“There Are No Strings On Me.”

It’s 10:00 p.m. Thursday night. I’m sitting in an aisle seat at the Roxy Theater and the Marvel credits have just started to play. My little hands are clasped loosely together. I can actually feel the childish hope written all over my face.

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Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron is fast-paced, funny, and pretty enjoyable, especially for a movie that’s 2 1/2 hours long. Despite that, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the finished product.

SUMMARY:

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) makes what is, in hindsight, a fantastically bad call when he attempts to create an AI named Ultron (James Spader) to protect humanity. When Ultron decides the best way to protect humanity is to kill the hell out of it, the Avengers try to take him down. Team infighting and big action sequences ensue.

NOTES:

1. Let’s start with what works surprisingly well: Ultron.

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Those of you who read this blog with any regularity already know how I feel about Marvel villains: by and large, they suck. They are boring as shit. Loki, I love. Loki is amazing. Beyond that, though, there are only a few semi-decent villains out there. The vast majority of Marvel bad guys have next-to-no personality and all seem to desire the same dull things. You know that old adage about a movie only being as good as its villain? Marvel alone has proven that to be false.

Ultron, though, is pretty awesome. Not because he wants anything so spectacularly original — the destruction of the human race is about as by-the-numbers as you get — but because he has a ton of personality, specifically, Tony Stark’s personality. I’ll save my lengthier analysis of this until the Spoiler Section, but as Ultron is Tony Stark’s creation, there are definite similarities between the two characters, similarities that I think are kind of fascinating. And James Spader is just delightful in the role. His voice work is energetic, creepy, and hilarious. He couldn’t possibly have been better cast.

2. So, here’s the thing: I like a ton of stuff about Age of Ultron. It’s not a bad movie by any means, and I had a great time watching it in theater. I will certainly buy it as soon as it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray, and it made me crack up repeatedly, which is great. Unlike the rest of the internet, I’m not, like, ideologically against the concept of grimdark superhero movies, but I also love to laugh, and Age of Ultron definitely made me laugh.

But . . . it’s got some definite problems, and the main one is what I think we were all afraid of: there’s just too much going on.

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There’s so much going on in Age of Ultron that I almost feel like I should delay this review until I watch the movie a second time. But since I doubt that a second trip to the theater will happen anytime this week . . . well, here we are.

This sequel is responsible for giving significant screen time to each of our six heroes, which includes building a brand new romance between two of them and giving another one a far more fleshed out and somewhat unexpected backstory. It has to add and establish four new main characters, not to mention bring in several side characters and about eighteen cameos. (Okay, it’s probably more like . . . five? Nine? Whatever, there are a lot of them.) Time has to be spent foreshadowing future Marvel movies, including Thor: RagnarokThe Avengers: Infinity War, and — to an extent — Captain America: Civil War. Then, you know, there’s the whole plot. And somewhere in the third act, the movie just begins to buckle under its own weight.

I want to be fair here, since the majority of my review is feeling more critical than complimentary: considering just how much is going on, Joss Whedon actually does a pretty amazing job juggling everything above. What I’m describing could easily have been a train wreck, and Age of Ultron isn’t one. I really do like this movie. But it also isn’t even close to competing with The Avengers for top spot, and it’s sure not going to knock Winter Soldier down to the third place, either. At best, it’s got a chance at bronze . . . but it’s hard to say on one viewing. My instincts tell me Iron Man is going to stay on the podium, though, and Age of Ultron will have to settle for a Participant certificate.

3. About those new characters — well, unfortunately, I’ve already talked about the only one I really liked. As far as everyone else goes?

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Elizabeth Olsen is an indie darling, but I think this might be the first thing I’ve actually seen her in, and she’s . . . fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with her performance — she seems to do all she can with it — but I just don’t find Scarlet Witch to be a particularly compelling character. Her powers are awesome, definitely, but she doesn’t have much in the way of actual personality and I’m kind of iffy on her and Quicksilver’s backstory. (I’ll come back to that later.) At the end of the day, I just don’t care much about her.

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Still, ultimately, I like Scarlet Witch a lot more than I like Quicksilver. And again, Aaron Taylor-Johnson doesn’t really do anything wrong. Quicksilver’s just boring. He has one or two small moments I like, but mostly, that’s because of the other characters in the scene. I don’t want to compare him to Evan Peters’s Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past — because, really, his interpretation of the character is so dissimilar it’s just not really a worthwhile comparison — but I needed something out of this kid, and I just didn’t get it.

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Listen, I adore Paul Bettany. I have been in love with Paul Bettany since I first watched A Knight’s Tale, like, fourteen years ago. And Jarvis (or JARVIS, whichever you prefer) is just the best, one of my favorite AI’s ever. But Vision . . .

. . . God, I find Vision dull.

I am well aware that I’m in the minority on this. I’ve read very few Marvel comics (at least, thus far), so I primarily know Vision from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, where he wasn’t one of my favorites. He sure isn’t my favorite here. Bettany’s performance is quite solid, and he does have some nice moments — I am willing to concede that I could become more invested in his character in later films because there is potential there — but in Age of Ultron, he’s just, like, that semi-benevolent god robot? He feels very archetypal to me. Maybe I’d find him less so if this movie had more time to spend on him, but as is, he kind of reads like a less interesting version of the Machine on Person of Interest to me. (Meanwhile, Ultron has to be snarkier version of Samaritan.) In Person of Interest, the conflict between the two is fascinating. Here, not so much.

4. We also need to address the rather sudden romance of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson).

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So, I seen a lot of people who hate this ship, but actually, I’m not one of them. Maybe they aren’t my OTP yet — I don’t think I actually have an OTP in Avengers — but there is definitely something about these two characters together that I find really interesting. And I think Ruffalo and Johansson have pretty decent chemistry with one another, so I want to like them.

Unfortunately, the romance just goes far too fast for me.

Part of the problem, of course, is that most of their Becoming Attracted to One Another stuff happens offscreen in between The Avengers and Age of Ultron. I think that can work (she says, desperately — I may or may not have a similar setup in some stories to come out later this year), but it’s pretty hard, and a LOT more time needs to be given to Bruce and Natasha in this movie to make the audience believe it. Otherwise, it feels too constructed, too artificial — we don’t buy that these two have spent all this time growing closer between films.

Natasha and Bruce do have scenes in Age of Ultron, but they’re pretty limited and before you know it, we’re moving on to Next Level Stuff. And that, that just doesn’t work for me. I was all for them being cute with their Casablanca flirting — seriously, I was ALL FOR IT — but then the relationship suddenly skipped  into, like, let’s have a Future together! And I just couldn’t buy the pacing.

5. Maybe it comes down to this — I’ve read a few interviews now where Joss Whedon calls Age of Ultron a smaller, more personal movie, and in some places — especially in the first half — I agree with that, and enjoy it too. There are a lot of great character moments in this film which I really, really like, scenes where we get a closer look at what each of our heroes fear, scenes where the Avengers keep not quite honestly communicating with one another, keep holding back. I mean, I could watch Steve Rogers and Tony Stark all damn day. (And boy, am I interested in Civil War — but more on that in a bit.)

The problem, I think, is that the third act of Age of Ultron doesn’t seem to belong to that same smaller film, and a lot of the more personal, character-driven stuff just kind of goes by the wayside. Now, obviously, I both wanted and expected some Big Action Stuff at the end of the movie. I like Big Action Stuff. The Battle of New York, for instance, was fantastic. And there are moments here, in this big battle, that I really enjoy (“Oh for God’s sake!” stands out in particular), but overall, I feel less invested in everything that was going on. The stakes almost feel, I don’t know, rote? And we spend so much time on Saving the World! that I feel like some of the other earlier character stuff doesn’t get the chance to fully resolve. I know you bring out the Avengers for the Big Kids Work, but I can’t help but feel like maybe if the stakes were lowered somehow, the movie might feel a little less discordant, less like Joss Whedon was trying to make two movies and put them in one? I’m not 100% on any of that, though. I’m still trying to work it out.

When I saw The Avengers in 2012, I could not WAIT to see the next film. I was completely obsessed with it. It dominated my nerdy little brain for months. When Age of Ultron ended . . . I talked pros and cons with my sister for half an hour, thinking about how I was going to shape this review, and then I went to read Daredevil fanfiction.

You try not to have unrealistic expectations going in — but, well. Sometimes you just have them. That’s how it goes. I liked Age of Ultron, but I feel like if it had remained a smaller movie centered around the team itself, if it wasn’t stretched in so many directions and it wasn’t so interested in setting up Phase III — I think I might have liked it more. I think I could’ve loved it with all my big nerd heart.

Think I’ve been going on too long about a superhero movie? Ha. I have SO much more to say. (Probably too much. Er, sorry.)

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

First, can I just say I waited for, like, YEARS to see how Age of Ultron was going to deal with the end of Iron Man 3, only for them to pretty much entirely ignore it? Assholes. If one of your big claims to fame is your Giant Shared Continuity, you so shouldn’t be able to do that. I’m shaking my finger at you, Joss Whedon. (Shhh. He totally cares.)

Okay, moving on. Our story begins with the Avengers on a mission to retrieve Loki’s scepter. The team seems to be working relatively well together, despite Steve chiding Tony about using coarse language and Hawkeye getting himself seriously injured. (Because of course it’s Hawkeye. That poor bastard. Also, the cursing bit was great — I was waiting the whole movie for Steve to swear at the end, but I didn’t initially expect it to be a running gag. Totally loved it.)

We’re introduced to Baron von Strucker briefly, but don’t worry about him because he has about four lines before he’s unceremoniously killed off in between scenes. More importantly, we’re introduced to the twins: Quicksilver will begin his quest to annoy Hawkeye (setting up the reversal for when he sacrifices himself for our beloved archer) and Scarlet Witch fucks with Tony Stark’s head, making him hallucinate all his fellow Avengers dead.

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Awww. Tony’s all damaged. Although I freely admit to giggling a bit when Fake Captain America’s like, “This is all your fault!” or whatever it was he actually said. It’s a bit over the top. (Still. You know Whedon secretly ships Steve/Tony. You just know it.)

This particular bit of mindfuckery is what sets Tony on the path to create Ultron, which actually, I really enjoyed. When I first heard that Whedon was knocking Hank Pym out of Ultron’s origin story, I was a little disappointed — not just because I like Hank Pym (or did, before all that split personality bullshit happened) — but because I kind of felt we’d already covered Tony’s “I Used to Do Bad Bad Things” story to death, and I wasn’t really interested in him being responsible for Everything Going Wrong again. The mental manipulation made this work much better for me.

(I will say, though, that I’m less crazy about Tony’s weapons being responsible for orphaning Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. I get why it happens this way — it gives them motivation for their Evil Deeds, plus gains our sympathy as audience members, at least supposedly — but the whole thing feels a bit artificially constructed for me, perhaps because Quicksilver divulges their whole traumatic backstory in One Big Exposition Monologue that I just never quite connected with. I also have to agree with Mekaela that there probably should have been at least one scene between Tony and Scarlet Witch near the end of the film. The fact that these two never have any real confrontation doesn’t quite work for me, not with this setup.)

Anyway, Tony enlists Bruce’s secret help to create Ultron, giving all of us Science Bros fans a nice fist bump. And seriously, Ultron is such a delight because he’s very much the twisted subconscious of Tony Stark. I remember a lot of reviews complaining that Iron Man was the villain of his own movie in Iron Man 2 (which I completely disagreed with), but here, Ultron basically is a villainous Tony Stark, and it’s great, particularly because Ultron despises Tony and simply cannot acknowledge how much of him is his creator. They even use some of the same phrases, which doesn’t go unnoticed by other characters in the film. Pretty much everything Ultron says could be taken right out of Tony Stark’s mouth, which I adore. It really makes me want to see some fan film (that will absolutely never happen, of course) where James Spader plays Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. voices Ultron. I really cannot praise James Spader enough in this — I enjoyed the holy hell out of him.

But moving on: the Avengers celebrate their successful mission with a giant party, mostly so we can establish a few things:

A. Natasha and Bruce like-like each other, and Steve Rogers ships them like whoa.

B. Falcon is still helping Steve track down Bucky. (I guess Captain America: Civil War is still going to be about the Inhumans, but I was really surprised that they didn’t talk about them at all in this movie. Not, like, they had time or anything. Still, I feel like Whedon and Marvel weirdly prioritized Ragnarok over Civil War, and I would’ve expected them to at least mention who the Inhumans are and that they exist, since Marvel clearly isn’t counting on movie goers to be watching Agents of SHIELD. It kind of makes me wonder if the whole divide between Tony and Steve is ultimately going to be less ideological and more like, ‘Fuck you, Cap, your BFF killed my parents.’ It’s going to be interesting, one way or the other. I’m excited about it, but I also really need them to not make Tony into a total unsympathetic dickbag. This greatly concerns me . . . but, yes, we’ve gotten off topic. Again.)

C. War Machine is still around, in case anyone cares.

D. Nobody can lift Thor’s hammer (yet), but Thor is NOT PLEASED when Captain America succeeds in moving it just a little.

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I know this was leaked early, but it’s still a great scene, even if I absolutely could not watch Bruce trying to lift the hammer. I hid my face behind my hands and everything. Sympathetic Embarrassment Syndrome is a real thing, people. Or should be, anyway.

Ultron breaks up the afterparty, though, by killing Jarvis (well, sort of) and trying to kill the Avengers. Then he escapes and enlists the aid of the Maximoff Twins. Meanwhile, no one’s very happy with Tony and Bruce right now, but especially Tony, either because Bruce is instantly apologetic for what he’s done or because it was obviously Tony’s bad idea in the first place and everyone knows Banner’s a big pushover until he really isn’t.

Stuff happens. I can’t remember all the specifics now, but at some point Scarlet Witch does her mind mojo on everyone but (thankfully) Hawkeye.

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Because I’m a Bruce fangirl, I was a little disappointed we couldn’t see him hallucinating his Holy Shit Traumatic Past before going all Grrr Hulk Grrr, but I suppose we didn’t really need that. (Dammit.)

What we get instead:

A. Some time with Natasha in the Red Room. Every bit of it is awesome. Can we PLEASE have a Black Widow movie already?

B. Idris Elba pops up to blame Thor for everything going to hell. I am always happy to see Idris Elba, but it’s Thor’s stuff here (and especially later, when he takes off for his whole Lake Vision Quest deal) that I really felt could’ve been done better. I know we have to deal with the Infinity Stones and Vision and whatever, but this shit felt pretty muddled to me.

C. Captain America dreams he’s back having his dance with Peggy. (Because you never miss out on an opportunity to include Hayley Atwell, not if you’re sane.) There’s a really nice thread here about Cap still feeling like a man out of time, about not having a home anymore, although I do feel like it gets resolved a bit too fast at the end.

Hawkeye’s stuck with the Brainwashed Kids, so that leaves Tony on his own to deal with an out-of-control Hulk.

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This is all pretty awesome. Well, for the audience, anyway — it’s a a great action sequence. It’s decidedly less awesome for the team, who are all pretty shaken after their experiences and not exactly in good graces with the rest of the world after the Hulk’s devastation. They all need a place to lay low for a while, so Hawkeye brings them to his Secret Domestic Bliss.

(If you recently heard the sound of a million voices crying out in terror and being suddenly silenced, well. You probably mistook terror for agony, because that was the sound of a billion hearts breaking, specifically, the hearts of Clint/Coulson shippers around the world. Long live the ship, you guys.)

So, yes. This whole time, Clint has been secretly married with two kids running around and a third on the way. I’m . . . of two minds on this. On the upside, it’s kinda cool that one of the Avengers actually has a semi-functional normal life outside all this saving-the-world nonsense. You rarely get to see superheroes with wives and kids (at least, living ones), so that’s kind of neat. And it gives Clint more depth, which is great, because Hawkeye definitely gets the short end of the stick in the first movie and his family succeeds in helping to flesh out his character. Also, everyone’s reaction to his Secret Family works pretty well.

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On the other hand . . . one of the few Marvel comics I do read is Hawkeye, and I’ll admit, I was kind of unrealistically hoping there would eventually be a merge with the Hawkeye we’ve seen so far and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, who I just adore. This pretty much kills any and all chance of that, which kind of bums me out. And let me be clear here: this is one of those disappointments that I don’t consider an actual flaw with the movie. Like, it’s a personal aw, man moment, not like a Okay, that doesn’t work. That’s an important distinction to make.

(Also, can I just say that Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye is the main reason I kind of regret Marvel’s Great Overarching Continuity? Because I would KILL for a Hawkeye series on Netflix that could cross over with Daredevil — but it will never happen because Daredevil exists in the same world as Avengers, and this happily married, pretty grounded Hawkeye is already a part of that team, so the Hawkeye I want will never meet Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdoch. It makes me sad. At least I have fanfiction, I guess. I have seen at least eight different fanfictions with this pair-up alone.)

Good and/or Significant Moments at Clint’s Secret Farm House:

A. Natasha, the only Avenger who knows about Clint’s secret life, calls the unborn baby a trait for turning out to be a boy. Heh.

B. Bruce decides that he’ll have to run away, now that everyone has seen what the Hulk is truly capable of, and Natasha wants to go with him.

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If you’re interested, this is when I start having real problems with their relationship. I like that these two are damaged “monstrous” characters, but these guys haven’t even kissed yet, and they’re just going to go run away together? No. It’s romantic but no. I just don’t buy it, not out of two people with massive trust issues, certainly not out of a woman who’s most infamous line last movie was, “Love is for children.”

If this movie had been about setting them up as a couple and next movie had been about them going away together, sure. I could have dealt with that. But that running off is even a possibility here, uh-uh. They just don’t have enough screentime to support it — in one scene, they’re flirting and navigating the possibility of maybe dating; in the next, Natasha’s proposing leaving her whole life behind for this guy, and Bruce is like, “Don’t you understand we won’t be able to have babies?” Like, WHAT?

C. While manfully chopping wood (not a euphemism), Tony and Steve argue about secrets, Ultron, and the end goal of the Avengers. It’s a pretty great scene and not just because Steve gets angry and splits a hunk of wood with his bare hands. (Though I’m sure many, many people appreciated that.) These two actors have great antagonistic buddy chemistry, and it makes me excited for Civil War . . . but, again, nervous because it really only works if you can see where both sides are coming from. I think you can in this movie, but if Tony turns on mutants the Inhumans just for existing . . . I don’t know. Even with his slight turn here, I feel like being totally prejudiced against Inhumans is OOC for him.

Still. I have no real problems with this scene, other than when Tony says he doesn’t trust Steve for not having a dark side and Steve’s all, you haven’t seen it yet . . . I kind of wanted to, you know, see it. Which of course could be foreshadow for Civil War, but from everything I understand, Steve is firmly on the Side of Good, whereas Tony is firmly on the Side of Evil. I’m really hoping it’s more interesting than that.

Ugh. Back to this movie, AGAIN. (Is this my longest review ever? It’s feeling like it right now.) Okay, so, eventually the Avengers recover this android body that Ultron was creating, although Ultron manages to abduct Natasha in the process. Tony once again cons Bruce into secretly helping him, this time by putting Jarvis into the android body, which Steve, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver (now all on the team) try to stop. And then Thor comes back from his boring vision quest to bring, heh, Vision to life.

A. When Bruce threatens to kill Scarlet Witch? Holy JESUS. Mark Ruffalo can command a shit ton of intensity when he wants to, and . . . look, I’m just saying I could stand to watch a lot more of that Banner. I mean, I like dorky Banner too — I like basically all versions of Banner, presuming he’s not being so embarrassing that I’m literally hiding behind my hands — but even without the Hulk involved, Bruce B. isn’t, like, the most well-balanced guy in the world. He should be dangerous, and I desperately want to see more of this.

B. Part of my dislike for Vision — or at least apathy towards him — may stem from my resentment that he comes from the destruction of Jarvis. He’s part Jarvis, sure, but he’s also a whole new character and — dammit, I loved Jarvis. Vision is not an adequate replacement for me.

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This is like substituting Ezri for Jadzia Dax all over again.

C. The other problem I have with Vision is that, in Ultron’s hands, it seems like he’s going to be this Unstoppable Weapon, the Surefire Destruction of the Whole World. But once he’s on the Avengers’ team, he just sort of seems like a regular super powered dude, like, for an android with an Infinity Stone glued on his forehead, he doesn’t really feel like he brings that much to the table.

That being said, when he effortlessly picks up Thor’s hammer? Perfection.

Finally, we get to the Big Battle and Denouement. And yes, I’m going to ABC this shit, too. (Look, a lot happens in this movie, all right? It’s hard to organize my thoughts in any other semi-coherent way.)

A. Hawkeye talks with Scarlet Witch, who’s pretty busy freaking out because she helped cause all this destruction. I like this scene because Hawkeye’s pretty awesome in it, but . . . I can’t help but notice that, once again, the only superhero who freezes in the middle of the fight is the woman. Like, I can buy the reaction, but I still find it a bit frustrating. Couldn’t Quicksilver have been the one to panic instead?

B. One of my favorite parts of the whole movie, though, is when Hawkeye not-too-seriously contemplates murdering Quicksilver. This. This was just the BEST.

C. Of course, Quicksilver ends up dying to save Hawkeye, who’s about to sacrifice himself to save a little boy. It’s kind of a sad moment, I guess, but . . . not that sad? Like, I genuinely cried for Coulson in The Avengers, but here I was almost kind of relieved. Cause I didn’t care very much about this dude, and you knew somebody is going to go — and if it’s not Quicksilver, then it’s probably going to be the guy with his wife and two kids and one baby on the way.

D. Bruce rescues Natasha and tells her that they have to run away together now, that she’s done enough for the cause and her part in the fighting is over. And . . . seriously, when did Bruce Banner become a dude from the 50’s? First with assuming Natasha even wants babies and then trying to bench her from all the save-the-world action? What IS this?

Thankfully, Natasha isn’t having any of that bullshit because seriously, Banner, do you not know your quasi-girlfriend AT ALL? She kisses him and pushes him over this edge, forcing the Hulk to come out and play. This doesn’t turn out super well for Natasha, though, because after the big fight, the Hulk takes off in an invisible jet to hide from everyone, including her.

E. Vision kills the last Ultron bot.

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But . . . there aren’t any strings on me! I’m supposed to be free and WIN!

It’s a decent scene between the two of them, primarily because the actors are so good. Still . . . I don’t know. I feel like something’s missing.

F. In the denouement, Steve and Natasha are all that’s left of the original Avengers. Tony’s tapping out, but I’m not actually sure if it’s because of what happened with Ultron or because he’s still got PTSD from the first Avengers movie or because he’s apparently wanted to quit this whole time. (Tony’s arc seems to fizzle at the end of the movie. It starts strong, but about 2/3 of the way through it just . . . kind of goes away.) Meanwhile, Clint’s also out . . . I think? He could just be on paternity leave, but that last scene felt weirdly final, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because when did Clint say he wanted to quit? Hulk’s AWOL and Thor . . . you know, I don’t even remember where Thor went. To investigate Ragnarok, maybe? (I told you I should have rewatched this movie.)

Steve, meanwhile, has apparently found his home. I’m very glad he and Tony have a moment at the end of the movie — because they absolutely needed it, and I was fully prepared to have a snit fit if they didn’t have one — but I never fully bought Steve accepting all this as Home because it felt a little sudden to me, like it should come after an emotional turning point in the film that he never actually has. I am not-so-secretly hoping Steve has more man-out-of-time angst in Civil War because I’m a terrible person.

G. Finally, Natasha and Steve are the ones training a new lineup of Avengers: Falcon, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, and Vision. Which . . . well. I know that the original actors aren’t going to stay with Marvel for the rest of their careers, and I much prefer the idea of switching out characters to flat-out replacing heroes with new actors. So, that’s cool.

Unfortunately, I’m so bummed by the idea of this lineup that I think I actually lost a tiny bit of interest in the upcoming Avengers movies. I love the hell out of Falcon, but other than that . . . I’ve always been pretty meh on War Machine, despite liking Don Cheadle, and I found Scarlet Witch and Vision both kind of dull in this movie, so. I don’t know. Marvel’s been on such a hot streak, but for the first time in a long time, I found myself wondering if I was going to care much about where they were going past Phase 3. It was a depressing realization.

QUOTES:

Thor: “Is that the best you can do?”
Ultron: “This is the best I can do! This is what I’ve been waiting for! All of you against all of me!”
Steve: “You had to ask.”

Steve: “Nick Fury, you sonofabitch.”
Nick Fury: “Whoa ho ho! You kiss your mother with that mouth!”

Ultron: “I’m glad you asked that because I wanted to take this time to explain my evil plan.”

Natasha: “I adore you . . . but I need the Other Guy.”

Tony: “Really? That’s it? You just roll over and show your belly every time somebody snarls?”
Bruce: “Only when I’ve created a murder-bot.”

Tony: “How do we cope with something like that?”
Steve: “Together.”
Tony: “We’ll lose.”
Steve: “We’ll do that together, too.”

Steve: “Look, as the world’s expert on waiting too long, don’t.”

Tony: “Good talk.”
Henchman in Background: “No, it wasn’t!”

Strucker: “Can we hold them?”
Henchman: “They’re the Avengers.”

Ultron: “They put the building in the middle of the city, so that everyone could be equally close to God. I like that, the symmetry, the geometry of belief.”

Tony: “Thor didn’t say where he was going for answers?”
Steve: “Sometimes, my teammates don’t tell me things.”

Ultron: “Oh, for God’s sake!”

Tony: “Actually, he’s the boss. I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.”

Natasha: “Thor, report on the Hulk.”
Thor: “The gates of Hell are filled with the screams of his victims.”

Steve: “Right, what kind of monster would let a German scientist experiment on him to protect their country?”

Steve: “Ultron killed Strucker.”
Tony: “And he did a Bansky at the crime scene.”

Tony: “Please be a secret door, please be a secret door . . . yay!”

Bruce: “I could choke you and not change a shade.”

Clint: “I’ve done the whole mind control thing. Not a fan.”

Steve: “Sorry for barging in.”
Tony: “Yeah, we would’ve called ahead, but we were busy having no idea you existed.”

Nick Fury: “That guy’s multiplying faster than a Catholic rabbit.”

Hawkeye: “The city is flying. We’re fighting an army of robots. And I have a bow and arrow.”

Hawkeye: “No one would know, no one would know. Last I saw, Ultron was sitting on him. The bastard will be dearly missed. I miss him already.”

Natasha: “Traitor.”

CONCLUSIONS:

Clearly, I’ve got some mixed feelings. Age of Ultron is a very entertaining movie and goes very fast, considering how long it is. I liked a lot of the smaller character moments, and it made me laugh multiple times. Dialogue, obviously, was awesome. Still, I can’t get past the fact that way too much was happening, and the third act started to collapse because of it. Also, the more I think about Natasha and Bruce’s romance, the more it feels mishandled. Which bums me out because I think I could ship them, if they’d been given a better start. (Actually, I know I could ship them. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from reading Avengers fanfiction is that I can ship Bruce with every other Avenger except Thor. Never could get into Bruce/Thor.)

MVP:

James Spader

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B+

MORAL:

“Every time someone tries to stop a war before it starts, innocent people die. Every time.”

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7 Responses to “There Are No Strings On Me.”

  1. fatpie42 says:

    Hmmm, that last moral. Captain America seems bizarrely unaware that every time you wait for a war to start on its own, innocent people die. Every time.

    Captain America rarely sounds like someone who actually fought in WWII…..

  2. Georgina Kamsika says:

    *SPOILERS IN THE COMMENT*
    *SPOILERS IN THE COMMENT*
    *SPOILERS IN THE COMMENT*

    I get you finding the romance moving fast, but it worked for me. I kind of thought the Banner/Romanoff chemistry was there since the Avengers.

    Her character arc is wonderful tricking the trickster. I now read her ‘love is for children’ line as just a line to play Loki. Her slow move from constant deceit to starting to trust Steve in Cap 2, then now the warmer side of her we’ve never seen before; friends with the Barton family, a loving, caring aunt. (I *love* that she’s allowed to be a sexy, beautiful woman who also has healthy relationships with Clint and Steve with no longings from either side). That arc made it believable to me she’d moved from quite liking Bruce when she first met him to hitting on him. I got the impression from Cap’s comment this isn’t the first time he’s witnessed them flirting, too. Anyway – more time would have been lovely, but I’d watch 10 hours of those guys just talking.

    I got the complete opposite impression of Cap and his Scarlett Witch dream. I took it that Steve really was able to shake it off. I posted…

    “… he’s no longer as much of a man out of time. He’s proven himself to fit in, even if he’s still not quite sure of everything, and he no longer questions why he does what he does. His confidence and his unshakable goodness (he moved that hammer Thor – you should be worried), look vital in the forthcoming films.”

    So when Tony asks about his dark side, well, maybe there really isn’t one. Tony is riddled with demons – his father issues, his self-esteem issues – whereas Cap has grown. (Despite Cap being my favourite avenger, I’m in no way saying he’s ‘better’ than Tony – just very different.) I love that despite Tony’s snarking, despite their ideological fights, Tony constantly turns to Cap, when he thinks they’re all dead, the farmhouse scene, the end – they’re such BFFs. The angst I want from Steve isn’t his own personal demons, but the horror of fighting against his best friend again. And Tony isn’t a brainwashed Bucky.

    One of the reasons I *adored* Clint having a normal family and home is that it seems to be exactly the opposite of what Ultron accuses them of. He’s normal, grounded, connected to ‘real’ people – unlike the way Bruce, Tony, Cap or Thor could ever be. I don’t however read the comic, so I’m coming to this as a DC Comics gal who knows about Marvel mostly by association – so there is that.

    Re: Scarlett Witch’s freak out – I kind of saw it as someone who’d been showing other people their nightmares, then suddenly she’s thrust into hers – her homeland, war and destruction raining down again, just like when they were kids. No idea if I’m reading too much into it, but that’s why it didn’t make me eyeroll.

    My comment is getting too long, I’ll go do something more useful instead. Loved your review though 🙂

    • MAS SPOILERS.

      I think the actors had enough chemistry in the first movie that I could totally buy the shipper fanfics I read with them in it. (And enjoyed. I meant it when I said I could ship Bruce with pretty much anyone but Thor. There are some great Bruce/Natasha stories out there.) But yeah, I still feel like the jump to future together and baby discussion went way too fast. My sister and I were talking about this, and I think I needed one of two things: either their romantic story is about them starting to date — but baby talk is firmly off the table — or they’ve already been dating for some time, and we just have to catch up. As is, it just didn’t quite work for me, although I wish it had.

      I do agree, though, that I could just spend ten hours listening to them all talk. It’s ridiculous how much I love this team. TEAM DYNAMICS FOREVER.

      I can see what you mean, with Captain America. Maybe I’m like Tony — I don’t trust (or want) anyone without a dark side. I still want a little tiny corner of darkness in Steve Rogers, and maybe I don’t fully buy that he isn’t lying at the end when Tony asks if he’s going to be okay. But I do actually like his general arc, that he’s not the same guy he was when he went into the ice, that he wants different things. That’s great. I guess I just feel like his story was missing a step in between the dream and the end. Maybe if we get the 3 hour director’s cut or whatever, I’ll feel differently.

      I absolutely agree — I do think it’s great that there is one Avenger who has a normal, grounded life. And it works for the movie, too — it’s just a personal disappointment. If I could just have a live-action Hawkeye series away from this franchise, I wouldn’t even care. Hell, he could have a totally different name. He could be, like, Clark Barker or something. (I know it’s not going to happen. I know. And I weep.)

      Your idea about Scarlett Witch makes sense. I probably wouldn’t have even give the scene a second thought if it hadn’t been for Black Widow in the first movie. I’d just like to see some scenes where a boy hero is uselessly frozen in the middle of a big fight. I think the closest we get is Iron Man having PTSD shit in Iron Man 3, but I don’t think that ever happens during an important battle scene. Plus, everyone but me apparently hated that movie.

      Also, thanks!

  3. Georgina Kamsika says:

    SPOILERS (if you weren’t sure of that by now)

    Re: babytalk – see this is where I disagree. As someone who’s known since, well, forever, that she doesn’t want babies, it’s something I’d bring up on the second date at the latest – even if it’s a casual ‘babies, not as nice as puppies, eh?’ (Hopefully not quite as awful as that). People will either understand and agree or do the whole ‘you’ll change your mind, no one knows what might happen, your clock will start ticking’ etc bull. Sometimes it’s good to know where you stand before you get too far down the path.

    • You know, that absolutely makes sense to me — but I still don’t know if I agree with it in this particular context. If Natasha and Bruce were out on a date and talking about what they were looking for, it probably would. But — at least on a first viewing — I still feel like the scene is off. I think the ‘let’s run away together’ part itself comes too fast, and I’m not crazy that Bruce just automatically assumes she can’t really want to be with him solely because he can’t give her babies. Obviously, lots of people DO assume that all women want babies, but 1) it bothers me they bring up the assumption without anyone bothering to correct it, and 2) a relationship with him has other potential problems that are either more or equally important and worthy of being addressed. It bugs me that once the baby thing is out of the way, it’s like, cool beans, this hastily thought-up plan makes much more sense now. (Even if it doesn’t actually happen.) For what it’s worth, I probably would like it better if Natasha was the one to bring up babies in the first place — but I’d still likely take issue with the scene.

      But seriously, George. I desperately hope you actually say, “Babies, not as nice as puppies, eh?” Because that’s just the best thing I’ve ever heard.

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