Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t as dark and dreary as one might expect after watching the trailer (or several of them, for that matter), but it’s still a superb action film, even if it’s a bit too familiar for most Marvel fans craving a step in a new direction.
Like the last ensemble film, our heroes must unite (and bicker endlessly) to take down a villain related to one of the Avengers (this time, Tony Stark), culminating in an all out battle against the villain’s army (this time made of robots in the place of aliens). And unlike Avengers, there are two or three other climaxes thrown in for good measure, depending on who you ask.
This makes Age of Ultron at least “feel” much longer than its predecessor, especially previous Marvel films with only one central character, as it’s stuffed with too much action to follow on the first viewing. That makes it essential viewing for anyone somewhat familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and happy about that fact, but it’s not quite the genre-defining movie we may have unwittingly expected.
And that’s OK. Age of Ultron does what Marvel movies do best: deliver some of the most spectacular action scenes possible with this generation’s lineup of iconic heroes. And that’s definitely satisfying for anyone remotely interested in the lore involved. It’s absolutely an event movie that will best be experienced by a crowded theater of super-fans giggling at every quip and jab these characters perform onscreen. But I expect it will also be a fun distraction on a slow Saturday night at home.
What makes Age of Ultron essential, however, is how remarkable it is to see this experiment continue to evolve with even richer stories for characters we thought we knew. There’s more going on in the head of Tony Stark than ever before, and that’s obviously counting three movies dedicated solely to his character arc. Several other characters are given their rightful due, specifically with Hawkeye becoming more than an irreverent archer afraid of mind-manipulation.
The romance between Hulk and Black Widow manifests early, saving it from feeling like a spurred encounter. Instead, we’re forced to wonder about the circumstances that caused it, which happened entirely offscreen. It’s not the strongest element of Ultron (that goes to the realization of Vision as a mainstay), but it’s certainly one of the riskiest. And who doesn’t want more risks from the film franchise that has it all?