3 Stars – Intense Action
This latest film in the ongoing series of films about the Avengers continues to push the limits of cinematic techniques. However, this eleventh film in the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe not only increases the intensity of the action but also the complexity of the relationships within the Avengers team. This makes for an enjoyable, multilayered tale that speaks to your heart as you sit on the edge of your seat. It also keeps the film from being too overwhelming, as we are given time to breathe. Like the films before it, this chapter is best understood by having seen those that went before it, though it is complete within itself.
Written and directed by Josh Wheddon who also directed the previous film in the series, we find the ensemble cast comfortable with one another and continuing their on-screen romances and agendas. The most disturbing of these agendas is that of Tony Stark as Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). When he almost died in a final attempt to save the world from an alien attack at the end of the previous film, he is convinced they need an artificial intelligence with ultimate power to protect them. Calling this creature Ultron (voice by James Spader), he tricks Thor (Chris Helmsworth) into letting him keep Loki’s scepter to study. Powered by an intelligence and power far beyond anything in this world, the scepter seems to provide Stark with exactly what is needed. But instead, it creates a threat far greater than the aliens he fears. Due to his secrecy, the threat is not only the maniacal power of Ultron but the loss of trust between the members of the Avengers team as well.
The interplay between the Avengers is becoming more mature and familiar. Steve Rogers as Captain America (Chris Evans) is humorously kidded when he chides the others about cursing, Bruce Banner as The Hulk (Mark Rufallo) and Natasha Romanoff as the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) continue their mating dance, Clint Barton as Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) reveals a secret home with a beloved wife and children, and Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) continues to assist through his connection with S.H.I.E.L.D.
Introduced into the saga are two new characters who become allies with Ultron, Wanda Maximoff as the Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen) and her twin brother Pietro as Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Their roles shift as the story progresses.
The consistency of good battling evil is a Marvel value. However, the evil shifts in a variety of ways in this film from the evil of Hydra’s Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) to the evil of the mind-altering Scarlet Witch to the evil of artificially intelligent machines. But in every instance, the evil lacks the supportive teamwork that makes the Avengers able to stop it. It is this message that together we can use our unique skills to stop evil in its various forms that The Avengers presents.
- The Scarlet Witch has the power to bring your greatest fear into a mental hallucination. What is your greatest fear and do you ever get caught up in paranoid imagination? How do you bring yourself back to your “right mind”?
- When Tony Stark tries a second time to bring artificial intelligence into his creation, Thor intervenes and a synthetic creature is formed named Vision (Paul Bettany). Do you believe this creature is to be trusted? Why or why not?
- The fact that Hawkeye’s wife and children seem to be able to live a normal life while he goes off to “save the world” is a stretch. Did you find that believable? Why do you answer as you do?
- What do you think could be the long-term effects on the Avengers team if they do not trust one another or do things that break trust with each other? How have your closest relationships been affected by distrust or broken trust?