Full spoilers below!!
So, am I allowed not like this film? I really wanted to like it, I really did. As far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes I’m certainly a fan, even the lesser entries like Thor – The Dark World didn’t really bother me all that much. With Age Of Ultron however it’s not so much that it’s bad rather that it just doesn’t seem to fit in with anything that has come before it, doubly strange considering the first Avengers film set so many of the tropes and benchmarks in place.
Plot isn’t entirely relevant but in a nutshell, Tony Stark is still reeling after the events of the first film and has been working with Bruce Banner to develop an AI system that will serve as earth’s defence system against extra terrestrial badness. Cue him discovering some extremely advanced tech in a Hydra stronghold and then him inexplicably trying to use this ultimate evil AI for good. Telegraphed to say the least but hey, that’s comic book movies. None of this is any part of the problem with this film though.
Where AoU really falls flat is in how Joss Whedon and company seem to have completely ignored all that came before the first Avengers title and now. The crippling crisis of self suffered by Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 and the paranoia set in place for Captain America in The Winter Soldier? They’re not completely brushed under the carpet but they are in no way as integral as one may have assumed they would be in both of these character’s story arcs as we see them for the first time since their respective films. In fact, as the film essentially opens with The Avengers getting drunk and celebrating a successful mission it nearly seems as though Joss Whedon decided he was making a direct sequel to his first instalment regardless of what Shane Black and The Russo Brothers contributed to the MCU. Don’t get me wrong, AoU provides the spectacle and furthers certain characters, namely Black Widow and Bruce Banner, but it is telling that they are one of the more interesting elements of the film, along with Hawkeye, given that the Avengers films are the only ones they appear in.
Personally, I never had a whole lot of faith in Marvel keeping the train running without flirting with derailment once or twice. You simply can’t have such strong directors as Joss Whedon, James Gunn, Anthony and Joe Russo and Jon Favreau part of your network and expect them all to sit along the same chain. The reason that Guardians Of The Galaxy was so successfully realised is due to the freedom Gunn had to make this world his own, something the Russos have done in a way too as they put far more of a stamp on Captain America than Joe Johnston ever did. With the Avengers however, Whedon is called upon to incorporate a little bit of each film’s – and in turn each director’s – style and influence and no director can do that without restricting their own work in the process. He has made yet another enjoyable summer tent pole feature here but as a part of the MCU it is to be found lacking, especially as the most recent stand alone entries have matured but The Avengers hasn’t. We are still supposed to be building up to Infinity War as well as Civil War but due to the behind the scenes situation this feels more like a long goodbye to the MCU from Joss Whedon. He himself has remarked quite openly and frequently about how stressful the filming of this entry was and how exhausted he finds himself, maybe he just wanted to be done with it.
In all, this film is not an out and out disappointment by any means and you won’t find yourself with money wasted by taking the time out to go and see it. But with all the ramping up undertaken by the Phase 2 films so far, Avengers – Age Of Ultron feels like a slightly bad bit of punctuation on the end of this run. Marvel’s cinematic ventures aren’t in trouble, and this will of course still be huge, but Ant Man and all that follows it would seem will be a very clear changing of the guard and we can only hope that the quality of Captain America – The Winter Soldier carries over into Phase 3.
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