If we judged movie sequels on their 'worthiness' to follow their predecessors, most would be about as worthy as Tony Stark trying to lift Mjolnir. However, every so often, a movie sequel comes along that ends up being like the Vision: totally worthy, but unexpectedly so. [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) is just such a sequel. But what is it about Age of Ultron that makes it a worthy successor to The Avengers? Let's investigate.
The Entertainment Factor
Okay, guys. I just watched the movie for the first time a few days ago. But, to quote everyone's favorite wall-crawler, (welcome home, Spidey, btw!), "Sure, I'm a little slow, but hey, I've had a busy season!" As far as I was concerned, the villains of this film really stole the spotlight. Sure, the heroes won in the end, but they're still the same old heroes we know and love, (although I give them props for dropping major Civil War seeds), but the villains were such new and dynamic characters that one couldn't help being more interested in them. But let's start at the beginning of the film. I wasn't entirely enthused by the opening "some-things-man-was-never-meant-to-tamper-with" diatribe that Banner launched at Stark, but as soon as Ultron activated, I realized he was about to become my new favorite villain.
At first, Ultron didn't seem to be very "evil" per say, just a little confused, almost like a small child who is being taught the difference between right and wrong for the first time. However, as Ultron's first few minutes on screen progressed, his violent nature escalated at an alarming rate. His almost-instantaneous assimilation of J.A.R.V.I.S. caused me to suddenly realize that Ultron was playing for keeps and was not one to mess around with. His nature only continued to darken from there, though not without reflecting a surprising amount of Tony-inspired snarkiness. The one major thing that bugged me about Ultron was how much Scripture he took out of context. Ultron's sense of humor was really a nice and totally refreshing surprise, even though it probably shouldn't have been when you consider who his creator was. Probably the Ultron moment that had the greatest impact on me was when he responds savagely to Ulysses Klaue comparing him with Tony Stark. Ultron overreacts, neatly slicing off Klaue's arm at the elbow, and then promptly tries to play it off, saying, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm sure that's gonna be okay."
Now I'm not going to pretend that I don't like Klaue, and it's also nice to see that Andy Serkis can bring a menacing character to life in live action in contrast to his vast number of voiceover and mocap roles. Serkis definitely brings Klaue to life in a way few others could and I was naturally disappointed that he received such limited screen time, but then, this is Age of Ultron and not Age of Klaue. However, with that being said, I'm sincerely hoping that Klaue is the primary antagonist in the upcoming Black Panther movie.
Because these characters have such rich and deep emotional arcs, it's difficult to create an all-encompassing story that still depicts all of these emotional nuances. But this film is spectacular at showing us not just what the characters do, but why they do what they do.
Two men in a lab... doing things no one should ever do... one tries to convince the other that they need to abandon the experiment for the good of humanity... the other refuses and ends up creating a monster... where have I heard this story before? Oh, that's right. That's literally the exact plot of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein. Only in this instance, Doctor Frankenstein is a self-proclaimed 'genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist,' and 'Frankenstein's Monster' is a sentient and sadistic artificial intelligence that was hiding inside a magic space rock.
Aside from basically being a modern take on the most well-known horror icon ever, this story also begins to plant the seeds of discord among the Avengers for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. The difference between this story and its horror story counterpart is that in this version, the monster has henchmen. Like as in hundreds of them.
Following Ultron's 'Victorian horror story' creation motif, the rest of the film rapidly switches back to its 21st century setting as Ultron heads to Wakanda to obtain Vibranium in order to further his dream of peace through annihilation. However, the Avengers find out his plan and begin hunting him. They have a disastrous confrontation with Ultron and his two lackeys, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, a pair of twins whose parents had been killed many years before by a Stark Industries missile, and who volunteered for superhuman experiments with HYDRA's Baron Strucker, which ended in the twins receiving superpowers. These superpowers are the ability to create illusions (Scarlet Witch) and run at Mach 5 (Quicksilver) respectively. The confrontation between the Maximoff twins, Ultron, and the Avengers culminates in Scarlet Witch using her powers on Bruce Banner, turning him into the Hulk and causing him to launch a city-wide rampage which is only halted by Tony's Hulkbuster armor, 'Veronica.'
Serious repercussions of Banner's rampage force the team into hiding at Hawkeye's safe house, where they learn that he actually has a family. Thor, worried over the vision Scarlet Witch showed him, abandons the team and seeks out Doctor Erik Selvig in order to find some answers. Meanwhile, Nick Fury arrives and informs the team that Ultron is readying an all-out assault against humanity. The team journeys to Seoul, where Ultron is attempting to transfer his brain into a synthetic human body, but the Avengers manage to capture it before the process is complete. Much to Captain America's chagrin, Tony promptly makes the same stupid mistake he made when creating Ultron and brings the synthetic body to life by downloading J.A.R.V.I.S., who had previously escaped Ultron by hiding in the internet. I won't spoil the rest of the story, but suffice it to say, Ultron is defeated, the Avengers win, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver switch sides, and half of the Avengers quit, leaving the team to fall on its backups: War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Vision (the synthetic android), and Falcon.
Let's be honest. When it comes to humor, few entertainment companies do it better than Marvel. Whether it's "We have a Hulk" or "You'll kill me? Evidently, there will be a line!" nobody can pull off humor quite like the MCU. Sure, Tony has his classic one-liner quota in this film, but the real show-stealers here are Hawkeye, Ultron, and Klaue. I'm just going to drop one quote from each of these characters.
"The city is flying, we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrows."
"I'm glad you asked that, because I wanted to take this time to explain my evil plan."
"Cuttlefish! Deep sea fish, they make lights, disco lights, whomp, whomp, whomp, to hypnotize their prey, and then whomp! I saw a documentary; it was terrifying."
The humor of this film is spectacular, but, again, it's a Marvel movie, so should we really be expecting anything less?
The Replay Value
So, the big question is, was it worth it? My answer is a resounding YES! This film is definitely "worthy" to succeed the original Avengers film, and I'm excited to see what's coming in the future!
What did you think of Avengers: Age of Ultron? Comment below!