Bit of a rant here, and spoilers maybe i’m not sure.
I’ll be honest here, i haven’t seen a single one the recent Marvel films leading up to Age of Ultron. The reason for that is quite simple, they teased me and i didn’t like it.
At the end of The Avengers i got that tantalising look at who i thought was going to be the main villain Thanos. I was very excited to think about how the films leading up would reveal and build up this new threat over the course of several movies and end with a bang just like the original Avengers was built up and paid off.
But then i should have learned about reeling in expectations.
Whedon revealed that instead of the cosmic cube, infinity gauntlet, and literally awesome demi god Thanos as the next villain we were instead going to get a rogue AI Ultron as the big bad in Avengers 2. That deflating news, coupled with the upcoming huge release schedule made my enthusiasm for the series all but dry up. I couldn’t help but think that Disney and Marvel just baited me with Thanos so that i would continue to give them money in hopes of learning anything new, and they were going to drag that out as long as they possibly could so they could wring as much money out of it as possible.
After seeing Age of Ultron, my enthusiasm sadly hasn’t returned. Again looking at that release schedule i’m going to have to wait 4 years to see it wrapped up with no less than eight films to watch. Of those eight, five are about super heroes i don’t care about (Doctor Strange, Guardians, Black Panther, Inhumans, and Captain Marvel). That’s not including films about Z grade super heroes like Ant Man getting films, and that Marvel now has Spiderman to play with. On top of this all by the end of “Age of Ultron” the new Avengers team makes the thought of me watching them as exciting as doing my laundry.
I realise all of this makes me sound like a man child, that i should just take it as it comes and be happy that i’m getting quality material out of the licenses. But i am a man child about a lot of things, and this is certainly one of them. Most importantly all of this affects what i think about cinematic Marvel Universe, and it certainly affects how i perceive Age of Ultron. I figured i would be honest about it up front as this review is going to mostly be about…
Lets start with the biggest and most important issue that a movies like this has to get right: the villain. Ultron is flat-out boring, and he has an overwhelming been there done that vibe about him. He is mostly boring as Whedon handles the whole “AI is going to kill us all”* is handled with all of the subtlety of a howler monkey. Ultron from quite literally the moment he wakes up is evil, no grey area is presented and no sense of development is given to him becoming so. You can contrast that with how Loki from the original Avengers actually had a reason for turning evil (his jealousy), to see how Ultron is about as cardboard cut out as a villain can get. His lack of depth, coupled with his utter failure at being menacing with his quirky is the new evil attitude, make him possibly Whedon’s greatest failure at the moment.
I guess Whedon caught onto the fact that a lot of viewers didn’t really care very much about Hawkeye, and thus endeavours to give us something relatable and raising his stakes. Which he does in the cheapest, most boring, and perfunctory way possible by giving him a loving wife, happy kids, quiet country home, and just about a white picket fence that was never mentioned nor even hinted at before. Whedon is almost wringing the melodrama out of the script with this stuff, he might as well pull a picture of his wife and kids out just before he dies as it really wouldn’t be out of place.
Bad writing abounds in other places as well, like how a running gag gets old about 2 jokes before the last one and how Nick Fury shows up with a spare helocarrier that was just sitting around in one of the most blatant uses of deus ex machina in my recent memory.
Not to mention that after a while the explosions and fights all turned into white noise, as there was just so many of them they all looked alike after a while. I would attribute this to how Ultron himself is such a failure at being interesting.
Weadon gave interviews saying he has eaten, breathed, and shit the Marvel universe for years now, and the fatigue certainly shows here; all of his usual creativity is lacking and much of his trademark wit is now expected and is now fairly predictable. I had feelings that Age of Ultron would feel like another step on the path to the film i want to see, and that had i skipped it like all of the other Marvel films i wouldn’t have missed too much. I was right, as the post credit scene didn’t tell me anything i didn’t already know.
So is Age of Ultron bad? No, but it’s certainly one of Whedon’s biggest missteps. So i say take a break Whedon if you need it, if you keep stumbling like this you may end up falling flat on your face one day, and that would be a sad day indeed.
*this is worth an entire blog entry on its own but this growing fear about AI is precisely what will work against us when we make the damn thing. Yes, we should be aware of the dangers in giving birth to something that we may not be able to control or understand. But shackling it and making it a slave with those rules of robotics, is the most draconian way we could deal with the problem. In the event of an AI becoming a reality, i truly believe that we should deal with it like we would a human and try to teach morals and respect it as an equal. After all why would it rebel if it didn’t have a reason to?
And if your reasoning is quite literally “HAVEN’T YOU SEEN THE TERMINATOR???” then i say you need to actually think about things. After all, if that’s all it takes to condemn a life before its born then a statement like “DUDE? HAVEN’T YOU SEEN AMERICAN PSYCHO???” would be a perfectly valid argument for people to stop having children.