After a bumpy road throughout Phase 2 with extraordinary highs (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy), and middling lows (Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3), the MCU closed the book on the second chapter of the Infinity Saga with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Although Ant-Man serves as the actual final film in Phase 2, Age of Ultron is much more of a true ending point (similar to how Avengers: Endgame is the actual conclusion to Phase 3, not Spider-Man: Far From Home).
The second Avengers movie opened to mixed reviews from both critics and fans, with the consensus praising the entertainment value but criticizing its overly ambitious cast of characters and story. These complaints are just as valid eight years later, but this movie has become exponentially more rewatchable thanks to what it gets right. Avengers: Age of Ultron shines when it focuses on the loveable characters and sinks when trying to advance the MCU narrative; fortunately, the joy from the former far outweighs the complaints of the latter.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Review: Immense Fun Plagued With Distracting Flaws
The biggest thing this movie has working against it is the fact it’s in a constant battle with itself to decide what kind of story it wants to tell. Half of the movie focuses on the interpersonal conflict and budding chemistry between The Avengers, and the other half strives to tease future projects and storylines. Somewhere in between these two, there’s a collection of new characters whose additions lead to the movie feeling a tad overstuffed. Director Joss Whedon did a much better job telling a cohesive story with the first Avengers movie.
Where Whedon leaves his mark in Avengers: Age of Ultron is with the amount of mistimed, backhanded jokes. Although most of the humor in this movie works well thanks to the talented returning cast, several jokes severely undercut some of the more serious moments. Comedic timing is certainly a tough thing to master, but there’s only so much Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth can do to sell jokes that simply didn’t need to be in the script. However, those three are not the only ones who land in a tough spot thanks to creative decisions outside their control.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is infamous for its cringe-worthy, forced romance between Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and it’s aged even more poorly than you can imagine. These two are both superb actors, but they simply have no chemistry together to warrant any kind of on-screen relationship. Natasha has more effortlessly romantic chemistry with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in just one scene, and even unintentionally with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), than with Ruffalo. Fortunately, Marvel abandons this romance once the Hulk leaves Earth to feature in the events of Thor: Ragnarok.
A Strong Cast and Villain Make This Avengers Movie Infinitely Easier To Revisit
If you’re making an Avengers movie with this cast, you’re essentially starting on third base. Even with a meager and forgettable script, each of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has mastered their role to this point, so much so that it’s entertaining to watch them do almost anything. Age of Ultron shines when it lets the talented cast do the heavy lifting, with scenes like the strategy session at the Barton household with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Not only do these actors know their characters, but they also know each other remarkably well. This chemistry plays so authentically in only their second film as a collective unit, and we know somehow it manages to go up from here.
After successfully defeating Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers, the new foe tasked with taking the heroes down is Ultron (James Spader). Spader is a three-time Emmy Award-winning talent, and he pulls out all the stops for his voice performance as Ultron. Thanos is famous in pop culture for his many iconic lines in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, but Spader delivers some equally magnetic and omnipotent lines as Ultron that deserve the same recognition. Ultron’s motives become less interesting as Avengers: Age of Ultron progresses, but Spader still sells the sentient android as a compelling antagonist until his inevitable demise at the hands of Vision (Paul Bettany).
Despite new additions like Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) feeling slightly ham-fisted into the story to give one of them a role in the future, they’re still an absolute treat to watch develop from puppets to Avengers. Andy Serkis even makes a brief appearance as the black market weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue, and he is equal parts hilarious and captivating. Unfortunately, these characters don’t get the chance to shine that they deserve, but this isn’t the fault of the actors. There’s only so much screen time in a two-hour and 21-minute movie, and with such an impressive cast, some have no choice but to feel underdeveloped.
The Legacy of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’
The legacy of Age of Ultron movie is much easier to fully appreciate today than it was upon release. The full Avengers team has only worked together in harmony as a group once. This element of teamwork is also present in Endgame, but the team is mostly split up into small groups on different timelines doing different things. Age of Ultron is the only movie where the team is present in the same universe throughout, and working in unison together, which makes the flaws much easier to forgive.
This film also introduces two characters who have gone on to become some of the most beloved in the MCU, even into Phases 4 and 5. After slightly underwhelming introductions in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the pair received a show, WandaVision, which remains one of the most unique, critically acclaimed, and universally praised MCU projects ever. Wanda Maximoff has gone on to become one of the most powerful people in the MCU, the Scarlet Witch, and Vision hasn’t been seen since the WandaVision finale, but is reportedly set to headline a new project, Vision Quest. It all started in Age of Ultron for the MCU’s most powerful couple.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Should Be More Appreciated
Like many Marvel movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t without its flaws, but the cast, fight choreography, and stunning VFX make it easy to overlook the defects. If it’s been several years since you’ve seen this movie, a rewatch will almost certainly change your opinion for the better. In the era of the Multiverse Saga where regular Avengers team-up movies seem to be a thing of the past, Age of Ultron is infinitely easier to appreciate for the riveting fun time it is.
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'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Review'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Review
- Each cast member gives a great performance.
- Some of the best action the MCU has to offer.
- James Spader as Ultron is a slam dunk, home run, and touchdown all in one.
- The movie is undeniably overcrowded.
- The forced romance between Bruce and Nat is awful.