First impressions of Avengers 2: #AgeOfUltron

There are some flaws, but overall it was really good. If you liked the first one, you’ll love this one even more.

Go watch it.

NOW.

…Arright. Let’s put this all together and see what comes out.

(spoilers from here on out)

The Villain

First off, let’s get to the title character Ultron, my personal favorite character in this movie and the most improved element between Avengers 1 and 2. At first he seemed a little too… quippy. People say that about a lot of Joss Whedon’s works, but I didn’t really understand the complaint until today. Ultron just seemed too… well, human, at first. He was funny, charming, clever, all that jazz. Partway through, though, he flips out when someone says he copied one of Tony Stark’s jokes, and from then on he gets steadily more robotic as the movie progresses. It’s a subtle thing, but a good one, and I do like it a lot.

Where he starts to fall flat lies in his inconsistency. One moment, he’s locking Black Widow in a jail cell so she’ll live to see what he does, and the next he’s turning a city into a giant meteor and trying to straight-up kill all of the Avengers. Also, I’m not sure why he needed Vision’s body when he had an entire army of himself? Sure there was the mind gem, but his ultimate plan didn’t require the gem. In fact he forgets to go after the body partway through. So it can’t be THAT important.

However, he’s definitely an improvement over Loki as the main antagonist. My biggest problem with him in the first film is that he lacked… impact. Presence. For lack of a better term. He was just kinda… there. Bein’ the bad guy. Despite all his talk of how he was born to rule and humans made to serve, he never really felt like an evil emperor, just a guy doin’ his thing. Ultron, on the other hand, absolutely owns every scene he’s in. You do not take your eyes off of this robot, and he’s a very genuine threat. So the villain’s great.

… Except for ONE line.

“Leave me alone!” -Ultron.

Yes, seriously.

The Plot

Stop me if this one sounds familiar.

The movie opens with a base under attack, and a powerful artifact is brought into the hero’s possession. Tony tries to find out as much as he can about it, and upon discovering what it can do, the heroes turn on each other and argue. Then the villain does something to splinter them apart even more (driving the Hulk to hulk out and smash things in the process) until they find the strength to pull themselves together. Then, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the Avengers converge on the center of a major city and fight to keep a central metal pillar in their hands and out of their enemy’s. At the end, the heroes go off their separate ways.

Yeah, it’s basically the Avengers redux. However, it’s a very good redux that fixes most of the problems the original’s plot had. Let’s look at the two biggest changes that I can remember right now: the Hulk going crazy, and the final climax.

The Hulk is driven mad by the power of the Scarlet Witch while the group is attempting to stop Ultron from getting his hands on some Vibrainium. What I like here is that while the villain still triggered the problem, it was triggered during a proactive effort by the heroes to stop a villain.

The final climax doesn’t do the Phantom Menace BS from last time. This time, they specifically state they need to kill every single Ultron bot in order to vanquish him for good (after isolating him from the internet) and very nearly fail. Vision kills the last one (though oddly we aren’t shown it – perhaps Ultron will return one day?) but the important thing is that the victory felt earned at the end. (though I’m not sure how they got the city over water)

One issue I had was that they imply partway through the film that Bruce Banner is going to get arrested for destroying a large part of a major city. That’s not really the issue – the issue is that it’s brought up once and then never mentioned again. It’s a strange part of the plot.

What’s even stranger are the dream worlds Scarlet shows each of the Avengers. They’re supposed to be the Avengers’ worst fears, but the only one that really works as a ‘worst fear’ dream is Tony’s. Thor’s looks like it’s supposed to be some kind of vision despite being created by Scarlet, Black Widow’s is her worst memories (still bad, but not ‘worst fear’), Captain’s looks like some kind of Lotus Eater Machine thing… I dunno, it just seemed off.

The Humor

It’s Joss Whedon, are you even asking?

Okay, the jokes and quips… don’t all work here. Most of them do, but a few seem to fall flat. I found myself thinking quite a bit “…is that supposed to be funny?” I wish I could remember the specific jokes.

The heroes

The Avengers got a lot more time during this movie to develop and advance their characters. While the first movie had some development, it was mostly just some momentary interactions between members of the cast. In this movie, everyone gets to advance their individual arcs a bit (except for poor Captain America. =( My favorite Avenger…) which is something this movie has over its predecessor for certain.

However – and this is really, REALLY a problem – the Hulk can’t control his powers anymore. Guys, you established in the first movie that Bruce Banner knew how to control himself now. You can’t just drop that because it’s convenient to your plot. (also, you I think you imply at one point that Black Widow is a monster because she can’t reproduce? Maybe it was just the way the line was placed in the movie, I dunno.)

Overall

At its core, Avengers 2 is the first Avengers movie with a bit more polish, and I LOVE it for that. It’s a fun, amusing little superhero romp with a bunch of cool ideas and well-handled concepts. It takes what didn’t work about the first movie and makes it work well here. There are a lot of elements here that don’t mesh very well with the rest of the film. However, I don’t think those elements stop the movie from being good, even great. It was a fun ride from start to finish and I can’t wait to see where we go next.

Oh, and Joss? If you’re reading this, good job.

But f#@$ you for assembling that last line.

YOU KNOW THE ONE >=(

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