The Road To Endgame – Part 11: Avengers: Age Of Ultron
If you’d have asked the naïve, fifteen year old Ryan if Avengers: Age Of Ultron could possibly live to the spectacle that the original was, he’d have told you, in no short terms, yes.
Well, that Ryan was a fool, a complete and utter fool. There was no way that Avengers: Age Of Ultron could ever live up to the box office smash hit that was the original Avengers. So when I rewatched it, I didn’t go into it asking “Is this going to be better than the original Avengers?” like I did when I was fifteen. No, I went into it asking the most important question in film criticism. “Is this a good movie?”
Did Joss Whedon make another solid flick with Avengers: Age Of Ultron, one that will be looked back on fondly, even in the run-up to one of the most anticipated films of all time, Avengers: Endgame?
Avengers: Age Of Ultron is about, you guessed it, Ultron trying to basically take over the world. It’s up to Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor to defeat Ultron, all while fighting two of Hydra’s ‘Enchanced’ (essentially the way for the MCU to have mutants without getting into legal trouble), Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver who have teamed up with Ultron.
Most of the film is our main characters on the run from Ultron, who is just stronger and better than them in basically every way. They’ve got no backup (remember, SHIELD ate itself from the inside during Captain America: The Winter Soldier when HYDRA revealed that it has been infiltrating SHIELD for years), so must solve this problem alone.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron starts off pretty damn solid. The entire first act is great fun and builds to the threat brilliantly. It’s only after this that film suddenly just starts falling apart. The cold open with Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America is possibly the best shot and dare I say, the most moment in the entire film?
It’s the only moment that the film really fulfils the potential it has, the chance of being a competent sequel to 2012’s The Avengers seems less like a pipedream and more like an actual possibility. But then after this, the film essentially sets itself alight. The film’s portrayal of Ultron is awful, turning him into more of a comedy character than an actual threat. Ultron is supposed to be such a powerful character he can literally cause the end of the world with ease, and here he’s just targeting one city? It doesn’t exactly give us the whole Age Of Ultron angle promises, especially when his ‘Age’ lasts two days at most.
It’s weird for me to say, but my favourite moments in this film all contain copious amounts of Hawkeye. Indeed, I utterly adore it when the film goes for the more grounded feel, giving Hawkeye a family allows for more emotionally nuanced moments and actual emotional stakes in the film. It’s a shame then that the film only goes downhill after this point. The final battle is bland, both visually and in terms of plot. While Scarlet Witch gets her moment in the sun, it’s very much forgettable (as is quite literally everything Quicksilver does in this film, including his actual death).
On the bright side, the cast mostly gives their A-game. Robert Downey Jnr is still charming as Tony Stark, even if the film does ignore every single piece of development he was given in Iron Man 3. Mark Ruffalo is still as eerie as Bruce Banner as he was in The Avengers, seeming more and more like a man not in control of himself. Chris Evans is still clearly the human embodiment of Captain America, in almost every one of his characteristics: he must be one of the most charming actors I’ve ever seen. Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johnannson are also pretty decent in this film, Renner in particular getting more to do in this film than in any film he’s previously been in during the length of the MCU.
However, Chris Hemsworth, as Thor, feels off his game. It’s like Hemsworth showed up to the set with the world’s worst hangover but still powered through it and got the film done, and it shows in his line delivery throughout the film. The new recruits (Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Aaron Johnson as Quicksilver) arrive, to mixed results. I like Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, I just wish she’d been given more to do in the film. Aaron Johnson however, I do not like in the slightest. The character has absolutely no depth and the only reason he’s actually in this film is to die.
Overall, Avengers: Age Of Ultron is an utter misfire, something that had so much potential, so many chances to be better than it was.
Here’s hoping Avengers: Endgame is better than this.