‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ or — Can One Shot Destroy a Movie?
I was never a big fan of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015) to start with but I’ve never been a Joss Whedon anyway and with the exception of the Russo’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider’ (2014) I’ve never been too fussed with Marvel either. Yet this also meant I didn’t understand quite why ‘Ultron’ was regarded as a Marvel movie with issues as it simply seemed more of the same to me. I thought I’d revisit it last night out of morbid curiosity and yes, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is definitely more of the same and it most certainly has issues.
Look, I don’t care if it was Tony Stark who made Ultron (although it’s a stupid idea) and not Hank Pym or if Thor had a magic paddling pool that gives him visions or that the Hulk seemingly has a pilot’s license. All I wanted was a fun, colourful, action-packed movie with a serviceable story. And for the first forty minutes or so that’s what I got. Yes, you can feel certain plot points rushed or brutally crammed in as well as seeds planted to set-up future movies but it’s bright and clips along decently enough. So far so okay, even if the quips are starting to becoming very grating and seriously unfunny. Where are the problems?
For me they start when Black Widow retrieves Cap’s shield and informs them she’s not there to pick up after the boys, even though it seems that’s all she’s actually doing albeit with full awareness of the fact. I couldn’t figure out if this was empowering, patronising or simply bad script writing. I decided to be gracious and go with empowering and/or bad script writing… only to then see Black Widow moments later standing behind a bar and pouring Banner a drink. Isn’t she part of the Avengers, too, and not their servant? Maybe she’s just being nice to Bruce?
But after that her only job is to de-hulk the Hulk meaning Black Widow’s only function in this film is to be a maid, a barmaid and a nursemaid and then a set of air-bags when Banner falls on her tits. Oh, and then she declares herself a monster for not being able to have kids because, as everyone knows, childless women are terrifying creatures. What’s going on here and why is this film on Disney Plus?
Then ‘A:AOU’ gets really boring, and I mean REALLY boring. The entire movie just stops dead in its tracks and for a film this lumbering and huge that can be unrecoverably fatal. This is compounded by Ultron himself rapidly descending into an incredibly dull villain, nothing more than a multiplying tin-can in possession of some badly written jokes.
This is one, but not the only, reason why the last fifty minutes of ‘Age of Ultron’ are so agonisingly turgid. For one thing, Ultron’s plan — to lift a city up into the air and drop it — is both simplistic and confusing so no stakes or tension are able to take hold. I’d forgotten that I completely switch off for the last hour of this movie because ultimately nothing matters which is why it is so forgettable but because it is so forgettable I had forgotten it is so forgettable meaning I might have to go full on Guy Pearce in ‘Memento’ mode and get “The last hour of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is boring and forgettable” tattooed onto my body so I don’t forget how forgettable it is. And, quite frankly, I’m not prepared to do that.
So I was bored, intensely so, but not offended. And then Quicksilver is shot and killed and what is Whedon’s directorial approach to this terrible shock? To point the camera straight down Scarlet Witch’s top for a full on shot of some “grief cleavage”. I thought this was meant to be a moving, sensitive scene in a kid’s superhero movie but instead I’m grappling with cinematic decisions I’d expect from Tinto Brass!
I was curious as to whether or not this was an issue with Marvel films in general or just ‘Ultron’ so I put on ‘Civil War’ (2016) and nope, that was perfectly fine. Then again, the Russo brothers know that you still need to bring a sense of maturity to a film especially if it’s trading in escapist fun because the risk of slipping from the childlike to the infantile is a constant danger, and one vastly more insidious and dangerous than a sentient killer robot.