The darkest times are upon us in an otherwise fun, event-filled, and growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. To celebrate the coming release of Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War," where two ideals will come to a head, let's reflect on the "marvellous" films that this studio has put together. I will be going in order from 2008 - 2015, ending with thoughts and predictions for "Captain America: Civil War." These will be minor reviews and more of a re-evaluation of my thoughts on these films, how they hold up now, and how well they connect/impact the films that came after. Here we go.
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT!!
Part 11: Avengers - Age of Ultron (2015)
As phase two is about to come to a close, the big question everyone was asking when going into this film, was how do they get back together after a few years apart? The frustrating part is that I do not believe Joss Whedon was prepared for the many directions they took these characters while he was not at the helm. Thor has settled down on Asgard, Captain America is dealing with Bucky being unsure of their friendship, but most importantly, Iron Man's story had pretty much ended, kind of "hanging up his cape" so to speak, in the conclusion of "Iron Man 3." Sitting in the theatre, the energy in the room that was left over from the fans needing more after "The Avengers" back in 2012, the hype was sky-high and it really needed to deliver something special. The Marvel logo appears on screen and immediately following that, the team is back together and in the midst of fighting to get Loki's staff back. With never any explanation of why they got back together, Joss Whedon wanted to just get you right back into this world.
Right off the bat, that was a mistake; However, upon multiple viewings, I have come to accept that fact and I do have fun with the opening sequence now. This film does follow the slightly darker tone set by "Captain America: Civil War," and the character seem to have evolved since the first film, which all felt right. They mingle around and the Joss Whedon banter keeps the fans engaged until the threats arise. Accidentally creating Ultron, Tony Stark is on thin ice with the rest of the team, so he does everything in his power to help prevent the threat from getting larger. Once again, this team just get together to take down an even bigger threat. With a climax very similar to the first film, taking down bots instead of aliens, you just have to accept that they are the side villains who are disposable and not the main focus. The hard thing to accept while watching this film was not that Ultron was a generic villain, although layered, but that there were far too many side plots occurring.
It was clear about halfway through the film that the studio had their hands pretty deep into this film. With a Thor scene that felt out of place in order to set up "Thor: Ragnarok," the introduction of Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, which ultimately gave Quicksilver his demise when saving Hawkeye in the final act, and setting up multiple threads that will have an eventual impact on the universe as a whole, Joss Whedon had his hands full. To me, the film is still a great watch, due to the great writing from Whedon and the endless amounts of entertaining action throughout this film. There was much more good than bad in this film.
Hulk vs. Hulkbuster, the funny gags at parties, the climax, and not to mention, the incredible amount of character development given to Hawkeye and his family. When they travel to the safe house, this is easily my favourite portion of the film, as it has deeper development for his character, along with having Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have some harsh banter that hints at "Captain America: Civil War," which would only be coming one year later. Although slightly bloated, I think this film is a blast, and many of the elements of this film are just as good, if not better than the first Avengers film, and I may get some hate for that, but I whole-heartedly believe that. It may seem like I was hating on the film, but ignoring the issues with the studio forcing a few scenes, I thought this was just as good at the first and after watching it a few more times, I still believe that. I think it is a great addition to the universe.
To wrap this up, I do think they ran out of ideas for end credits scenes here as they show Thanos once again, setting up "Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2," while they are still several films away from that. Once the credits finish, we see a quick scene from "Captain America: Civil War," which was very intriguing to me, but as a whole, these credits scenes were severely lacking in the surprise category. In the end, this is a great film to just sit back and have fun with, and is that not what these films are meant to be? I think so at least. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is an extremely solid film for this universe in my book.
Review By: KJ Proulx