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Avengers: Age of Ultron stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, James Spader, and Samuel L. Jackson

When The Avengers first came to the big screen, many people wondered how writer/director Joss Whedon would take all of these characters and incorporate them onto the big screen. With Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye all facing Loki, it seemed like a big task to have one, coherent movie that gave every character the proper amount of screen time. Whedon pulled it off, bringing about Marvel’s biggest success to date. Now three years later, Joss Whedon is at it again. This time, there are even more characters, attempting to connect even more stories, and a gigantic scale that’s never been seen before in a superhero movie. But again, Joss Whedon pulled it off.

 

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Right from the start, Age of Ultrons wastes no time bringing on the action with a long shot of our heroes battling what seems to be the last Hydra base in Sokovia with their prized jewel: Loki’s scepter. Hiding in the base, Baron von Strucker is attempting to hold The Avengers off with his army of HYDRA agents. That plan’s not going so well as The Avengers are easily able to take them out. Iron Man finds his way into the compound, exploring a bit and discovering a secret laboratory full of Chitauri weapons and Loki’s scepter. As he approaches the scepter, he’s attacked by the Scarlet Witch (known as Wanda Maximoff). Wanda plants a vision in Tony’s mind that chills him to his core and sets him on the path that may lead to his greatest disaster to date.

 

Back at Stark/Avengers Tower, the group takes the time to relax and recover from their final battle with HYDRA. But as Stark investigates the scepter he makes a discovery — there’s an artificial intelligence within the scepter.Stark and Bruce Banner talk it over and Stark sees this as an opportunity to get The Avengers out of the game with his new program: the “Ultron” defense program. Stark wants to take the artificial intelligence and find a way to incorporate it into one of his suits. When all seems lost, JARVIS succeeds in finding an integration match…only for Ultron to destroy JARVIS. Ultron, looking through the internet, every memory bank, every bit of surveillance footage, sees that for him to bring peace to humanity, he must first bring down humanity for them to evolve. His first step? To make The Avengers extinct. Ultron hides out in von Stucker’s lab in Sokovia, giving himself a new body and recruiting both Wanda Maximoff and her twin brother, Quicksilver (known as Pietro Maximoff).

 

There’s a lot of ground to cover with Age of Ultron, bringing in new characters mixed in with the main cast as well as some of their sidekicks. But the character who shines the most has to be the villain, Ultron. There’s a reason James Spader was Whedon’s first choice for the role. Ultron isn’t just a robot created from the mind of Tony Stark. He’s something much deeper than that. Spader presents Ultron as a child, just brought into this world with the powers of a God. The dynamic between Stark and Ultron is similar to one you see of a son rebelling against his father. But Ultron, while menacing, is extremely childish, immature, to put it simply: he’s human. Aside from Ultron, Hawkeye may be the best thing to come out of this movie. While in The Avengers he was basically a thoughtless minion of Loki, Renner is finally given a chance to expand on his character. What we get is someone who loves working with The Avengers, but knows that there’s more to life than going out and fighting the bad guys. There’s also the introduction to The Vision which is just brilliant in every way.

 

For all of the good in Age of Ultron, there’s always going to be some issues as well. The biggest issue it would seem this time around is the pacing of the film. While Age of Ultron is already lengthy, at times it feels rushed and as if it could have used another 20-30 minutes, especially around the beginning when we’re introduced to our villain. There also could have been more added to the backstory of the twins as it feels like they’re just thrown into the movie with no warning, which is surprising considering they were teased after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It also would have been nice to gain a clearer idea of what Ultron’s powers are exactly as well as Wanda’s.

 

When it comes down to it, Avengers: Age of Ultron could be the most impressive film that has been made in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Is it the best though? That’s a bit tougher to answer due to the success of both The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. The fact that Whedon was able to, again, successfully integrate so many different characters into one movie is a feat of its own. With Whedon choosing to take a break from the MCU, it looks like it’ll be up to The Russo Brothers to take his place. They both have extremely giant shoes to fill and it’ll be interesting to see if they’re up for the challenge. Also, beware: while there is a mid-credits sequence, there is no after credits scene. I promise you, there is no reason to sit in the theater to watch the whole credits roll on by. There’s nothing waiting for you at the end.

The film is now playing.