Welcome to a new age, a new rage, a child’s cry in the darkness – welcome to the Age of Ultron, the latest Avengers movie to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While on it’s surface the story of Ultron, which has been going on in comics since 1968, appears simple tale of Artificial Intelligence gone awry, in actuality it is so much more. There are so many aspects to the story, many not even covered in the movie: life, death, rebirth, hate, rage, a child lashing out against it’s father, passion, desire, love, loss, oedipal complexes, jealousy. But most of all it’s about a story about how life, despite being broken at times, can persevere. These are the aspects that have brought to life this mad-crazed machine, Ultron, over the years.
There are several aspects of this movie that change the story, and some with very good reason. Some I’m actually happy to see go because they are actually more violent and invasive than any supervillain rampaging through a city will ever be. And others… well I now have concerns that we’ll never see two of my favorite heroes, Wonder Man and Adam Warlock, ever appear on screen. Don’t worry, it isn’t as sad as it may sound, and it doesn’t mean they won’t exist, it just means their tales will have to be different. That sacrifice leads to a great adaptation of what I imagine was a difficult character to envision, The Vision. One of the five most central characters to any Ultron story, his portrayal by Paul Bettany is remarkable, and it serves to properly portray the morality of the story.
You may just think you’re going to watch a group of ten, yes 10, superheroes on the screen battling a bad guy, saving the day. And yes, there is much action you shall see because roughly 80% of this movie is action, and that is huge. However, despite that you will want to see The Avengers fight and win, you will probably find yourself rooting a bit for the quirky, genocidal Ultron. Voiced by James Spader who is well known for playing both crazy dudes and evil doers, a new aspect of Ultron comes, one not provided in comic books, humor. And I don’t mean irony. Ultron himself has a sense of humor, and it’s both amazing and terrifying at the same time.
What about “The Twins”? In comic books you might know them as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, the Mutant children of the master of magnetism himself, Magneto. However, even when this movie closes its unclear if they’ll ever be known by their superhero names. And we already know that due to business dealings they won’t ever be Mutants, and Magneto won’t be a part of their story. Overall, I think their story as told in the movie is done well enough because it requires less foreknowledge, which is important for audiences who many only ever know these characters from the movies.
War Machine fans will be happy as there is a lot of Rhodey in this film, and his look is now closer to comic books than it has been before. And fans will love that. The biggest win though is Hawkeye, as fans of both the character and Jeremy Renner will get a lot of great character development as he is one of the driving forces in this story. In other words, fans wanted more of both of these characters, and now they’ve got it. Oh yeah, and a certain love story starts to take a lot of strides forward, even though it seems to go the same way as Captain America: The First Avenger at the end – that last statement is both vague and intentionally misleading so as to remain spoiler free.
My feelings about this movie are a little mixed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s was utterly amazing to watch and made me shudder with joy at times. But I’m about one of the biggest comic book geeks on the planet. This story is all for folks like me. It’s a lot more like reading a comic book than any other Marvel movie ever. And I can therefore see where it won’t appeal to many who are not comic book fans. The story is hard to follow, the motivations of the villain are not well defined without taking into account foreknowledge. That won’t stop people from going to see this movie, it’s projected to cap $2 billion dollars when all is said and done, and it’s already made more than $250 million dollars before it’s official US opening.
There are a lot of questions left on the table with this movie. The face of the Avengers changes a lot more than was expected even by a fan like myself. But that’s in sticking with comic books, an Ultron story is always a game changer. You don’t have to stay past the credits for this one folks as there is no post-credits scene, but don’t think that you’re being stiffed. If you count carefully enough you’ll notice there are 4 equivalent scenes at the end of the movie.
Comic book fans, especially long time Avengers fans like myself will love this movie. Marvel movie fans, will love this movie as well, though likely not as much as the first Avengers film. It’s important to note there’s very little backstory here, it is expected that you know what’s gone before to watch this one – it is not self standing film. It’d be like starting a 30 chapter book at chapter 16. Go back watch at least some of the others, including the first Avengers if you haven’t. Parents might have to explain some things to children, as there is a lot of graphic violence and scary events in this film. This one will end up being the second biggest movie event of the year, and only because this year we get a new Star Wars film.