Once More With Feeling – No one does Superhero movie like Joss Whedon, WOW does he care about the viewers experience. He’s not going to short change anyone despite seemingly having to try to fit in the entire Marvel universe, or at least making the foundations for what seems to be, never mind the Wars, but an Infinity of forthcoming Marvel films.
In Avengers (2012) Joss pretty much Hulk smashed all the other hero movies to bits with the almost perfect blend of entertainment, quality, humour, thrills and respect for the canon origins. It was just SO much fun, and REALLY bloody funny and exhilarating too. It’s a few years later and he has arrived back to repitch his flag with team Avengers: The Age Of Ultron (2015), and a lot of things have grown up, well let’s say matured.
There’s little point in just regurgitating the same formula, many directors might, but being the creative artist that he is, Joss won’t be doing that on his watch. There’s always the fail safe in a movie series of going bigger with each successive venture, but sometimes the shrewder road is in the seemingly lesser path of the inward journey, whether in individuals relationships with each other, and their relationship with themselves, and this is by far the most successful aspects of The Age Of Ultron. We can see ourselves in these characters.
Sure there’s the HUGE big battles and set pieces that are perfectly rendered and executed pushing all the thrill and geek WOW buttons, but it’s the moments shared between Hulk (Mark Rufflo, the best Hulk there has been) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) that I walked away thinking of the most. The best solution to chaos being peace, not more chaos. That and the fact that if Mark doesn’t get his own stand alone Hulk movie, there are no Gods of Asgard.
All the characters get much more development and insight to (whether human or not) their traits, flaws and thanks to the mind bending new Russian witch kid on the block Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), their inner fears/demons. And with this extra depth of character, you absolutely care for these folk much more. Even Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) gets to step up to show how he completely deserves to be standing equally side by side with the team, holding his cool and mind together whilst all around the rest lose theirs.
Setting up all these ‘human’ flaws, failings, accountabilities and attributes beautifully flows into how their new nemesis is birthed in the form of Ultron (James Spader being perfectly cast and owning the character), he is effectively conceived amongst all that human turmoil, cold technology and cold war rational, a super powered Robot with human psychosis. Oh! and the attitude of an even more arrogant Tony Stark, if that was possible.
Ultron wants to take his father’s (basically Stark) passing comments to it’s ultimate conclusion and effectively wipe out mankind, or at the very least upgrade them to this years shiny AI model, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t come with a warranty either.
It’s much darker than the original adventure, but a more rounded experience for it. It still has the fantastic moments of Whedon comedy and outstanding set pieces, and great morale points raised in the apparent justifications for Wars (there are none) and observations of the frailties of or views, beliefs and actions. We make A LOT of mistakes as mere mortals/super humans, but it’s how you fix them that defines the true heroes.
Avengers: The Age Of Ultron is out now.