Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot to live up to. The Avengers not only was one of the best superhero movies of all time, but it was also one of the most successful films of all time. Luckily for fans and Marvel itself, The Avengers' greatest asset is the one they have behind the screen, Joss Whedon.
Whedon’s sequel picks up right after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Tony Stark’s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chris Evans’ Cap, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in Eastern Europe trying to destroy the last remaining elements of the evil Hydra. Oh, the notorious baddies also have Loki’s scepter, and our Avengers want that almost more than anything.
The opening battle sequence is nothing new to an action franchise, Bond has been using it for 50 years. But what is especially perfect is how Whedon uses this plot vehicle as not only an opportunity to get his heroes into action, but also to introduce two new integral characters to his story right off the bat and in the most incredible of ways -- Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Quicksilver (both are brilliant).
The Avengers are doing quite well in the fight, but the superpower twins are making it quite difficult and, in fact, things happen in this opening sequence that will cast a dark shadow over our entire storyline (this is a no spoiler review!).
Although our heroes are bruised and battered, they still emerge “victorious” and head back to Avengers Tower (renamed after Stark Tower was trashed in The Avengers) for a little recuperation and a party (seen in this Avengers: Age of Ultron clip). Witnessing the world’s greatest heroes at play is just one reason why Whedon was such a great choice to helm this series. He allows his characters to not just save the day, but be three dimensional and live and breathe… and yes, laugh and make us laugh.
Soon, the party turns dark as Ultron makes his debut. The creation of Stark (hoping to make a peacekeeper -- clearly that backfired) shows up (teased in that Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer) and the artificial intelligence robot attacks our heroes on their home turf and then escapes into the world to team up with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver on a mission that is two-fold: destroy The Avengers (which the twins are on board with) and destroying the world (which James Spader’s baddie hides from the twins).
There are a lot of moving parts here. Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue is met in Africa for an incredible sequence that pits Ultron against our heroes for a second time. Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes is just one of many Marvel characters that shows up throughout, but Whedon gives each the correct amount of spotlight and action, and each is also equally important to the structure and brilliance of this story.
A lesser storyteller could have had some serious difficulty with all the spokes in the Avengers: Age of Ultron wheel. Our Avengers: Age of Ultron review can report that Whedon has weaved a web that works beautifully and, in fact, feels like a well-oiled machine.
All the great movie beats are there. The action is crisp and jaw-dropping. The landscape is vast, as scenes go from Eastern Europe to Africa to South Korea. Hawkeye even gets lots more to do and say! And there are ebbs and flows that have us feeling the entire range of emotion, something that is rare in a blockbuster of this scope.
It is truly impressive how well this movie works. There is so much going on and yet it never feels overstuffed or slow. And what is the most extraordinary thing is that it all sets up an Avengers world of the future that has us even more eager for the next chapter than the first film had us chomping at the bit for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Watch The Avengers online and see how it all got started!