The Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to 2012's hit blockbuster "The Avengers". Acting as the penultimate film of the MCU's Phase 2 (Ant-Man acts as the final installment for the second phase of Marvel movies), the film sees the heroes we've become acquainted with through previous films, come together once again, to battle a completely new and inherently dangerous threat - the Artifical Intelligence known as "Ultron".
The movie came out across Europe a couple of days ago, but with the U.S release being May 1st, you have nothing to fear here Avengers first, this will be a NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
I repeat, if you haven't seen The Avengers: Age of Ultron, fear not, this review is safe to read!
Tony Stark / Iron Man
With the disappointing mess that was Iron Man 3, Stark had a lot of ground to recover with this movie. Luckily for him, he did all that and more.
The self-proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, was back in full swing for the second Avengers movie. As referenced in the trailer, he'd certainly been doing some work in upgrading everyone's tech, and of course, we see the Avengers tower, fully functional and in all its glory for this Phase 2 team-up.
That element of a guilt-ridden, less "Tony Stark" Stark that we saw in Iron Man 3, still seems to linger with the character slightly - enough that we get to see a lot more Stark and a little less snark all in the lead up to Civil War. This movie played on Stark's humanity - the hero within the suit trying to right a wrong, as opposed to the persona "playboy" that the world largely knows him as.
The Hulkbuster scene that we see all of two seconds of in the trailers - well that does not even BEGIN to cover the magnitude of that scene - how badass it is, how well it is shot, and the relationship between everyone's favourite science bro's Stark and Banner. It's much more of an intense scene than I or really anyone imagined (i.e it's not just pointless action for the hell of it), and solidifies reports that this movie would go deeper, rather than trying to go bigger. (though to be fair, it is still significantly bigger so a win across the board!)
Steve Rogers / Captain America
Steve Rogers has always been a man of conviction. He's pure and good-natured at heart, and continously strives to do the right thing. There's no reason to think any of that would change with Age of Ultron and it didn't, rightly so. Cap, is still Cap. He's still a soldier first, and he will always fight on the side of the good.
As far as Supersoldier's go, I think The Winter Soldier really showed us what Cap' can do, whereas Age of Ultron showed us how far Cap will push himself in the pursuit of peace. He never stops fighting, until every life is safe, until he's finished what he's set out too, it doesn't matter if he gets exhausted, is outnumbered, or isn't necessarily a match for his opponent, Cap' doesn't turn down the opportunity to do what's right.
He fights harder and longer in this film than we've ever seen him do, and each order, each kick, each punch, shows us just how strong a character he's become mentally as well as physically from the skinny outcast we saw in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
I have an unconditional and absolute love for Scarlett Johansson so anything I say about any character she plays is usually inherently biased, however I was personally a tad disspointed with her character. Not a lot, but a tad. We'll put it down to around 5% disappointed simply because we know what Natasha's capable of. We've seen it in Iron Man 2, and in The Avengers, so coming forward from that to Age of Ultron, you expect that the character can only get better, however I feel as though her character has taken somewhat of a pause.
Stark upgraded her tech, something I was excited to see her use, however I don't feel that we really got to see enough of Widow fighting, actually fighting, not running, jumping out of planes, driving vehicles, or being sarcastic, but fighting, to really say with any truth, that her character - like everyone else's, has taken a step up.
Of course we have to factor in the fact that Widow, like Hawkeye, is a human character. She has no special powers or abilities, no suit of armour, or anything else in that vein. She's a human character in what can at times be a very unhuman world. That in and of itself probbaly explains my 5% disappointment with the character.
Okay, very mild spoiler coming up below. (doesn't ruin any plot points)
I feel as though Widow's character was used more as a badass looking babysitter for Banner than anything else. And whilst I can appreciate where they're trying to go with the connection between Romanoff and Banner, I can't quite fully get behind it romantically. Platonically yes, but romantically, something about it feels all too forced, all too contrived, and all too "just because".
Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Hawkeye is a character that I don't feel we've seen enough of AT ALL, to even really judge. He's popped up here, not even there, and was Loki's brainwashed B*tch for most of The Avengers, so moving on to Age of Ultron we all expected and were promised more Hawkeye. What we actually get is a little more Clint Barton. The decision to have this movie go deeper rather than bigger, allowed us to see a little more of the people behind the artfully designed costumes and public persona, and that was definitely a good thing.
We also get a load of Sassy Hawkeye, which is fantastic, because again his character and by extension Jeremy Renner, are severly underused and underrated within the MCU, so it was nice to see more of the character. His relationship with Quicksilver is something to look out for. And that's all I shall say on THAT. ;)
p.s Still think we need MORE Hawkeye.
Bruce Banner / Hulk
Out of all our characters, Banner is the one with the most defined two persona's. There's the man - the scientist, Bruce Banner, and the Avenger - the "monster", the "other guy", Hulk.
The Avengers set Banner up as a slightly tortured intelligent man, who just so happened to turn into this "enormous green rage monster". It gave us a pretty lighthearted look at Hulk, even a few laughs when he smashed Loki into the ground, and punched Thor.
Age of Ultron however, takes a different approach, and really lays it on thick with the "tortured man" part, in that if like me, you find yourself feeling sorry for Banner and the Hulk at every given opportunity (on account of Banner himself being so calm and non violent and the contrast between that and Hulk), then Age of Ultron is going to really get you. Once again this film goes deeper - deeper emotionally than any Marvel Movie, especially with Banner and Hulk.
You don't just spend the entire film waiting for Banner to go green and smash some s*it up, because you find yourself intrigued with the development of both Banner and the Hulk. His character goes from a 2-dimensional Avenger to a multi-faceted human being - a man who is dealing with his own demons and his own internal fight, as well as the exterior problem.
Any scene with the Hulk is bound to be intense once you get past the "Hulk Smash" - and Age of Ultron goes deeper with both the Hulk and Banner than any movie ever has.
Thor / The Mighty Thor / The God of Thunder Thor / ...Thor.
Thor is a character that although we've technically seen a lot of, we've not seen loads of personality wise and as an Avenger working as part of a team. Age of Ultron, if you like solidifies his place as an Avenger. As a member of the team. We see him fighting for and with the Avengers not because he has too, but because he wants to. Interacting with them not in his high and mighty Thor the persona mode, but as Thor the man and protecting the earth as he would his own home.
There's not much else I can say about Thor in the movie without delving into spoilers, but rest assured, he's come a long way in the vein of character development, and for setting up future films.
The Maximoff Twins - Pietro and Wanda - Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch
The twins along with Vision, were two of the highly anticipated characters for this movie, especially with Fox including Quicksilver in Days of Future Past and that coming out first, it gave the introduction of the characters some direct competition.
Whilst Quicksilver delivered across the board, with witty lines, a stubborn need to protect his sister, good action scenes and character, his sister, Scarlet Witch, seemed...underused. Of course in introducing these characters, Marvel encounter some problems in licensing with Fox in the form of no mention of the "M" word (Mutants), however I can't help but wonder if those problems extend to Wanda's abilities. She's a badass in the comics, and whilst Elizabeth Olsen did a fantastic job at portraying the character, it felt as though the film were constantly gearing you up for something big regarding her character, and then delivering only small blasts instead of the catastrohic BOOM you expected.
They'd build her up and build her up, you get more and more pumped aaaaaand...nothing.
No where near the calibre of badassery that she should be at. On a fictional badassery scale of 1-10, Scarlet Witch was like a 55. Perhaps they're saving that other 45% - which would technically make sense, but also makes for a slightly anti-climatic Scarlet Witch. Quicksilver probably hits a 57 overall, but if we're comparing with Evan Peter's Quicksilver - well they're both so different that it's actually impossible to compare. I like both for different reasons, and they're both very good in their own way.
Yeahhhhh....I'm not going to tell you anything about Vision. They've managed to keep pretty much everything about him underwraps, and it's much better when you go in not having read anything about him.
I will however say this: Paul Bettany does a brilliant job.
The Artificial Intelligence known as Ultron is simultaneously humorous, yet terrifying all rolled into one creepy as s*it robot, with a dark streak.
His slow movements and long speeches, make for a haunting villian that never ceases to up the darker, deeper tone of this movie.
All in all The Avengers: Age of Ultron was one hell of a goddamn movie. It simultaneously managed to go deeper with most of its characters, whilst also upping the scale and going bigger and way better than the 2012 movie. The action feels more violent than the first, with Ultron as a villian, the stakes were well and truly raised. We saw each and every Avenger push themselves harder than ever before, and actually work as a team. Not just fighting together, but fighting...together. Trading weapons, helping eachother out, and relying on eachother to save everyone.
Their common goal united them in a way that we've not seen them do on screen before, with the individual relationships between the characters developing and growing as the MCU does.
I give The Avengers: Age of Ultron 8.5 out of 10, for delivering a dark, violent, witty & badass film, that serves as a worthy predesscor to the first. Whilst there a few things I would've liked to seen more of, there are more films in the pipeline, and the opportunity to see more of these characters is ever present.
If you haven't yet seen Age of Ultron, GO NOW, if it's not yet out in your country - make sure you've pre-booked those tickets! You're going to want to see this as soon as!