The military weapons manufacturer and the scientist want to build an artificial intelligence that will keep everybody safe. Surprise, it goes wrong and now the robots want to kill all of humanity.
A good story is like a cake. Everybody knows the basic elements. Nobody (apart from vegans) complains when the cake is made of egg, flour, butter, and milk. They complain about the other ingredients. Why is this cake covered in spam, Mark? Why did you think a curry icing would be a good idea? They complain about the lack of skill in baking the cake. Why is there unmixed egg and flour throughout the cake. Why does this cake look like a giant biscuit, Mark? Why does this cake look like an enormous poo?
Parts of Avengers: The Age of Ultron is amongst the best cake that you’ve ever eaten. James Spader as Ultron, the messianic robot? This is why the gods gave us ears.
But the cake is also full of weird, chewy bits. There are so many cameoes and bits of the story go nowhere. At two hours and 21 minutes, the film feels like it’s about four hours long.
And Hawkeye seriously needs to get killed off. If you wiped out all the Hawkeye garbage, the film would have been about the right length and absolutely none of the good story would have been harmed. Why is he in these films? What purpose does he serve except to be the guy who gets injured? In a film that is already burdened with a huge amount of dead weight, why make the most burdensome of the dead weights a main character?
The other surprise element of the story was the overall message: you can only be good if you don’t hold any strong opinions.
Stark and Banner create a monstrous evil not through malicious intent, but through idealism. Imagine a world under the glorious protection of a sentry system, they high five each other. Peace in our time, they quote Chamberlain and Disraeli. We could all retire and live under the protection of an inhuman computer programme.
They know they have to keep their plans secret from the other Avengers. The other Avengers would warn them about being too ambitious, about playing god, about hubris, and about trying to achieve some idealistic goal.
Idealism is the crime. Later, people are only allowed to join the Avengers if they’re suitably moderate. People with legitimate reasons to oppose the status quo find themselves siding with Team Meh simply because idealism is just too radical. Punishing a person who did them serious harm is way too immoderate and therefore evil.
There’s nothing vengeful about the Avengers. Their goal is to make sure tomorrow is as similar to yesterday as possible, where skilled women serve the men drinks and abandon their careers to get with their temperamental boyfriends.
Fortunately, we’ve reached the point in the story where the Avengers themselves are the threat. Ultron was their creation, albeit in a moment of idealistic excess. They are a law enforcement body that operates outside the normal political structures of our society. When Ultron threatens the world, it’s the Avengers who spring into action, not the actual authorities. When the Hulk smashes up a town, the actual authorities are helpless and inept in comparison to the billionaire industrialist. For how much longer will the Marvel Cinematic Universe be able to tolerate the vigilantism of its heroes?
Obviously, it’s time for Civil War.