Avengers: Age of Ultron is officially here, and there is a lot to like about the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Saga. From new heroes to Infinity Stones, from Horror to Humor, this movie shows why Marvel Studios is on top.
Having now seen it twice (with more viewings sure to happen in theaters), there are six things in particular that really stood out and warranted a closer look. While we loved things like the way the team's cohesion (especially Cap and Thor), the hilarious running jokes, and much more, we wanted to discuss some of the film's bigger moments, starting with a newcomer.
The Vision: Your New Favorite Superhero
Marvel Studios played the Vision very cooly throughout the film's promotion. Even though action figures and other toys were released and posters leaked, Marvel chose not to give a close look at the character until just the last few weeks.
Well, I don’t know if it’s that slow burn, or just how insanely cool he appears on screen, but be prepared: The Vision is a new favorite. There’s something so calming about the Vision, yet so exciting. He’s ultra powerful but also very peaceful and zen-like in nature. Every moment he’s on screen, he steals the scene. That first heart-stopping hover, picking up Mjolnir, phasing into Ultron’s robots, flying around, blasting bots with the mind gem (more on that in a moment), and just generally kicking all sorts of ass; fans owe a hearty thank you to Roy Thomas and John Buscema today.
DAMN IT (Sorry, Cap) I WAS SO CLOSE!
A couple of months ago, Lucas Seigel wrote up a very in-depth theory on why the gem in Vision’s forehead would not just be the comics' “solar gem," but instead an Infinity Stone – particularly the Soul stone. He also hypothesized that the stone inside Loki’s staff was the Mind stone.
And he was so damn close.
So, what’d he get right? Yes, the stone in Loki’s staff was Mind. Yes, an Infinity Stone is in the Vision’s forehead. But it’s that one, not a new one. Still, as I’ll discuss shortly, this movie definitely brought the stones front-and-center. As such, it’ll be interesting to see how Vision winds up playing into the next few films now that he carries a Stone on his head.
Oh Hey, Heroes Care About Civilians!
Unlike a certain other hero and movie that almost entirely ignored civilians in favor of punching the bad guy, Joss Whedon’s crew in Avengers: Age of Ultron is constantly concerned about saving civilians. Hydra, Ultron, his countless other evil robots, other “enhanced” superhumans, or an entire city flying high above the ground – it doesn’t matter what the threat is, as it’s always second to helping and protecting people. It’s so oblique and punctuated, in fact, that it sometimes feels like it may be a bit of a jab to that slightly less super of men.
This is what makes them Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, a lesson even the brash young Quicksilver learned, much to speedster fans’ dismay.
A Long Movie That Could Have Been Longer
Age of Ultron clocks in at just over two hours and twenty minutes, but Joss Whedon said his first cut had more than an hour of additional footage. While the film doesn’t feel rushed, there definitely feels like there’s room for a bit more. It’s a weird dichotomy, feeling like there was a complete story with tons of good moments for everyone (hey, Hawkeye matters! #ScienceBros had a Science Bro montage!), but my greedy little mind wanted more Avengers going into my face holes. Ultimately though, the slightly sharper cuts probably contributed to the film's overall feeling.
Nervous Feelings and Genre-Bending
There’s a nervous feeling in the MCU right now. It’s in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where you don’t know how all this Inhuman stuff will unfold (especially with a movie featuring the Inhumans still four years off). It’s amplified considerably in Age of Ultron, though, especially if you know the general idea of what’s ahead. With a Civil War on the horizon, and an Infinity War just beyond that, there’s a sense of dread that hangs over nearly every moment of this film. It’s balanced by the frequent humor, thankfully, which in turn punctuates the harsh truths that many characters have to confront during the movie.
That humor and the action are signatures of Joss Whedon, but his other love, Horror, sneaks in as well. The trippy dream sequences placed in the minds of the Avengers by Scarlet Witch are definitely horrifying. From Tony seeing the dead Avengers, to Thor seeing the gates of Hel and the Infinity Stones, to even the way the Scarlet Witch moved, in weird stops and starts with missing frames; it’s clear that Whedon’s horror experience crept in here.
Of course that all raises one major unanswered question: What was the Hulk dreaming about while he rampaged? Or was it Banner dreaming exactly what he was doing in real life?
Everything That’s Coming
That nervous feeling? As I touched upon, it’s because of what’s coming. While Avengers teased the craziness to come with Thanos’ smile and “courting death,” the movie itself didn’t have all that much world-building in it. It was really more about paying off the setup that had come before.
Conversely, Age of Ultron has a lot of setup. Hulk takes himself off the board, presumably so they don’t have to deal with him during Civil War (because, really, whoever had Hulk would probably win that fight, right?). Hawkeye seemingly retires, too, though there are certainly some very easy ways to bring him back into the fold. Tony Stark likewise steps away from Iron Man, though we know that won’t last too long, as he’s one half of the “Vs” in Civil War. Quicksilver died just about as fast as he was introduced (there’s a speedster pun there that I passed by). Thor took off to find out more about the Infinity Stones, which must be at least part of the storyline for Thor: Ragnarok, his next solo film.
The new lineup of the Avengers, then, is Captain America and Black Widow leading and training newcomers Scarlet Witch, The Vision, War Machine, and Falcon. It’s a very different team with a lot of potential. But we'll see how much time they'll have to grow before the Civil War hits.
As for the Infinity Stones, well, Earth's heroes now know they exist, and that four of the six have recently emerged. With confirmation that the Mind Stone occupied Loki’s Staff and is now in Vision’s head, that still leaves two, the Time and Soul, to presumably debut across Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Thor: Ragnarok. With Thor’s specific introduction to the stones, it would be surprising to not see any follow-up in his next solo adventure, though with Loki on the throne, he certainly has a lot to deal with in Asgard. Those, in addition to Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and the joint production with Sony on the new Spider-Man are all that stand between us and Avengers: Infinity War Part 1.
Of course, you can’t have an Infinity War without Thanos, who it seems has grown impatient with the agents and manipulations he has dispatched. “Fine. I’ll do it myself” was the most exciting line of dialogue in the whole movie, coupled with Thanos putting on an Infinity Gauntlet, designed to control and harness the power of all six stones.
So yeah, that sense that something’s coming? It’s important, it’s all connected, and it’s Marvel’s master(ful) plan.