Having just been to see Age of Ultron, some brief spoiler free thoughts.
- It’s not quite as much fun as the first one. Like much of Phase II, this film’s a touch greyer than what came before – plottier, more serious and less instantly satisfying – and feels like the middle chapter it is. Whedonisms still come thick and fast, particularly early on – the script gets a lot of mileage out of one running gag – but aren’t quite as fresh this time around: no moment feels as standout as Hulk wiping the floor with Loki.
- It’s very much an ensemble piece. Ignore reviewers who say otherwise – there are nine or ten Avengers by the climax (and we get more than one lineup change), but not one character gets lost. As in the first film, true to Whedon’s talent for big casts, everyone gets an arc and time to shine. In particular, lesser Avengers get the strong backstory they deserve. (Feminists will, I fear, have things to say about Black Widow in this chapter.)
- The plot’s finer points fly by a bit fast. Whedon, at his best spinning simple narratives, wisely gives up exposition rather than character development. It’s hard to talk about this without spoiling anything, but the details of Ultron’s plan and Tony Stark’s response are a bit of a blur just prior to the third act. The quips, character beats and action are all strong enough to compensate, but it’ll benefit from repeat views.
- Most of the popular theories are wrong.
- Prepare to be trolled by the ending. Twice.
Spoilers welcome in the comments – stop reading here if you haven’t watched.