A lot has changed in the world around comic book superhero movies since the first avengers film hit in 2012. Now shared universes are the box office gold every studio wants to mine. The Marvel Cinematic Universe itself is expanding at an exponential rate with numerous tv shows and soon the number of films a year will jump from 2 to 3 with Spiderman expected to appear on screen next year as well. So its natural to wonder after a time away how would the group dynamic of changed in the film? Well the simple answer is no and yes. The magic of the first film is still here though the characters are stronger and more fractured because it’s the stakes are higher.
The Avengers burst back onto the big screen with a bang wrapped up in an A* tracking shot. The camera spins and looms jumping up and weaving in and out of each member of the team as they dispatch a load of hydra goons in a forest. It’s an incredible sequence in the way it balances the individual little comedic character beats with the large scale action reminding us of the fact Marvel’s best with its characters.
In fact it’s no coincidence that Marvel have so far only deployed their secret weapon Joss Whedon (Famous for his ensemble character sci fi shows like Firefly and Buffy The Vampire Slayer) for their avengers films which are obviously focused on the large ensemble cast. If you read interviews with Whedon he came back to the franchise because he felt he still had places to go with this cast and that’s what makes the film great the action sequences are captivating the storyline line gripping but what sells this film is the characters. Often it’s easy to say with the solo films like Iron Man 3 and Captain America to ask if everything is so bad why don’t the others turn up and help out and this film shows why. Ultron is a threat strong enough to call them together. He tears them apart from the inside. One thread throughout the film is the question of what the avengers stand for and that isn’t decided by the end but it’s clear Ultron definitely isn’t it/ Ultron is more than some standard bad robot. He’s created by Tony Stark in the hope of creating a force of global protection but he rebels like a bad teenager. James Spader’s motion capture performance as Ultron is one of the best motion capture performances I’ve seen the way the film utilizes his voice and body to create this genuinely captivating character is impeccable.
In terms of the Avengers themselves there’s a change in where the focus fall on the members of the group . Captain America and Thor don’t have much to do because they’ve had their own solo films. But Hawkeye who was basically an extra in the last film is a main character in this one. So much so I’d proudly say he’s one of my favourite avengers now Renner’s shows a new comedic side to Hawkeye that I look forward to seeing more of in future films. Possibly the most emotional arc though is that of the relationship between Hulk and Black Widow it goes beyond the charm of the two to become a very deep relationship impeded by their own personal pasts. There are new avengers as well Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) opens up new angles for the action with the use of slo mo (The quicksilver stuff here is so much stronger than the stuff in Days of Future Past). Quicksilver opens up the team and brings a youthful vibe. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is another star in the cast. Scarlet Witch’s powers cause some initial problems for the avengers at the start but soon she proves herself in one of the most uplifting moments of the film. Yet the new member stealing the show is the vision (Paul Bettany) honestly it’s hard to describe how great the vision is on screen. He’s just so wonderfully weird looking and he seems like such a young character, it will be exciting to see him learn and grow on screen.
Avengers Age of Ultron is an entirely captivating film that proves that blockbusters can be just as smart and emotionally moving as normal dramas. This is the film that we’ve been waiting three years for and its worth the wait.