Superhero Roundtable Discussions is a new series here on GamingIlluminaughty.com where writers will come together to discuss superhero/comic book movies. If you missed our first discussion on our most anticipated superhero films, click HERE. Today’s discussion will be covering our thoughts and opinions on Marvel’s latest film, Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is going to be full of spoilers.
*Before you read any further, know that we SPOIL THE HELL OUTTA THIS FILM*
*You have been warned! SPOILERS*
Austin Manchester: To start, I want to say that I went into Avengers: Age of Ultron with tepid expectations. I was actually more excited for the future Marvel films taking place after Age of Ultron — Civil War especially. However, AoU was definitely better than I expected. I want to start off with the positives of the film, and I would say that the humor was on point — as in just about all Marvel movies. The “Lifting Thor’s Hammer” scene was great early in the film and was hilariously referenced later on. Same with Cap’s “Language” comment.
But people aren’t going to see this for the humor. They’re seeing it for the heroes and I thought the film did an excellent job of divvying up scree ntime and for each Avenger and gave each hero something important to do. My favorite scene was definitely when Captain America was fighting Ultron. One of the best choreographed scenes of the film. And of course the Hulkbuster fight! Seeing Iron Man’s armor flying down and constantly replacing itself was awesome and a fantastic use of CGI — it reminded me of how awe-inducing seeing a Transformer morph between car and robot was in the Transformers films. While the fight was probably unnecessary and did little to serve the plot, it was still badass and will be remembered as one of the best scenes of the film.
I think the new Avengers delivered. I wasn’t sold on the Maximoff twins at first — their villainous motivations weren’t good enough for me — but once they joined the team I was ecstatic to see how they would help in the fight against Ultron. Scarlet Witch is definitely awesome and brings the element of magic that was previously absent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Before I saw the film I thought the twins were just going to take away screen time from the heroes audiences really wanted to see, but by the end I grew to like them and I look forward to seeing Scarlet Witch next in Civil War.
Okay, I’ve typed enough — what made you nerdgasm during the film?
Malaiko: I also really enjoyed the movie. The movie had so much hype behind it and in regards to that, I don’t think it lived up to expectations because it was way too hyped up. I don’t think any movie could ever live up to the type of hype that this movie had, but Age of Ultron is indeed a superior film to the previous Avengers film.
First off, my favorite thing about this movie was the action sequences. There are multiple big actions sequences throughout the film like Hulkbuster vs. Hulk, Captain America vs. Ultron, Avengers vs. Ultron & his army, just to name the big ones. Those were incredibly well done and well choreographed, particularly the Cap vs. Ultron fight. While it would be impossible for Captain America to beat Ultron, the way they handled the fight was perfect for me because they showed Captain holding his own. He’s not as powerful as Thor or the Hulk, or even as well equipped as Iron Man, but they made perfect use of his abilities in the fight, showing his dodge, counter and even landing a couple of nice hits against Ultron. That fight scene was one of the highlights of the films for me.
I thought the acting was great. Everyone brought their A-game, even newcomers Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen who play Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, respectively. Despite their laughable accents, their performances were pretty solid, particularly Olsen. She really came through and gave us fans a strong, yet damaged portrayal of the Scarlett Witch.
I also loved the easter eggs to future films they added in throughout the film, like them going more in depth in regards to the various qualities and value of Vibranium, as well as the wood chopping scene between Captain America and Iron Man. Perfect foreshadowing into Civil War. Overall, I thought it was a great film that got me even more excited to the future of the MCU that’s coming out way in Phase 3.
Manchester: I agree that the acting was spot on. I’ve never seen Taylor-Johnson or Olsen act before but they held their own in the film, especially Olsen.
But I have to disagree with you on the action sequences. Aside from the Hulkbuster and Cap vs. Ultron fights, I really think they did a poor job with the fighting. They were just way too fast and showed too many people on screen at once. The opening sequence? It may be because I have shitty vision, but it was freakin’ hard to follow along. Everybody was going so fast, we jumped from one character to another, and it was all just too hectic to keep up with. Now, there were some awesome attacks, like when Thor and Cap would come together to do a move reminiscent of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.
And then all the fighting at the end versus the robot army. Everybody was scattered about and when they came together in the church I was wondering where to look. With nine Avengers all fighting at the same time on screen, I’m sure I missed someone do something really awesome.
But we gots to talk about Ultron before I complain about anything else. Marvel has a history of making terrible villains, so I don’t know why I expected any better coming into this film, but I thought Ultron would be the first great Marvel villain. Disappointingly, he just joined the long line of half-assed Marvel villains. To start, his origin was just way too rushed. I wasn’t really sure where he came from — scepter’s gem, right? Okay, that’s fine, but why is Ultorn immediately gung ho to destroy the world? Where did his motivation come from? Where did his thoughts about destroying the world and evolving the human race and all that come from? Why did his goal (destroy the world) have to be so cliche? Why did he have to be so much like Stark (with all the quips, that were admittedly funny) and not a terrifying force of destruction? Why did he have to look so goddamn ugly throughout? I mean, just use James Spader’s voice not his face! Ultron is supposed to look terrifying, like this:
For once, why can’t Marvel just make a decent villain?! What really pissed me off the most was the ending where Ultron goes out like a pussy. He gets his ass kicked by Iron Man, Thor, and Vision and they let him get away (WHY?!) only so he can fly a plane and shoot at the heroes and anticlimactically get his ass handed to him by the Hulk, like how the Hulk made a joke of Loki in the first Avengers (a scene I absolutely detest). And his pathetic army! None of the heroes were in danger unless Joss Whedon wanted them to be in peril. If Ultron is an AI that can be in any and all the Ultron bodies, why can’t they put up a good fight? Like you mention, Cap had a rough go at fighting Ultron, but can easily displace of his lackeys? Why couldn’t they have stronger bodies like Ultron’s ugly ass?
And his plan! Oh my God, what the hell, Ultron? His plan to destroy the world was so convoluted and dumb! Just hack into some government, get their nuclear launch codes, and destroy the planet! If the plot didn’t prevent him from doing it, then he obviously could just blow the world away.
Speaking of Ultron’s plan, the way Iron Man and Thor solved it was just stupid and done too quickly and was basically just them showing off their CGI. I didn’t really get how Iron Man and Thor saved everyone — “Hey, let’s blow this chunk of rock up and have huge pieces of it rain down on everybody below, but because nobody dies in Avengers films, all the pieces of the country will end up in a body of water and a forest.” I mean, not all of the country was lifted up — there was still a good chunk of the country that was not lifted up.
Oh man, I just ranted way too much. Before I complain about anything else, I want to know what you think of Ultron as a villain/character.
Malaiko: I agree with you 100% on Ultron. In the comics Ultron is one of the Avengers’ deadliest and most ruthless villains, but in this movie he was used way too many times as comedic relief. I understand he had aspects of Tony Stark’s personality but I don’t care. This was the perfect chance for Marvel to create a supervillain who is pure evil — someone who has no regard for human life, someone who isn’t trying to be funny. I understand the audience that they’re aiming for but at the end of the day they did a disservice to the character by having him reduced to a crazy robot who was funny more often than he was menacing. The fact that they had him making jokes in those “threatening” moments made it hard for me to take him or his plan seriously. At one point I was debating which one was the funniest character of the movie, Stark or Ultron? A villain of his magnitude isn’t meant to be funny.
And you’re so right about his plot to destroy the world. Once again Marvel came up with a convoluted plan to end the life of everyone on Earth. You mean to tell me that Ultron, who at birth was strong enough to defeat and allegedly destroy Jarvis and escaped into the internet, isn’t smart enough to hack nuclear launch codes? Furthermore, how the hell did he create an entire robot army in just a few days time? He was capable of doing all those amazing feats, but when it comes to creating an army he creates basically idiotic, metal fodder for the Avengers to take care of.
Also, I get they were foreshadowing Thor: Ragnarok, but Thor’s journey to figure out what his visions meant after Scarlett Witch messed with his mind was idiotic and a complete waste of time. He has his mind messed around then goes for a dip in beautiful lake inside a cave and suddenly he knows what he has to do? Give me a break. That scene was cringe worthy.
Lastly, why do they have Black Widow flirting or having a thing with one of the Avengers in every damn movie she’s in? They’ve had her flirt and have hinted at a possible love connection with Hawkeye, Iron Man, Captain America and now Bruce Banner aka the Hulk! She started out as this badass spy who can hold her on and now they’ve downgraded her almost to the level of romantic interest. It’s like her purpose in the story isn’t even to help out the team, but to shoehorn a romance in there between her and one of her teammates. Had they alluded to a romance and have started building upon said romance with one specific character throughout the course of the MCU it would be one thing but what they’re doing is annoying and unnecessary.
Manchester: Sadly, though, Ultron is probably in the better half of Marvel villains, honestly. And you’re completely right about his army being metal fodder. I was actually confused for a bit, because I thought he stole a shitload of Vibranium to build an army of Vibranium Ultrons, but I guess he got just enough for the Vision? Oh well.
Those storylines you mentioned I think are a byproduct of Marvel just trying to do too much in this film. Set up Ragnarok AND have an excuse to make Chris Hemsworth take his shirt off? Why not?! I honestly didn’t get the purpose of that and wondered why going to this hot tub time machine would benefit Thor in the fight against Ultron. “I took my shirt off and stood in a pool — now I know we need the Vision!”
And I’d be fine with a romantic subplot if it didn’t just come out of nowhere. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner has only been in the two Avengers films and nowhere in the first one was there a hint that he and Black Widow had a thing for each other.
I do think that the background information for Black Widow and Hawkeye was useless. I think their only purpose is to take screen time away from everybody else and making Hawkeye have a family was ultimately pointless and a red herring — Joss Whedon wanted everyone to think Hawkeye was going to die so that the Quicksilver death was even more surprising.
Although, the conversation scene between he and his wife had me cracking up. All I could think of was this:
HE’S FRIGGIN’ HAWKEYE!
The film just had too many characters. I had no idea where that Korean doctor came from and her immortality machine was just too OP and over-the-top. They included War Machine (no longer the Iron Patriot I guess) in the party scene and then kicked him out when the real movie had to start, only for him to show up at the end to help save the day. Why can’t he just become an official Avenger — he’s certainly more useful than Hawkeye and Black Widow! He’s basically just like Iron Man without the computer/programming smarts. And I seriously wonder what insane amount of money Anthony Mackie received to show up at the party, say one line, and then appear at the end for no reason.
Lastly, as Christopher Walken once said, “Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription is MORE VISION!!!”
Where the Vision at?!?!?!
Malaiko: The main weakness Marvel films have to be quite honest with you is the fact that rarely do we get a standalone story. The universe is connected and that’s great, it works but to a lesser degree it also works against it. All their films like like Avengers always try to leave too many easter eggs and they always try to set up future storylines instead of focusing on the current film’s story arc, which causes the story of the movie to suffer because of too many things being thrown in there. They hinted at Black Panther and they pretty much started setting up Thor: Ragnarok and Captain America: Civil War in this movie which resulted in scenes that really were unnecessary and felt forced.
You’re so right about Falcon! Why did they even bother to put Anthony Mackie in the film? It’s to set up this new Avengers team that’s gonna show up in the future. That’s basically it; he served no other purpose. They could have brought him out for the final battle like they did with War Machine but they didn’t even do that.
I’m honestly fed up with Hawkeye’s character. First Avengers movie he was pretty much nonexistent and irrelevant, and in this one he’s basically set up as the driver for the team and stuck taking care of the Ultron robot fodder. And then they introduce his secret family to try and add some depth to the character but I’ve had enough. I don’t care about him anymore, let him be with his family. Put someone new on the team I’m tired of seeing him get treated like he basically doesn’t exist. Either give him a big role to play in the movie or I don’t want to see him make an appearance at all.
The Vision got the Venom treatment of Spider-Man 3, only showed up for the last 20 minutes or so and only had a few lines. The rest was pretty much CGI. He’s overpowered as hell but he was basically there to give morality speeches and kill Ultron. I would have rather him have played a bigger role in the movie, maybe appear halfway not almost at the end.
Also, I realize this is really just me nitpicking but they made the same mistake here they did in the first Avengers movie. How the hell were they all communicating with one another in different locations with no ear pieces?? How hard is it to give the actors some ear pieces,? I don’t get it. That took away from the film for me because the whole time they’re talking I’m sitting there wondering how Iron Man is communicating with Captain America when Cap has no ear piece? It’s such a small flaw but its so annoying because they made the same mistake in the first Avengers movie as well.
Manchester: You’re exactly right and brought up something I wanted to touch on. The core flaw of Age of Ultron is that it doesn’t matter. Nothing in this film matters. The only scenes that are important are those that set up the future films (Thor scene, Klaw scene, etc.). You could easily skip Avengers: Age of Ultron and it wouldn’t matter. All you would need to know is that there was a another infinity gem “discovered,” that Scarlet Witch is now an Avenger, and that the tension between Captain America and Iron Man is growing.
As you said, this is the main flaw of the Marvel films. They are so concerned about setting up the universe and future films that the individual films suffer and lack consequences, something I absolutely hate in films. For example, in the first Avengers movie, the scene where Iron Man flies to space, falls back down unconscious, and then everyone gets so worried is so unnecessary. He’s signed on for at least three more films! Nothing is going to happen to him! Don’t waste my time with that shit. Same thing in AoU, although it didn’t last as long. Iron Man tells Thor when they do their special thingy at the end that they might not make it out and then Widow and Cap discuss how dying on the rock would be a good way to go out. These lines waste time because I know without a doubt these characters will survive. And I was pissed when Elizabeth Olsen announced that her Scarlet Witch would appear in Civil War, effectively making it so that she was wearing heavy plot armor throughout Age of Ultron (I guess her twin wasn’t leveled up enough to equip plot armor yet). While Quicksilver’s death was an interesting twist and I’m surprised they had to balls to kill off a character, especially a new one, I feel like it doesn’t really matter seeing as how Coulson died and came back. Who’s stopping Pietro from coming back? Maybe that Korean doctor’s miracle machine can help bring him back. I get that it’s a comic book movie, but still, let actions have consequences. Quicksilver is dead and should remain so.
And just imagine how much better Ultron and the Vision (and their relationship) would have been if they dedicated all of the screen time the filmmakers used to develop Hawkeye and Black Widow to developing Ultron and Vision. Ultimately, Hawkeye and Widow serve as much purpose as Maria Hill and Nick Fury and the film would be better served spending time with the new characters rather than with a Green Arrow wannabe.
You’re right about the earpiece thing. It’s laughable. And psychic Hulk knowing when/where to be and knowing only to fight the bad guys is rather funny.
Okay, I think we’ve touched on every criticism I had with the film. Anything you want to add before we discuss Age of Ultron’s impact on the future of the MCU?
Malaiko: No I think we can jump right into what this movie means for the future of the MCU. Like we’ve previously stated, this movie left plenty of easter eggs and set up multiple storylines that are yet to come. The biggest of those in my opinion is the inevitable confrontation between Cap and Iron Man. We saw once again their ideals clash in this film, they even had a brief fight right before Vision was born. Civil War is going to be Marvel’s biggest film from Phase 3, in my opinion, and that movie will not only change the outcome and future of the MCU, but it will probably change how superhero movies are done. I think the impact that movie will have is going to be massive. There are plenty of big movies coming out for Phase 3 such as Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Black Panther and Captain Marvel but what’s going to redefine the MCU is Civil War. It’s no longer going to be superheroes vs supervillains, it’s going to be heroes vs heroes and the interesting thing is you could argue for both sides. There isn’t one true right answer. It’s all about perspective and I think that will make for a really interesting and different movie from the rest that we’ve seen up until now. For me Avengers: Age of Ultron’s biggest role was setting up Civil War.
Manchester: I would say that Age of Ultron’s biggest role wasn’t only to set up Civil War but all future Marvel movies, as you touched upon earlier. On the topic of the Civil War, I really wonder what the conflict is going to be about. For those who don’t know, the comics Civil War was started over a divide on the Superhero Registration Act. It required heroes to register with the government. However, in the MCU films, all the Avengers are basically associated with the government as is and all their identities are known. So, either the Civil War is going to come from a different government act regulating superheroes or from a divide between Cap and Iron Man over the lengths that Stark will go to keep the world safe. I’m really curious to see how this conflict manifests itself in a way that would create a Civil War between heroes and I also want to see how they’re going to divide the new team.
I just want to say that I think the mid-credits scene was kind of stupid. I get that they’re trying to set up the Infinity War films, but having Thanos say “Fine, I’ll do it myself” (or something like that) is kind of silly seeing as how they’ve got three years and five films to come out until the Infinity War starts (granted, he might make an appearance in GOTG2). He’s still going to be the “puppet master” that he is until the Infinity War finally starts. Looking forward to it!
Do you have any concluding thoughts before we wrap this up?
Malaiko: Yeah you nailed it when you talked about the divide between Cap and Iron Man over the lengths Stark will go to keep the world safe. I definitely think that’s the route they’ll be going for, seeing as, like you also said, all the Avengers in the movies don’t really have secret identities – we know who they are and who they work/worked for (S.H.I.E.L.D.).
Also, I’m going to mention the wood chopping scene between Tony and Steve in Age of Ultron when Steve tells him “Every time someone tries to win a war before it even starts innocent people die.” I loved that quote and it showed Steve’s stance against Stark beautifully. Yes Stark is trying to save the world but in trying to do too much at once he ended up creating Ultron who almost killed everyone. In fact, people did die. That was one of my favorite scenes in the film and I think in Civil War we’ll see their ideals clash on a much bigger scale and I can’t wait for that.
For the mid-credits scene I would have preferred they teased us one of the new heroes we’ll be seeing in Phase 3. They could have teased Black Panther because Vibranium, which comes from his country, played such a big role in this. I would have also liked to see a Spider-Man tease. I’m sure most of your average movie goers aren’t aware that Spider-Man is going to be making his debut in next year’s Civil War film (Editor’s note: this is a rumor and hasn’t been confirmed yet) so they could have filmed a scene showing the Daily Bugle and us hearing J. Jonah Jameson call out Parker’s name. We don’t even need to see Peter Parker (he hasn’t been cast yet), just the Daily Bugle and J.J. calling out his name wondering where he is is iconic enough that most people would see that Spidey will be showing up in the future of the MCU.
Manchester: Really, anything would have been better than the scene they included, and I like your suggestions.
But I think our discussion or Avengers: Age of Ultron has come to a close. Thank you all for reading!
And that concludes this Superhero Roundtable Discussion! Be on the lookout for more and if you have any suggestions for topics, make sure to drop a comment below! We thank you for reading!