Roundtable – Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s the first weekend of May, which means one thing at the box office: Avengers: Age of Ultron. Quite possibly more anticipated than the first, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a high-flying sequel that tackles so much more as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to evolve. While not a standard review, we’ll be tackling major components of the films, character highlights, and thoughts on what happens moving forward. So enjoy and as always…

spoiler-alert

You've been warned.

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Initial reactions compared to expectations (Surprises, disappointments, theories confirmed, etc)?

Brian: The obvious one is that Loki’s scepter from The Avengers was confirmed to be an infinity gem, so that was pretty cool.

My expectations for the film were quite high, and I saw some of the reviews weren’t that great, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I would argue this was the most comic booky movie ever, and I think that’s why some people may not have enjoyed it.

Yeksson: I was excited to see an infinity gem emerge from Loki’s scepter and was in awe when the Vision lifted Thor’s hammer.  Prior to the movie, I read reviews through Rotten Tomatoes and in doing so, I didn’t expect the sequel to trump the first one. In the end, I think this movie is just as good.  It feels like a never-ending series as much bigger players await. (See mid-credit scene)

Alex: Easily the most impressive thing about this movie is the amount of character development given to a cast. Without poking around into the events of the other movies (didn’t Tony call it quits or something?), each character is given huge arcs for a relatively short screen time and I’ve always been impressed by Joss Whedon’s ability to handle ensembles, whether it be in comics, TV, or film.

Erin: Very surprised and a little disappointed. My favorite thing about this movie is that its structure and plot movement is unlike any action/superhero movie, as it goes on this crazy roller coaster balance of emotional character development and fight scenes. The only reason I feel a little disappointed is that this story feels inevitably rushed, but with so much to accomplish in limited time, I can only commend Joss Whedon for his effort.

The age-old question: is Avengers: Age of Ultron better than the original?

Brian: Is it a better movie? Yes, I do believe it is. Ultimately people will point at things here and there, but the main difference is, I would argue this movie isn’t as fun as the first one. However, this movie tells a more compelling story and is a better balance of characters, even though the first movie did a fairly good job at that as well.

Yeksson: Like I said before, it’s just as good.  I enjoyed how the opening just dove right in with the Avengers fighting as a strong, cohesive unit.

Alex: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie more than the original. I felt the tone was shockingly (and pleasantly) dark, I liked that the Avengers went on missions instead of just reacting to problems, and I think the humor, action, and character-development all balanced well.

Erin: In different ways, yes. The original was and had to be a plain cheesecake: simple, fun, not too many ingredients. This movie had to be tiramisu: more delicate, layered, and more developed. The Avengers was an introduction to what this team is all about and how these people will change the world. Age of Ultron is the dark side; it is a deeper understanding of heroism/superheroism and what it means to still be human.

Thoughts on Ultron’s role as a villain, is he a comparable threat to Loki, and best moments of the robot come to life?

Brian: Honestly, I didn’t expect Ultron to be so funny. His dry humor was pretty great and a very welcome surprise. While Ultron had a better plan in my opinion, he didn’t feel as dangerous as Loki, simply because Loki is always very mischievous and mysterious. So they are comparable, they had a pretty big plot to destroy or rule the world, but at the same time were very different villains.

Yeksson: I wonder what would have happened if Ultron had finished uploading into the body.  Other than that, I enjoyed his dry humor and bickering with the Vision.  I still think Loki is the better antagonist because he was the first to have an army and later be owned by the Hulk.

Alex: I thought Ultron was charmingly tragic and very reflective of the information age. All the information in the world was at his grasp, and yet, his jokes, his emotions, and his goals were all very raw, childish, and naive. All of his opinions were derived from hating the very notion of his existence (as created by Tony Stark and imbedded with a linear directive of achieving peace). So we contrast that with a god of mischief with an inferiority complex and daddy issues, and I think Ultron was well more fleshed out within one movie (as opposed to Loki being introduced in Thor (2011)). One gripe I do have is that I felt the Ultron could have lived in some sort of sense; with his sentience being considered a type of life (given that JARVIS being uploaded into the body to become Ultron worked similarly), I thought the Avengers would debate destroying Ultron completely or containing him somehow.

Erin: Ultron was absolutely perfect. The wit, sarcasm, and sardonic/harsh one-liners made this robot feel like he absolutely did not give a f!$@ about the human race.  And that was intimidating. The only issue is that we got to know Loki through two full films, easily making him more understandable and relatable. But within one film, Whedon made Ultron a bad ass, and I hate to see him gone so soon.

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Some early reviews have claimed the movie is too big. Thoughts about the scope of the MCU and is the Avengers  Mansion becoming too crowded?

Brian: This is what I meant when I said that this movie was more comic booky than any other movie, because of how large it was and how fast paced it was with so many characters to follow. Sure, some things could have been given breath to let the dialogue/jokes land, but overall I think the movie size is fine, and people are always worried that Marvel Studios is doing something horribly wrong, but it turns out great, and I think this is right up that alley, especially because Infinity War will be two parts.

Yeksson: Your average movie runs around a little over 2 hours so it may feel like there is a lot to take in during that time.  Also, heroes like Captain America have other things going on like searching for Bucky Barnes.  This is briefly mentioned here, therefore watching all the films within the MCU is a must.  I recall a friend saying they had skipped watching Winter Soldier and later being confused about parts of the this film.  As for the mansion, I thought it was cool that members of the core cast had left only to be replaced by others.

Alex: As I mentioned, I was impressed with how everything was paced and I think the separation between the Avengers Tower and the New Avengers base is a good way to setup for Captain America: Civil War. Seeing Quicksilver die was a surprise but alas, there had to be casualties. With new characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange on the way (albeit not necessarily as Avengers), we’re slowly growing some armies and we’ll just hope things keep going in a positive direction.

Erin: The thing people forget is that something like this has never been done before. This overarching story and collection of characters is incredible. What Marvel has been able to do will never be forgotten. I don’t see how anyone can complain about that. Marvel is not only groundbreaking the world of film, but more generally, the world of entertainment as well. Comics and superheroes are about being big and grandiose, and I don’t think I’ll ever complain about that.

Standout Avenger (or character) in the film?

Brian: Hawkeye, in my opinion is THE Avenger in this film. He has the most heartfelt, as well as the funniest lines in the movie.

Yeksson: Black Widow because in this film, she’s equipped with an emotional side.  In the first film, she seemed to adhere strongly to the mission at hand.  However, in this one, we see her reflect on her troubled upbringing and her feelings for Bruce Banner.

Alex: I enjoyed the Hawkeye love; clearly, Whedon heard the cries for Hawk-guy love. I think Hulk became such a tragic hero though, with his loss of a film franchise leaving a gap in his screen time. Seeing his fears as Hulk and as Banner were so beautifully painful that it was hard not too root for him, even if Iron Man is saving the city by pounding his face in.

Erin: Clearly, Hawkeye. Whedon decisions to focus on other characters here is genius, and Hawkeye’s story helps glue this film together and keep it grounded. Hawkeye more than ever acted like a soldier, a man sacrificing his life everyday to protect his family.

Likewise, favorite scene in the film?

Brian: Anytime the science bros were together was a fun moment. Veronica in particular was a pretty incredible sequence.

Yeksson: I enjoyed the comic relief but my favorite scene has to be the girlfriend comparison between Thor and Tony Stark.  In my opinion, Thor won that brief and comic exchange.

Alex: Overall, I enjoyed the fights because the Avengers meshed so well. The scene where Ultron attacks the Avengers in the Tower was a surprise fight, but the end was seeing Hawkeye toss Captain America his shield to finish off the fight. Vision and Thor alternating Mjolnr. The opening scene was an actual Avengers Mission. Avengers were fighting together more frequently and we saw different mashups of heroes. The chemistry is real between this team and seeing them blend together were my favorite scenes.

Erin: Everyone trying to pick up Mjolnir.

Obviously, we have to talk about the mid-credits scene. Thoughts on the future?

Brian: While I would have preferred a stinger/teaser of another Avenger, like a web across the screen/something zooming through space/T’Challa upset his stuff is getting stolen/Strange watching the events using some magic, the scene they used was pretty cool, and the infinity gauntlet looked pretty incredible.

Yeksson: I’m just anxiously awaiting the revelation of the two remaining infinity stones.  Although, I agree that most people already know the Infinity Gauntlet is coming so I would have liked to see a teaser for another storyline in the MCU.

Alex: The one line given to Thanos is interesting in that he believes everyone is his pawn, including the newly made Ultron. I wonder if we’ll see more of his henchmen seen in Infinity and see how Avengers deal with a cosmic threat now that Tony Stark’s plan for worldwide protection was a bust. Spider-Man’s confirmation as the “new avenger” has me excited; he’ll be able to team up with all the fan favorites we’ve seen so far in the MCU (and the cast is getting pretty big).

Erin: Other than I LITERALLY CANNOT WAIT, the final-final scene is all it needed to be. I agree it would have been awesome to see more, but the first Avengers film ended with Thanos as an eye-widening introduction. Age of Ultron takes it to the next level with Thanos becoming a REAL threat, and is more bad ass than ever.

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