Face-Off: The Avengers vs. Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Face-Off is back! The Avengers are back! Where's the damn McRib when you need it?

Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios set an ambitious precedent with THE AVENGERS, a movie with seven protagonists which relies in part on an existing knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The team has reassembled for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, but can a film with even more characters and subplots live up to what the first film just barely pulled off? Let's take a look.

(Please note: Face-Off is an opinion column. We're not using any actual science to prove or disprove anything. It's just for fun.)
S.H.I.E.L.D. rounds up its greatest superheroes when the Asgardian Loki attempts to take over the world using the Tesseract and an army of Chitauri. Or something.
Earth's Mightiest Heroes reunite when Tony Stark accidentally creates Ultron, a program hellbent on human extinction. Meanwhile, two Eastern European superheroes want revenge because of some business about their parents and Stark Industries... yes, exactly like IRON MAN 2.
Loki a.k.a. Evil Thor. A great performance by Tom Hiddleston of an interesting character, but continuing with Loki as the villain felt more like a THOR sequel than a new idea.
Ultron a.k.a. Evil Iron Man. A sentient program created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, terrifyingly voiced by James Spader.
Loki terminators in from another dimension with the help of a pretty cube, uses the Loki poky stick to turn Hawkeye and others to his cause, and escapes in the method of transport preferred by all demigods, the back of a pickup.
Maybe the best piece of eye candy in the MCU. A high octane romp through Sokovia featuring long takes, heart-pounding action, and a corny but fun money shot of the whole gang in action.
Waves of Chitauri barrel through an open wormhole while The Avengers use battle tactics and brute force to capture Loki, defeat the Chitauri, and close the wormhole.
Chaos. Just chaos. A floating city with about a dozen superheroes trying to save thousands of civilians from an Agent Smith of Ultrons. A solid sequence, but too many characters and quick cuts to stand against the Battle of New York.
A few corny one-liners ("YOU WANT ME TO PUT THE HAMMER DOWN?") but all in all a sharp script with a lot of laughs and exciting moments.
Lots of Whedon-esque "look how clever I am" jokes and one-liners, especially in the first twenty minutes. Too many subplots and MCU references to feel satisfying as a stand alone movie.
Phil Coulson. One of the major elements holding the MCU together up to this point and an all-around nice guy (yes, he is later resurrected somehow for television, but whatever, he dies in this movie).
Pietro Maximoff. A newcomer without enough screen time to evoke any real emotion at his loss. Moreover, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST kind of pre-killed the need for this character in the MCU.
THE AVENGERS pulls off juggling so many characters by effectively treating the collected heroes as a single character once things get going. The plot goes from following several opposing forces to eventually following one unified team.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON kind of does the opposite. We start with our unified team, introduce the Maximoffs as working for the bad guy, create a new bad guy, split the team up for a bit, send the Maximoffs to the good side, alienate the casual viewer with about a dozen cameos, create a new Avenger who can do just about anything right before the final battle, and chuck a city into the air. While those are all perfectly fine ideas on their own, it's a little much for one movie.

THE AVENGERS felt like the big show the previous movies had been building to, while AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON feels a bit more like another MCU placeholder, albeit one of the best.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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