You know that feeling your brain gets after a stimulating conversation or a debate that you’re passionate about? That tingly, neurons-are-firing type of feeling? Avengers: Age of Ultron definitely gave me that tingling sensation for hours after the credits. The acting was superb and the plot tied in seven years worth of storylines, making this movie one hell of a ride. I’m going to attempt to keep this spoiler-free, but there’s no guarantees.
The movie opens on a scene familiar with the trailer-viewing crowd: the Avengers are attacking a HYDRA base in Sokovia, seeking the scepter lost to them during the fall of SHIELD. After reclaiming the lost Chitauri Scepter from Wolfgang von Strucker, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) team up to create an artificial intelligence with the aim of it being the ultimate peace keeper, or Ultron. Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has already created a team of Iron Man cronies called the Iron Legion, but they are computer operated by his command. Ultron (James Spader) would be totally free to make his own decisions, which he does to disastrous effects.
The trailers hinted that this move was going to be dark and gritty, the ultimate battle between good and evil. What was presented on screen was something different entirely. Though we do see the darkest parts of our heroes through the nightmare visions Scarlet Witch unleashes on the Avengers, the movie is much lighter than it was painted to be originally. This is not a bad thing! There are moments of genuine horror as Ultron moves to control and dominate the earth, but those are juxtaposed with moments of love and family.
Personally, the characters that were the most compelling to watch were Clint/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Natasha/Black Widow, and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Clint’s character went from being a simple bow-and-arrow hero to someone we can truly love and respect. He is a complicated character, as we learn from scenes with his family (surprise!) and his love of his friends.
Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) not only shows herself capable of love and friendship, she reveals her more vulnerable side to Bruce. She is an assassin, a monster, a woman who has done terrible things, but she is also insecure and vulnerable when it comes to her feelings. The dynamic between them is beautiful. Nat, as she’s called, can calm down the Hulk with her “lullaby.” Those are beautiful scenes to watch. Wanda is an incredible character, going from a shy, vengeful young woman to an avenging powerhouse.
The two actors that truly colored this film are James Spader as Ultron and Paul Bettany as JARVIS/Vision. These two were perfection. I don’t think any words could do them justice. Spader was exquisitely psychotic as Ultron from the first moment he’s on screen to the very last.
While Age of Ultron is not as good as the first Avengers, it is still worth every penny I paid to see it. It’s a wild ride with our favorite heroes, highs and lows that lift them up and tear them down. The audience goes along for the ride, feeling each blow as a hit to their own heart. Whether or not you’re a comic enthusiast, you should enjoy this movie. Personally, I know very little about the comic origins of these characters or this particular arc, but I enjoyed the movie immensely.