There’s a line delivered by arguably the most human Avenger, Hawkeye, at one of many pivotal moments in Age of Ultron: “When you step out that door, you’re an Avenger.”
Ultimately, this is what Age of Ultron is all about. Regardless of power-set, what does it really mean to be an Avenger? Take the old adage of “With great power comes great responsibility” add in “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” and you’re close to the main theme. It permeates each Avenger and the decisions they do/have to make. It may not be a new exploration to those with more than a passing interest in super hero comics, but when you’re always on the winning team, it must be easy to lose sight of the impact you have on the world around you – even when you’re Avenging it… or you think you are.
Fear not, True Believers! Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t all navel gazing and superhero philosophy. The opener is a reminder of why The Avengers are the premier super-squad. Blasting, shooting and down-right defeating ne’er-do-wells is the order of the day and they do it with style! There’s excitement galore and more than enough heroics to make you punch the air in victory. However, the cracks are starting to show. Behind the quips, banter and piss-taking there are damaged souls. Not enough to dull the delight of watching the World’s Mightiest Heroes, but enough to remind you that they’re just like us – human.
During the opener there’s a moment where you worry the super-hero schtickis becoming a little tired. Albeit without Chituari, are we just watching the battle of New York in a different setting? You probably already know that the answer is a resounding “no”, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it. How many times can you watch the Avengers kick ass? The answer is you get Joss Whedon to write and helm it. Although he hasn’t forgotten what made us love the first time these guys assembled, he also didn’t forget that you need to change the recipe a little. It’s daunting to give a team of characters their own moments and still try to dismantle them. At the same time keep the whole thing chugging along before it derails. However, Whedon seems to do so with seemingly little effort and, it has to be said, with more fun than you can throw an iron peacekeeping force at. Sure, there’s more to take in than the first viewing will allow, but it should be all the more rewarding on multiple views and kudos must be given for cramming it all into the running time, without it ever getting confusing or jumping the hulk.
It’s clear that everyone is having fun and none of us worry that the ball will be dropped by any actors, who can now play these roles in their sleep. That being said, there’s an evolution of each character you may not have counted on when you bought your ticket. Strap yourself in to watch the dependable heroes you know and love be racked with fear, doubt and disbelief. The new additions, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, do their job well of selling the right motivation and still have them evolve without the use of a dark trip to the subconscious.
Let’s be honest, character development is all good, but what about the knock-down-drag-outs we expect from our super hero flicks now? Age of Ultron has it in spades. There are action set pieces that not only punctuate the film and the individual arcs, but will leave you picking up your jaw from rubble. Somehow the stakes seem higher and the odds more impossible. You will be reminded how hard it must be to continue to the next fight (even when they’re this much fun for the spectator).
So, what is it to be an Avenger, apart from the obvious. Well, to tell you would be to spoil it somewhat, but rest assured…you’ll have no doubt.
4* – The Modfather 2