The last outing of these superheroes — Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye — amassed a mind-boggling $1.5 billion internationally and if anything, the latest film Avengers: Age of Ultron is likely to shatter that record.
And Joss Whedon and his team of Avengers — in spandex and metal — will make these two-and-a-half hours worth your money. They will fight and they will banter, they will level cities and angst about the darkness in their past and present, and they will romance. In short, they will give you bang (literally) for your buck.
Clued into pop references and the expert mixer of camp and emotion, Whedon is in his elements and gives you SUCH a rush right from the beginning. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are busy destroying a Hydra lab and retrieving infinity stone in Loki’s Specter in the fictitious nation of Sokovia when we first meet them. This is where they first encounter the Maximoff twins too — Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) — who have been genetically changed. He is fast and she’s weird, and they will leave our heroes divided and devastated.
It is her power to alter reality which shows us a vulnerable side to the irrepressible Tony Stark. Afraid of losing his friends, a feverish Stark brings in a reluctant Dr Bruce Banner (Hulk in his spare time) and they begin building an “iron shield” for the planet — an artificial intelligence peace corp. We all know what happens when someone messes with science — chaos. In this case, they create a Frankenstein monster Ultron (voiced by James Spander) who believes the beginning of world peace lies in mankind’s end.
The Pinocchio-humming sentient villain has serious daddy issues. He wants to begin humanity’s destruction by first killing off Avengers in general and Iron Man in particular. This fight takes place all across the globe in elaborate set pieces and well-executed CGI. Especially noteworthy is the climactic battle which is pure adrenaline. Another city-leveller is the the Hulk vs Hulkbuster sequence which is going to give fanboys, and fangirls, lot to talk about.
The film, however, is not all about fists-meeting-face, there is a beating heart to it as well. The budding romance between Banner and Black Widow aka Agent Romanoff is complex and far-reaching in its repercussions. A particular scene where Romanoff offers her tiny hand and holds Hulk’s giant mitt makes you forget you are watching a superhero flick.
A lot of time is given to the fears and back stories of the Avengers. Black Widow gets a traumatic past and Banner is terrified about his future. Stark is afraid that his friends will die and he alone will survive. Captain America knows the cost of waiting too long. Thor has seen a vision and will not stop till he understands it. With so many regrets and existential issues, the film starts lagging in the middle till the toe-curling climax revives it.
The problem that Avengers suffers from is too much of everything — too many superheroes (there are three more than those already mentioned), too much emotion as practically all of them have their dark moments and too many narrative strands.
What it doesn’t have enough of, however, is the sardonic wit we have come to expect from this franchise and the Marvel cinematic universe. After the genre-defining Guardians of the Galaxy last year with its wisecracking raccoon and talking tree, we demand more of banter and humour. Whedon is a master of mixing camp with myth and a scene where Avengers drunkenly try to lift Thor’s hammer is a prime example of what he is capable of. Another gem is Stark’s remark, “I have had a long day… Eugene O’Neill long.”
The returning cast is forceful and everyone justifies their paycheck. As the focus is more on Team Avenges than any particular one, we see less of Iron Man as compared to last time and more of Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Maximoff twins. What with charismatic cast, earth-shattering action and special effects that justify its multi-million dollar price tag, a blockbuster has arrived. It may not be the perfect sequel but it is an epic one.
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