Marvel Podcast: Age of Ultron Sucks?
Many of The Story Geeks actually like Age of Ultron… but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it better. Listen here:
Marvel’s Infinity War just came out! And it was great. But… it was preceded by the worst Avengers movie of the three… Age of Ultron! Which means that we must do our best to MAKE IT BETTER! Justin Weaver joins Daryl and Jay to come up with ways to make Age of Ultron a better film!
What’d you think of Age of Ultron? What would you do to improve the story?
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Ashley’s Take: Age of Ultron Sucks? Well, it’s not terrible, but…
Confession time: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is actually my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film. As a massive MCU fan, I normally go out and buy the new Marvel films the second they’re available on DVD, but for a long time, “Age of Ultron” was the only MCU film I didn’t own.
To be fair, it’s not a terrible film; it’s not even a bad film, really. The first time I watched it, I didn’t have an overwhelmingly negative reaction to it. Yet over time, I came to realize that I’d choose to watch any other film in the MCU before watching this one. At least for me, “Age of Ultron” has always felt like a missed opportunity: a collection of intriguing ideas that never fully coalesce.
Although “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War” ended up delivering the things I was expecting from “Age of Ultron,” here are three things I would have changed to make “Age of Ultron” a stronger film.
1. Use the themes and foreshadowing more effectively.
I’ll never forget the first time I watched the teaser trailer for “Age of Ultron” — it’s dark, eerie, and intense: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmeOjFno6Do It’s a powerful trailer, but as for the final film…well, it wasn’t everything this trailer seemed to promise it would be.
To be fair, “Age of Ultron” is in a tricky spot in the MCU release schedule. It can’t be too dark and heavy, thereby stealing the thunder from “Civil War” or “Infinity War.” However, it does offer some interesting themes and foreshadowing that could have been used more effectively.
One of the most intriguing themes in this film is the idea that many times, we create our own demons. Tony Stark wanted to do something good for the world but ended up creating a supervillain. I really feel like the Avengers let Tony off too easily for creating Ultron, and this should have created more conflict within the team. The fact Tony is the one who unleashed this threat on the world should have been kept a secret for a little longer in the film, really letting the tension build. Also, Ultron could have — and should have — been even more terrifying. Some of his humorous lines make him seem less menacing.
They also could have done more to build the friendship — and simmering philosophical differences — between Tony and Steve, which really come to a head in “Civil War.” The wood-chopping scene is a good teaser, but the film could have used more of that type of foreshadowing.
The film needed to make more of the fact that Hulk goes crazy and can only be stopped by Tony in the Hulkbuster suit, and the fact that the Avengers drop a literal CITY FROM THE SKY. This event is used to great effect in “Civil War,” with Tony’s gnawing guilt, but I really feel “Age of Ultron” should have ended on a more somber note due to the staggering collateral damage caused by the film’s final battle.
2. The Hulk/Black Widow romance feels forced and awkward.
This may seem like a small thing, but the Hulk/Black Widow romance took me out of the movie and felt way too forced. I don’t have a problem with the pairing, per se (although I am a Captain America/Black Widow shipper myself). But the Bruce/Natasha romance just seems to come out of nowhere, and it’s super awkward how the other characters keep bringing up the “chemistry” between these two (ignoring the important storytelling rule of “show, don’t tell”). It also bothers me that Natasha’s entire character arc in this movie pretty much comes down to her “relationship” with Bruce.
Perhaps it would have been better to show a slow burn relationship that builds up across several films and is hinted at in a subtler way, maybe not paying off until “Infinity War.” ***Warning: Incoming spoiler for Infinity War*** Imagine if Natasha hadn’t told Bruce she loved him until the end of that final battle in “Infinity War,” only to have Bruce be one of the people that faded away after Thanos’ infamous snap. That would have had more of an emotional impact than, well, whatever it is we got in “Age of Ultron.” ***End spoiler***
3. The film should have ended with a different character’s death.
Director Joss Whedon is known for his gut-punching character deaths (I’m still crying over Wash in “Serenity”). So I know what he was going for in “Age of Ultron” when he sacrifices Quicksilver to save Hawkeye, with Quicksilver’s mournful refrain of “You didn’t see that coming.”
The problem is, we just met Quicksilver, and his death doesn’t have as much of an emotional impact as it could have. Either Whedon should have done more to help the audience connect with Quicksilver…or he should have sacrificed Hawkeye instead.
I really like Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and I enjoyed seeing him in “The Avengers” and “Age of Ultron.” However, as much as I like the character, killing him at the end of “Age of Ultron” would have been a more shocking and sobering move, and raised the stakes for “Civil War” and “Infinity War.”