Two years ago, I found myself in the sights of James Bond fans everywhere. While ‘Skyfall’ was becoming the highest-grossing entry in the long-running 007 franchise, I scratched my head wondering how something so obviously flawed could become beloved in the eyes of its fans. Now, with comic book fanboys raving about the greatness of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, I once again can’t keep my against-the-grain comments to myself.
Warning: Many spoilers lie ahead. If you haven’t seen ‘Ultron’ yet, you might not want to continue.
Before I dive into this, I want to point out something I realized while watching ‘Age of Ultron’: Marvel geeks will love everything that Marvel puts out – no matter what – simply because it has the Marvel label. They think that they love it all because Marvel tells them to. I realized this by the audience reaction to a Tony Stark quip that no more than 5% of the audience could have understood, yet everyone burst into laughter. His joke relies on the audience knowing Eugene O’Neill. I’m certain that very few superhero fans know the long-dead playwright, yet the geeks laughed on command. Why? Because – duh – everything Stark says is funny. The geeks laugh at what they’re told to laugh at, enjoy what they’re told is badass and cool, and never put any thought into it otherwise. If their opinions differ, they certainly don’t voice them. This sheep-like mentality creates an annoying fan base, so I’m not expecting this post to sway them in the slightest.
Like the majority of the world, I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the titles that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Not every entry is great (‘Thor: The Dark World‘). One was all-out bad (‘Iron Man 3‘). But even the mediocre ones have their moments. While ‘Age of Ultron’ definitely has it great moments, it’s also the laziest entry since the MCU’s beginning with the first ‘Iron Man‘.
With writer/director Joss Whedon channeling his inner Michael Bay, the following list is a chronological detail of 40 questions that moviegoers should ask as they watch ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’.
- If the Avengers couldn’t help one another out during the Phase Two movies, how did they get together so quickly in the intro to ‘Ultron’ when the task at hand was simply to retrieve Loki’s staff from HYDRA? Stark had a harder time defeating the combustible folks in ‘Iron Man 3’. It took dozens of automated suits to pull that one off. Thor had a hard time defeating the Dark Elves in ‘The Dark World’, even when their threat came to Earth. And when S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization responsible for the Avengers, was entirely taken over by HYDRA in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘, no one else could lend aid. Yet when Loki’s staff shows up within a weak army, the Avengers assemble without explanation?
- If Stark said goodbye to the Iron Man lifestyle in ‘Iron Man 3’, including blowing up all of his suits, then how/why is he back at it in ‘Age of Ultron’? Does Pepper simply not mind him going back on his word?
- What exactly does Scarlet Witch’s power do? If the correct answer is “show people their worst fears,” then she’s a ding-bat for letting the murderer of her parents go free with the staff just because she saw that he feared his fellow Avengers dying because of his actions.
- If Quicksilver’s superpower is being a live-action Looney Toon, why doesn’t he yell “Meep-meep” every time he punks someone with his super speed? (Extra tidbit: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ did Quicksilver a million times better than ‘Age of Ultron’.)
- What’s up with the stupid romantic subplot between Black Widow and Bruce Banner? Since when did that exist? ‘The Avengers‘ made us think that she had a thing for Hawkeye, then ‘Winter Soldier’ made us think she had a thing for Cap. Pick a man, already.
- Again, if Tony Stark destroyed all the extra suits in ‘Iron Man 3’, where did all these ‘Chappie’ police robots come from? And why was it so easy for the townsfolk to burn the face off one? Did Stark make his Chappies out of lesser material?
- Is Jarvis made from the same operating system used by Jeff Goldblum in ‘Independence Day’? Jarvis says that the staff has an “alien code” within it that will open the door for artificial intelligence. Goldblum was able to integrate his computer with alien code in ‘ID4’, and since Jarvis is able to read/write alien code too, does that mean that they’re running on the same bulky mid-’90s laptop?
- In return for lending Chris Hemsworth to Michael Mann for ‘Blackhat’, did Joss Whedon get first right access to use the same crappy inner-computer effects that Mann used to simulate hacking in that movie? When Jarvis and Ultron speak to one another, it sure looks like it.
- Does Ultron only reference ‘Pinocchio’ because Disney now owns Marvel?
- If I can reboot my iPhone from data backed up in the mysterious “Cloud,” why can’t Stark reboot Jarvis? Did he run out space in the Cloud?
- Why does the all-powerful Ultron employ the twins? Not a single other human soul aids Ultron in his plan, yet he thinks he needs these two in order to kill the world?
- Why does Ultron want to destroy the world? If the answer is “Because that’s the only way that peace can exist,” then Stark’s artificial intelligence isn’t intelligent at all. He should be embarrassed.
- Why does Ultron have a hands-free bluetooth device in each ear?
- Why did Andy Serkis sign on for such a throwaway role?
- Why do so many of the jokes fall flat?
- Since when did Black Widow start wearing a glowing ‘Tron Legacy’ suit made out of HYDRA tech?
- Again, what the hell are Scarlet Witch’s spells doing? If her spell makes people see their worst fears, what is the purpose of Cap’s and Thor’s dreams? Cap’s worst fear is winning the war and being with Agent Carter? And Thor fears hanging out with a white-eyed Heimdall at a rave thrown by the Wachowski siblings?
- If Jarvis is dead, how are the Iron Man suits working?
- Who won the Iron Man/Hulk fight? We see them duke it out in a sequence whose downtown city damage rivals that of the Superman/Zod fight in ‘Man of Steel’. A building comes down on top the two and – for the sake of a recycling a visual joke from the first ‘Avengers’ – it ends with Hulk unexpectedly getting punched in the side of the face, then cuts to black. Geeks have been gushing over the prospect of this fight for years, yet now that it’s here, they accept it even though we never find out who won? That would be like next year’s ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ ending with a cut to black that never answer the age-old question of “Who would win in a fight between…?”
- Does Hawkeye’s wife live on April O’Neil’s farm from 1990’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’?
- Does Loki’s staff come with instructions? How did Ultron know how to use it to take over the Korean doctor’s will? Does the staff not require the user to have a soul in order to take over another person’s?
- When did all of Stark’s and Fury’s jokes start falling flat with the audience?
- What happened with Thor and Dr. Selvig in the random cave of water, shirtlessness and lightning? Why did Thor have to swim within to learn about Vision/Infinity Stones and how does that connect with the fear dream that Scarlet Witch made him experience? Why is Selvig there and, as Brad Pitt would ask, “What’s in the box?!”
- Why does Ultron transport the cradle in a tractor trailer when he and his million robot army can fly?
- How did the twins know where to find the Avengers once they decided to trade teams?
- Did Whedon really just use the same runaway train sequence from Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 2’? Spidey may not have been acquired in time to make it into ‘Age of Ultron’, but one of his best action sequences did.
- Is Thor’s only reaction outbursts of lightning? Thor takes a swim. Lightning. Fighting over Stark’s cradle plan? Try lighting. Ultron made a huge world-ending device that makes no sense at all. Lightning ought to fix it.
- Did Disney cut off Whedon’s budget? If not, why did he have to use crappy children’s face paint and latex for Vision?
- Did Bruce Banner – not the Hulk – really just rescue Black Widow from Ultron’s lair without running into a single obstacle or bad robot?
- Is there anything that Vibranium can’t do? It’s an indestructible metal that clings to flesh on a molecular level and can also be used to control gravity and mass. And who knew that there was enough out there to make Cap’s shield, an even larger version of Ultron and a worldwide life-ending land bomb?
- Why is Ultron’s army so easy to defeat? Quicksilver can bust them up with one punch and Hawkeye’s arrows pierce them like butter.
- If the Vibranium weapon is meant to keep the land bomb together, then why is it constantly crumbling and falling apart?
- Since Vibranium is the answer to everything, is it the Vibranium that makes it so that no one needs oxygen at an altitude of 50,000 feet?
- Did Fury really just pridefully say, “Let’s show ’em what we got,” only to reveal one additional helper (War Machine) to fight against the thousands of mini-Ultrons?
- How exactly did Iron Man’s laser and Thor’s lightning stop Ultron’s weapon? And how did the land bomb not hit the ground with the same force as if they hadn’t broken it up. It was still being rocket-propelled towards Earth, so the impact should have been similar.
- Did Black Widow say, “Hey, big guy. We did it. The job’s finished,” to Hulk just so that we, the audience, would know that the inexplicable action that we just witnessed actually brought the villian’s plot to a close?
- Where did the lake beneath the floating city come from?
- Are we really supposed to believe that Vision destroyed Ultron in the woods by himself when, 20 minutes earlier, he said that he didn’t want to kill Ultron because Ultron was unique?
- Did Stark just say that he was going to “tap out” of being Iron Man again? Does anyone actually believe it this time?
- When Thanos shows his discontent for yet another failed attempt to retrieve the Infinity Stones, does that mean that Ultron was working for Thanos?
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is a fun blockbuster – but that’s about it. It’s clumsy, loud, convoluted and even amateurish at times. I don’t understand how anyone can turn a blind eye to its many faults. It lacks the charm, charisma and fluidity of the first ‘Avengers’ film. Towards the end, Hawkeye drops a line of dialogue that perfectly describes the movie’s gaping flaw, a flaw that rivals those in the second and third ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sequels: “None of this makes any sense.”