It’s beginning to be painfully clear that I might be growing out of Marvel’s cinematic universe. Age of Ultron was yet another instance where I’ve found myself watching a Marvel Studios movie and felt completely bored by what was happening on the screen. The never ending jokes just aren’t that funny anymore and come off as forced, the stories feels entirely superfluous due to the never ending build up for the ne t big thing, the villains are nearly always entirely one note and forgettable and the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos build up is becoming a bit tedious by how slowly it’s happening and by not allowing Thanos to ever do anything hype worthy. Case in point, in this one he just appears for a couple of seconds in the middle of the end credits run down and puts on the gauntlet, and that’s it. It’s just confusing and awkward. If Ant-Man does not live up to its promise, I might very well just give up on Marvel Studios movies entirely. At this point I’m more excited about Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot than anything else in Marvel Studios upcoming movie lineup, and the FF reboot barely has anything going for it beyond just looking very different and removed from everything else that’s happening in the cape movie genre. But now we’re getting off topic. Suffice to say, the movie is perhaps the most obvious crack in the MCU armor so far, the flaws are becoming apparent, and I have a feeling it’s going to just get worse from here on forward.
It must be said that the movie isn’t so bad it’s unwatchable. It’s okay, just kinda boring. The first movie barely had any substance to it in hindsight, but it was still exciting and told its simple story well enough to be enjoyable. This time, not so much. The movie tries to have its cake and eat it too with the ridiculous amoun of content it tries to cram into one movie. The story itself is alright, but it fails to develop everything it introduces equally. All the build up for their next movies are poorly integrated to the plot, and considering how the entire movie is named after Ultron, it’s pretty infuriating how badly they’ve adapted him. Instead of getting a fairly accurate depiction of the malicious killer A.I bent on world wide genocide, we get a snippy James Spader with a voice modulator doing quips, as if he was doing a stand up set, with the poorly written script that never manages to decide if Ultron’s suppose to be seen as diabolical threat to humankind or more of an inconvenient, and slightly comedic robot nuisance. It’s that tonal dissonance, amped up by the excessive comedy, that ruins the character and much of the viewing experience. You never get a proper sense of what Ultron’s whole deal is suppose to be and his awkward and shallow alliance with the Maximoff twins that as abruptly gets broken as it was introduce just turns the whole movie into a massive disappointment thanks to how clunky the execution is. Apparently a lot of material was cut from the theatrical cut and boy does it show.
Speaking of the twins, you almost have to wonder why they even are in this movie, because apart from Wanda giving the Avengers some bad day dreams, they don’t really do that much. The Scarlet Witch is a walking plot device (whici is fairly accurate to the comics in certain sense) with a bad accent and not that compelling or even memorable characterization. As for Pietro, while appropriately smug and dickish, he fails to make any kind of note worthy impact as a character, apart from a couple of gags, before he gets killed off in a highly anti-climactic and disappointing way. There is some initial promise with their backstory when it is revealed that they are victims of bombs made by Tony Stark, which obviously explains their hostility and suspiciousness of Tony, but apparently the rest of that subplot got left on the floor of the editing room because it never comes up again. Even as they team up with the Avengers to save the day it never gets resolved.
Another thing that I strongly disliked is how the movie once again revolves very heavily around Iron Man. He’s the reason Ultron gets created, he’s the one who moves the story along from point A to point B to C, he’s the primary reason for the twins to be in the movie as well as being the source of their antagonism towards the Avengers. He is also the one who pushes for the movie’s (rather glaring) deus ex machina, or more familiarly, Vision, to be allowed to wake up rather than get dismantled so that the movie has a convenient way to defeat Ultron, and yet after all this, he doesn’t get his comeuppance or any type of reprimand. Not even a slap on the wrist. Friendships aren’t broken, people aren’t mad at him. Everybody’s just cool with him afterwards. Considering how the next big movie from Marvel is Captain America: Civil War, with the main thrust of the plot being Cap vs Iron Man, it’s baffling how they completely drop what would have been a very organic and easy way to make Cap and Tony have bad blood and instead just have them joke around about Thor’s hammer as though nothing has happened, even parting ways in very good terms in the epilogue. This movie would have been the perfect launching point to build up their opposite ideologies to a point where open hostility and full blown feud was inevitable. They seem to have completely dropped the ball there, something that happens with a lot things in this movie.