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Retronalysis: What You Missed About Ultron In ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

OK, I’m sure not all of you missed this. If you caught it and feel offended, then…I don’t know, that’s something you need to work out on your own.

I’ve already reviewed the film in length, so if you haven’t seen Age of Ultron yet and want to avoid even mild spoilers, you can check out my spoiler-free review and come back here when you see the film for yourself. Long story short: it’s a good movie worthy of its place as an Avengers sequel.

While I enjoyed the film, I had a few complaints in regards to some of the character and narrative development. Specifically, I disliked how “rushed” the first act was in terms of establishing Ultron as a villain. When you watch the movie, you’ll notice that we sort of jump into this plot (which isn’t heavily related to the opening scenes) with Tony Stark suddenly revealing to Bruce Banner that they can create an artificial intelligence.

avengers age of ultron

After a brief montage (seriously, a montage), they succeed in using the gem inside Loki’s scepter to create an A.I., though they leave before realizing Ultron has been created. I’ll spare you the details on what happens next in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, but the short version is that Ultron as a villain is born over the course of about ten minutes.

I didn’t like this because I felt like such a crucial part of what makes Ultron, well, Ultron was glossed over for the sake of getting right to the action. A noble goal, but for a movie that’s 2.5 hours long, I would have preferred just a few more scenes to familiarize us with Ultron’s motivations. Honestly, though, this is all nitpicking, especially since the 3-hour long director’s cut will likely fill in the blanks in a more satisfying way.

Now on to what you may have missed. See, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ultron’s personality over the last few days. As a villain, he has a compelling spark to his tone and delivery that makes him seem more like a misguided anti-hero instead of an instrument of pure evil.

avengers age of ultron

I realized that this is explained in a very subtle way near the beginning of the movie. Ultron was essentially created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. They’re like his parents, and in an amazing way, Ultron inherited the best and worst traits of these parents.

Ultron is sarcastic, impatient, and brilliant. Much like Tony Stark. He’s also prone to violent outbursts, like Bruce Banner. Most of all, Ultron has a specific vision for the world (like his fathers) and has the strength and will to carry it out. The only problem seems to be something that is later fulfilled by a character I won’t spoil.

Obviously, this is intentional on the part of Joss Whedon and his team of writers. When crafting Ultron as a character, it must have seemed perfectly natural for them to borrow from established characters, so we would familiarize ourselves with Ultron quickly and immediately feel threatened by his claim on the world. The father-son dynamic is reflected several times in the movie later on, of course, as Tony banters with Ultron over the fact that he’s his maker.

avengers age of ultron

This film would have been so much better, in my opinion, if they had just given Ultron a little more room to breathe in this way, so more audience members could catch that he’s a product of this world created by the Avengers (not just the literal Avengers themselves). After all, facing themselves is a sizable threat that the Avengers would (and did) have to face, even though the movie sort of sidetracked in that regard.

Now, in case you were hoping for some easter eggs, I can at least give you a few morsels to chew on. I didn’t notice as much as some other Marvel fans, but I did catch something related to Tony Stark and J.A.R.V.I.S.

When Tony has to find another program to help him fight Ultron, we see him settle on “FRIDAY.” In the comics, Tony uses FRIDAY as his virtual personal assistant, and she is very similar to Ultron in that she’s like his child. Remember that Ultron wasn’t actually invented by Tony in the comics, so Marvel was clearly introducing FRIDAY as a subtle nod to the origin story they gave to Ultron.

avengers age of ultron

I’ll have to watch the movie again, but I’ve also heard that Jocasta’s name can be seen around the same time Tony grabs the FRIDAY program. I can’t confirm this yet, but that would be an interesting easter egg considering Jocasta was created by Ultron to serve as his robot girlfriend (though she later becomes an Avenger).

That’s all I have for you guys. Hope you enjoy (or enjoyed) Avengers: Age of Ultron. Again, if you want my full review on the movie or just want to know my thoughts on it, you can check that out here.  

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Review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

avengers age of ultron review

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?

Grade: A-

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