Age of Ultron maybe one of the first of Marvel’s films to show why making each film part of one long arcing story may not be the best ideas.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Once again the Avengers assembly and, at first, it is against Hydra, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). However, with time, and Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) trying to create some sort of retirement plan, comes the birth of Ultron (James Spader). A being made to stop wars before they begin, and the only way it sees to do so is to end the human race. Something The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans), alongside Iron Man, and the various sidekicks, plan to stop. That is if they can.
Like with any Marvel film, there are comedic moments, the type of sci-fi which helps show what a 200 million dollar budget looks like, and of course, we have iconic characters brought to life in glorious fashion. Though perhaps the best parts deal with the idea of the team splitting apart. For while everyone has always been united against a foreign evil, with this film comes the idea that, past certain personality conflicts, there are true, irreconcilable, differences between everyone. Leading to the idea that, especially in MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies to come, that perhaps nothing will remain as one-sided for the perception of good and bad will be severely blurred.
Being that everything within the MCU is pre-planned, and the source material is accessible to the public, it makes films like these seem more so like stepping stones than grandeur monuments within a series. For example, one of the next major films to be released as part of the MCU, after Ant-Man, is Captain America: Civil War in which we’ll find Tony and Captain America on opposing ends of an issue, and it seems a good bit of the film is dedicated more to setting up their eventually battle than trying to craft Ultron into any sort of interesting, or truly credible, villain. Especially considering Thanos continues to lurk in the background, making damn near every villain, outside of Loki, to just seem to be a placeholder.
Making it so I almost was left wondering if it wasn’t for the expectations built by knowing what is to come, would this film even be interesting? Of which the answer ultimately was: no. For while Marvel always puts out quality entertainment, at times it does feel like it has found a comfort zone, which you’ve grown accustomed to, that makes it so you eventually need and expect more. After all, it has been 7 years since the first Iron Man and Marvel began this one universe strategy and, while both critically and financially successful, at this point there is a need for a serious jolt. No more, I feel, can Marvel rely on interchangeable villains, and slightly different love interest/ comic relief characters amongst their films. The formula has to be changed. Otherwise, even with the large amount of source material, and both famous, and cult favorites, amongst their archives, eventually the empire will fall.
Overall: TV Viewing
Granted, this is a good film, and achieves all you would expect from a Marvel film, but after a certain point, and after seeing the movies, the S.H.I.E.L.D TV show, and maybe also the animated series or movies, you have to wonder if perhaps we have seen the best Marvel can offer? For with Age of Ultron, we seem to have hit a plateau.
We know of the great effects the production teams can muster; we know the screenplay writers can craft jokes and help flesh out characters which don’t ultimately seem like shallow demi-gods; and with the knowledge of there always being a future, one which can pursue the idea of our heroes becoming villains, there is always something which can be done to revive the MCU. However, with a movie like Age of Ultron, the question remains: Should everything, until Thanos become the central villain, perhaps only be seen as filler or just a stepping stone; Will, even as new characters are introduced, should we pretty much just expect the same formula to be used repeatedly ad nauseam; or will, one day, Marvel will find itself breaking ground once more, with its storytelling, and not just box office records? Only time will tell.