Avengers: Age of Ultron
(M) Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffulo
They’re back to save the world, but can they save themselves?
Sometimes in the search for peace, mankind can cause more problems than solutions. It is not much different for The Avengers. In the newest chapter in the lives of our favourite band of superheroes, they have been left to manage the world’s villains.
After retrieving and studying Loki’s sceptre, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sees the opportunity to create the ultimate peacekeeper, Ultron (James Spader). In short order, the plan goes awry and Stark’s arrogance creates a seemingly omnipotent villain who seeks peace in the form of the eradication of mankind.
In his masterplan for mankind’s demise, Ultron successfully divides the superhero force. The Avengers have to determine how they can battle the demons within themselves, as well as this new force of evil in the world.
The original Avengers film was a brilliant mix of superhero personalities, action and humour. In this new adventure, the action is back and director Joss Whedon continues to give a comedic spin to proceedings. While not a bad experience, seeing Age of Ultron does conjure up a ‘been there, done that’ kind of feeling. While Whedon does enough to add new components to this outing and develop key characters — giving the story a fresh spin — but it is built on the original story formula. There is a lot of connective tissue introduced in this sequel (as it’s the beginning of “Avengers: Phase 2”, which sets up many other story arcs) leaving minimal opportunity for substantive character development.
One notable exception would be archer Hawkeye, whose storyline adds a much-needed human touch. Spader provides an effective villainous element to the Ultron character, but is left with the inevitable trap of monologuing blunders that plague supervillians. We also get to meet other new characters but, with the exception of Vision, they present as one dimensional and fail to add much. The action is spectacular and heart-stopping at times, but the future films will need to find other means of assisting with humanity’s salvation that do not include the total annihilation of large cityscapes.
Avengers: Age of Ultron met many of the expectations, by successfully entertaining the audience with action and cheeky dialogue. But it did not offer much new to the franchise or genre. In the end, Avengers: Age of Ultron was an enjoyable deja vu experience.
Even though some things are unoriginal, an enjoyable element of this hero adventure is found in the script. Joss Whedon and his writers must have had a Bible nearby, because it seems a key resource for content in their film. Ultron has been given some of the best lines of the film and many of them reference or directly quote key passages from the accounts of Noah and Jesus. The script is not a theological exercise by any means, but whispers of God’s meta-narrative are evident throughout the film.
As with all superhero films, the core storyline relies on the world’s need for a saviour (or saviours, in the case of The Avengers). Whedon manages to show that these heroes are fallible. Unlike Jesus, who is the example of the infallible Saviour, the writing exposes the Avengers’ imperfections and weaknesses. One prime example is found in their desire for peace and security. The Avengers answer to world peace seems brilliant and effective, but proves to be problematic. This should prompt discussion about who can be relied upon, if these heroes prove to be susceptible to failure. This is one example among many, but does set up Age of Ultron to be a good mix of discussion points — which also assist the film in being an engaging experience.
After the supernova of The Avengers, can expectations be too high for Avengers: Age of Ultron? Sure they can, but Marvel has set the bar high. Does Joss Whedon rise to the challenge? Yes, he manages to get the job done in his second outing in this franchise. It is action-packed, funny and unbelievably exciting, but the franchise will need a fresh fuel line of ideas to keep it from stalling in the future. Go along to enjoy the adventure, but do not expect too many surprises.
What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
- What is the way to ‘real’ peace? (Matthew 10:34-36, 2 Thessalonians 3:16)
- Can we become ‘better humans?’ (Genesis 1:27, Mark 7:20-23)
- What does the Bible have to say about working together as a team? (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, 1 Corinthians 12: 20-25)