ByJohn McGinn, writer at
John McGinn

Hawkeye finally gets his solo film in Avengers: Age of Ultron where along with Bruce and Natasha the character steals the film as we learn about the Hawkeye private life, what motivates Clint Barton, and how the Clint Barton aka Hawkeye is just like in the comics and now in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is the unsung hero of the Avengers, and helps along with the wonderfully written and charming Bruce and Natasha romance keep Avengers: Age of Ultron from mediocrity thanks to poor directing and at certain times mediocre editing.

The Age of Ultron is story is decently written with the evil organization Hydra is on the defensive after the events of Captain American: Winter Soldier with Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) holding up in his with Loki’s scepter and the Maximoff twins Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) in the Eastern European country Sokovia. The Avengers track him down thanks to Agent Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. taking back Loki’s staff, capturing Strucker and first encountering the Maximoff twins. With Hydra seemingly defeated perhaps for good Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has a grander idea about policing the world and bringing peace to the world in the Ultron program and with the help of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) creates an artificial intelligence keeping it a secret from the rest the Avengers. Yes Stark’s ego gets him into trouble once again when Ultron decided to take Starks goal of world peace a step further with Ultron saying the only way to bring peace to earth is to exterminate the human escaping the Avengers tower and taking out J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany) along the way heading back to Sokovia and enlisting the Maximoff’s help dealing with the Avengers. The battle between Ultron and the Avengers leads to South Africa, Korea and back to Sokovia for the riveting climax.

On the surface it would seem there’s nothing wrong with the story, but at times scenes seem out of place or half completed scenes like the opening scene to the film seemed incomplete, and scenes at the farmhouse between Rogers and Stark seemed to be missing something, and some scenes just seem out of place in the film, and should have been placed in another part of the film like cutting from the farm to Korea where Ultron forcibly gets geneticist Helen Cho (Claudia Kim) to help him with is plan. The whole plotline involving Thor going off on his own for some reason and vibranium the mention of Wakanda seemed like half filmed ideas, and a lot was probably cut out concerning these plot points that hurt the film.

Thankfully there were a few things that kept the plot of Age of Ultron from being considered mediocre or bad plot and it mainly thanks to first Jeremy Renner and Hawkeye. Fans of the character Hawkeye sure would like to see a solo Hawkeye film, but let’s be honest that’s not happening, so let’s be happy as Whedon essentially gave Renner and Hawkeye their solo film, as the character was the star. Since the character was first introduced in Marvel’s cinematic universe the character has been short changed. In the first Thor film Hawkeye is in the film for about one minute, and in the first Avengers film Hawkeye has nothing to do for three quarters of the film. In Age of Ultron both Renner and Hawkeye shine as we learn about the characters past, which I liked, and we learn that he’s not a throw away or useless character like many say he is as well as delivering one of the best speeches in film, and to those who have obviously haven’t read the comics as many Avengers writers have said he’s one of back bones of the Avengers that keeps them together through the years. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen do a wonderful job in their roles as the Maximoff twins as the two actors had good chemistry working together. That leaves us with Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff.

As with many others I was skeptical when I heard about the rumored Natasha and Bruce romance, but not because it wasn’t so called “canon” from the comics as I don’t mind it if directors make changes from novel’s, plays or comics. I understand that there is only so much information and characters that you can include in a two hour film, and understand that a screenwriter and directors want while honoring the source of the film want to bring their own take and vision to the film. I have no problem with for example Johnny Storm being black as long as it is well thought out, the characters well developed and it’s not a PR stunt like many comic companies magically making characters gay instead of creating new well developed characters. My problem with I had with the rumored Natasha/Bruce romance is that it seemed to come out of nowhere, but after re-watching the first Avengers film any one could see that the two had a connection, and would end up being friends, and maybe more. Yes we don’t get to see their friendship develop, but thanks to Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo’s acting and chemistry together it seems natural, and the awkwardness of the two characters realizing they had feelings for each other was wonderfully handles.

Many complain that the Black Widow we see in the films is different from the comics, and of course that is going to happen with the screenwriter, directors and Johansson each having a say in what direction to take the character, and I love the direction Feige, Whedon and others have taken the character. Natasha is a strong complex woman who’s suffered cruelties and been cruel to countless others that she doesn’t believe she deserves happiness or love, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t dream of having it, and finding someone like Bruce who can understand her view of herself as a monster and unredeemable brings out those thoughts. The only scene in the film where I can understand some criticism is the scene between Bruce and Natasha at the farm where talks about being a monster. I can understand why some people are saying that their undermining Natasha’s character because she can’t have children, so therefore she’s less than human a monster. That wasn’t Whedon or the writer’s intent. What Natasha is saying that what the Red Room did to her taking away her soul and her humanity using and killing people makes her a monster, so she understands Bruce. The comment about not having children was reassuring Bruce that she doesn’t care. All she cares about his him, and a possible life together with him, so no the character Natasha hasn’t been destroyed in fact thanks to her opening up about her past and romance with Bruce her character has expanded for the better. I loved the Bruce and Natasha Romance and hope it continues in future films.

As you would expect from a Marvel Studio’s film the action and effects were great. Even with the editing flaws the opening sequence was well done, and the battle between Stark’s Hulkbuster armor and Hulk in Johannesburg, South Africa was magnificent, and the climax in Sokovia was beautifully choreographed and filmed with a character kicking the buck it. I defended Whedon earlier with the Bruce and Natasha, but that ends now. Unlike others I am not a Whedon lover who thinks he can do no wrong. I appreciate the writer and director as he gave me Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, but he’s far from perfect. Whedon has made questionable decisions with the first Avengers films with a lack of substance, plot wholes, and more, and continues in Age of Ultron where he sometimes uses jokes where they aren’t needed, the pacing at times is questionable, and the editing of the final cut of the film which I partially blame on him was poorly done.

Avengers: Age of Ultron continues the tradition of Marvel Studios films in that it is flawed and that Kevin Feige has too much control over his films with poor editing, and questionable directing decisions by Whedon, but overall Age of Ultron surpasses the original film with a darker story, character depth finally showcasing Hawkeye, wonderfully filmed action, and a wonderfully done romance between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff that is one of the highlights of the film. Age of Ultron isn’t the best Marvel Studio film, but It’s one of the top five, and effortlessly sets up Captain America: Civil War and the coming confrontation with Thanos making Avengers: Age of Ultron a film that shouldn’t be missed.


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