Column: Some Assembly Still Required

[Spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron]

If you’ve read my review, available now at all leading news retailers (meaning only this blog), you’ll know that I thought Avengers: Age of Ultron was okay. But unfortunately, that’s the issue; it was only /okay/. For everything that the film did right, there was another one or two things that I felt either retroactively soured the previous films, or just called into question the plot of the film I was watching. I think everyone should still see it, to make their own mind, but here are some of the main issues I had.

There is no denying that a sequel to a film such as The Avengers was never going to be better than the first. The first time seeing Iron Man and Captain America on film together, followed by Thor joining them and a small battle between the three was a great way to introduce audiences to the personalities and power levels of the team. So seeing all of them, already introduced and on-par with each other in this sequel was frustrating. Iron Man, in particular, comes across as a ‘creator’s pet’ of sorts, and is obviously the character the films have been built around; he is as smart as Bruce Banner, he flies like Thor and he can fight and take charge like Captain America, as well as having a hot girlfriend, lots of money and makes hilarious jokes – everyone must love him, even after he created a world destroying robot. There needed to be a bit more differentiation between the characters, in my opinion, as they all came across much too perfect.

Artist's rendition of Black Widow's character arc.
Artist’s rendition of Black Widow’s character arc.

The entire character arc of Black Widow, in general, is very troubling. In the first Avengers film, she ran from Hulk (understandable), but then spent the next ten minutes cowering in the basement? That is just ridiculous for such a highly trained secret agent like her. I am sure she has nearly been killed before. In Age of Ultron, many characters get mind-boned by Scarlet Witch, so why is she the only one that needs to be carried/helped off the battleground? If anything, Thor would be the one not used to the magic, as he even says himself it shouldn’t effect him.
Whilst I can either take or leave her relationship with Banner, her mentioning that they ‘are both monsters’ because of her forced sterilization (yes, which is horrifying) is just pathetic. That is horrible writing that does nothing more than make all women seem like they are only on this planet to breed.

Was it just me, or did Avengers 2 seem to nearly ignore the majority of the other Phase 2 films? The only thing Age of Ultron seemed to want anything to do with was the credits-stinger of Winter Soldier, and a single throw away line about Bucky. And even then, it seemed to think that an explanation of ‘he’s fast and she’s weird’ was all the audience would need. What kind of experiments was Strucker running that would give (seemingly otherwise normal) civilians super speed or psychic powers? Of the three credits characters, two ended up dead anyway, one off screen. Why was there no mention of Thor saving the world, in London,or the huge SHIELD dissolution with the loss of billions (if not much more) dollars of technology? Which reminds me, where was Nick Fury hiding that heli-carrier if he was faking his death and SHIELD was no more?

The biggest issue though, in this regard, is that if Iron Man destroyed all his suits (Iron Man 3), where did his entire Iron Legion come from? Did he remake them all between IM3 and Age of Ultron? Similarly, he had surgery at the end of Iron Man 3 and threw his (now obselete) arc reactor chest piece away, why is this entirely skipped over?. Particualrly jarring is the inclusion of the Hulkbuster. This armour seems like something Iron Man would have, but then why did he go to all the effort to destroy all his suits at the end of Iron Man 3?  If it were not for Bruce Banner’s (Mark Ruffalo) cameo at the end of Iron Man 3, I’d almost think that Iron Man 3 had to take place after Avengers 2

The credits scene of Thanos and the gauntlet was great, if very short, but it had some problems of it’s own. Firstly, was Thanos talking directly to the audience? Fourth-wall breaking has never been an ability of his. But more importantly, was that him taking the Infinity Gauntlet from inside the Asgard vault (where it has been since Thor 1)? That should probably have been given a bit more focus. Unless it was no longer in the vault, in which case… why not? As an idea, Thanos deciding to take charge is a good idea, but this was very poorly executed.

"Ultron, we would, uh, oh, um, here's a bad joke instead."
“Ultron, we would, uh, oh, um, here’s a bad joke instead.”

Overall, though, my biggest issue was just how much of a joke everyone seemed to think the film’s events were. The ‘language’ calls throughout were good, because they were throwbacks to something that Captain America would actually say. But why did every hero need to have a moment where they said something witty as they were under fire? Captain America and Thor, in particular, don’t seem like those type of people. Thor’s “as long as there is breath in my breast I… am running out of things to say” was so out of place. That should have been his ‘Ultron, I would have words with thee!’ moment, but it just never happened. Ultron himself (itself?) should have been terrifying, but he spent the film sarcastic and joking, hardly befitting of a genocidal robot, no matter how much of Jarvis or Stark’s personality was in his “brain”.

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