The following spoiler-free opinion about The Avengers: Age of Ultron is brought to you in three levels of description.
I liked it.
It’s everything I expected it to be – a chance for a lot of super-powered people to do super-powered stuff. I think this is what ensemble movies are for – not only do they skip almost all character development of any kind, they shouldn’t even contain any. That’s why we have individual movies, where things such as personal arcs, or exposition, are needed and welcomed.
If you haven’t seen some of the previous movies, or if you’re not caught up with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series, you might miss some things – maybe even some crucial things – when you watch The Avengers. That’s fine by me, and in fact, I think that’s how it should be. The Avengers requires me to do some homework, yep, but that’s a strength, not a weakness. By assuming I know X and Y, it can just skip to the good part.
Crossover content, whatever the medium, exists in a strange place, where it’s not Part X of a series (so it’s not like you obviously had to read parts 1 to X before approaching it), but it’s also not a standalone (since it obviously doesn’t exist in a vacuum). It’s somewhere in the middle, and that might be a bit confusing for movie-goers who aren’t used to it. That’s not, however, a good reason to criticize the movie. (There are, of course, all sorts of things it can be criticized upon, but let’s stick to the point I’m trying to get to).
In the subject of “how much I need to already know”, a movie like The Avengers need to keep a delicate balance. Just how much of S.H.I.E.L.D should the viewer know about? Just how much of the previous movies should he remember? I think the first Avengers did a great job at this, careful not to cross the line of too-much-obscurity, and the second movie is just as successful. Of course, the second movie builds on relatively more details – because there’s more content now – but that only means the line moved somewhat.
I’ll be disappointed if I see an Avengers movie where the first 5 minutes are wasted on explaining what happened in the previous one, or who’s this character (that was introduced in a different movie). I also don’t get why they wasted so much time on that hulk vs iron-man scene, but, pffft, whatever.
Summer’s sun is yet to come, no memories yet formed
Of summer evenings’ gatherings, entombed in darkened coves
Where, on screen, so tall and wide, pictures fly at speed
In joy and shock, bust you my block, disclose to me this deed
…of the Avengers
I had fun watching Age of Ultron, but occasionally it felt like the movie was trying to shove so much fun into my brain that I had to divert my eyes. The first 5 minutes were one perfect action sequence, and almost every battle scene that followed felt increasingly over-the-top. Enjoyable, but just too much. I suppose there’s so much subtlety you can get with a cast of 12 heroes.
The inter-Avengers banter was lovely, as expected, and I’d be first in line for an Avengers Sitcom, where they all try to live in one humble skyscraper in New York City, with hilarity and fisticuffs freely ensuing. But while their quips and jokes are happy little fanservice gems, the more dramatic plotlines just failed to grab my interest. Again, how deep can you go with so many multi-faceted, troubled main characters?
I will probably watch the next Avengers movie, and the one after it; because if nothing else, they’re still a pretty thrilling ride. Oh, and among all the single-character movies planned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the next hundred years, can we get one with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver? Please? Pretty please with red energy sparkles?