If you walked into Avengers: Age of Ultron simply expecting more of the first movie but bigger and better… well, you’re gonna get it for about the first twenty minutes before the whole thing turns a one-eighty on you.
Since Iron Man 3, Marvel’s Phase 2 has been pointedly different from its predecessors. Between techno-thrillers and space-operas, Marvel hasn’t actually made a true-to-form superhero movie since the first Avengers in 2012. And Avengers: Age of Ultron is no different.
Not only does Age of Ultron start off by throwing the audience into the heart of a team-up action extravaganza, it makes it very clear that this movie is no longer about the novelty of seeing your favourite heroes working together: the Avengers are a very real working unit and their chemistry is akin to the best combos you could work out in a video game.
The very first sequence also leads to the conclusion of an arc begun in Captain America: The Winter Soldier with the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. For those who have been following the continuing story in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the payoff is delivered here.
Rather bafflingly however, is the decision to cut down the movie by about 50 minutes from the first to final cut. While 3 hours 10 minutes does sound a bit much, the second cut of 2 hours 40 minutes feels a lot more appropriate than then final 2 hour 20 minute cut. With scenes from the trailers literally missing, it feels like the movie could have answered more questions that it eventually did.
Oddly enough, this is a problem that plagued the first Avengers too, with some of the Captain America-centric scenes not having made the final cut. Hopefully, we see some of those scenes restored for home media or in Captain America: Civil War.
And yes, the seeds for civil war are very definitely planted here.
But ultimately, the best part of Avengers: Age of Ultron is that despite being the sequel to about 10 movies, and the set up for another phase, it stands alone fantastically as one of the best superhero action blockbusters that somehow manages to be a great character piece, reminding us all why comic books are appropriately referred to as modern day mythology. Avengers: Age of Ultron opens 23rd April in all cinemas.