To read a review of Avengers: Age of Ultron that does not contain spoilers, click here.
Warning: spoilers below
Avengers: Age of Ultron begins in the middle of an Avengers assault on a H.Y.D.R.A. base in Eastern Europe, trying to recover Loki’s Scepter. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch fight against the Avengers, as “enhanced” people who volunteered to participate in Strucker’s experimentation program, as has been mentioned in recent episodes of the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television program. Caught off-guard, Hawkeye is injured and the Avengers retreat after retrieving the Scepter.
Back in Avengers Mansion, Tony Stark, J.A.R.V.I.S., and Bruce Banner analyze the gem in the Scepter. The gem holds what appears to be a computer program. Banner remarks that it looks like a brain and appears to be thinking. Stark and Banner work for three days to reproduce the “program.” Stark believes that artificial intelligence could be the secret to protect the Earth’s population from external threats, so that it no longer needed the Avengers.
The experiment works, and the Ultron program is created. J.A.R.V.I.S. attempts to introduce Ultron to the world, but Ultron, linked into the Internet, sees the evil that men have done, recalls Stark’s mission statement (“peace in our time”), and concludes that the only way to achieve peace is through world extinction. The Ultron program attacks the J.A.R.V.I.S. program and overcomes him. He then proceeds to create robotic extensions of himself using Stark’s technology, while the Avengers host a reception above. As the party winds down, leaving only the Avengers and their closest friends, Ultron reveals himself and attacks. He escapes through the Internet.
A brief stay in hiding—after the Scarlet Witch plays with the Hulk’s mind and he goes on a rampage in Wakanda—reveals a few things about the Avengers: Hawkeye has a wife and children, Bruce Banner and Black Widow are in a relationship and plan to run away with each other, Captain America and Iron Man have fundamental philosophical differences about how to best protect the Earth. Nick Fury also returns, bringing S.H.I.E.L.D. back into play
The rest of the movie finds the Avengers pursuing Ultron and his new allies, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. The Maximoffs turn on Ultron when they discover that he does not only want the destruction of the Avengers but the extinction of all mankind.
Ultron creates the Vision using technology designed to recreate tissue (used earlier on Hawkeye after he is injured by Quicksilver during the opening assault on H.Y.D.R.A.) and fused with vibranium stolen from Wakanda by Ulysses Klaus (“Klaw” in the comics). Ultron also attaches the Mind Gem, extracted from the Scepter, to the Vision’s head. Though Ultron’s intention is to use this new body as his own, the Avengers interrupt Ultron’s program upload. After bringing the incomplete Vision back to Avengers Mansion they upload the restored J.A.R.V.I.S. program into his body, and Thor brings him to life.
The result is a cinematic Vision very close to the Vision of the comic books. He is sympathetic to humans, almost seeming at times to actually bear emotions. At a few times during the movie, there were almost hints of an attraction between the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, reflecting their comic book relationship and marriage. The Vision (pre-“Vision Quest“) was one of my favorite Avengers growing up, and Paul Bettany has done a masterful job of bringing him to life.
Rumors have circulated for months that an Avenger would die during this movie. One did, from a certain point of view: though not officially a member of the Avengers, Quicksilver died during the final battle with Ultron. The comparisons between Ultron‘s Quicksilver (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the Quicksilver in last summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (played by Evan Peters) need go no further. It appears that Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver will not have a recurring role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though Peters’s Quicksilver is slated to return in future non-MCU X-Men films.
Ultron himself was killed after a combination of attacks from the Scarlet Witch, the Hulk, and the Vision. Following the battle, the Hulk disappeared into hiding, Thor left for Asgard, and Tony Stark and Hawkeye both “retired,” leaving only Captain America and Black Widow remaining from the original team. As the movie ends, Cap and Widow set about beginning the training of the new team of Avengers: War Machine, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision.
This movie was even better than I anticipated, and should satisfy both long-time Avengers comic book fans (like myself) and the general movie-going population who have helped to make the Marvel Cinematic Universe so astonishingly successful.