Movie Review: Avengers - Age of Ultron Discussion and What It Means to the MCU (With Spoilers)
This article seeks to review Age of Ultron a little more openly in addition to the previous review, as well as discuss the impact this film has on the rest of the planned MCU. Be warned, as there will be spoilers.
There's a good bit of differences between the comic version and the MCU version of Ultron, as he has two very different creators.
One, is Hank Pym, a hero usually affiliated with his insect-like alter-egos who builds Ultron to resemble a bug in the helmet. This Ultron is the dark side of Pym, his resentment towards others as he feels he is far from properly appreciate for his scientific and heroic efforts.
With the MCU Ultron, it's created by Tony Stark and while not only appearing more human, it also carries Stark's dark witticisms and even accidentally quotes him. Understanding this helped me appreciate his character a little more in the film as compared to his comic book incarnation.
However, this film proves that Marvel Studios has difficulty in creating a worthwhile villain. Nearly every Marvel villain (aside from Wilson Fisk in Netflix's Daredevil) gets thoroughly trounced by the heroes. Rarely do you sweat for the main characters in the climatic battle. Age of Ultron really fails to make Ultron formidable in any way, having him lose every physical confrontation he has (blown up by Iron Man, fought to a standstill with Captain America, beaten in his ultimate form by Vision and Thor, and dismantled off-camera by Hulk). Captain America couldn't handle Loki in the first Avengers making Ultron inferior, and the Hulk was beaten by another, apparently more superior version of Stark's creations, the HulkBuster. Since Ultron seems captivated in simply rebuilding himself into a more superior form, he becomes a one-trick pony, only the trick is repeated ad nauseum among other MCU films*.
Ultron also doesn't seem to do anything unique or lasting. His hordes of drones are one-shotted by the dozen and he kills Quicksilver, not by his own abilities, but by hijacking a jet plan anyone could have used, and shooting in the stereotypically slow way that villains seem to in James Bond movies.
We also don't get Thor's iconic line, "Ultron, we would have words with thee," from the comics, and for that, I am sad.
*I would make a note that while it largely still applies, the Winter Soldier character was possibly the most threatening villain in the fights between Captain America and the titular character. More MCU fight choreographers could learn from that, which is good since the writers are working on Infinity Wars.
I believe this is the first time we get to see Vision, in any medium, hold Mjolnir. While a pretty cool moment in the film, what did it mean? In the fight with Ultron where Vision (who is built out of the strongest metal known to man and housing the Mind Stone) is apparently beaten by Vision in a fightfist, who then proceeds to beat Thor in a fistfight before Vision does a surprise attack with the hammer. Maybe Vision will join Thor: Ragnorak and get his own hammer, Beta Ray Bill-style? Not sure, but that scene bothered me as Vibranium is meant to absorb any kinetic energy (like Cap's shield did in Avengers from Mjolnir) but Ultron gets juggled with it. We apparently went for inconsistent metal body versus utilizing Vision's iconic phasing abilities in some capacity.
Also, since Vision's skull is housing the Mind Stone, it's inevitable that Thanos will be ripping off Paul Bettany's skull in Infinity Wars. There's little to no showing as well of Vision's relationship with the Scarlet Witch which is understandable (since the film was so overly dedicated to showing you an ultimately failed relationship between the Hulk and Black Widow) but it's curious to imagine how the MCU will play that demographic out.
The Infinity Gems/Stones
So now with Vision hosting the Mind Stone, we have 4 out of 6 Infinity Stones. Here are the other 3.
- The Tesseract, possibly the Space Stone, which is held in Asgard after the first Captain America movie and Avengers
- The Aether, possibly the Reality Stone, which is held by the Collector since Thor: The Dark World (unless it was unleashed when the Orb went nuts in the 'Collection Room')
- The Orb, which is probably the Power Stone, which is held by the Nova Corps after Guardians of the Galaxy
I'll be a little sad if we don't get to see Thanos go marching through these locations, picking up his precious stones on screen. Seeing him march against Asgard and get to Loki (who's posing as Odin) before simply batting him away would be a treat. In the end, this means there's two more. I'd explain it in my own words but I really like ComicsExplained theories on it (in the video below) as well as the nifty theory that the stones spell out a keyword.
Also, since Infinity Wars will take up two films, they need to make the big bad Thanos a far more threatening foe for the heroes. As I complained in my post about Ultron, none of the MCU villains (aside from Wilson Fisk vs Daredevil) causes you to have any worry or stress for their heroic enemies. Half the reason I even want to see Infinity Wars is to see Thanos wreck everyone, which should be fine with the MCU since they have ready resources with which to revive the cast (as they did in the comics).
Other Villains besides Ultron
Age of Ultron also gives us snippets of other villains in the MCU, if only in cameos. Baron Strucker is shown, and then shown again dead, giving him maybe 3 minutes of screentime? That's terribly depressing given he was given almost that same amount in an after-credits scene for Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Ulysses Klaw, played by Andy Serkis, will likely play a much bigger role in Black Panther but for now he's just another reason for the Avengers to face off against Ultron before the ending of the film.
The 'New' Avengers?
The new demographic of heroes on Cap's second generation of Avengers is interesting, in many ways. As compared to the wildly powerful team of the past, there's more of an extreme range.
- Captain America's power allows him to be a top-notch human but doesn't grant him otherworldly power
- Black Widow is an incredibly well-trained assassin, but doesn't have powers
- Falcon has a flying suit which, while pretty cool, doesn't have any powers (no communicating to birds or anything)
- War Machine has a Tony Stark-build suit, only without the brains, meaning if that suit is compromised Rhodey is less effective than the rest of the team
- Then, we have Scarlet Witch whose powers range beyond explanation given to us in the MCU
- And we have Vision, who houses the Mind Stone, and is possibly far beyond everyone else on the team (except the Scarlet Witch, who seems to cure brainwashing from the Mind Stone with ease and without being detected but this might have just been a bump to move the script along).
It's hard to see what kind of threat levels this team can handle, but it seems likely they'll go up against the Masters of Evil early on in Civil War.
What's most interesting is how the team will be divided for the events, assuming that the team is together during the altercation. With unresolved issues towards Stark, it's likely that the Scarlet Witch will side against Tony, as will Falcon who somewhat idolizes Steve Rogers. Rhodey is more devoted to the government than either figurehead, which by default will place him with the Pro-Registration side. Black Widow is no friend to the government, so she'll either step out of the limelight or on the Anti-Registration side.
Which leaves Vision. If creating a romance with Scarlet Witch, it's likely Vision will go where she goes, or, the android may take Dr. Strange's example in the comics and simply wait everything out.
Also, while most people will assume Rogers will take up Anti-Registration and Stark will lead the Pro-Registration side, I can see the writers reverting this. After all, it was Stark who used his powers to create a robot that tried to destroy the world, something I'd imagine the government would take issue with. They'd have to explain why Captain America would go along with such forced political power though.
- If Thor: Ragnorak comes after Civil War, does that mean Thor isn't dead for Civil War? And if he isn't dead, does that mean they're writing the Thor-clone out of the MCU, or will they warp Thor's character to do the actions described in the comic?
- Will we be seeing any villains taking up sides with either the Registration or Anti-Registration in Civil War, either pre-existing or newly introduced?
- I can't remember if Hulk was currently in space or not at this point, but did Hulk do anything in Civil War, and if he did, should we expect him again as this was Black Widow's lingering sentiment at the ending of the film? Or, maybe Red Hulk, as a government stooge, may be introduced (personally, I really like this idea)
- While it seems neither Daredevil, AoS, or Ant Man are directly referenced in this film, will they be making some kind of impact towards Civil War? (Agents of Shield almost assuredly so).
I've talked at length, but I'd love to hear some of you guys' opinions. Agree with me, disagree? What are your thoughts for the Infinity Stones? Or, how would you divide the MCU for the Civil War? Say so the comments below, and thanks for taking the time to read what I have to share!
Also, if you haven't, be sure to check out my spoiler-free review for Avengers: Age of Ultron which goes a little more in depth for that specific film.