Review season is just about upon us for TV shows, so I figured I’d kick it off with a review of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. If you haven’t seen it, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating… unless you want to be spoiled. Yes, there will be spoilers mentioned. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Let’s start with Robert Downey Jr as (Ironman) Tony Stark and Chris Evans as (Captain America) Steve Rogers. If you can’t see Civil War coming out of this, then you missed a lot. Tony and Steve don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but Stark’s actions in this movie put them on separate paths toward a common goal. RDJ was once again perfect as Stark. In the comics it was Antman who had created Ultron, but they changed it for the movie. Having Stark create Ultron made a lot of sense here. It was done well overall and it brought out the character flaws this team had. Tony had already created the Iron Legion robo police force and his reasons for wanting to go further were justified. Steve is still trying to adjust to modern times, so being left in the dark about such a bold move was not something he felt was wise. The dynamic here was less about Ultron and the threat than it was about setting up Cap 3.
Chris Hemsworth shined as Thor. More focus was put on the true power that he wields, specifically Mjolnir. Thor’s confidence is almost a cockiness in his abilities and if Captain America almost lifting the hammer wasn’t bothersome enough to THor’s ego, then certainly Vision’s actions were. Heimdall‘s brief cameo fit well and I like how they set up what looks to be Thor 3: Ragnarok. Thor’s role here was to inform about the power of the infinity stones and the role they play in the universe.
Hulk (Bruce Banner) took more of a back seat for me in this movie. Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal was spot on, and though the Hulk shined we got to see more of the struggle Banner has coping with his alter ego. He accepts it less and fears it more than in the last movie. So much so that he is solely responsible for helping Ironman develop the Hulkbuster (veronica) armor. The presence of both Banner and Hulk were equally important this time, but I feel as though he was bullied a bit by Tony. I was a little caught off guard by the sexual tension between him and Natasha, but I’m glad that they strayed from that. Who knows where he ended up in the end. Fury mentioned the craft MIGHT have crashed into the ocean, but you can’t help but wonder if it was all a setup for another Hulk movie (Planet Hulk). I hope not as I don’t particularly like that story.
Scarlett Johansson has proven my initial thoughts on her in the role to be completely false. I love her as Black Widow (Natasha Romanov), though I do have one issue. Whedon could have corrected the lack of RUssian accent in the flashback to her ballet days, but he chose to ignore it. I was pleased that we got a little more of her background though and everything that was hinted at in her prior appearances. Her crush on Banner was strange to me, but then again I was blown away that her relationship with Clint was less intimate than I’d rightfully assumed.
Jeremy Renner really took the lead in this movie. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) was finally called his codename and it was fun how it was done and the reasoning. I was blown away by the reveal of his family but it was a welcome change. There needed to be someone with some kind of personal life and he being the choice made sense. While Cap was the leader and Tony the funding of the team, Hawkeye was the glue that held them together.
War Machine (James Rhodes) and Falcon (Sam Wilson), played by Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie cameoed in important minor roles that by the ending you realize will become much more in the next installment.
Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) were perfect. Aaron Taylor Johnson was a much better Quicksilver than the already likeable one that was in X-Men DOFP. My only regrets are that he had to die because of the dual studios usage of the character. In a battle like this however there are bound to be casualties, so I’m fine with the choice. Elizabeth Olsen was both sexy and creepy in her role, and I’m happy with the portrayal of her powers. The slight modification worked well and the hint at the twins’ past can be touched upon more if Marvel ever ended up with rights to X-men. The twins beginning as antagonists and becoming heroes was everything I wanted to see with them.
Vision is both the evolution of JARVIS and the creation of Ultron. His origin was similar to the comics and his presence and sleek look were a very welcome addition. He was to this movie as Hulk was to the last, and earned his place quickly. Although his solar gem atop his head was changed to the mind gem, the origin and use of that which was once in Loki’s scepter placed well. It was a primary reason why he became so powerful and heroic. As part machine with organic matter in him, he is able to wield it without being corrupted by temptation or control. They even gave a nod to the romance that will be eventual between him and Scarlet Witch.
Samuel L Jackson is always great to see as Nick Fury, and with him and Maria Hill back on the scene with SHIELD it will be interesting to see where this takes the agents of shield series.
Finally, on to the villains…
Baron Von Strucker while having a minor role was a good starting point for the film. Why not have a minor subplot with HYDRA before kicking into another threat? I’ve welcomed this with the Spiderman movies and any characters that have a huge rogues gallery.
Ulyses S. Klau played by Andy Serkis had a story element that will directly lead in to Black Panther. They mentioned Wakanda, he had his arm torn off, and he’d stolen vibranium. It is an excellent lead in that didn’t feel forced.
Ultron was easily the highlight of this film. James Spader gave off the vibe that this robot was like a child with a god complex. Designed to eliminate threats, the cliched “robot thinks it knows better by eliminating the human race” felt fresh here because of Ultron’s personality. There were hints of logic, and Tony’s personality that made him unique in many ways. So much so that it almost felt like Tony Stark was the villain at times.
Thanos had only a brief scene. While it was not anywhere near one of the better credits scenes, it was something that laid ground for the next installment.
What else is there to say? From the plot to the set ups of the next few movies and where the characters go personally, there is a lot packed in to 2 hours and 20 minutes. Stan Lee‘s cameo was my favorite of them all, and that says something right there. People have complained that Age of Ultron is not as good as the first Avengers movie, but it’s an unfair assessment. These movies are entirely different from one another. I feel that this tied up a lot of loose ends and opened the movie universe up to so much more potential. In my opinion it exceeded Avengers 1 in many ways while not surpassing it in others. It isn’t a perfect comic book movie, but it is damn close. I give it 9.5 sCrypt Coffins out of 10.
If you have anything to add, please comment below.
This review will be filled with spoilers and major ones at that, so if you just want my overall non-spoilery review, scroll down to the last paragraph, otherwise you’ve been warned 🙂 Also, if you are a fan of the Agents of SHIELD show, then I advise you stop watching it now until you see The Winter Soldier. It changes everything. On with the review.
Where do I even begin? Great comic book movie? yes… Great action movie? yes… Greatest action movie of all time? Maybe… You can tell where I’m going with this. There is not much (other than the suspension of disbelief) that is not great about this movie. Sound, music, dialogue of characters, plot, Everything was nailed perfectly. Slight issue? well, let’s just say some of the things like Captain America breaking his fall with a skylight and his shield probably wasn’t realistic… let’s just say that the pounding his brains took from Winter Soldier’s bionic arm probably would leave his brain in mush… let’s just say that Falcon jumping from a building and perfectly landing in a tilting helicopter without being chopped into a million pieces, falling to his death, or breaking any bones is probably not realistic, BUT… it is a comic book movie, so that kind of nitpicky stuff is allowed in small doses.
Let’s touch on the characters:
Captain America/Steve Rogers: Chris Evans really makes this character likable and realistic. It is as if Cap has jumped straight from the books onto the screen. His dedication to his country, and defending what is right, while maintaining his core values is what makes him so perfect. Some of his fight scenes were a bit too “Bourne Identity” for me, where the camera was too shaky or close, but there was enough choreography in them, that you still got to see plenty of great action shots. What really hit a soft spot for me was that this out of place guy finally begins to feel at home and make new friends (Sam Wilson), and then his past comes back to haunt him. What he deals with physically only shadows in comparission to his mental struggles.
Black Widow/Natasha Romanov: Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous, yes, but she really stepped up the game here with her acting ability. I originally was opposed to her being in this role, as I didn’t think she fit the profile, but she has redefined the character while staying true to the comic book roots. Her role in this movie alone put her on an almost equal playing field with Chris Evans. She was basically the sidekick with tons of screen time and a great purpose for being there. If you even noticed, she had an arrow necklace around her neck that she wore, hinting at the relationship her and Hawkeye have. It will be interesting to see where she goes in future movies now that everyone knows about her shady past.
Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes: Sebastian Stan had such a minor role in the first movie, but now that purpose has been revealed. They did the Winter Soldier justice by making him a deadly threat. A little foreshadowing to the character’s future was even thrown in when he stood holding Cap’s shield. (in the comics Bucky becomes the new Captain America after Steve Rogers “dies”). He plays a deadly villain, and his look was perfect. The bionic arm was really cool, and better than what I’d pictured from reading the character, and his realization at the end of his past was the perfect set up for the next movie.
Falcon/Sam Wilson: Anthony Mackie took a second rate character and amplified him to stand with the top brass. I always liked Falcon, but after this movie, he no longer stands as a B character for me. The lack of red and white in his “uniform” is fine with me because the wings he had were designed like a military design. Since they were destroyed, and he is moving on with Cap to the third movie, I only assume they will probably paint his wings a more vibrant color. Time will tell, but the hunt for Winter Soldier is on.
Maria Hill and Nick Fury: Faking deaths, finding the moles, and doing what they do best all came into play here. Fury’s “death” was a bit far fetched for me, as he is very lucky to be alive. I do like that he programed (I only assume) his bad eye into the system as a backup plan to take down Pierce’s operation. Hill’s role, although smaller, supported him, and at the end we even get a glimpse of her at Stark Towers. Maybe they are setting up a new SHIELD now that it has fallen. And what can I say about Nick Fury without a patch now? I’m cool with that. He doesn’t need it with the shades. Oh, did anyone else notice the Pulp Fiction quote on his headstone?
Sharon Carter/Agent 13 & Peggy Carter: I’m glad they closed Peggy’s story here. Hayley Atwell is a wonderful actress, and the makeup and CG of her elderly self was convincing 100%. Sharon being introduced as a potential love interest for Steve was a welcome addition too.
Alexander Pierce: I half expected Robert Redford to rip his face off and reveal that he is the Red Skull, but I’m SOOO glad they didn’t go that route. Skull still exists, we know that. The character of Pierce was a good way to show a reflection on today’s society. He reflected as many politicians in office do today. people think they are good, but have ulterior motives. To hear Redford say “Hail Hydra” sent chills of excitement down my spine. It was perhaps the BEST moment of the movie because of delivery alone (and the fact that Redford will not say any lines that he feels are ridiculous). Clearly he approved.
Arnim Zola: Okay, his role was brief, but that’s all it needed to be. Like his comic counterpart, he uploaded his awareness into machines. Yes they were destroyed, but do you think he is dead? I don’t. Remember, they grabbed the flash drive, and I’m sure he downloaded himself onto there or somewhere else. He was connected to a network after all. The way he was designed was really cool too. I do believe he will be back in some form.
Agent Sitwell and Senator Stern: I never liked Sitwell as a character, and Stern was Gary Shandling’s character from the second Ironman movie. I’m glad they were revealed to be Hydra operatives, because I most likely wont have to see them again. (no offense to the actors) I like Shandling a lot, and I think Hernandez acts well, I just was not keen on the characters.
The Leaper/Georges Batroc: Remember what I said about Falcon being a B rate character upgraded to an A? Well it applies here too. The intense fight scene and brief subplot with Batroc upgraded this lame D rate character to a B in my opinion. I’d like to see him appear in Agents of SHIELD to follow up with his role. I don’t think he belongs in any more big budget movies, but they should follow up with him.
Brock Rumlow: He was badass, and dedicated to Hydra. With him being badly scarred at the end, I can only assume that this was a setup for him to return in part 3 as Crossbones. (Crossbones btw was the one who killed Captain America in the comics). It is fitting for him to do so in Cap 3 so that Bucky can take over.
Stan Lee: Always a welcome cameo, so I had to include him. Do you think he lost his job at the Smithsonian?
Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver & Baron Wolfgang von Strucker: What a mid credits scene this was. The Baron apparently has been trying to use Loki’s staff to control others with abilities. He mentions the others died, and that the two in the cage were Miracles. Trial and error to make the staff work right? Who knows… all we do know is that this sets up all three of their roles for Avengers Age Of Ultron, and after seeing this scene, I am even more eager to see Age of Ultron.
Stephen Strange: Okay, so Doctor Strange is not IN the movie, but his name was mentioned as a potential future threat to Hydra, hinting at what we are going to get at some point in the near future. Awesomeness.
So there you have it. My little breakdown has come to an end and definitely had an impact on EVERYTHING in the Marvel Movie universe. If I gave Avengers the score that I did, then I can only rate this on even playing ground. Avengers was the perfect movie, but a lot of that thrill and excitement I think comes from seeing all of those characters on the screen at a time. With Captain America The Winter Soldier, it not only redefined an entire movie universe, but set a standard for action movies and comic book movies alike. Will the sequel stand well against Batman vs Superman when they are released on the same dates in 2016? I absolutely think so. I personally will be seeing both, and can’t wait, but DC really needs to step up their game to keep up now, and I hope they do because I enjoy DC and Marvel. Cap 2 gets 10 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins from me. I’m not sure anything could have been done to make it better.
Issue: Captain America #368 Mar
Story: “Red Twilight”
Publisher/Year: Marvel Comics 1990
To celebrate Captain America’s in our Avengers’ week, I thought I would dig through my old comics of the same name, and choose one to review. This issue features my favorite Captain America villain, Crossbones, and though he doesn’t do much, it reminded me why I like the character. He is just badass and mean. WARNING!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!
The story begins with Crossbones and Machinesmith searching through the wreckage of their underground hideout. As they look frantically for their boss, the Red Skull, they begin to see signs of who might have attacked their base. With the way all of the robots and metal are torn apart and thrown around, it appears to have been Magneto, but they don’t know why.
Back at Avengers headquarters Jarvis is hard at work cleaning up a similar mess, when Captain America arrives. Immediately he has their communications person look up intel on Magneto, as it is assumed that the destruction of the mansion was his handywork. These two scenes are great because it shows how balanced this story is. They constantly flip back and forth between the characters and settings without becoming confusing.
After giving up their search temporarily, Crossbones beats the crap out of the head of security for allowing such a thing to happen. As he is about to land another punch, Red Skull shows up and stops him. Okay, this isn’t really the Red Skull, but it sure fooled Crossbones. Machinesmith tells CB that they can make it appear as if their leader is still active and fine until they find him. As they walk through the lab, there are parts of Machinesmith’s bots lying around to be assembled. Two of these bots are the bodies of Colossus and Wonderman, but they ignore those and head straight to the destined Magneto bot. The idea is to use the false Eric Lensherr to lure the real Magneto out in the open.
Apparently word gets out quickly that the Red Skull’s people are offering 100,000 dollars to whoever has information on Magneto’s whereabouts. Diamondback, Black Mamba, and one other member of the Serpent Society are in civilian clothes enjoying a few drinks when they hear about this. This part of the story is insignificant other than the purpose of showing just how far the word of the Red Skull can go.
Meanwhile, Captain America is told that Magneto is in front of the Capitol building for some pro mutant demonstration. Suspicion number 1… This is not Magneto’s style, and Steve Rogers goes to investigate. When he arrives, Magneto is attacking a group of mutants called the Resistants. Suspicion number two puts Rogers’ intuitive mind to work. Magneto never attacks other mutants unless they provoke him, and this was a peaceful demonstration.
Here is where I begin to have my doubts… A forcefield surrounds Magneto’s area. A magnetic field would project outward and underground as well. Not this one. Cap uses his shield and digs a hole to crawl underneath. Even at this point, the field doesn’t continue down as the hole is exposed. I get why they chose to do this, but it is a flaw in writing in my opinion. Apparently Cap thinks so too as he finds it suspicious for the third time.
Knowing that Magneto always keeps a personal field near him, Cap wings his shield as hard as he can. He is shocked to see that it connects so hard that Magneto’s helmet cracks. Although he is suspicious again, I would think at this point Rogers would seem more alarmed that he could have potentially cut Magneto’s head clean off with the throw. Instead, they begin a short battle. Between the fighting style and the words the villain is using, Cap is now sure that it most certainly is NOT who it appears to be.
By the way, on Page 18 in the first frame, there is a misprint in the “Has Magneto Since the New Tricks Since the last time we clashed?” The thought bubble came from Captain America and the first since was probably supposed to be “learned”. Anyway, it was a simple editing mistake, but it somehow made it through to the presses.
So Cap ends up beating the mechanized version of Magneto and deduces that it was Machinesmith’s doing. Now he just needs to know why. It is left open for a lot more, but the story ends there with a few more pages showing the impact of the events. Black Queen of the Hellfire club begins to wonder where Magneto is, and then the final frame shows the man of interest and his daughter, the Scarlet Witch.
This is a normal sized comic, that also includes a bonus story in the back. I was unaware of who the Machinesmith really was until this bonus told his origin. It was a nice way to end the comic. Overall, I give this issue a 5 out of 10 for keeping me intruiged.
Captain America (Steve Rogers) is played by Chris Evans in the Avengers movie.