Seven years ago Marvel debuted the first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in what was then, and in a way still is, a highly ambitious and extremely risky proposition. At the time it was an unheard of concept in movies, your favorite Marvel superheroes would be featured in their own stand-alone features as well as team up in a future movie. What? Crazy, I know. In the years leading up to The Avengers it felt like it was never going to happen, what with the tepid response to The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 (my opinion on those not withstanding). It felt like such a huge milestone when it was finally released; holy crap they set the bar so high, where are they going to go from here? Generally a sequel should always raise the stakes in some form or fashion. Avengers: Age of Ultron does exactly that in a way, unfortunately it misses its mark only slightly.
I will say that my disappointment is based on an initial view. I disliked Iron Man 2 at first as well, but it currently sits at #2 on my Marvel movie list. This isn’t to say that I didn’t like the movie, because I did, I just expected something much different. Perhaps this was hype hangover or the dirge of prerelease “it wasn’t as good as the first” reviews, but I found myself wanting more. So let’s dive into this thing.
As I mentioned earlier sequels should up the ante. In The Avengers Loki tries to conquer the world with his army of Chitauri. A problem, of course, for the residents of Earth, but at least they would still be alive. In Age of Ultron, Ultron, as the trailer revealed, is trying to exterminate the human race, which is a larger problem for us human beings. The only problem is Ultron is sometimes portrayed as a goof and that made me less frightened of him. At one point Ultron gets an upgrade; unfortunately there really was no point because it was shown that it didn’t matter if you destroyed his body. It seemed to be there specifically so Tony Stark could make a quip.
I really enjoyed the story overall though. Just like its predecessor Age of Ultron is a little clunky off the line, but it eventually pulls itself together, even if it pulls a few punches. While The Avengers focuses on bringing the team together, Age of Ultron focuses on staying together and the growing pains associated with that. It tied in nicely with previous movies, which is always the kind of sequel I like. It was interesting to watch them try and figure things out without the help of SHIELD; the team really had to act like a team and solve problems themselves and things don’t go according to plan because of that.
I would also like to take a minute to talk about Captain America’s suit, which keeps getting better and better. It was ok in the first Captain America, then absolutely useless in The Avengers, then really cool in Winter Soldier, and Age of Ultron builds on that look. I really hope they continue with that look.