I really did like a lot of the elements that made up Avengers: Age of Ultron. The issue as the title might just have tipped you off is that it wasn’t a very Marvel Marvel movie. It was however very Whedon, if you’re one of those afflicted folks who worship the ground he hovers just above you won’t see a problem here. And that’s a topic for another day.
The humanizing elements of Age of Ultron were pretty awesome. Hawkeye’s family was a slice of the American-pastoral pie Norman Rockwell would have been weepy eyed with pride at serving up. The early two thirds of the Black Widow – Hulk arc was engaging. The “why” for every character everywhere along the way were key-in-lock tight with who that character was.
Unfortunately, not much of it, specifically the pastoral interlude did what they were supposed to do. Anyone paranoid enough to keep their family so off the grid only one in six of their teammates knows they exist at all is unlikely to bring them up during slightly iffy times. To actually bring several near strangers, two of them very unpredictable (Stark and Hulk) and excellent at violence, to his home during what was shaping up to be an extinction level event is so utterly out of character it’s absurd. Yes this is where they make contact with Nick Fury, but that could be done literally anywhere on the planet, and most of them would have better served the Avengers logistic needs.
We didn’t need to see Hawkeye hug his own kid and gaze at the picture of his family to know why he’d save a kid at great personal risk in crunch time; he’s a bleeding hero and that is what they do.
The emotional dance of the seven veils between Banner + Hulk and Black Widow was lovely, but that’s all it was for her. I think this movie made her less likeable honestly. The kiss and then push off the cliff of Banner to fulfill her need for Hulk was an unequivocal betrayal of Banner. Would not blame him a bit for never speaking to her again. Worse, it wasn’t needed. Banner proved he’s willing to let slip the dogs of war at need. He wasn’t leaving, he wasn’t going to standby and do nothing. He may be the most reluctant hero in the Marvel universe, but he’s a hero.
After the human elements that Whedon kludged into the script for I’m-Joss-Whedon reasons there are all the Marvel things he left out or utterly fouled up about the story and universe. Honestly the failed human elements were largely buffoonery, the anticannon deviations were even less justifiable than the changes to X-Men Days of Future Past, and less successful as well.
First and foremost Ultron was a collaborative effort led by Hank Pym aka Antman (among other names) and Tony Stark. Bruce Banner had diddly-squat to do with it. Introducing him and his sometimes other-half would be the perfect way to build audience for his movie. More, Hank and his sometimes other-half are in and out of the Avengers enough and well before Scarlet Witch you’re not futzing with timelines too much. Going with Pym and Janet as the new team members would have allowed for the romantic elements without having to strain credulity pushing Banner and Widow together.
Next: going to Wakanda without bringing up The Black Panther is some amalgam of criminal and blasphemy that aught to have shoving matches between powers secular and divine over who gets to put the torch to the wood around your stake. Worse, with a Black Panther movie I the works, it’s bad capitalism not to even mention the man, myth, and legend.
Was this the worst comic-book movie translation ever? Of course not, Green Hornet was actually released for some reason. Was it the least faithful to source material? It might just have been. This is the type of movie I feared when I heard he was involved in the first Avengers. Whedon’s latest incursion into the Marvel universe leaves the same variety of seedy impression Shamalayan movies do; that they are unable to differentiate between making a movie great and making sure every viewer knows who made the film. As part of the pantheon that is the current cycle of Marvel movies, this movie fails. It fails for not having the breaks put on before it hit production, and for being a Whedon movie not a Marvel movie.
Were there things I liked? Yes. But much like the third Dark Knight movie, I’m unlikely to see this anywhere near as many times as the adjacent movies because not only is it not as good it taints the others simply by existing.