Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) by Joss Whedon
On rewatching this, I was sometimes like ‘I don’t remember this at all’ which is probably not surprising since it’s been a while since I watched it – and a lot has happened in the MCU since. Still, I couldn’t even say I had a feel for this movie at all. I think in a way I always felt that this movie was disjointed, kind of wildly put together – a hack job, if you force me to be completely honest.
Why? Well, I feel like I should give credit to the director/writer here – Joss Whedon. Most of us probably have a complicated relationship with the man, he probably killed your favorite character, too. Still, he did an excellent job with The Avengers, so why not here?
We’ll see. First, a synopsis:
The Avengers finally defeat Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) and retrieve Loki’s scepter. After some tests, Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) discovers the blueprint for an A.I. in its shiny blue thingy and downloads it to use it to man an army of Stark-controlled A.I. to police the world, or something (and he really thought THAT was a good idea?). Anyway, it wasn’t a good idea since the A.I. (James Spader) has other plans and starts with destroying Jarvis (Paul Bettany) before building himself a body.
Then he starts a rampage. He kills Strucker in prison and teams up with two enhanced humans – Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olson) Maximoff (‘he’s fast and she’s weird’ as Hill puts it) – to kill the Avengers. But his ultimate goal is destroying the whole human race and when Wanda finally discovers this plan, the Maximoffs team up with the Avengers to end Ultron.
It seems pretty straight forward but there are snatches in the plot that make our heroes act out of character. And I think this is the biggest fault Age of Ultron has, why everyone hates it so much – or at least considers it one of the worst MCU entries. And you can certainly argue that fear makes many people act irrationally and it’s a big theme here with Wanda showing almost everyone their greatest ones.
But – big but – would Tony really just download an A.I. whose origin is most likely alien (it came after all from Loki, as far as he knew), whose origin is also likely sinister? And be like: Oh, but this is gonna end all war and I can retire. And would Banner (Mark Ruffalo) agree to this? I mean, these two are supposed to be the genius-Avengers. Put aside all Tony’s hubris, his bravado, his devil-may-care personality… no, I don’t think so. Not even if he feared his team dying. And Banner hadn’t even been affected by Wanda at this point, so why would he agree to something this reckless? He’s such a push-over in this movie.
But, apparently, they had to do this or there wouldn’t be an Ultron. Now Ultron comes out of that shell around the Infinity Stone – the Mind Stone. That scepter came from Thanos (Josh Brolin) and so Ultron was part of his plan to end the Avengers and the human race, right? I mean, the mid-credit scene seems to make this clear. That’s why he gave Loki the scepter, the A.I. was a failsafe if the original plan – Earth being destroyed by Loki and the Chitauri – failed. Well played, Thanos. But the failure of the failsafe, of course, gave the Avengers a powerful new member: Vision. It also explains why Ultron and Thanos’ plans are so similar.
Anyway, besides Banner and Stark acting OOC to create an adversary, so does Thor (Chris Hemsworth) when he goes on his vision quest. I don’t want to say that he’s not spiritual or anything but I do feel like we meet a different Thor in Ultron than in any other movie, someone who saw the glimpse of something in his fear vision and went to research this and came back to us with the whole story of the Infinity Stones. I mean… who else looked at the screen like they were a character on The Office for a minute? And armed with that knowledge – that the Infinity Stones are the most destructive power in the universe, he still thought it a good idea to animate that corpse from Ultron’s cradle… I’m calling bullshit.
And I haven’t even touched on Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and her calling herself a monster because she can kill but not create life (others have commented and I really don’t want to get too deep into this because you all know I’m just starting a rant).
Fear makes us do a lot of things, fear is very powerful that way. But it will not take away our intelligence (Stark), it will not make us instantly do what we fear most (lose control, Banner), it will not make Thor research Infinity Stones instead of checking that his father and friends were okay (I do presume that his fear was that Asgard somehow dies without him, unless it’s that his homies party without him, it’s hard to tell). And I don’t think it would make Natasha fall in love with Banner because, after all, he’s a monster like her? None of this makes sense, Whedon just fit the characters to his plot.
There are other things that I take offense with (Rhodey [Don Cheadle] and Sam [Anthony Mackie] being literally treated like sidekicks, for example) but having the Avengers run around like headless chickens for most of the movie is the worst.
They were supposed to be pulled apart, of course. It was part of Ultron’s plan to plant derision but in that it’s basically like The Avengers – that’s just to get us one step closer to Civil War. What I miss seeing is an Avengers team that is actually a team because we don’t get to see this until Endgame. And maybe that was the plan but it still gets kind of old here, having the Avengers fight among themselves, having another reason to break up, to fight against each other, to stack their teams with new members. I know, Civil War is kind of necessary but I would have liked to see a movie where they actually just be a team. Probably just me.
Now I’m going to forget most of what happened in Ultron again so I can actually sleep at night and not seethe in annoyance any longer.
Next Ant-Man – the one I liked more than you did.
Okay, I can’t really leave this without saying something about Natasha and the horrible, HORRIBLE story line she had. Apart from the Banner-fiasco, let me just say: Making being infertile Natasha’s greatest fear is just wrong. For once, she’s known this since she was a teen, there’s 15 years of water under that bridge already. I’m not saying she can’t be emotional about this but the question is why would she fear something that’s a fact of her life? Also: she’s a modern woman, she certainly has heard of adoption. Being sterile doesn’t mean she can’t have children, I’m sure Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) could fashion her a brand new identity that would be able to adopt a child if she ever was to retire. Making Black Widow’s story line about a man AND impossible children, urgh, dude, women are more than love interests and/or incubators! End rant!