

This can be seen as nitpicky to the average viewer who just wants to enjoy some cool superhero action. However, for invested fans who love the universe that has been created on screen, these inconsistencies ruin the entire idea of a cinematic universe.

Another factor that will deter this movie was the sour relationship director Joss Whedon had with Marvel Studios. 

According to an interview released by The Hollywood Reporter, Whedon fought to keep certain scenes, like the farm scene and some dream sequences, while Marvel executives fought for the removal of these parts of the movie. Thankfully, these scenes stayed in Age of Ultron.

However, a certain scene that included Thor taking a bath in a cave was demanded by the studio. Whedon, and the majority of the public, hated this scene. It came out of nowhere and was only there to set up the next Thor movie.

The fact that the movie could have been better than it was, and the fact that the director has even admitted the flaws with the film continues to water down this major movie event.

Did Age of Ultron meet expectations? Yes. Did it exceed those expectations? In some regards, of course it did.

The movie continues Marvel’s exceptional track record of superhero fare that expands their cinematic universe to new and exciting heights. However, it may hint at problems in future Marvel movies. Regardless, Age of Ultron is still an action-packed, funny, and thrilling ride at the movies.