WARNING: This post contains Avengers Age of Ultron spoilers. Go see the movie first, then come back and read the rest after the break.
I have been looking forward to Avengers Age of Ultron for years. As soon as they announced that the movie was coming out on my 40th birthday, to me that was the ultimate sign that this was going to be an incredible movie. And why not–superhero sequels are usually better than the first movie and Avengers was pretty good once they got the first hour out of the way. This was going to be an epic movie on a momentous day for me.
Knowing that I have a full schedule, I bought a ticket to see the 11pm show at my nearby Drafthouse many, many weeks ago. I went to the theater and eagerly awaited this momentous film while I enter my fifth decade. And while I thought it was good, I was not blown away. That actually disappointed me. Maybe I had my expectations set too high, but I expect more from Marvel for this kind of movie. The more I thought about it, the more I pinpointed the things that I think they did wrong and how they could have fixed them.
Bear in mind I still liked the movie and it had fun moments. But it could have been so much better if they had fixed these things.
1. Ultron’s origin makes no sense
We are told that Tony wants a peacekeeping force run by artificial intelligence and that’s why he’s been working on Ultron. But we’re also told and shown how Jarvis, an articial semi-intelligence?, can operate drones independently. Why does Tony need Ultron? Jarvis can be copied. Heck, when Jarvis is later moved into Vision, Tony just rifles through some chips until he picks his new program buddy Friday. Why can’t he just make some copies and have these drones run by multiple AIs?
Even if this solution required a human operator for every few drones that’s not a bad thing. Tony’s concern was being able to address the world-level threats. His concern wasn’t being able to address them while not being distracted from binge watching Netflix. It feels like Ultron is a solution to a problem that doesn’t actually exist.
How it could have been fixed: When they bring Loki’s staff back to the tower, what if the computer program inside the Inifity Stone (which I’m letting go, by the way, but seriously–wtf is up with that?) hacks into Tony’s computer and discovers a secret file that Tony created on how to take down all the Avengers? This storyline was done on the DC side in their excellent Tower of Babel storyline (and don’t forget your free $5 if you buy the digital version) but Marvel could take the overall idea. Then the AI steals those files and takes a drone, essentially what happens in the movie, only now everyone is pissed at Tony having those files. Which he would have a good reason for since mind control is a thing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So we have Ultron with lots of bad information and people blame Tony but it all still makes sense. Boom.
2. Why does Hawkeye have a quiver?
I already ridiculed the article touting how Hawkeye received an upgrade for Age of Ultron with his quiver now holding a whopping nine arrows. And I enjoyed the little moment Hawkeye has where he says “I’m a guy with a bow and arrow–what am I doing here?” But right after that moment of clarity he decides to give up all pretense of reality. Reaching down he grabs the mysterious box that he strapped to his leg earlier. Turns out it wasn’t an extended battery for his iPhone 6 plus, it’s a super compacy high capacity flat quiver! Out pops like 30 arrows.
That’s actually cool. And smart for an archer. So why does he carry the quiver at all? Don’t give me this “because it holds the special arrows” nonsense. Think of all the weapons Tony can fit into one Iron Man suit–he could put special arrows in that box.
How it could have been fixed: Address this right at the start. We’re shown Cap’s upgrade with the magnets that bring his shield back (another upgrade I don’t like, but fine we saw it). We could have been shown this new Hawkeye box-quiver at the same time. That would make sense and we’d all nod saying “That’s actually pretty smart. Nice work, Tony.”
3. Stealth jet is both too stealthy and not stealthy enough
The Avengers have a very cool jet thanks to Tony and I’m fine with it having a lot of slick technology. What I’m not cool with is it being referred to as entering stealth mode that is both too stealthy and not stealthy enough. It’s too stealthy because for some reason Widow and crew can communicate with the jet (and Hulk on board) but they can’t track it. Yeah, that makes sense. Because they’re probably using public airwaves to transmit an unencrypted signal to this stealth mode jet so there’s no way they can tell where it might be. It’s not like you’d want a highly secure, encrypted signal probably being transmitted at a frequency nobody else on Earth can use and piggy backing on Stark’s private satellite system. No way to tell where that signal is going. Or where the live video feed of its pilot is coming from. Could be anywhere.
Plus, in Agents of SHIELD we already know that you can put a cloaking device on a jet. This is very handy for making it invisible. Or, you know, stealthy. But Stark isn’t into that, apparently. Nope. His stealth mode? Full visibility. Maybe he projects scantily clad women hundreds of yards away as a distraction and the camera just didn’t show it.
How it could have been fixed: This only mattered in exactly one moment–the moment when Hulk decides to leave everybody so they don’t get hurt. But he seems to be making an intelligent choice to leave despite the first 2 hours of the movie where Hulk appears to have taken a giant Hulk leap back from his mental control in Avengers. Why not have him intentionally rip out a tracking unit and throw it out of the jet? Widow could even comment on that. “Don’t throw out that tracking device, big guy! I won’t be able to find you and have a non-sexual relationship with you!”
Plus then you would totally get why he left.
4. HYDRA makes no sense in the opening
The HYDRA storyline in Captain America Winter Soldier was fantastic. Not just for the surprise but in how it was revealed and then how it played out on Agents of SHIELD. That story was continued in Agents of SHIELD and those of us who watch the show know that HYDRA is fractured, nearly decimated, and a shadow of its former self but still causing some problems.
But the current MCU HYDRA is nothing like the army that the Avengers go after in the opening scene. Lots of troops, excellent armor, high tech weapons, energy shields. They’re even better equipped than in Winter Solider which makes no sense since they’ve been revealed publicly and subjected to massive international manhunts. That just doesn’t gel with the story being developed in Marvel’s various properties.
How it could have been fixed: Don’t make it HYDRA. Make it an off-shoot. Call it something else. It doesn’t matter. Calling this HYDRA gave us nothing–HYDRA already had their bad guy moment in Cap 2. So call this something else and we’d be all “Oh, this is some new organization with fancy weapons and stuff. That happens all the time, no biggee.” Instead they went with HYDRA which gives no story upside and just adds to the confusion.
5. The Vision shouldn’t be able to lift Mjolnir
He just shouldn’t. And don’t give me this “he’s young and pure” nonsense. You telling me a baby could lift Mjolnir? Because if so I want Baby Thor right the hell now.
The discussion about whether an elevator would still go up if Mjolnir was on the floor was a good one–especially as Watson’s son Collin pointed out a truck couldn’t move Mjolnir in the first Thor movie. There has to be some limitations on how Mjolnir moves, otherwise when Thor drops it on the coffee table it would actually rip a streak through the penthouse as the Earth rotates while the hammer stays still.
But Vision just tossing it around? No. Unless…
How it could have been fixed: Remember Thor is the one who brought Vision to life. He did so after the vision in the conveniently-placed-Asgardian-magic-pool-on-Earth. That could have been the reason for his ability to lift–he’s powered by the hammer. Or maybe Thor greets him upon waking by saying something about “The pools of blahblah have told me you are worthy. Welcome, brother.” Something. Anything.
6. Vision decides to toy with Ultron instead of winning the most important battle
When Vision and Thor implement a plan to take out Ultron Prime they have Thor distract the robot while Vision sneaks up with Mjolnir. It’s a nice pay off in terms of a surprise. It also makes no sense. First, let’s leave aside that Ultron limits himself to eyes in the front of his head. He’s an egotistical robot because Tony made him, fine. But if the point here is to beat Ultron we’ve already seen that Vision can phase his arm through robots. We also see Scarlet Witch rip Ultron Prime’s heart out later, so we know that matters to the robot. Why doesn’t Vision just phase into Ultron’s chest and crush his heart? Why play with Ultron and give him a chance to recover?
How it could have been fixed: Admittedly it would make for a shorter battle, but Vision should have just reached in and crushed Ultron Prime’s heart, forcing him to jump to a lesser-powered drone to continue his fight.
7. Tony needs to stop quitting things
The ending of Ultron seemed a lot like the end of Iron Man 3. Tony is apparently quitting and he does say by making vague comments about leaving before getting into a really expensive car and driving away. I’m pretty sure his contract allows him to keep the car he drives in the final scene, so I’ll allow that part. But otherwise can Tony please stop quitting? It’s just silly and we’ve seen it before. It felt far too forced and makes no sense.
How it could have been fixed: How about making some comments how Scarlet Witch is powerful and should be on the team but she still doesn’t trust Tony? That’d be a great reason for him to not be around or even on the team while she’s trained. Sure, she didn’t like Ultron trying to destroy the world so she fought him, but that doesn’t mean she just forgave Tony right?
8. The post-credits scene makes no sense
This is one of the two worst post-credits scenes in the MCU. I still say the worst is from Hulk because they didn’t have a clear picture of what to shoot so they ended up having Tony Stark invite Bruce Banner to the Avengers. This scene was equally bad but almost less excusible.
Thanos says “Fine, I’ll just do it myself.” That makes a bit of sense in the wake of Avengers 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy where his hired guns haven’t given him the Infinity Stones. But Thanos had nothing to do with all this Ultron nonsense. It seems a strange comment to make now as opposed to earlier.
How it could have been fixed: You can keep the scene but change the damn line to something more ominous and sounding less like he’s a parent to toddlers who won’t pick up their crayons. Maybe “The time has come for me to rule.” or “The stones are all on the board, now to collect them.” or “Lady Death, we shall see each other soon.” or “I’ve got the Infinity Gauntlet, bitches!” Anything but a whiney “Geeze, you want something done right…”