After the detour that was Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU returns to Earth and the Avengers luckily deal with not adapting the comics version of Age of Ultron.
tomk: Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Iron Legion as crowd control isn’t a bad idea, but maybe they should speak the local language, whatever it is.
“Invaders create Avengers.” Interesting phrasing.
watson: Holy crap the Black Widow dream sequence is pretty much exactly the beginning of Red Sparrow.
tomk: Red Sparrow needed more Hulk.
watson: Everything needs more Hulk.
tomk: That is exactly what I was thinking as I sat through Peter Rabbit.
jimmy: Not exactly the turd burger I remember, but still a turd. So much of this film is just poorly executed or makes no sense. And it is actually pretty good right up until Ultron’s first appearance at the after party. Outside of the Veronica/Hulk fight, everything after that is different levels of painful.
Oh and Jenny, watch the deleted scenes for LOTS of shirtless Thor in the cave pool.
tomk: I didn’t realize Danny Elfman scored this one.
jimmy: That surprised me too.
Didn’t sound like Elfman until the final credits.
tomk: Well, Age of Ultron mostly reminded me of why I was never a big Joss Whedon fan: standard plots with a lot of “edgy” quips. It has its moments, and I don’t hate Ultron the way, say, Jimmy does. He’s more like a missed opportunity. He could have been a stronger villain, but he comes across as a rehash of the Chitauri without the benefit of a Loki running the show. But then you have stuff like Thor in the pool and an extended discussion on Infinity Stones, and not in the way that James Gunn worked them into GotG as one of them was basically a MacGuffin for the movie. Here, it just feels like a side track that never really goes anywhere.
That said, it is nice to actually see Paul Bettany onscreen as he’s been involved with the MCU as long as Downey has.
And I will not complain if that somehow makes actress Kerry Condon (the new AI voice for Tony) get in as, say, Jocasta or something along those lines someday. She did good work on Rome once upon a time, and something about me is tickled Tony made an assistant with an Irish brogue.
jimmy: I hated Friday’s voice. Maybe that’s just me.
I agree with your comment about the Infinity Stones. Their involvement and the Thanos end credit scene were almost as forced as the Natasha/Banner lovefest.
tomk: Nat and Bruce…well…it’s not like Bruce gets to meet many girls these days. Maybe Jennifer Connolly isn’t interested in coming back for more.
But it certainly is a Whedonism to name the Hulkbuster armor “Veronica” as some sort of Archie-based pun.
I don’t mind Thanos so much since the end credits usually set up a future movie, and that’s all Thanos has done in any Avengers. I get a little perturbed when Marvel forces some future set-up into the movie I am watching right now. GotG did OK with it, and the fact Doctor Strange managed it with a throwaway line was rather good. Here it’s just clumsy.
jimmy: The aforementioned Thor cave pool deleted scene goes on at quite some length about the Infinity Stones.
tomk: Didn’t Whedon say he was forced to include that stuff or else he’d have to ditch the Hawkeye’s family scenes?
jimmy: No idea. I could have done without those as well.
They felt forced as well. I’m sure they were meant to up the “care about Hawkeye” factor from zero, but they came across to me as just “we need to give Jeremy Renner something to do.”
tomk: Hawkeye is a longtime Avengers mainstay, Renner is a good actor, and Whedon probably had more freedom to do stuff with Hawkeye than he did with, say, Thor. I can understand the impulse. I don’t mind the scenes, personally. I just find the inclusion of them adds to an already bloated movie.
jimmy: Speaking of bloated, everyone likes Vision, but when he showed up my first thought was “this is Batsoup. How many characters are they going to add into this movie?”
tomk: My first thought was, “Why did Thor shoot lightning into the coccoon?”
Then again, Thor in these movies just knows stuff. Like, he somehow just knew to go to Stark Tower to find Loki in the first one, so why not?
jimmy: That’s part of what that deleted scene explains. The other part is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
And does any of the Wakanda/vibranium stuff make sense now after seeing Black Panther?
Unless only Tony Stark knows they have the stuff somehow.
jimmy: And did we know Caps shield was vibranium previously?
tomk: That I think is a big yes.
jimmy: Ok. I couldn’t recall.
So can you get vibranium anywhere besides Wakanda? How did they explain where they got it for the shield?
tomk: Unless only Tony Stark alone knows where vibranium comes from.
Of course, I am hoping Shuri looks at Tony’s tech and just laughs and says, “That’s so cute!” (edited)
jonathan: I think it was mentioned somewhere that Howard had acquired some from T’Chaka. Then studied it and realized he didn’t have the ability to replicate it. So he left the plans for Tony to use later (in IM2).
tomk: Is Iron Man 2 the keystone of the MCU?
jonathan: A combination of that and… Age of Ultron.
tomk: Don’t tell Jimmy. It might ruin his birthday.
jonathan: I think AoU is the first movie if its kind and that’s why it’s hard to properly grade it.
There had never been a movie made, let alone on this budget and scale, that was entirely connective tissue.
Serialized film is still such a new phenomenon, and the MCU is the first real success.
tomk: Budget, eh?
Connective tissue, eh?
jonathan: They needed to make a movie that was a middle chapter
tomk: Serialization, eh?
jonathan: Post-Avengers, we needed an in-between story that could advance all the other concurrent plot points from the solo films, plus introduce some new team-building dynamics. Ultron was exactly the kind of disposable villain they needed.
tomk: See, that’s what’s wrong with the world. We need more recycling in our disposal society.
jonathan: The team gets stronger and adds new members, plus we get new information on the soon-to-be much wider MCU.
tomk: True, but the team breaks up at the end of the movie.
jonathan: They don’t break up. They part ways for now.
They are all together at the same table in Civil War
tomk: No, just Tony comes back. Thor, Clint, Bruce, and that slacker Pietro skip coming back.
jonathan: Tony is on call.
Clint can’t stay away
Thor and Banner, are, well off for a reason (and a much more fun time)
I’d wouldn’t say having 2 guys take off for a little sabbatical counts as a full breakup. Especially when they’ve been replaced at the table by Wanda, Vision, and War Machine.
tomk: And Sam!
Man, Steve’s random encounters make for great Avengers…
jonathan: I was already counting Sam, but yes.
Sam joined the day he let Steve and Nat in his apartment.
He knew what he was signing up for.
tomk: Jonathan knows I’m only half serious right now, right?
jonathan: It’s the other half I’m against!
tomk: That half was heckled by Watson.
jonathan: So, with this installment in our series, we have fortified our team with new members and personalities, set up new story arcs with the individual members, teased out the Infinity War overall arc a bit more, sent a couple dudes out into space for a future adventure, and, probably most importantly, paved the road to Wakanda. I’d say the movie did its job.
It doesn’t have to be a great stand-alone movie, because this is where the vastness of the MCU really bloomed. Without it, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
I think it’s perfectly fine for a flipping-channels-on-a-weekend-and-see-it-on-HBO kind of flick. I find that it’s gotten better for me over time.
jimmy: I disagree. It should be able to do all those things you mention and STILL be a good stand alone movie.
watson: There was the framework of a good movie in here but they didn’t nail it.
tomk: True. Ultron is one of the Avengers’ biggest enemies, and aside from the fact Whedon didn’t give Thor the great line from Kurt Busiek’s own Avengers run (“Ultron, we wouldst have words with thee.”), it really is a missed opportunity. Sure, it may be connective tissue, but no one wants to go see a movie that’s just connective tissue. We want the Avengers to have an adventure in their own right. A little judicious editing and this movie could be that. But instead, we get Thor in a pool, a lecture about Infinity Stones that don’t really mean anything towards the plot of this movie, and Tony’s PTSD creates another monster.
watson: Ultron could have been amazing played creepier. But instead he was weird and awful.
tomk: He was creepy in those trailers, though.
watson: Quicksilver is a big nothing. Remember how wrong we were when we threw shade at the X-Men version and thought this one would put him to shame.
tomk: Weren’t we all thinking this movie was just going to be so awesome after the first Avengers? I don’t know if I would say Age of Ultron was bad or anything, but it certainly was a letdown compared to what came before and what we were expecting.
watson: It was not bad. Just meh.
jimmy: It was bad. Meh would be a compliment.
Quicksilver was a waste.
Ultron was a huge missed opportunity. He is supposed to be scary and menacing, instead he was cartoonish and cracking jokes.
One of the few highlights of the film for me though was watching Cap and Thor work together as a team.
watson: Chris Evans deserved his paycheck in this one. His way of laying down a comic book Cap line and making it compelling and earnest was the most impressive thing in the film. This might be his best work as Cap.
jimmy: Though it did seem like Cap got regulated to crowd control in the finale while the “big guns” took on Ultron.
And what were those Ultron drones made of? Tinfoil? They seemed awfully easy to beat.
tomk: All the vibranium went into Vision.
watson: I still think the Coors commercial scene at the beginning was awesome!
True or False: This was Stan Lee’s best cameo?
For me it is 100% true.
tomk: False. I prefer GotG 2’s.
watson: Incorrect answer. I like this one better. This one was much more organic to a pretty important scene. He had the most interaction with the main characters. His acting and performing was his best.
jimmy: It is a great one here. I like the “I’m so fired” from Cap and though it’s not MCU, the one in Amazing Spider-Man.
tomk: But my selection explains why he’s always there!
jimmy: The Watcher theory?
I would also accept “Man with newspaper young Matt Murdock keeps out of traffic.”
Next questions: is Watson serious when he calls the Avengers party an important scene? And where’s Jenny? Jonathan has had more to say so far.
watson: I am serious. It really showed hero as a celeb (a Millar invention) and legitimately revealed these guys had become friends.
jimmy: I’m not sure how important the after party scene was, but it was a lot of fun. Cap budging Thor’s hammer is classic.
watson: Civil War only mattered to me at all because of that scene.
tomk: It does show the change from the first movie when it looked like they basically tolerated each other.
jimmy: Well, they also pretty much didn’t know each other.
tomk: And now that they have had two whole encounters, they’re the closest of amigos!
watson: The film implies several adventures between the Avenger films. The big battle at the beginning seems to be the “final battle” with Hydra.
As far as we know, they’ve fought Korvac, the Kree, Master of the Universe, and Impossible Man before this movie.
tomk: They fought He-Man? Holy cow!
I’m sure. But I can only really judge based on what actually happens onscreen.
jimmy: Several adventures between this and Winter Soldier at least. Which is easy to forget was the last film prior to this since Guardians was a whole other thing.
They state they have raided many Hydra bases.
watson: I don’t think Winter Soldier cuts off the possibility there were adventures between Avengers and that film…So it could be both!
watson: It could NOT be He-Man, so obviously I meant Masters of Evil… 😉
tomk: Or the Master of the World.
watson: But definitely agree the Hydra raids come after Cap 2!
tomk: They’d have to. Everyone assumed HYDRA was gone before then.
watson: Ok. Jenny ain’t going to talk but she will grade. So let’s get to it?
tomk: Jenny has left many valuable insights into these discussions, like Iron Man 2 was good and Iron Man 3 was bad.
watson: Riveting. What’s your score Tom?
tomk: 7.5 out of 10 “forget some of this stuff when Black Panther comes out” moments.
watson: I’m right there with you, Tom. 7.5 “Chris Evans made it wiggle a little and not in a gay way” out of 10.
jimmy: I give it a very, very generous 7 “At least it was better than the Iron Man sequels” out of 10.
One Jenny score holding up the wheel.
tomk: Where is Jenny? SXSW?
jimmy: Last I saw her she was hanging out with Jim Lee and Dan Jurgens.
tomk: But not Frank Miller or Ultron.
jenny: AoU gets a solid 8 from me!
watson: We are all fairly close on score. Generally seem to agree this one was ok but not great. I seem to remember more disappointment when we saw this. Probably because our expectations are higher for an Avengers film?
tomk: That would be my guess. Taken on its own, it’s decent, but nowhere near as good as we were hoping.
watson: Yeah. What if that had been the first Avengers movie? Would we have not enjoyed it as much or would we have enjoyed it more? What did the comparison do?
jimmy: I hated it upon viewings 1 and 2 (prior to Civil War) but thought it was a little better this go round, but not great.
watson: Kind of like the Dark Knight series. The third one was good but a huge let down from DK.
Batman Begins is not better than DKR, but I remember it more fondly in some ways.
jimmy: Dark Knight Rises is awful no matter what order they are in.
tomk: Except Rises also had Batman Begins ahead of it as a comparison.
Jimmy resents anything that gave Jenny bad podcast jokes.
jimmy: That too
tomk: So much so, he hasn’t activated the Calculon 9000 for rolling scores on this movie yet, his hatred for Bane’s weird accent is so powerful.
jimmy: Or he’s too busy at the moment…
tomk: That too. I blame Ryan.
jimmy: Ok, here we go:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 10
Iron Man 9.4
Guardians Of The Galaxy 9.4
The Avengers 9.3
Captain America: The First Avenger 8.7
Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.6
The Incredible Hulk 6.7
Iron Man 2 6.6
Iron Man 3 6.6
Thor: The Dark World 6.6
MCU overall 8.1
Phase 1 8.1
Phase 2 8.0
watson: So Thor 1 is the median through this point. That feels about right. I’ve always thought that was kind of the middle of the MCU road.
tomk: How is Ant-Man?
watson: We will see because that’s next!
It’s also looking like the MCU overall is a good solid B. I look for that to hold constant or tick up a little bit. I think we are past the potential stinkers.
tomk: I agree, but there are also contrary people who love Iron Man 2 for some reason. They tend to screw up the average.
watson: Bad human beings. Scum really…
jenny: Sorry, being at sxsw really threw my schedule off.
I’m back. By all means hold the applause
watson: We will.