Once again Marvel has raised the bar and changed the game for comic book movies with Avengers: Age of Ultron. To call this just a movie would be a serious understatement since there are so many pieces at work throughout the film.
You need to understand walking into this film that this is the 12th chapter in an ongoing story that started with Iron Man almost a decade ago. Just like reading a novel, if you come in after the third or fourth chapter once everything is established, expect to be a bit confused. So for those who haven’t been keeping up, it might seem like a mess, but for those who have been following since the beginning Age of Ultron is a thing of beauty.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect. It seems to lack much of the wit of the first film but it has a lot more ground to cover. We first meet up with the crew, back in action, attacking a Hydra base in Eastern Europe. Though they get what they are after it opens up a whole new Pandora’s Box to deal with in the aftermath.
Though not technically in the movie, Loki remains a pivotal piece of the MCU puzzle as his staff from the first film propels the sequel forward. Unlocking the secrets of his scepter bursts open the cinematic universe in ways fans might not expect. Some amount of world building is expected in a film like this but it is amazing just how far down the line Age of Ultron seems to be laying the groundwork.
Still, it all makes sense. Marvel and Director Joss Whedon have done such an amazing job setting up their universe that having them all interact on this scale just feels natural. Even as it expands out throughout the movie into unchartered territory none of it feels forced. About halfway through the movie the story takes a rapid narrative leap and introduces a character that, while integral to the comics, looks surreal on the big screen. The result changes that world forever.
As someone that grew up reading the comic books one of the best compliments I can give the movie is that it feels like watching the big screen adaptation of a great graphic novel. Most graphic novels are dense and filled with references to other story and jam packed with characters. Age of Ultron is no exception. Almost everyone from all the collective franchises shows up in one form or another. Some reviewers have called this exhausting and overly packed but, if anything, it allows the film to stay true to its roots.
Unlike the first film, Age of Ultron probably won’t be for everyone. Those new to the franchise are very likely to be confused by all the storylines going at once and really should watch the previous films before coming into it.
That being said, the ending is fantastic and does a great job of ushering in the next phase of the cinematic universe. All of it feels earned though rather than simply given, a feat that is hard to pull off in this genre.