(SPOILERS BELOW; READ AT YOUR OWN RISK)
I'm not going to lie, Avengers: Age of Ultron had a lot of really good stuff going for it; awesome fight scenes, good jokes, cool camerawork, and obviously, Earth's Mightiest Heroes back together again to save the world. There were lead-ins to Civil War and Ragnarok, which is enough to make any Marvel junkie happy. Right?
Going into Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was already slightly skeptical. After all, I knew that it was going to be difficult to top last year's immense success that was the Russo brothers' Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, I also knew that Joss Whedon taking up the reins once more could prove to be more than slightly problematic. Ten minutes into the movie and I could already tell that Whedon had twisted and contorted the characters of the Avengers into Old Man Rogers, Dumb Green Monster, Arrow Funny Guy, Selfish Stark, and !!!!!!!Hot!!! Girl!! With Gun!!!! (Also: Lullaby!!!!). Resisting the urge to facepalm myself proved to be especially hard as the audience learns that suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, Natasha is head-over-heels in love with Bruce Banner.
And why in the name of God does Clint Barton have a family? I'm still not quite sure whether this is Whedon's way of apologizing for the lack of Hawkeye's importance in the first Avengers installment or whether it's a way of freeing up Natasha for a relationship with Bruce, "proving" that Nat's relationship with Clint is purely platonic. So you're telling me that after all of that buildup to a relationship between Nat and Clint in the first Avengers movie (which was starting to look more than platonic), and Scarlett Johansson personally choosing to wear an arrow necklace throughout Captain America: The Winter Soldier to shed light on Nat and Clint's relationship was simply amounting to their "besties" status in Age of Ultron? And suddenly, Clint has a wife and 2.9 kids and Natasha's known about it all along? You can see where my confusion and disappointment is.
Whedon expects us to care about this new "family man" Hawkeye and this family when it was just suddenly forced into the story, catching all of us off-guard (not in a good way, Whedon, not in a good way). Honestly, it ages Hawkeye, and although I don't expect him to be in his twenties, this Hawkeye is portrayed as this guy already on the downhill of his superhero career with the stereotypical "save the world or stay with family" scenario. Whedon tries to throw anything and everything into the movie from then on to make us care about Clint and his family as Clint stares at a picture of his family before tucking it into his suit, and as he makes dad jokes while trying to save the world as we know it.
As for Natasha and Bruce, I don't even know where to begin. Suddenly Natasha's coming on STRONG to him, and voices her feelings for him in almost every scene they have together. In fact, if it hadn't been for the trailers leading us to believe Nat and Bruce would have a relationship, I would have taken the whole party scene to be some kind of joke, Nat all gussied up behind the bar and giving Bruce sultry looks uncharacteristic of her as she flirts (heavily) with him. Where did this come from? Why does she like him? Why is she so obsessed with him? Later on we're told that it's because he isn't a soldier or a fighter like the rest (what does this even mean?), but not once is it shown why she has such strong feelings for him. Film Studies 101: You can't rely on dialogue; you have to show, not tell, how your characters feel or why they feel a certain way. I mean, they certainly showed Bruce accidentally landing on top of Nat in the midst of an attack (I dare someone to count the number of times this has happened in a movie. It's starting to get really old.) and burying his face into her cleavage. The audience has had ZERO buildup to this relationship. In fact, is it just me or in the last movie did the Hulk chase Natasha around the Helicarrier in a rage before beating her up pretty good? "But the Hulk can control himself now!" I'm telling you, if the Hulk slammed me into a wall I would not be so quick to form attachments to his alter ego.
At the end of Iron Man 3, Tony is a changed man, vowing to change the world in ways that won't involve his suits and other inventions. That's all fine and dandy, but in Age of Ultron he's right back where he started; he not only has "peacekeeping" robots but intends to create a robot with artificial intelligence, which goes against everything he believed in at the end of Iron Man 3. Also, did Pietro really have to die? Just like Clint's family, the audience had barely any time to actually care about him. Sure, it prompted Wanda to kill Ultron and it gives the Avengers another person to avenge, but the audience didn't have enough time to get to know him to actually care if he died. And why is Captain America now this no-family-no-attachments guy? We all know from Captain America: The Winter Soldier that this isn't true.
I'm not bashing Age of Ultron. And I'm definitely not saying everyone feels this way (or should feel this way) about the movie. I'm just pointing out a few things I found to be particularly disappointing or confusing. Also, by no means, have I mentioned everything that I found wrong with this film, just what I found was such an obvious problem that I had to address it. As a diehard Marvel fan, it makes me sad to say that I was disappointed by Age of Ultron. I was disappointed in the direction Whedon decided to take the characters in and I'm disappointed that he failed to build off of what the previous films had done, and instead threw all of it away and did it the Whedon Way. I hope the Russo brothers can clean up the mess that Joss left and get the Avengers at least somewhat back to what they were before this film.