Film Yes we do. Hey Joss. Thanks Joss. Somehow in the midst of everything you still managed to create in MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron something which is comprehensively, comprehendingly and colossally a Joss Whedon film, tonally and philosophically different to the other films in the MCU franchise and with all the Whedoneque stuff which permeates all of your work. Not that you're reading this, but thanks all the same. It's just the pick me up I needed. Now for the rest of you here's a big long list of discussion points which is full of spoilers so should be avoided if you haven't seen MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron yet.
(1) There is no end of credits sequence. There's a bit after what would have been the opening credits sequence in the olden days which now seems to be slapped on the end of films now with the actors names and so forth but no, as Joss and Kevin have widely publicised in interviews there is no Shawarma II. Not that this didn't stop the twelve of us in screen one at FACT's Picturehouse this morning sitting all of the way through the credits anyway. Just in case.
(2) Can we stop with the creating of so many brilliant characters who we know will and can only have a limited amount of screen time? Elisabeth Olson's Scarlet Witch is magnificent creation and although she'll apparently be turning up in Captain America: Civil War (along with pretty much everyone left on Earth at the end of The Avengers) at close, as with Black Widow as with Hawkeye as with the Ruffalo Hulk, you really, really want to see them in their own film. Or television series. Or whatever.
(3) Something the film does especially well is in foregrounding the characters who don't have their own film franchises without really short changing those who do. In the first film, Joss and the gang quite rightly put their stall in the excitement of seeing Iron Man, Thor and Cap in the same film together. That's especially true of Jeremy Renner whose distaste for how he was used in the first film actually becomes a plot point in the second. Giving him a wife and family grounds him and also makes him the heart and humanity of the team putting him in line with Xander or Cordelia. Plus there's the appearance of Julie Delpy (goodness) in what's essentially a version of Jeanne Moreau's character in Luc Besson's Nikita during Romanov's dream/backstory.
(4) Rolling Stone has a good interview with Joss about making MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron where he eludes to a slightly manic editing process. I think you can tell. It is a film in which potentially useful character moments and exposition aren't there. Apparently the original cut was about three hours and it's not so much that anything is underdeveloped but some of the pacing is all over the place. Just every now and then I wished it would stop so we could see more of something (see (2) above).
(5) Isn't it roughly the same plot as Buffy's Once More With Feeling? Which I'm about to spoil? At the end of Once More With Feeling it becomes apparent that all the singing and dancing and death and the emergence of Sweet is as a result of Xander dabbling in magic. As he says, "I didn't know what was going to happen. I thought there would be dances and songs. Just wanted to make sure we'd work out, get a happy ending." In MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Stark and Banner meddle with science which results in action and death and the emergence of Ultron for similar reasons. They too don't really know what's going to happen. In both cases the super teams are actually spending most of the story clearing up a mess made by one of their own number.
(6) If there's a problem, and this has nothing to do with MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's that it doesn't especially change any games in the same way as MARVEL's Captain America: The Winter Soldier or MARVEL's The Guardians of the Galaxy or indeed the first film. Although the destruction of the Hydra base may have some effect on Agents of SHIELD (is Henry Goodman's Dr List dead now?) there's a business as usual feel to the thing. Of course, it's amazing business and it is important to pace yourself. But we're being wowed in the Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World sense of the word.
(7) For all Joss has said about the film being complete in and of itself, it does still quite rightly feel like a middle film and also an "episode". Plenty of the story is as a result of the first film and there's a lot of 'splaining ready for Infinity War and also foreshadowing for future other installments of the franchise, not least the fractures in Rogers and Stark's relationship and that slightly odd moment in the middle when Thor buggers off and picks up Selvig so he can go and stand in a magical cave pool. There's a lot of trust put in the audience here that we understand the language of these MCU films now, the interconnectedness and that we're willing to going along with these narrative detours.
(8) What happens after 2019? It's a bit soon of course, but pretty much everything in all of these films since 2008 is leading up towards Thanos presumably visiting Earth with that glove (probably chased by The Guardians of the Galaxy for measure). My guess is that MARVEL's hedging. It knows that every genre has a cycle and that however much money these films are making now fatigue will set in, especially with so many, what could be deemed, third string characters in the Third Wave. In that case the Infinite War films could become the massive finale wrap up for the franchise as is if need be. They'll certainly presumably be the last of The Avengers films although ...
(9) Anyone know why the film has two composers? Brian Tyler's score has been augmented by Danny Elfman or vis versa. Was Elfman's contribution it just to rework Silvestri's The Avengers theme?
(10) Did anyone else with a like mind think of Doctor Who's The Sontaran Stratagem when SHIELD's Helicarrier put in its appearance?