As the MARVEL fanfare played, and the logo flashed across the screen, all of my excitement that had been building over the last few months came to a head. This was it. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” had finally come. And while I was sad to see it alone, that did nothing to quench my excitement and high expectations. After reading various negative review from critics, I had decided to form my own opinion and enjoy the film for what it was. And I was not disappointed.
In terms of the plot, I could find only one flaw (which I will get to in a moment). I know many critics were calling the film “overstuffed”, but I enjoyed the fast pace and various storylines that ran through the film. Were there a ton of battle scenes? You bet. But they were fantastic, and with the excellent dialogue woven throughout, they seemed less like battles. The film hit the ground running from the get go, and wasted no time introducing us to new characters and new plotlines.
And this is where my one issue with the plot came in. One of the new characters, Wanda Maximoff (or Scarlet Witch), has powers that enable her to plant images and visions in peoples minds. While most of these visions were actually pretty interesting and revealing, the one that did not seem to fit was Thor’s. His involved Asgard of course, but included a strange sequence of Heimdall and something about being dead? And then Thor leaves to search for answers. The entire thing seemed extremely out of place.
But now for the most important part: The characters. Tony was self absorbed as always, but his character went through some important growth throughout the film. I think he learned a lot about teamwork and personal responsibility in this movie, and by the end, I think he accepted that maybe he isn’t perfect. Steve was the driving force behind the team as always, and I found it to be very interesting that he was the first one to see some goodness in Pietro and Wanda. Bruce was lovable as always, and still hadn’t come to terms with his Hulk side. There was a surprise twist at the end of the film (but I won’t spoil it for you). Natasha turned out to be one of my favorites this time, particularly once I knew her heartbreaking backstory. And when it came to the “HulkTasha” romance that they had going, I actually was able to get behind it. I never thought I would like it at all, but they worked so perfectly together. It was awesome to finally see Clint get some character development and background, without being controlled by someone. Several things were revealed about his character that put him in a whole new light. Thor was fun as always, and it was cool to see him adjusting to life on earth, even donning… A HOODIE?
As for the new characters, it will be hard to express my feelings about them without making this post way longer than it should be. Pietro and Wanda were everything I hoped they would be, and from the moment they appeared on screen I loved them. As siblings, they naturally share a bond, but as twins, they have a bond that runs deeper than most people can understand. And yet they both are so unique. Wanda is a very stable, grounded person, whose powers are beyond amazing. Pietro is quick thinking and constantly moving. And at several points in the film we see him filling the role as the older twin and brother, caring for her, even as she does her best to guide him and keep him grounded. Ultron was the perfect villain. A robot he may be, but his mannerisms were so humanlike, that I often forgot that he wasn’t human. His snark and quick wit was a good balance against the Avengers, and while his mission wouldn’t have made sense from a human, it worked perfectly for him. While not as compelling as Loki, or chill inducing as Red Skull, Ultron has certainly found his place in the world of Marvel villains.
The one real “wild card” so to speak, was definitely the mysterious individual known as “The Vision”. Leading up to the film’s release, he wasn’t even featured in most of the trailers, with one exception. He was scene from a distance on most of the posters, until a poster with only him was released to the public, as well as a clip. So when the film finally came out, nobody really knew what to expect, and I know that I was unsure as to what his role would be. However, it turns out that Vision is now one of my favorite Marvel characters to date. He is weird, but in an awesome way. Graceful, powerful, and wise beyond the scope of most humans, he is unlike anything we’ve seen so far. He is the perfect opposite to Ultron. While Ultron sees man and wishes to destroy it and is disgusted by human kind, Vision sees humanity and sees the beauty in it, even beneath the failures of the human race. Which lead to an exchange between the two that has some very deep spiritual undertones, and leaves us with something to chew on once the credits roll. While Ultron goes on and on about humanity and it’s failures, and how it can never last forever, Vision quietly intones: “There is grace in their failings, I think you missed that.”
That line struck a chord. As a Christian, I know that I fail God every single day. I also know that we as a people have failed Him over and over again. And yet, time after time, God gives us grace in the midst of our failures. And He grants us the ability to learn from our mistakes and grow, and become more like Him every day. I highly doubt that Joss Whedon was thinking of that when he wrote that line, but even in the entire movie, there seems to be a message about human kind. That while we ultimately fail and do the wrong thing, there is still something in us worth saving.
Of course, on the flip side, some Christians might take issue with Ultron tossing out Biblical references, though I don’t believe for a moment that they were intended to be offensive. Some have also expressed concern that Vision was meant to be the “savior” of the film, and I don’t believe that either. Vision was, however, the thing that ultimately drew the Avengers together. And it is interesting to note that when he is asked whose side he is on, Vision says that he is on neither side, he simply says “I am…”
In terms of the content, cussing will be the biggest concern here. Near the beginning of the film, Tony blurts out the “S” word, causing Steve to reprimand him. This becomes a running gag throughout the film (though the word is never used again). A few uses of the “B” words and some other minor cussing also pop up. Sexual content is nothing too concerning, though we are served a couple of innuendos that actually flew over my head for a second when I saw the movie. Most kids won’t get it fortunately. As mentioned, Natasha and Bruce do have a relationship, which as far as we know hasn’t gone any farther than a kiss. They do, however, talk of showering together. Violence was actually at a minimum, which is surprising considering the scope of this film. Most of the “death” we see is robots being destroyed in various ways, so no blood there. There is a major character death that left me in tears, and though it isn’t gory, we do see gunshot wounds and a little blood. Other than that, most of the violence is mild, with only a little blood here and there. There is one bit where a man’s arm is violently removed, but it is fleeting, and the worst is off camera.
Overall, Age of Ultron was a fantastic film. A wild ride full of laughter, craziness, and some tears. This film made it clear that the Marvel Universe is entering a new phase, with new Avengers coming on scene and some character departures. And once the credits roll, we even get a taste of what’s ahead in the mid-credit’s scene. And when the screen went dark and the rest of the credits began to play, we are left with a lot to ponder, more than we are usually treated to.
So I am giving “Avengers: Age of Ultron” 4 ½ out of 5 stars, the extra half being taken off for those content issues. I would definitely recommend this film for teens over the age of 13!