I wrote this WAAAAAY back in May, and it was published on the Ac Observer website, but it’s one of my favorite reviews, so I wanted it on this site. ENJOY.
Everyone has a favorite MCU Avenger. Don’t lie, you do. In the deepest part of your heart, you have chosen one of the six. Be it Tony or Cap, Hulk or Hawkeye, Thor or Widow, you have chosen. Or maybe you’re like me and your favorite Avenger is one you haven’t even met yet (I have such a passion for Vision you have no idea). Keep your favorite in mind though, because your impression of this movie will change based on that choice.
You see, Joss Whedon has a lot of balls in the air. We have 6 Avengers, 5 important cameos, 4 important supporting characters, 2 new surprising characters, and a partridge in a pear tree. That’s a lot for a movie, even one as long as this one (at 2 ½ hours long, this is the longest movie in the MCU to date) so what this film has to be boiled down to is not the screen time for each character, but down to the moments that they have.
(Editors Note: BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER- Everything I reveal in this review has already been revealed through various interviews or the trivia facts on IMDB.)
That said, here we go.
I’m not gonna go over plot stuff because to go further into plot past what IMDB has up would be too spoilery. But unless you live under a rock, you should know that Tony Stark tries to create a new defense system and it goes horribly, horribly wrong. So the Avengers have to clean up the mess. Some characters get development, others don’t. Our three golden boys, Thor, Cap and Iron Man get little to no development, mainly because each of them has had at least 2 movies to get completely developed. Cap is the leader with the impenetrable moral compass, Thor is the warrior with the heart of gold and Tony is the genius who hides behind his inventions and wit in order to not seem weak, when in reality, he is probably one of the weakest of the group. Not in strength or fighting abilities, he can still hold his own, but after the events of all three Iron Man movies and The Avengers, Tony is still pretty weak emotionally. Cue Scarlett Witch and her twin brother, Quicksilver.
Pietro and Wanda Maximoff are pretty awesome. Whedon wanted to bring in characters with cooler looking powers, and these two fill that department very well. With their powers being results of HYDRA’s genetic experiments through the help of a familiar scepter, Wanda and Pietro are a great next step for the Marvel universe. Since they are secondary villains, they don’t get that much of an origin story past Ultron making some cold observations about them, but it’s their potential that keeps you interested. Pietro’s super speed is not only handled well in terms of fights, but Whedon is able to portray his powers without being campy or cheesy. Wanda’s ability to move things with her mind as well as her chilling way of literally getting into people’s heads makes for a powerful character, both on and off the battlefield. They will go far in the MCU, and watching the Avengers interact with them is a complete joy.
But what about our other Avengers? Or Ultron? Well, Hawkeye is the real MVP of the Avengers this time around. He got the most development as a character, and in many ways he was the driving point of the Avengers. He gave the team the humanity they clearly needed, the reminder of why they do what they do, even as everyone else becomes a mess around him. As he states in a great scene about halfway through- “Yeah, they’re a mess, but they’re MY mess.” It’s nice to see him not under the control of someone else in this go around, and he really comes into his own as a member of the team. The thing that’s great about Hawkeye is that he’s never been a leader, and he never will be, and he’s ok with it. Hawkeye is the perfect definition of a team player, which is what all of the Avengers need right now, since each one is too wrapped up in their own problems and insecurities they can’t see straight.
Like Widow and Hulk for instance. If you boiled each character’s screen time down to their moments, Black Widow and Hulk are boiled down to a romantic storyline that looks and feels very forced. All I kept asking myself was why. It felt like Joss had something for every character to do in order to progress, except these two, so he just stuck them together and hoped it worked out. For me personally, it didn’t work and it didn’t do anything to really progress the plot. It’s true, that when Scarlett Witch is getting into everyone’s heads we get some FANTASTIC backstory on Natasha, and we learn even more when she decides to be vulnerable with Bruce Banner later. But the whole romance thing really does come out of nowhere, especially since we have had three movies worth of hints that she’s involved with Hawkeye. Honestly, Hulk and Widow’s storyline could have been achieved just as well if they were seen as best friends, which I think would have been a stronger decision, since their storyline was probably the weakest one of the whole movie. Plus the feminist in me is kinda bugged that a kick-ass character like Natasha is only defined by her romance in this film. C’mon Whedon you can do better than that! On a plus side, even though they are now confirmed to not be romantically involved, Widow and Hawkeye’s relationship doesn’t change. They are still treating each other the same way they did in The Avengers, and it’s clear that they love each other, just (apparently) not in a romantic way. Their dedication to each other while on the battlefield makes you wish the rest of the team could have each other’s backs like they do.
But now, we come to the villain everyone’s been waiting for, and the hero I adore. Ultron and Vision are two peas in a pod and yet completely different.
Both are born with the intention of protecting the world and are completely sentient, but are so different you can’t help but watch them in awe. Ultron, from his first awakening, is pure sass. There’s no other way to put it. Created by accident, he wakes up completely alone and immediately jumps to conclusions about the human race. He walks through every scene like a petulant teenager, complete with the illusions of grandeur and notion that he is completely right about everything. Spader takes the character in an almost comedic direction, with cheeky quips that almost feel out of place… until you remember who created him. Spader has created the perfect mesh of the arrogance of man with machine, with Tony Stark’s wit to boot. Seeing him go up against Vision, an android of his own design, is in a way, breathtaking.
Now I say breathtaking, not just because Paul Bettany is a gorgeous human only improved with the Vision makeup, but also because the Vision, as a concept, is beautiful. Vision was also born completely sentient with the intent to protect, but Vision doesn’t have a concept of good or bad like Ultron does.
He sees the world as Life, and things that endanger it. In this case, it’s Ultron. He doesn’t define himself as a good guy or a bad guy, he is just a being who thinks humanity is fascinating. He views our world with completely new eyes, and takes everything with a grain of salt. Plus, everything he does in the film is awesome. So awesome that it made the audience I was sitting with applaud at one point.
So, when you get to the bottom of it, it all depends on the character you favor. But even if you don’t favor anyone, this movie as a whole is good. Is it as good as the first film? Not really. There’s no moment like in the first movie where you feel the Avengers have reached a goal as a team, no feel good moment where we reach a happy resolution ending in shwarma (there’s no post credit scene by the way. There’s a doozy of a mid-credit scene, but no post credit scene, so you can leave the theatre like a normal person). But it is a great sequel. Actually, it’s a great second film of a trilogy. Just enough character development in the right places to keep us going, but not too much that the characters are burned out. There’s a ton of nods to the original spirits of the comic book characters, loads of great cameos, and the pacing isn’t too bad, in spite of a few slow moments. And above all else, this was the first movie that really convinced me that they have successfully created a unique MCU while still being faithful to the source material it’s inspired by.
All in all, I paid 14.50 pounds for this movie. Thanks to our weak American dollar that was about a $22 ticket, and it was totally worth it. I will definitely see it again, many more times. But I will not see it in 3D. There’s so many wonky shots of fight scenes that I think seeing it in 3D would make the strongest stomach churn. Be aware that you will probably miss a few things in your first watching of it, which just means you have an excuse to go see it again, and again, and probably again. And one more time… just to be safe.