I want to be a superhero—really badly. When someone asks me, “if you were a superhero…”, I respond with a full run-through of my back-story, my sidekick, my side-squirrel super-pet, and the stitching pattern on my tastefully cut leather boots. It pays to be ready, you see, when the Avengers’ recruitment agent inevitably comes knocking.
Their recruitment oversights aside, the Avengers are a pretty awesome bunch. They were and are the fuel of many daydreamers’ fantasies, and some of those daydreamers are apparently rather good at making movies. Enter 2012’s Avengers and its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. I find it very hard to disprove that Avengers was amazing. It set up all the right themes, each character had some sort of development, and ultimately the new team was formed. Also, the Hulk punched a Chitauri space-whale in the face. Just sayin’.
From the apocalyptic epic-ness that was Avengers, where-oh-where could Joss Whedon go from there? Well, to the Age of Ultron. Complete with a new, snarky AI villain, the Age of Ultron deftly lived up to the foundation set in Avengers. Ultron, our titular bad guy, was incredibly well done. He brought a depth to the Avengers that was perhaps lacking. Created from Tony Stark’s desire to “save everyone”, Ultron took one look at the internet and decided he was quite capable of doing that himself, thanks. He then goes on to recruit a pair of “enhanced” siblings, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, though we know them better as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Their addition was a welcome layer to the already multifaceted story line. Seeking revenge for the death of their parents and protection for each other, they acted as the perfect foil to Ultron with his single-minded goals. They give Ultron opportunities to explain his logic and reveal his motivations, which in turn gives the viewer much-needed glimpses into the depths of his mind. Once the siblings realize that perhaps their goals are a bit different from Ultron’s after all, they split up from him and become fully fledged characters in their own right.
The Avengers as a team are pitch perfect. They play off each other extremely well, with plenty of one liners and “bro-moments”. Even the characters without their own movies (of which I am counting the Hulk, sorry Edward Norton and Eric Bana), felt like real people, and their relationships were also well-developed. This, of course, must lead to a mention of the possible romance between Black Widow and the Hulk. Opinions are torn, but I must say, it was… okay. None of the other team members were particularly available to have love interests, and as far as romances go, it was kind of cute. Well, as cute as it can be when one is a green rage giant and the other can kill people with her pinky. Angst-ridden and melodramatic, yes, but let us not forget: this movie was based on a comic book. Angst and melodrama are the bread and butter of that medium.
And, of course, Vision: the final addition to this expansion of the Avengers’ story. Hoy. In a movie where there is already a super powered AI, the inclusion of another could have been superfluous. But it wasn’t. With perhaps five minutes of screen time, Vision is damn cool. I give props to whoever made the decision to have Paul Bettany in a costume rather than having a CGI rendering of Paul Bettany in a costume. It lent an element of realism to the SFX visual extravaganza that was Age of Ultron. Vision’s final conversation with Ultron brought the movie to a contemplative close and confirmed that all Ultron really needed was a hug.
Age of Ultron was flashy. It was over-the-top. It had good characters and silly jokes. It epitomized all the requirements for a summer blockbuster and then some. It also had superheroes and supervillains and all the stuff in between. And, with a whole new generation of daydreamers, isn’t it precisely what we wanted?
-Contributed by Rej Ford