Cary’s review published on Letterboxd:
My brother told me about this video that talks about the top 10 rarest metals in the Marvel Universe. Number 3 on the list was the material Thor’s hammer is made out of, number 2 was Vibranium, and in first place was Quicksilver’s armor.
Definitely not the worst Marvel movie, but definitely the weakest one out of the four Avengers films.
I think the core issue with this was that there was difference in opinion between Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige with how the Marvel universe should be built out. Whedon’s massively successful first Avengers film helped set the light hearted humor and playful banter that the universe has since been known for, but it did little in terms of world building, which I would argue is what made the first film so successful: it felt more like a cohesive narrative.
With AoU, it felt like they tried to take what made The Avengers successful, but added extra storylines and scenes to elaborate and expand upon the existing storylines to set up for future films. Bruce and Natasha’s “will they won’t they” chemistry, Helen Cho (what a shame she’s only in this one), Thor’s vision, etc. Ultron as a villain also feels underdeveloped - it is such a fascinatingly rich character with complex motivations, but because it only was introduced in AoU, there wasn’t much time for Ultron to develop.
It also isn’t exactly clear what theme of AoU is supposed to be. The first Avengers had a very clear theme and storyline: a rag tag group of heroes have to come together, set aside their differences, and learn to defeat a common enemy. AoU lacks that clear theme, and instead tries to do way too much by also introducing a myriad of new characters to the universe. This made the narrative feel overly burdened and convoluted. I would argue that this movie suffers from a lack of identity - I don’t think Whedon or Feige even knew what they wanted AoU to be except to be another team up of the Avengers.
Whedon (who I think we canceled now?) has always been good at developing relatable characters through long form narrative. He was able to succeed with The Avengers as all characters had been fleshed out prior to their team up, and Loki as a villain had been explored in Thor prior. Unfortunately with AoU, Whedon was dealt a worse hand and while I would say he did the best he could with the material, there’s only so many pots you can win with 7/8 off suit before some pocket pair takes your money. In a way, AoU feels like the pilot to Firefly (the one that Fox actually aired, so Ep 2 The Train Job) - it introduced a ton of characters, villain, and storylines. But because of the limitation to its run time and the fact that it jumps right in without introducing the characters and the universe, the aired pilot to Firefly (and analogously AoU) doesn’t particular draw the audience in. Firefly was able to succeed in becoming a cult classic though because it had 14 episodes to elaborate on its story. AoU doesn’t have that luxury because most of the story - that of Ultron and his quest - begins and ends with the movie (barring the implications from AoU that bleed into Civil War and Vision).
Still, this movie had some great action sequences. A fun entry but unfortunately in my opinion a rather meaningless one.