Avengers: Age of Ultron is both the second Avengers film and the eleventh instalment of the MCU. This means that the movie has to continue and develop existing plot threads and set up new ones for future MCU films, as well as telling its own story. So with such an ambitious task, did Age of Ultron deliver?
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) come into the film off the back of their respective recent solo films. They reunite with the rest of the Avengers – Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – as well as some new faces.
The film begins in the Eastern European country of Sokovia, jumping straight into the plot with a brief recap of the Avengers and their powers by way of a jam-packed action sequence. It’s a brilliant way to delve straight into the film without the need for a gradual reassembling of the team, which would be unnecessary and a waste of precious story-telling time.
In the impressive pre-title sequence, the Avengers track down and reclaim Loki’s sceptre (last seen in the possession of HYDRA in the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier) before returning to their headquarters at Stark Towers. Before Thor returns the sceptre to the safety of Asgard, Tony Stark borrows it for a few days. While studying it, Stark discovers that the sceptre contains an advanced artificial intelligence, and that the AI’s design is a potential fit for his global defence program – Ultron. The problem arises when the AI is implemented and becomes sentient. It becomes convinced that the only way to create global peace is to kill the Avengers.
After its action-packed start, the film continues at a fast pace with the plot progressing rapidly. New characters and the villain are both quickly introduced, but despite this the film avoids feeling too fast-paced. This is all down to Joss Whedon’s expert direction and writing. Although the plot and the many action sequences are what drive the film, it’s the slower, more detailed moments of reveals and backstory that really get to the meat of the film.
Similarly, Age of Ultron manages to avoid feeling too character-heavy and overloaded despite its mammoth headcount of key characters. The cast are superb, driven by Whedon’s exemplary script. With Age of Ultron, Whedon again demonstrates his proven aptitude for writing brilliant and engaging team dynamics (Avengers Assemble, Firefly) that create pockets of humour yet still let each individual character stand out from the rest.
The ties to the MCU’s bigger main story are present, although more subtle than expected. With the exception of some clear moments that are obviously set-ups for future films and the resolution of a few previously unanswered questions, Age of Ultron is arguably one of the most standalone MCU films. This is because it’s more concerned with telling its own story rather than acting as the final payoff to an overarching plot. This means that in this instance the character’s development takes priority, which provides a welcome respite from certain other MCU films which are much more action-based.
Although it’s difficult to rate MCU films individually, Age of Ultron is a great standalone film and would be a perfect entry point for MCU newbies. Despite this, it’s still a great film for Marvel’s existing fanbase – a fun, action-packed film more than worthy of Earth’s mightiest heroes.
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