By Charly SHELTON
“And there came a day unlike any other, when earth’s mightiest heroes were united against a common threat! On that day the Avengers were born! To fight the foes no single hero could withstand!”
On this day, the Avengers assembled to stop Loki, who intended to conquer Earth with an army of aliens. Realizing the good they had done, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) kept the group together, with each mission taking out remnants of HYDRA (the Nazi Dark Science division, still active today) and tracking down Loki’s scepter, the source of his power.
As this Avengers sequel begins, we see the Avengers in action doing just that – invading a HYDRA base to recover the scepter from Baron Strucker, an old enemy of Captain America. The opening shot is really something to see – one long shot encompassing everything to set up the scene. From there, intrigue and mystery combine with action and heroics as a new enemy surfaces – a computer program that thinks like a human, bent on saving the world from itself – Ultron.
As a huge Marvel fan, I was pleased with the movie. Ultron is my favorite all-time comic book character and I was thoroughly displeased when it was announced that Ant Man/Hank Pym was not going to be the creator of Ultron as he was in the comics. In the comic story lines, Ultron’s original story is rewritten a couple of times but the main point is that he was created by Hank Pym as a peaceful robotic sentinel who guards and helps to rehabilitate super villains in prison. His software is modeled after Pym’s own mind, making connections and learning from his surroundings and from whatever he can pick up through a network of satellites, now through the Internet. His sole directive is the preservation of human life. But when he is brought into the field as backup on a mission, Ultron is taught violence. His programming now sees that the main threat to human life is other humans. The directive is clear – the only way to protect humans is to save them from themselves by bringing about the extinction of the human race or dominating it.
That was the comics. In the movie, Ultron is a program much like JARVIS, Iron Man’s AI butler and suit control program. Ultron learns through the Internet that humans are the leading cause of death to humans and, from there, the story goes along in a similar way. I had to get over the differences in the translation from comics to the screen.
Ant Man isn’t in this movie. When Ant Man gets a movie, it’s not even going to be Hank Pym, but rather the second guy to don the helmet, Scott Lang. It’s okay, though. I moved passed it. As a character only in the “Age of Ultron” movie, Ultron is great. James Spader did motion capture and provides the voice and facial expression. And although Ultron wound up looking like Lockdown from Transformers 4, he was a fun character and perfectly dark and straightforward in the way only Spader can provide.
Since the film has been in theaters for a week now, I have heard a lot of people say that they were disappointed that Spader’s Ultron was too much like Reddington, his character from “The Blacklist.” But in this film’s depiction of the character, writer/director Joss Whedon took the aspects of Ultron’s character that made him dark and cold, like a robot, and kept that glimmer of humanity from his deep programming, much like Reddington, who is dark and cold but still cares for certain people at his very core. My point is that they are similar characters from a writing viewpoint and so are similarly portrayed by the actor. If anything, I would say Ultron is more human than Reddington.
Not surprising, with Whedon at the helm the dialogue was great. Some of the best dialogue in Marvel comics’ history has come from Ultron, and now the same can be said of the movie as well. I don’t want to spoil the conversation between Vision and Ultron, but it is pretty epic. Even the mundane dialogue was elevated in this film. Little things like making fun of Cap for calling Iron Man out on his bad language or everyone trying to lift Thor’s hammer and having a good time as friends, not just heroes. There are a million little things that make these characters well-rounded people and not super hero archetypes so often seen with these kinds of films. My hat, as ever, is off to Whedon for another success.
Rated PG-13, this movie is fantastic and, although I’m sure most have seen it already, the three people in the world who haven’t seen it yet should do so. And I encourage anyone who enjoys this or other comic book movies to read the original comics as well. It’s a different telling of a similar story and they go much more in depth. For those interested, Ultron appears in the Avengers #54-58 in 1968, and Avengers: Age of Ultron (a storyline featuring Ultron but one entirely different from the film), issues 1-10 released in 2013.
I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.