Hopefully, you have all read my last post on my thoughts about the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One and the first Avengers movie. Today I just sat down to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron to refresh my thoughts and my feelings on the MCU's Phase two.
Age of Ultron in some ways can be considered a self-contained Avengers story. The story that takes place in the movie is connected to previous events, but those events are not well known. Some are barely even mentioned beforehand. The character of Baron von Strucker is only ever spoken about in the show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a few times, but never seen until this movie. Many audience members have no idea who he is. Comic book readers may only recognize him from his monocle. The character is then killed by Ultron pretty early in the film. This feels like a weird thing to happen to a character that has been around the comic scene for quite some time.
It is good to see that Loki's staff, or scepter, is still a threat. Loki's scepter is taken by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first Avengers movie. We now know that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been corrupted by Hydra for a long time after what happened in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Baron von Strucker was handed the power of the scepter with no questions asked. This was only mentioned in the movie once, and it took me a few times to understand how Strucker got the staff.
An interesting turning point in the story happens rather early when Scarlet Witch pushes Tony Stark's mind. She sees Tony's worst fears. Tony has been showing signs of anxiety since Iron Man 3. Stark understands that he is human, and the threats that he has faced are not of this world. They are from a world he does not understand. Because of the dangers he has seen, Tony has begun to worry. What does a man that built his fortune in arms dealing do when he finds something more powerful than his own guns? He tries to develop more significant weapons. His idea for Ultron is where Stark gets careless. He asks Banner to help him only to see that what he wants goes too far. The character changes in Tony Stark are genuine in this movie.
The centerpiece of this movie, besides that of Ultron's, destroy the human race idea is the character development. Everyone has changed since the Battle of New York. They have all seen things more significant than their own problems. Each and every Avenger understands that the problems of the many outweigh the problems of the few. That is what makes them heroes, but that doesn't mean they will not struggle with their own issues while they are trying to save Sokovia.
Scarlet Witch's character is introduced in this movie and is immediately a big part of everyone's character development. The part in which she corrupts the minds of our heroes just goes to show us how deeply they have been affected by their past.
The twin brother of Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, is also introduced in this film. I personally like Aaron Taylor Johnson as an actor ever since his role in Kick-Ass. It is kind of unfortunate that he doesn't make it past this movie. I would have liked to see his character explored a little more.
Steve Rogers is still sad that he was frozen in time. He regrets not being there for Peggy Carter. The very thought of her alone at a dance continues to bother him.
Thor's visions of - The Vision - and the Infinity stones are projections of the future. Thor also sees the people of Asgard being hurt and being let down by him as he is next on the throne. Odinson feels as though he has let his people down before he has even had a chance to be their king.
Black Widow will always have red on her ledger. She may never be able to wipe it off, but at least now we know some of what happened in her past. Her training in the Red Room was long and grueling. She holds those strong memories and considers herself to be a monster.
Bruce Banner is always dealing with his guilt of what he does as the Hulk. He sees the Hulk as a last resort anytime the Avengers need extra muscle. He does not like to be on the front lines if he doesn't have to be. Black Widow has been working with him since the first movie, and it makes sense that they have some sort of spark. I don't know if they have ever had a relationship in the comics, but it works here in the MCU. They have a lot in common, and they are both significant to one another.
A lot is shown about Hawkeye in Age of Ultron. He has a family. One that has been in hiding for a long time. Of course, Fury knows about his family and their whereabouts. Barton's family has apparently been around for a while, they even call Black Widow their Auntie Nat. I have to admit that sounded weird to me at first.
Jarvis and his transition to the character of the Vision is not a plot point that stems from the comics, but it works so well here. We have heard Paul Bettany's voice in so many movies that it is weird (in a good way) to see his face on the screen. Vision is a fascinating character, and his true intentions are shown during his conversation with the last Ultron droid.
During Tony Stark's party, we get to see a lot of the other cast members that we haven't seen in an Avengers movie before. Characters like Sam Wilson who mentions he is still searching for Bucky. James Rhodes who just wants to be a part of the Avengers team and Maria Hill who is currently working in Stark Industries but not 100%. It is good to catch up with all of these people to round out the MCU. All of these characters have shown further progression in their own stories, and it is good to hear a little bit about it in this scene.
Our villain Ultron is merely menacing. He indeed is a robot in his words and his desires even when he shows his emotional side through anger. Something that has been seen in the comics. Ultron's need to rid the planet of humans is simple in theory, but the reason why he feels the need to do so is quite intricate. Ultron wants to do good but it in turn just makes him hate his creator. In the comics, Ultron is created by Hank Pym. Ultron's hatred for Pym in the comics is not so different from the anger he has for Stark in the film. Ultron is one of my favorite villains and is probably one of Joss Whedon's favorites as well. Joss Whedon stated that he asked Marvel if they would use Ultron in the movies before he even signed on to direct the first Avengers movie.
Phase two in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was written to raise the stakes. Captain America: Winter Soldier turned the universe on its head with the corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Bucky returning from the dead. Guardians of the Galaxy showed us that trouble expands beyond our own solar system. Thor: The Dark World reminds us that Thor can still trust Loki enough to fight by his side even if only for a little while, and Ant-Man displays a smaller universe that we can't see.
Watching this universe expand is captivating. The different areas in which the MCU grows is impressive to see even if you are not a comic book or superhero fan. The fact that they have managed to put this world together and still keep character's stories separate is remarkable.
Phase Three has begun to expand even more. Doctor Strange has shown us magic in this universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok shows us more of the cosmic landscape. We also received new members to the party with Spider-Man Homecoming and Black Panther.
The characters are still at the forefront of the stories that are told. Each character has standards and morals which is why Captain America: Civil War is important to Marvel's Cinematic Universe. It shows how passionate each person is about what they believe to be true. The aftermath of Age of Ultron is not just some simple repair job. The world still needs time to heal after the destruction that was caused. Teams have changed, and people have been lost, but that allows the overall story to move forward.
It is crucial for our heroes to be lost at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. If one is not lost how can you expect them to find themselves?