Avengers: Age of Ultron was Marvel fans’ second chance to see Earth’s mightiest heroes combined into one movie. Unlike the first cinematic outing of this epic team, this one didn’t seem to land as much with the fans. With some odd choices, and the introduction of new characters we’ve since come to love, Avengers: Age of Ultron was certainly a journey.
The Avengers were back to their quippy selves, and continued to be led by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Along for the ride was Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who promptly left after taking a magical bath and having a vision of the events of his third solo movie, Thor: Ragnarok. Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) rounded off this team, and their relationship was one of some puzzling choices in this movie.
The Natasha and Bruce relationship came seemingly out of nowhere, between two characters who had previously interacted for one movie and never shown any indication that they were anything more than friends and colleagues. The chemistry between the actors themselves really doesn’t lend itself to a romantic relationship, and their strongest connection clearly is as friends. This relationship did give us some setup for what would eventually be Black Widow’s solo movie, so it maybe was not all for naught.
The Natasha and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) relationship, however, hit all the right notes. In The Avengers, it was established that these two had a past and had become extremely close friends. Fans have gotten the chance to see this relationship grow over the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which made the events of Avengers: Endgame all the more heartbreaking. Hawkeye himself was given the beginning of character development that we really haven’t seen explored since the Hawkeye series itself. We were also introduced to Hawkeye’s family and fans haven’t gotten to see nearly as much of Linda Cardellini as we deserve.
There were a lot of potential storylines and character additions that could have been featured through this movie. Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim) was a minor character introduced that had such great chemistry with the rest of the team. It’s a shame we’ve never seen her since even though she was sort of set up to be a part of the Avengers going forward, being part of the team setting up the new Avengers base. It was also too bad we didn’t get to see Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in anything other than a brief appearance at the movie’s very end.
Avengers: Age of Ultron also introduced us to Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). Who could have known that we would see an entire TV show about these two characters who at first seemed so out of left field. Wanda and her brother Pietro/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) were Marvel’s first introduction to the X-Men, and Avengers: Age of Ultron really didn’t give fans a lot of reason to want more.
The injustice done to Quicksilver was a lasting mark on the MCU. It was such a disappointment to have the X-Men teased to become part of the MCU in the future and then to have such an iconic member of that franchise killed off in the same movie in which he was introduced. Taylor-Johnson could have had the chance to bring his own signature take to the character. Now that we know the X-Men are confirmed to be coming back to the MCU, it’s a shame such an epic introduction was missed.
Ultron was also another entry into Marvel’s villain ash heap. Weirdly, it was What If…? That seemed to have a better understanding of this villain than this movie did. What If…? seemed to give this villain a proper arch, including the world ending stakes that were understandable and relatable in the show’s context. Age of Ultron’s villain is lost, and although perhaps has a compelling beginning, Tony Stark’s hubris made manifest, it was never fully realized.
If there was any strength in this movie, it was in the relaxed, fun character moments. The scene with the Avengers attempting to lift Thor’s hammer was a perfect example of this. Ultimately, Avengers: Age of Ultron was a flawed, imperfect entry in the massive Cinematic Universe that Marvel has become.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently available to stream on Disney+.