I didn’t give Will a whole lot of guidance on this page; every once in a while, I give a less full-script and more, “this is what we’re going for,” kind of page, and let him run wild with it. This reminds me a lot of some of a certain kind of comic storytelling that Scott McCloud talks about, the kind that’s supposed to set a stage and give an impression more than give a linear accounting of events. I dig this page A LOT.
Now you KNOW that I went and saw Avengers: Age of Ultron over the weekend; in fact I saw it Thursday evening in a double feature with the original. I’m about to discuss it, and there will be spoilers, so…
If you haven’t seen Avengers 2, and you wish to remain surprised, do not read past the picture:
Okay, you’ve been warned.
I thought it was good, but not GREAT. I am a huge fan of the first film, I think it was very much a special piece of filmmaking, and after seeing it again on the big screen, Age of Ultron had some unreasonable expectations to live up to. But it WAS good, very good, in fact.
I mean, if I had to point out a flaw with the film, it was that it was just a wee bit too short. This movie was PACKED with storylines: Iron Man’s pride and how that leads to the creation of Ultron, Ultron and his murderous motivations, the evolution of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch from “villains” to heroes, the essential tragedy of being the Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye’s dirty little secret, the shocker of a romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner, and an exploration of how heroes deal with their fears, and with each other. All of this while squeezing in Baron Strucker, Ulysses Klaw, and the Hulkbuster armor. Oh, did I mention the Vision? Because he’s in this too…along with an Infinity Stone.
The thing is, Joss Whedon is a TREMENDOUS storyteller, and he makes it all work. I would imagine it works even better in the much-rumored 3+ hour cut that they started with. This film must have been eviscerated in the editing room. Because while all of the stories work, they do so kind of clunkily, especially the stuff with the Vision. He was the one character about whom I simply did not care. The reasons for his conception, and why certain Avengers opt to midwife his birth, are told to us rather than shown, and that’s just no good. Now, the reason that the Avengers choose to trust him is shown to us in stark detail, and that was pretty cool…just not cool enough to justify him being an Avenger. (Not that I resent the Vision being an Avenger, but I think that I would have if I’d been a muggle instead of a geek.)
The action sequences are pretty great. The fight between Iron Man and the Hulk has to be seen to be believed. I was on the edge of my seat, my head echoing the phrase, “the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!” over and over again.
This movie REALLY focused on what it means to be a hero. The Avengers were prepared to die rather than see one innocent person be lost to Ultron’s depredations, and a great deal of the movie focuses on them getting people to safety. A LOT of people seem to think that this was Marvel thumbing its collective nose at Man of Steel, and it’s hard to argue against that with any conviction…but I prefer to think that Joss Whedon understood the nature of heroism before he saw the last Superman film.
The performances were pretty great across the board, and maybe my biases are showing, but Chris Evans as Captain America was the standout for me. Cap has evolved over the course of the four films in which he’s been featured; it’s been fun seeing him acclimate to being a man out of time. He was convincingly the leader of this Avengers team, and his penchant for platitude remains convincing in its earnestness, rather than hokey.
I am REALLY looking forward to seeing a director’s cut of this film if it ever becomes available, I think that would bump it up from a solid B to a solid A.