I mean, c’mon, now they’re just toying with us, right? The first Avengers movie’s lack of the call-to-arms-catchphrase seemed like an oversight at the time. This time we get not one but two subversions on the famous mantra: “Avengers Assemble!”. Oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT, but I figured that went without saying.
Much like the current season of ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was more of a lead in, a bridging of the gap, with the creative team at Marvel Studios shuffling the deck and setting the groundwork for the poker hand to come.
It was certainly nice to have a One-shot Avengers movie in which, even though tying into the larger Marvel Universe was important, the story began after the trailers and ended with the closing credits (where was the second after credit scene btw!?!?!). Ultron has long been one of the great villains of the Avengers’ bullpen, from a stint as leader of the Masters of Evil, through the Ultron Unlimited arc from which pieces of the movie were formed and even into space in the ‘Annihilation: Conquest’ series. His sadistic rationale for the extinction of humanity flies completely in the face of what the Avengers stand for. He deserved to stand at the forefront for the full 141 minutes of the film.
Because of that, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ felt more like a graphic novel than any of the previous films. What we must ask ourselves is whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. The wall-to-wall action scenes bookended with forgettable character drama, the glorious assemblage fight shots that scream “two page spread” and the subtle meta-winks at long-time fans harken back to the 80’s and 90’s when the comic book industry did it’s damndest to over-stimulate the crap out of you. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What I’m disappointed in is the lack of shadow players present. Sure, we got the Vision as a big reveal, but we already knew he was coming in some capacity from the second trailer. Paul Bettany finally got to show his albeit android face and fight alongside the heroes after merely computing and aiding them as Tony Stark’s Matrix-based assistant, Jarvis. Vision is an immensely important figure in Avengers lore, a powerful android with the ability to throw down with the big guns, while often playing the role of the mechanical beating heart of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (and the antithesis to Ultron’s hate).
The only real tie in to the upcoming Marvel movie phase was Thor’s revelation that the Infinity Stones (or Gems or whatever you want to call them) are all slowly starting to come into play. And so for our mid-credit delight we got Thanos, the nihilist necro-phile who is actually behind it all. But wait, wasn’t that exactly what we got in the mid-credit scene in the first ‘Avengers’ movie? Yes, yes it was. Only this time he has a glove to contain the Stones! So, yeah, we found out that Thanos and the Infinity Stones are going to be the main points in the next Avengers movies, which, them having been titled ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ parts 1 and 2, we kinda already knew that!
Now, I have my own suspicions about who Dr Helen Cho might end up becoming (although now that I think about it I may just be race-casting at this point). With the impending trip into the cosmos for the next epic assembling of heroes, a certain Celestial Madonna may be making an entrance. Mantis is a character with weird and somewhat nondescript powers and is also a character that has been a part of both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, so she’d be a easy fit in the kaleidoscope of intellectual property.
We got Klaw but no Black Panther, no mention of Dr. Strange, not even a hint that Carol Danvers will be getting her own film in between the two ‘Infinity War’ flicks. Agent 13 couldn’t make an appearance despite S.H.I.E.L.D. showing up to save the day (or at least save some measly Sokovians while the Avengers save the day). I know this was a filler movie, but some of us have been waiting for this for a long long time, and a couple of bones (or even a Crossbones) would have been nice.
Still, with Phase 3 about to start in earnest, and Netflix’s Daredevil rumored to be called up into the big leagues before the cosmic blasts fade to cooling ash, with Marvel Studios having wrested the rights to its favorite web-head back form the villainous clutches of Sony (who hurt Peter Parker and all he loved far more than the Green Goblin ever did), the best is yet to come.