This film is odd, it comes out after literally millions of other marvel films have hit the market with the exact same template; only it has the Joss Whedon template as well which is also very similar between movies. The first Avengers may have had that issue going in but it had some really amazing action sequences and the movie didn’t really drag at all; there were a lot of characters in the first film but they didn’t feel the need to make every one of them feel super special and unique or anything so there wasn’t a shitload of idle dialogue.
That’s not the case here, almost every major character has roughly the same amount of screen time and they all have backstory (yes, backstory) embedded in the movie as though that’s what you’re looking for out of an Avengers flick. Aside from the villain I really don’t think anyone needed backstory in this movie; maybe Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver but that’s about it. Essentially the film has mountains of “Mass Effect” style dialogue where the characters are just kind of standing around performing very similar animations that you’ve seen before and talking about cool stuff that doesn’t actually take place in the movie. So yes a Black Widow origin film could be good Mr. Whedon, but I don’t really give a fuck in the context of this movie so please just let me see some badass shit happen; that’s why I’m here after all.
It has to be almost an hour between the first two action sequences and the entire time is filled with exposition, backstory, or vaguely interesting but still somewhat terrible romance sideplots. So, how is the action, you ask? Well it’s good but it’s not the best which is what I would have expected from this movie. The coolest bits aside from Hulkbuster are when Thor and Captain America do a “team super” but those are each about 2-3 seconds long so it’s not like the whole movie carries that intensity. Jeremy Renner is fucking incredible in this because he’s Jeremy Renner and actually a good actor, but at one point he’s like “you know I just kind of have a lame bow and arrow” and while the line delivery is fantastic he’s absolutely right as well; to make Hawkeye work he really needs to be doing crazy/impossible trick shots at every turn or something but he only has a few in the movie and they linger for less than a second so the audience could blink and miss them.
How are the new characters? Again I think they’re alright, James Spader performs acceptably in his role; in fact with a better movie surrounding it I think his role would be perfectly functional; but he would really have to be intimidating/super awesome to negate some of the lethargy of the rest of the film. Scarlet Witch is played by Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of Mary Kate and Ashley), who has been in a lot of movies and I know for a fact is a talented actress but she’s just underwhelming/disinteresting in this; I’m sorry. Quicksilver is okay, he sucks compared to the dude from X-Men though, who was in that movie for like 3 minutes. Paul Bettany’s role is improved I suppose and should be relatively interesting in future movies.
This movie kind of just starts and ends with no impetus on either side and only a little bit of legitimate tension throughout; in fact I think the trailer made moments in the movie that are underwhelming seem intense. There isn’t really an action climax to speak of; the end has 15-20 minutes of action that’s all pretty good but it doesn’t build up in a satisfying fashion and the pacing isn’t the greatest throughout. The movie kind of just ends with your stereotypical Joss Whedon plot twist thrown in there, but just due to the context of the film they couldn’t actually make that interesting or use someone important in the machinations (whereas the plot twist in the first Avengers worked rather well and didn’t just randomly happen at the end, even if it was also predictable).
In some sense this movie feels like Serenity, a movie where the characters are already beloved and you’re going to be seeing them for the last time anyway. That is obviously not the case for most of the characters in this film. Also Serenity had a 28 million dollar budget so the fact that it didn’t have a ton of action was understandable. For this movie they must have just spent way too much money on actors without actually bothering to put together a cohesive plot; so with 300 million dollars you don’t actually wind up getting all that much of that bombastic, ridiculous action that you go in expecting.
Alright so I don’t think this movie is bad, in fact I think it’s pretty good but there were 3 Marvel movies that came out last year that were better. There was Edge of Tomorrow last year and it completely obliterates this in every way imaginable (there’s a movie with 2 characters and it crushes your 15 character movie). The most interesting part of this movie is just going to remain how well it does at the box office; and if 30% of the audience feels that it’s underwhelming then presumably it won’t do totally insane beyond the first weekend. But we’ll see I suppose. Hopefully they learn some stuff from this and the third movie is fantastic again.