Peace in our time.
It’s been a dream of mankind from the time the angels sang of peace on Earth and goodwill to men. Great minds like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. tried to bring it about, but our world today is still embroiled in war, hatred, and conflict.
The Avengers have put in their share of work toward a more peaceful world. Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye have put a stop to an alien invasion and taken down the new head of HYDRA. But one day, they’ll come up against an enemy they can’t fight, and on that day, both the Avengers and any hope of peace will be destroyed.
Tony Stark has an answer.
He’s developed a new peacekeeping program called Ultron, designed to protect the world from threats not even Earth’s mightiest heroes can handle. With this next level artificial intelligence running an army of robot bodies, peace in our time might not be a dream after all.
So Ultron accepts his purpose to take out the world’s biggest threat. And careful analysis shows that the most dangerous people on the planet are the Avengers. They’re all volatile, unpredictable, deadly, and incredibly powerful, and the world would be a lot safer without them. Come to think of it, it would be a lot safer without people.
And once humanity has been driven to extinction, it will finally be an age of peace. An age of death. An Age of Ultron.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to Marvel Studios’ hit blockbuster The Avengers and the next step in the phenomenon that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It features an ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner, and is helmed by writer and director Joss Whedon.
We’ve seen this team together in the first movie, and they don’t disappoint here. The actors pull off Whedon’s witty dialogue with charm and chemistry, feeling like a team and a family and making these larger than life characters into real people.
The new additions fit right in. James Spader (The Blacklist) voices Ultron with equal amounts of menace and humor, making him the most memorable Marvel villain since Loki. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla) are likeable, relatable, and perfectly believable both as villains and as Avengers. And the android Vision, played by Paul Bettany, who previously voiced Tony’s A.I. butler J.A.R.V.I.S., is the real show-stealer, blending wisdom and naivety, power and kindness.
See the trailer below:
The story is jam-packed, but stops just shy of feeling overcrowded. It barrels along, but knows when and how to pause for breath so that the audience stays invested in the quiet moments. It goes to some darker places than its predecessors, but never loses its sense of humor. It hits all the major emotions and even toys with our expectations from time to time. It’s not particularly friendly to newcomers to the Marvel Universe; you’ll at least want to have seen The Avengers before you plunge into this one, and probably a few other films as well. Fans of the movies and comics, however, will find plenty of Easter eggs to excite them and tease coming attractions in future films.
Throw in excellent special effects and a score that brings back favorite themes from past films and you’ve got the blockbuster to beat this summer.
One of the major themes of this movie is accepting responsibility for your mistakes but not letting those mistakes define you. Tony’s big mistake is creating Ultron, bringing on his friends the destruction he wanted so desperately to avoid. Even so, he has a hard time admitting that doing so was a mistake, even going so far as to try again.
“Isn’t why we fight so we can end the fight, so we can go home?” Tony asks.
Cap calls him on the selfishness of that attitude, saying, “Every time someone tries to end the fight before it starts, innocent people die. Every time.”
Meanwhile, Wanda and Pietro are all too eager to help Ultron destroy the Avengers, but when they find out what his plans really are, they realize they’ve helped bring about humanity’s end. Wanda especially feels remorse, but with some encouragement from Hawkeye, she and her brother turn around to help their former enemies destroy Ultron.
The Avengers also value teamwork. They are a team, after all, and although they often argue and even come to blows from time to time, they realize they’re stronger together than apart. Despite friction in the team, Hawkeye believes in his teammates and feels it’s his responsibility to keep them together. Ultron is Tony’s way of keeping the world safe on his own, and he creates him without consulting his teammates. When he asks how they’re supposed to fight a force they can’t defeat, Cap answers, “Together.” It’s a sentiment Tony eventually comes to understand.
We see Avengers put their lives on the line to protect civilians and each other. Given the choice between saving the world and evacuating a threatened city, Captain America refuses to leave even one person behind. During one of the film’s quieter moments, we see a portrayal of a family as something important, full of love, and something to be cherished and protected.
Ultron has a certain fascination with God. He says he likes the idea of a church being in the center of a city so everyone can be equally close to God, and he calls Captain America “God’s righteous man.” Speaking of his plan to annihilate humanity, he says, “When the Earth starts to get comfortable, God throws a stone at it, and believe me, he’s just winding up.” After his creation, the android Vision says of his existence, “I am.”
The film is packed with superhero action violence, mostly bloodless with a few exceptions. One character gets his arm cut off (offscreen, but we see the stump), and another gets caught in machine gun fire and dies from several bullet wounds. A romantic relationship between Hulk and Black Widow produces a few sexual references. The movie also contains a smattering of PG-13 language, including one s-word that starts off a running gag about Captain America’s “old fashioned” attitude toward swearing. A party includes a World War II veteran (played by comic creator Stan Lee) getting drunk on Asgardian wine.
If you take your teens to see this movie, here are some questions to help you start a conversation with them about the film’s themes:
- What is the right attitude to take toward our mistakes? Should we ignore them? Dwell on them? Try to make up for them? (Romans 3:23, John 8:3-11)
- What are the benefits of working as a team? What makes it hard? Are there things better done alone? What is something in your own life that you can’t do by yourself? (Ecclesiastes 4:8-12)
Looking for a film for your whole family? Check out Dr. Diane Howard’s SCH Top Movie Picks for May 1!
For the younger members of your family, catch our movie review of Little Boy!
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For more from this author, check out The Nerd King website.