*** This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Age Of Ultron ***
I was able to get over to see Avengers: Age Of Ultron yesterday afternoon. My plan is to get over and see it again during the week, but I figure I'd share what I thought were some of the important things from the film… so these aren't specific moments but rather the things that made the film a succcess. I'm not sure where it ranks among the other film… Guardians Of The Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Solder were both such amazing films… but this one does rank up near the top at least.
1) The first film took us a while to get all the Avengers together. We paid that bill. So the sequel starts off with the team in action being a team. It's obvious they've been working at it a while and they fact that the are all together to find Loki's Scepter makes sense. Even later in the film, the team works like a team, passing Captain America's shield around, setting each other up for attacks… this is a well oiled machine that had a plan for even the Hulk going on a rampage.
2) As with most Joss Whedon productions, the humor here was spot on. From the guy disagreeing with Iron Man that it was a good talk to the Vision admitting he was born yesterday, the jokes all landed. And the running gag about language was even more appropriate as the film got more intense because it was something they all shared and humor in dark times is a way people cope. And Hawkeye's humorous monologue about shooting Quicksilver sets up the dramatic turn that comes up shortly after. As well as Whedon used action in the film, his use of humor was perfect.
3) Maybe it was a lesson learned from Man Of Steel, but the concern for innocent bystanders was ramped up here, even more than in the first movie. Bruce Banner is devastated by the destruction caused by the Hulk because of the Scarlet Witch… and Cap wouldn't even think about leaving the civilians behind in the end, a point that became moot because of Nick Fury. But the concern for the innocents stood out greatly in the film and made all the Avengers old or new feel heroic.
4) The one knock against the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that often times their villains are a bit one-dimensional or stereotypes. About the only three worth mentioning are Alexander Pierce, Red Skull and Loki. But with Ultron we get to see a character that is not only a symbol for Tony Stark's hubris, but James Spader made him a creature of intelligence, singular focus and rage… an interesting combination that plays out well on screen. Ultron is menacing, dangerous and a strong and believable match for the Avengers.
5) Besides being a good entertaining movie, this film had two jobs. The first was to set up the philosophical spit between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Stark believes the world needs protecting and it's his job to do it regardless of the costs. The ends justify the means and creating Ultron didn't teach him a lesson. Rogers believes in freedom for all and then standing up and protecting when a threat happens. This will end up being the cause of the rift for Captain America: Civil War. You come out of this film liking Stark a little less… I wonder how much less we'll like him at the end of Civil War.
6) The second job was much more subtle but important. Set up the Infinity War and connect the dots with all the Infinity Stones. There are six total and we've seen four of them so far. The Tesseract from Captain America: The First Avenger is likely the Space Gem. The Aether from Thor: The Dark World is likely the Reality Gem. The Orb from Guardians Of The Galaxy is likely the Power Gem. And as we learn in this film, the stone in Loki's Scepter is the Mind Gem. That leaves the Soul Gem and the Time Gem. But now the Avengers know about these gems and that someone is collecting them. And thanks to the in-credit scene, we know that Thanos is no longer content in sitting back and letting others try to get the gems for him. Between now and Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 we have Ant-Man and Civil War… I don't think either of those will have a gem… plus Dr. Strange, Guardians 2 and Thor: Ragnarok which could all connect one way or another to the gems.
I think Avengers: Age Of Ultron is a very good film, it's quite enjoyable and fits perfectly into the MCU. It's a long film that doesn't feel long and you never get bored. The film's weakness is that it is part of the MCU. Without the other films setting it up, this movie couldn't stand on its own. The first Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy stand on their own as complete films. If you were bringing someone into the MCU for the first time, this isn't the film you would start with.