Welcome to VOCIFERY, my attempt to re-watch every piece of media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – every movie, every television series, every one-shot, every web series, and every tie-in comic book, using the Wikipedia entry on the MCU as a guide, before the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. Join me as I write my thoughts about what I’m seeing, as I see it!
Also, spoilers follow – if you’re worried about that kind of thing, view before reading.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)
It’s hard not to think about Avengers: Age Of Ultron without framing it amongst everything that came after.
It isn’t just that Ultron is the first film to really up the stakes in terms of the numbers of heroes on the field at once; the final battle in Sokovia features a fairly impressive lineup featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, War Machine and Fury – that’s eleven main characters all fighting at once.
And it isn’t just that it goes a long way toward setting things up for the future, whether it’s the increased conflict between Cap and Stark, or Thor’s little jaunt to learn about the infinity stones, or the fact that the third act’s destruction of Sokovia is the inciting incident that kickstarts the action in Captain America: Civil War.
There are actually two brief moments that, I think, carry some weight in terms of how the future of the MCU plays out. Maybe not the heaviest story weight, but I think some of the emotional weight that later scenes in the MCU carry.
The first comes at the end of Ultron’s reveal; the rogue robot has taken his first shots at the Avengers and gotten away with the scepter, and Stark is revealing to the team what he did in trying to co-opt the mind stone to create an artificial intelligence that could conceivably protect the world from alien threats, like those in the first Avengers movie.
Stark: That up there, that’s the end game. How were you guys planning to defeat that?
Stark: We’ll lose.
Cap: Then we’ll do that together too.
Given the events of Civil War – in which the Avengers are essentially torn apart, and a rift formed between Cap and Stark – this little exchange is somehow more poignant. Stark has always been a lone wolf; heck, his earliest interactions with Fury revealed that they weren’t sure he’d be a good fit on a team, and the first two Iron Man movies have him making the case for being the only game in town when it comes to the Iron Man technology he developed.
Cap, meanwhile, is the ultimate “stronger together” hero. He believes that transparency between team members who are working for a common good is the most important thing (and remember, this film is his next appearance after Captain America: The Winter Soldier), followed by the team being there for and supporting each other.
The second moment comes later, at Hawkeye’s farm – Mrs Hawkeye has asked Stark to fix the tractor, only for him to be confronted by Fury, who questions Stark’s motivations, believing them another Scarlet Witch manipulation.
Stark: I watched my friends die. You think that’d be as bad as it gets, right? Nope. Wasn’t the worst part.
Fury: The worst part is that you didn’t.
Okay, not to heavily spoil Avengers: Infinity War (maybe look away if you haven’t seen it yet) but this scene makes me think about where that film ends. Stark continues his lone wolf ways after Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian attack New York, flying off after their ship with no real backup, and trying to get rid of the only backup he has when Spider-Man reveals himself, and all before contacting anyone else on the team or alerting Cap to what is going on (a job left to Bruce Banner in the film).
And that lands him on Titan, where almost everyone – with the exception of Nebula – turns to dust right before his eyes. The worst part of his vision from Scarlet Witch was that his friends died and he did not; that he lived, to Tony, means that he could’ve done more to help his friends and he did not.
Fast forward to the end of Avengers: Infinity War, and there he is on Titan, effectively alone, believing that all his friends are dead, and he is not, and that there is probably more that he could have done. Sad times for Mr Stark.
What do I think of Avengers: Age Of Ultron itself? I think the consensus seems to be that it isn’t a great film, or somehow doesn’t live up to the rest of the films, but I actually think it is much better than most people think. I don’t know where I’d rank it, but I think it would be in the top half of the rankings. A good film that tells a fairly self-contained story while advanced the themes and emotional resonance of the entire series. I’d call that a success.
Next: Agents Of SHIELD: Season 2 Eps 20-22!