Avengers: Age of Ultron
Three years after the Avengers, in which the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes take on a bunch of easily killable mooks, they return, to take on…another bunch of easily killable mooks. Never mind the fact that the enemy is a living computer who lives on the internet, the secret to defeating him comes down to punching a hoard of robots. He’s able to take over Iron Man’s drones and use them to fight the Avengers, yet he never takes it to the logical extension of controlling Iron Man’s armor and using it against him.
Ultron has story-breaking power that he never actually uses, even though he really should and would have no reservations about doing so. The only reason he’s never able to inflict any lasting damage is because the writers don’t want him to win, even when there’s no possible way he could lose except for not trying at all.
That might be the case, however, as Ultron of the movie is more intent on performing sociopathic stand-up routines rather than actually being an antagonist. At virtually any point in Avengers after his introductory battle, Ultron manages to reach the cusp of threatening, and then decides he’d rather crack a joke to diffuse any tension the moment might have been able to possess.
It isn’t just Ultron that has a sense of comedic timing reminiscent of an incredibly sarcastic child. Joss Whedon, coming off his Buffy and Firefly days, warps the personality of virtually any character into a wise-cracking sycophant. The good news is that Hawkeye now actually has character traits and a personality, and Jeremy Renner nails it. The bad news is that he’s become yet another snark knight whose main pass-time is cracking jokes as innocent civilians lay dying at his feet.
Hulk rampaging through a city as Iron Man tries to stop him from killing too many people? Time for a joke. Ultron about to colony drop an entire country into the earth to kill all of humanity? Time for a joke. Literally any moment trying to carry some emotional weight? Well, guess it’s time to spin the wheel of sarcasm and find the nearest character to give him a joke!
There are so many out-of-place jokes in this movie that coming off serious entries like The Winter Soldier and actual comedies like Guardians of the Galaxy, the audience can’t even begin to take the insane genocidal robot with an ounce of gravitas. The only part of Avengers: Age of Ultron that you could possibly take less seriously is the utterly befuddling romantic pairing between Black Widow and the Hulk.
Putting aside the fact that they’ve never had any romantic interaction before this movie, putting aside the fact that Bruce is already linked to Betty Ross, whose name is conveniently never mentioned throughout the movie. Ultron is created when Tony and Bruce decide to use a recent discovery to finish their A.I. project and create a program that will oversee and police the entire world without any human input.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldiers, Black Widow spends the entire movie fighting against Hydra, who are trying to create a program that, SHOCKINGLY, will oversee and police the entire world without any human input. Tony and Bruce are doing quite literally the exact same thing that Hydra, a group literally created by the Nazis, did in Winter Soldier, yet Natasha has absolutely no problem with this, because Joss Whedon doesn’t like it when other kids are playing in his sandbox. The main selling point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is continuity, and when the director of the big crossover movie is taking a piss on that continuity, there’s a problem.
Finally, Thor discovers the secret to defeating Ultron by taking a dip in the Pool of Plot Convenience, never hinted at before in the Marvel movies and not explained in any material way. The worst part about this Deus Ex Machina is that it isn’t one that Thor could use to solve literally any problem ever, but rather that it’s the kind that will only ever need to be used in this one situation where they needed to slam Thor with plot exposition so that they could zoom past this movie to set up the next two-part movie coming out in three years!
I’ve been trying to summarize everything wrong with Age of Ultron for two weeks since I saw it in theaters, but now it’s finally become clear. Avengers: Age of Ultron spends too much time trying to set up the next movie in the series, and as a result fails to focus on the current story at hand. It doesn’t just put the cart before the horse, it launches the cart into another solar system altogether.
On the other hand, it’s still got explosions and stuff, so you may as well wait for it to drop on Netflix and chow down on some popcorn so you forget that you’re wasting two and a half hours of your life that you’ll never get back.