By Travis Trombley
Age of Ultron opens with the same kind of grand single-shot as the Avengers attack a H.Y.D.R.A. base hidden in a European tundra. These characters are already a team. “But can they remain as such?” Age of Ultron asks.
Few sequels bore more weight of expectations than Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, written and directed by pop culture legend Joss Whedon. No small degree of 2012’s Avengers' massive success was due to the simple fact of its existence. While a regular occurrence in comics and Saturday morning cartoons, never before had several multimillion-dollar cinema franchises been combined into a single narrative experience. Age of Ultron would not benefit from the same novelty, and - cognizant of this - Whedon tries desperately to imbue his sequel with the humanity, wit, and contemplativeness for which he is so affectionately known.
After recovering Loki’s sceptor from the first film, Tony Stark - in the doomed fashion of Boromir wanting to use the Ring of Power to forward his own ends - convinces Bruce Banner to help him use the artificial intelligence he discovered inside the glowing, blue gem to create Ultron. The goal? A benevolent program that, when paired with his self-modeled sentry robots, would defend the earth from any future alien invasions, of course...
And while the heroes banter about in a brilliant party scene in Avengers Tower (Whedon’s wit and insight into social behavior shines in these scenes), complete with cameos from Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes and Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, an adorably romantic exchange between the awkward Banner and seductively confident Natasha, and an Arthurian-style who-can-lift-Mjolnir contest, Ultron wakes up. Voiced by the brilliantly cast James Spader, Ultron comes to consciousness immediately realizing the same syllogistic truth as every AI, like, ever...
- I am tasked with defending humanity.
- Humanity is corrupt and will kill itself and/or the planet.
- Therefore, I must kill humanity to protect it from itself. . . duh . . .