Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, James Spader, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Linda Cardellini, Idris Elba, Claudia Kim, Andy Serkis, Stellan Skarsgard, Thomas Kretschmann
Directed By: Joss Whedon
This is the last Avengers movie for Joss Whedon, which is a shame, because everyone else seems to want to be super-serious and dark-reboot everything. The Batman Vs Superman trailer barely has any light or color in it. Avengers fills itself with running gags, like Captain America telling people to watch their language, or War Machine needing a good story to tell, etc. There are moments of joy even in the darkest of times. Lets be clear: Ultron is trying to end the world. So it could have been a great time to set jokes aside, but I think that’s why the Avengers movie works so well.
I’ve seen complaints of “too many characters”, but the Avengers are like the X-Men in that the emphasis is on the whole team. Really, there are only six Avengers, with a few supporting people circling. It’s not that difficult to balance six main characters, with only brief nods given to people like Falcon and Agent Carter. War Machine has a bit more to do, and isn’t quite “just a cameo”. Falcon’s only purpose is to remind the audience that there’s another Captain America coming up, and the Winter Soldier is still out there. He never fights.
The new characters will obviously make a bigger impact in future films, namely Vision (Bettany), who I can’t really go into too much because of spoilers. Even Scarlet Witch (Olsen) is already listed for the next Captain America film. So, they’ll do bigger and better things in the future, but they are not the focus of this film. Really, even Thor seems a bit pushed into the back here. He leaves for part of the film and comes back. We get an expanded Hawkeye story, but less Thor. Then again, Thor does get his own films, whereas Hawkeye lives and dies in the Avengers franchise. Not literally dies, but you get the point.
Picking James Spader to voice Ultron was probably the best thing ever. Spader has made a career out of playing “I’m smarter than you” characters on TV, and he’s brought that quality to Ultron. He has a recognizable voice, perfect for taunting insignificant ants (at least, how Ultron sees them). Great casting. There were only a few things I didn’t like about this film, and I’m still giving this an A-.
The first real shot we get of “the twins”, they’re in some weird daze. They look like they might be either brain damaged or under some bizarre spell, but later we find them to be rather smart and intelligent characters. So why are they so dazed and confused the first time we meet them? There’s really no explanation as to how they’re stupid one second, and fantastic another second later. My other complaint is simply, if this is an all hands on deck effort… then WHERE IS FALCON? Is tracking down the Winter Soldier really more important than saving Earth? He does fly, and considering the events of the final act, having another flying Avenger would have been nice. His exclusion is just lazy (and probably budgetary, which is also dumb considering how much money this film is going to make). War Machine shows up for the final act, why can’t Falcon? And then (sorry for the spoiler), he’s just upped to full Avenger at the end of the film? For WHAT? That’s like when Iceman and Rogue get made full X-Men at the end of X2… FOR WHAT?
Small things. Really, I loved the Avengers, and I loved the humor in it. If the Avengers ever took itself too seriously, it would ruin the franchise. Hopefully future directors remember that what people love about this franchise is that it has the ability to astonish while also entertaining.
Another fantastic thrill ride. Money well spent.
FINAL GRADE: A-