The path to Avengers: Endgame – Part 11 of 21: Age of Ultron

Editor’s Note: WAVE 3 News Photojournalist Jeff Knight is really looking forward to the release of Avengers: Endgame. So much so, that he’s decided to revisit the previous 20 films in the series. Jeff is watching each movie again and sharing his thoughts about them with us.

Avengers - Jeff Knight

By: Jeff Knight | WAVE 3 News Photojournalist

The Avengers start this movie getting along with each other and being one big, happy team. Aah, the salad days. After the revelations in The Winter Soldier, Age of Ulton begins with them cleaning out the last bastion of Hydra devilry. With Loki’s old scepter, Hydra has enhanced some humans, twins Pietro and Wanda. “He’s fast. She’s weird.” Weirdo gives Tony a nightmare vision of the future. So he decides to create a safety net around the world. The safety net has other ideas.

Of the first 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there isn’t one that I wouldn’t happily sit down to rewatch. But if I was (if I were? I need an editor) to rank them and place them on tiers, Age of Ultron would be on the lowest tier. Rewatching them in order, I expect it will be the last to be on the lowest tier. So that’s nice.

The problem with the storytelling: although plenty of interesting and fun things happen throughout the movie, Ultron’s villainy scheme isn’t clearly explained until it is unfolding in the final act. The Avengers don’t really know he’s up to either. That’s a problem. They know they have to stop him, but they don’t know what they have to stop. This kind of thing can work if it’s made into a mystery. It isn’t. Whatever aspect of a mystery that might exist, gets buried under everything else that is going on — and there’s plenty going on with all of these characters. There is no sense of uncoiling menace to Ultron’s plan. It’s too vague. His plan gets muddled under what he’s doing with the twins and his desire for a body of flesh and bone. He has come to save the world and end the Avengers. But he can’t end the Avengers too soon or they’ll become martyrs [sigh]. Nine times out of ten, the “don’t kill them because we don’t want them to become martyrs” rational is poor reasoning. This is not the tenth.

Bottom line: a big cast of heroes (Dirty Dozen, Ocean’s Eleven) can have their heroes have interesting side-stories but, if they do, the villain needs to have a clear goal. If you have a bunch of heroes with diverse storylines, your villain must be FOCUSED — like Thanos who is focused like a laser beam. Infinity War is a longer movie with many, many more characters, but it is a tighter movie because Thanos’ goal is so clear. Ultron: recruit twins, get vibranium, acquire flesh and bone body to become a real boy, extinction event… Messy.

Another problem with this movie are the slow motion action scenes in slow. Slow-moed action is a pet peeve of mine. It can work if it is used properly for suspense or highlight a pivotal moment for a character. Here, it is used to show off the grace and beauty of the Avengers fighting as a team. Viewers should stretch out their eye-rolling muscles before watching these scenes. They will get a workout.

I do enjoy this movie. Why is it more fun to criticize than to compliment? What the MCU does have going for it, as opposed to some other franchises, is its sense of humor. Even if a movie is eye-roll inducing, it will still have plenty of charm, laughs and smiles along the way. It’s difficult not to like these movies.

Sundry thoughts:

  • How did Hydra get their hands of Loki’s scepter? It was last seen on the top floor of Stark Tower.
  • Although never seen, Jane Foster is mentioned in the first two Avengers movies.
  • Ultron’s voice must come from a speaker. Why his jaw and mouth move so much when he doesn’t have lips is a mystery.
  • In Tony’s Scarlett Witch induced nightmare vision, all of the original six Avengers were dead except for him. How close will Endgame come to making this vision a reality?
  • Thor also has a vision. I don’t understand it. Does it have anything to do with Ragnorok?
  • Wakanda is first mentioned.
  • Bruce and Natasha are a couple. Bruce must be over Betty Ross?
  • JARVIS’ last movie.
  • The actress who plays Princess Leia in Rogue One has a line: “How do you find it?”
  • Tony Stark says, “We’re The Avengers. We can bust arms dealers all the live-long day. But that up there that’s is the ENDGAME.” He was talking about extraterrestrial threats. Foreshadowing, eh.
  • Bruce Banner says, “Natasha, where can I go? Where IN THE WORLD am I not a threat?” Did they know he’d be going out of this world next for Ragnarok? But later, Fury says a Quinn jet splashed down into the sea. That must be a different jet, right? After splashing a jet into the sea, it can’t be flown to Jeff Goldblum’s gladiator planet of garbage, can it?

In a lot of ways, Age of Ultron is Jeremy Renner’s movie. It can be viewed as writer/director Joss Whedon’s apology to a two-time Oscar nominated actor for turning him into a mindless zombie. He was unhappy about his role in the first Avengers. Hawkeye gets hurt during a melee early in the movie. The mission gets expedited to save him. Surprise!!! Hawkeye has a family and home life. Then a series of movie tropes are used to foreshadow his death. This is meta-storytelling. Or postmodernism? Or deconstructionism? I’m doubting my vocabulary. But the misdirection is interesting. Hawkeye says, “I’m gonna live forever.” He tells his wife about home improvements he’ll work on as soon as he gets back from his mission. He has a baby on the way. His wife watches ruefully as he flies away into the dusky sky. He looks at a family photo before the final battle. At the end of the battle, he runs into danger because there is one last person to save. All of this is to set up his death, and then… This movie has the first hero to die, as opposed to “die”. In Civil War, Hawkeye is protective of Wanda. This is why. He owes those Maximoffs. He even named his baby Nathaniel “Pietro” Barton after Quicksilver.

Speaking of Civil War relationships, Tony and Steve part on happy terms. Natasha even mentions them staring into each other’s eyes. How quickly the worm turns. We see them next in Civil War.

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