At risk of sounding too hyperbolic too soon, Avengers: Age of Ultron might be the best movie Marvel has ever made.
As a sci-fi flick, it’s got some faults. There’s a lot of action and director Joss Whedon doesn’t leave enough pauses to process it all; it provides little backstory, so newcomers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe might get confused without context; it’s much darker than Marvel’s previous installments.
But the film has an incredible ambition to be much, much more than the sum of its parts. Beneath the capes, behind the punches, even underwriting the witty banter is a story not about the strength of superheroes fighting unfathomable evil, but about the strength of people battling their tangible fallen natures.
The story explodes into action right away with the original team: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). They’re on a raid to retrieve a powerful alien scepter that the pseudo-political cult HYDRA has been weaponizing since the first Avengers film. The team runs into some unexpected trouble in the form of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson), twins who developed superpowers during HYDRA’s experiments with the scepter.
After the successful mission, Tony and Bruce run experiments on the scepter that could help with their latest global security project, a program called Ultron (James Spader). Underneath the requisite tecnobabble, the scientists’ goal is to transfer the scepter’s mysterious intelligence to Tony’s robotic weapons and form a dispensable army of Ultrons, ...1