Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.
This edition of on is a little different from the others, simply because, while I love Marvel and the Avengers, I didn’t quite love Avengers: Age of Ultron. I liked it. A lot. But love? Not so much. Here’s why.
I think every filmmaker wants their sequels to be The Godfather Part II or The Empire Strikes Back or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. And why wouldn’t they? Those are the standard bearers for sequels that better their predecessors. It’s probably not too early to put Spider-Man 2 in their ranks as well. So it would make sense that Marvel and director Joss Whedon would want to make an even bigger, bolder statement with the follow-up to one of the biggest films in history, 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers.
Age of Ultron is definitely bigger – along with the core group (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Hulk), we get cameos galore. We also get, in the robot Ultron, a character that seems even more evil than Loki. And then there’s the introduction of new characters, Quicksilver, the Scarlett Witch and The Vision. That’s a lot to deal with in a 2.5 hour film. But really, that’s not the problem for me. I enjoyed all of the new additions and I think Whedon managed to give everyone their moments, developing their characters further, especially Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who deserves to have her own film sometime soon.
For me, where Age of Ultron struggles is with its storytelling itself. Not the dialogue or how the actors deliver their words, but just how much is actually put into the running time, and how quickly pieces come and go. Major plot points aren’t delivered entirely clearly, at least in my book, Thor’s mid-point scene, Ultron’s motivation – to me these important moments aren’t delivered in a concise or clear enough method. And that comes down to the storytelling and what’s mandated by Marvel for the movie. The film is clearly designed to tie into the ongoing development of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while I love the world-building that’s going on, I don’t want it done at the expense of storytelling for the specific film I’m watching. And in the case of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I can’t help but feel that that’s what we’ve been given.
Does this make Avengers: Age of Ultron a bad movie? No, not at all. It is a hell of a lot of fun. There are some amazing action sequences, lots of genuine laughs, and excellent performances from everyone involved. Paul Bettany is especially strong as The Vision; I can’t wait to see him on screen again. You’ll have a great time watching it. But at the end of the film, you may walk out feeling a little confused about everything you just saw. Maybe just don’t think about it too much and everything will be fine.