On Friday May 1st, the world held its collective breath for the newest installment in Marvel’s incredibly successful cinematic franchise. After many years of attending the Bennington movie theater on the opening night of many a superhero movie, we had never seen a sold out theater. That all changed when we saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. The number of people at opening night stands as yet another testament to the sheer magnitude of Marvel’s niche in pop culture.
Whedon imbued Age of Ultron with his classic element of self deprecating witty banter. Even in the midst of battle, the characters have no problem mocking each other and their current situation. Hawkeye delivered the best line of the movie with a subtle jab at the almost unbelievable nature of the franchise: ‘The city is flying. We’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. Nothing makes sense.’ It’s the snarky comments that give the Avengers a more human aspect and allows the audience to feel more familiar with the heroes.
Age of Ultron’s expansion of the team of superheroes brought much needed variety to the movie. In this movie, many of the lesser known heroes that make up many of the better storylines of the Avengers, such as the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, make some pretty major appearances. Whedon shifted the focus of Age of Ultron from the starpower of the “Big Three” of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, who each have their own successful, independent movie franchises, to Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Hulk, who has his own unsuccessful movie starring a different actor. This fleshing out of minor heroes, especially that of Hawkeye, took the movie’s cake like a sugar addicted pastry thief. Hawkeye’s role expanded from mind-controlled useless archer to the glue that holds the team together. Hawkeye successfully denied Scarlet Witch’s attempt to psychically influence him, a balancing of his role as helplessly doing Loki’s evil bidding in the first Avengers. Hawkeye’s simple humanity nicely contrasts the divinity of the rest of the Avengers. A series of scenes at Hawkeye’s house slows down the movie enough for the characters to catch up to the action and provide motivation for fighting. Clint Barton grounds the team with his simplicity and drives the Avengers by reminding them why and for whom they fight.
In Age of Ultron, we see a more delicate side of the infamous assassin Black Widow, as well as a look into her past. Scarlett Johansson attempted to explore Black Widow’s ‘sensitive side’ during the movie, but with mixed results. The exposition of Widow’s past piqued our interest in showing a more emotional side to the ruthless killer. On the flip side, the sexual tension between Widow and the Hulk was a clumsy attempt to bring in an unnecessary romance story. The bungling attempt at a love story had the subtlety of a drunk man blindfolded riding a bull through a china shop. That is to say: none at all. If I wanted to watch a green beast and a feisty redhead fall in love, I would watch Shrek. At least Shrek has Eddie Murphy playing a talking donkey.
The plot followed the successful formula set out in the first Avengers. Tensions build between the main heroes and their ideologies, with Captain America and Iron Man’s ideas once again bearing the crux of the intra-team conflict. The tensions formulaically resolve themselves in the face of a common enemy.
The movie also has some interesting commentary on humanity and artificial intelligence. Iron Man’s trusted supercomputer-butler hybrid, Jarvis, plays a critical role in the plot of the story that culminates in an awesome plot twist that sends a shiver down the backs of die-hard Marvel fans. Also, as is standard for a Marvel movie, we see the correlation between every movie they have produced so far, including Guardians of the Galaxy, that will eventually crescendo into an almighty story that will be the coup de grace of years of awesome movies. Marvel has big plans for the future of its movies, and Age of Ultron was another piece in its massive puzzle of a story.
About the Authors:
Sam Swoap was raised by 7 mercenaries in post-Soviet bloc Eastern Europe, where he gained proficiency in all firearms, and can disassemble and reassemble a high powered rifle in under 3 seconds, blindfolded. He also enjoys smooth jazz.
In 2006, Forbes magazine wrote a cover story about the savviest man alive: Zach Armet, when he was seven years old. The man responsible for the global market, he secretly owns half of the world with a shadowy corporation. He has a keen eye for fine art, and is a particular fan of the Dutch masters.
Coauthor: Zach Armet