Well, I thought had successfully planned out my Marvel blog-a-thon. Before I started, I checked the DVD release dates for “Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man,” to make sure I could rewatch them for this project. The original estimated release date for “Ant-Man” was mid-October, so I thought I was good to go, but later I learned it was pushed back (oops). At least I was able to watch it twice in theaters this summer, and I did rent “Age of Ultron,” so I’ll forge ahead anyway!
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
If I had to pick a phrase to describe my relationship with “Age of Ultron,” it would probably be, “It’s complicated.” I actually only watched this movie once in theaters, which is unusual for me — I watched the first Avengers movie two times in 24 hours the weekend it was released, and I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” three times in one week (I’m not kidding when I say I’m a hardcore Marvel fan). 😉 But for whatever reason, “Age of Ultron” just didn’t grab me as much as some of the other Marvel movies have. Many fans seemed to feel “Age of Ultron” wasn’t a bad movie, but it was a bit disappointing. Although my thoughts didn’t really change after watching it a second time, another viewing did help me sort out my thoughts.
There are some good things about “Age of Ultron.” It was nice to see more backstory for Hawkeye, the Avenger who often gets short-changed. He had a larger role in the plot this time, and we got to take a peek at his life outside S.H.I.E.L.D. and we learned he has a family. James Spader was great as the voice of Ultron, the artificial intelligence who nearly destroys the Avengers and the world. Spader’s voicework is eerie and mesmerizing, and I wanted to see even more scenes with his character. Paul Bettany also is great as the mysterious new superhero Vision, created by melding one of Ultron’s experiments, Tony Stark’s computerized “butler” J.A.R.V.I.S. and one of the Infinity Stones. And the fight between Hulk and Iron Man in the Hulkbuster suit is pretty awesome.
However, as a whole, “Age of Ultron” just doesn’t seem to capture the same magic as “The Avengers.” It may be there’s simply too much going on. One of the things I loved about “The Avengers” is that even though you had a lot of characters with big personalities running around, I felt like each of those characters got their moment to shine, and it was a blast to watch them learn to work together. In “Age of Ultron,” you have a new villain, several new side characters and two new Avengers: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. It also doesn’t help that “X-Men: Days of Future Past” debuted their own version of Quicksilver a year earlier, and that he had what was arguably the year’s best and most fun action sequence, a slow-mo prison breakout set to “Time in a Bottle.” I even kinda forgot Andy Serkis had a small role in “Age of Ultron.” I felt like poor Captain America didn’t actually have a lot to do in this film, and some of the other characters also got lost in the action.
I wanted to see more of a focus on the storyline involving Tony creating Ultron. The idea of people creating their own demons is a dark but fascinating theme that wasn’t fully explored in this movie. Tony’s creation of Ultron was a little rushed, and the Avengers were too quick to gloss over the fact that he created Ultron — and Vision — without consulting them. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are both intriguing character concepts, but I feel they weren’t fully explored either. The humor in the movie also doesn’t work as well as it does in some of the other Marvel films. There are definitely some funny moments, such as everyone trying to pick up Thor’s hammer and Thor’s slight moment of panic when the Cap almost moves it. But there aren’t as many quotable lines or memorable moments as “The Avengers.”
Another thing that bothered me was the unexpected romance between Bruce Banner/Hulk and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. I don’t have a problem with the idea itself, it just felt too forced here and I wasn’t really feeling the chemistry between the characters. I wish previous films had done more to set this up. It also felt confusing because Captain America and Black Widow had so much chemistry in “The Winter Soldier.”
I feel bad for criticizing this movie, because I really do love these characters and I appreciate the films Marvel has put together. I just think that in the end, “Age of Ultron” was trying to be too many things, and it didn’t live up to the promise of those dark, thrilling trailers. Instead of a stand-alone film, “Age of Ultron” simply feels like a bridge to other Marvel projects. It teases the smackdown between Tony and Captain America in “Civil War.” It teases the Asgardian apocalypse in Thor’s sequel “Ragnarok.” It teases the showdown with Thanos in “Infinity War.” (Interestingly, it did not tease the next-up Marvel movie, “Ant-Man.”)
Like I said, “Age of Ultron” is not a bad movie, and I still do plan to add it to my DVD collection. It just wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, and it doesn’t strike me as one I’ll rewatch as often as some of the other Marvel films. Ironically, the Marvel film I was more worried about was “Ant-Man,” which so far is actually one of my favorite movies of the year.
I’ll try to be brief in my section on “Ant-Man,” since I technically wasn’t able to rewatch it for the blog-a-thon. I’m really excited for it to come out on DVD, because it is one of my favorite Marvel films and it turned out to be such a fun surprise. Although it’s on a smaller scale than some of the other MCU films, it’s refreshingly clever and funny. One of Marvel’s greatest strengths is casting the perfect actors to play these characters, and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man is no exception. While I was originally a little skeptical about whether Marvel could pull off a movie about a man whose superpower is shrinking down to the size of an insect, watching Scott Lang run around with an army of ants was actually pretty cool.
The film’s only drawback is its villain; Corey Stoll is a good actor and the Yellowjacket suit looks super cool, but the script doesn’t do much to develop the character. However, it’s still a great movie overall, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Marvel will work the character into future films, such as “Captain America: Civil War.”
“Ant-Man” finishes the reviews for my Marvel blog-a-thon, but I’m planning to post a wrap-up later this week, with my final ranking of Marvel films. Now I just need to get caught up on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”!