Avengers: Age of Ultron goes beyond simple action

The much-anticipated superhero flick digs a little deeper than some of its explosion-driven brethren.



Mary Strother, Writer

It starts off with a bang. Almost quite literally, as when “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens, the audience is dropped immediately into the action of an ongoing fight sequence. This quick start sets the tone for the rest of the film, a fast-paced and thrilling fight for the human race. Even though it begins hastily and attempts, over the course of two hours and 21 minutes, to go in almost too many different directions, the end result is a compelling character study with plenty of huge action set pieces that Marvel fans are accustomed to.


In the aftermath of reclaiming Loki’s scepter, which houses precious power and energy, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), attempt to harness the scepter’s unusual alien energy to create a brand of artificial intelligence they had been working on between the last Avengers film and now, known as Ultron. However, Ultron is smarter and more savvy than the science-minded superheroes counted on, and he is bent on his own agenda — destroying the Avengers and liberating the human race.


Ultron, who proves himself a worthy foe, employs the eccentric skills of twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The two have the power to manipulate minds and energy and possess superspeed, respectively. If at first it seems like too many characters, the twins easily distinguish their differences from the Avengers we know and love, and the way they play into the story overall feels natural. Their unique gifts provide a supernatural element to the Avengers’, while still awesome, mostly basic powers. It is easy to imagine how a team this formidable could conquer the world — though here it is an uphill battle just to save it.


What is most pleasing about this second installment of the Avengers is director Joss Whedon taking frequent respites from the action in order to dig a little deeper into the lives of heroes, including their backgrounds. While we know quite a bit of the origins of Captain America and Iron Man, less is known about Hawkeye and Black Widow, and the two get ample screen time, along with a particularly intriguing and heartbreaking backstory for Black Widow. While the big action is always fun, and there are many sequences in which to enjoy it, it is also nice to be able to sit back a little and watch these very accomplished actors grapple with their superhero personas as they interact with one another.

There is a lot of action to fit into one movie, and at times it can feel overwhelming and a bit rushed. In the end, however, the straying story lines come together to form a cohesive knot of intriguing superhero storytelling. When watching a film so large in scale, they can often seem distant, but remarkably the Avengers manage to feel more relatable, relevant and fun as time goes on.


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