Let me start off by saying that I actually like Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel fans, put down your pitchforks. I know there are certainly those who loved the movie even more than the first.
But even the most die-hard fans will admit that it wasn’t received by the public quite as warmly as the first film with a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the 92% positive score of the first Avengers. Now, that’s no indication that it’s a bad movie, because it’s not. It was good but it could have been great.
So what was wrong with it? Again, there was plenty of good, but the general critical consensus seems to be that:
- The villain wasn’t as threatening as he could have been
- The light hearted tone and excessive humour took away from the stakes
- Several subplots felt superfluous and hurt the pacing such as Thor’s vision quest and Black Widow/Banner’s romance
- Characters such as Thor, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch didn’t have much to do
Which brings us to the question: HOW could it be better?
Keep in mind that I don’t mean to imply that I know better than a professional writer who actually gets paid to do this sort of thing. This is just one overzealous fan’s perspective of how the movie could be improved.
Let’s fix Avengers: Age of Ultron.
1. An Age of Wonders
Our film opens pretty much the same way as the real one, with the Avengers storming Strucker’s base. They kick ass, showcasing their powers and teamwork to the audience as they cut through Hydra like a couple of hot knives through butter. I’d include a few more instances of Cap giving the Avengers orders and really show off his strategic prowess. We see Strucker watching them decimate his forces and he summons Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from their chambers. He tells them that the moment they have been planning and preparing for has finally arrived.
This time, Hawkeye and Widow won’t be blasting through the Hydra forces like the rest of the superpowered heroes. They’re spies and assassins and one of the cool things about the last movie was that their skills were used in ways that made sense rather than just providing some more warm bodies in a fight scene. The two spies infiltrate the base and take it down from the inside while the big guns blast away. They shut down the force field, allowing Iron Man to make his grand entrance.
While Iron Man blasts his way through the base, Hawkeye and Black Widow are ambushed by Quicksilver. He toys with them both and we show off his volatile, smart mouthed, womanising personality as he takes a moment to hit on Black Widow after he hurls Hawkeye through a wall. Thanks to the distraction, a Hydra soldier is able to blast Hawkeye, much to Quicksilver’s delight. He tells Widow to call him before he disappears to continue wreaking havoc.
We cut to Cap directing traffic outside and he is interrupted mid-order by a silver blur that collides with him head on. Thanks to his enhanced reflexes, he is able to land on his feet but the blur keeps peppering him with lightning fast strikes, thrashing him across the forest. Cap is able to dodge a few of Quicksilver’s attacks but the speedster’s onslaught is too much for him. However, Thor arrives on the scene and Quicksilver is forced to retreat.
Meanwhile, Banner decimates the Hydra forces throughout the forest, tearing through their tanks like they’re paper. It seems as if he’s going out of control as Thor and Cap arrive, urging him to calm himself down as they’ve destroyed Hydra’s army. The fight is over. To their surprise, Hulk is able to control himself and willingly transforms back into Bruce Banner. Even Banner seems surprised by his own self control.
We return to Tony as he finds the secret passage to Loki’s sceptre. Just like the theatrical version, the Scarlet Witch sinks her hooks into Tony’s mind and he is struck by an apocalyptic vision of what is to come. However, this time, the twins help Strucker make his escape. They board a jet and take off as Tony retrieves the sceptre. Strangely, Strucker seems fairly calm about what has happened, as if all is going according to plan.
His inclusion in the film was mostly pointless but why not get a little more mileage out of such a potentially fun villain?
2. A Shield Around the World
Strucker and the twins are shown regrouping at one of the few remaining Hydra bases. It is revealed to us that Strucker planned for Tony to take the sceptre. He had discovered the AI hidden within the sceptre but was unable to decode it. After Stark attacked, Strucker took the opportunity to allow him access to the sceptre so Stark could decode it for Strucker. We also learn that after Wanda stole Stark’s pass codes from his mind, they have gained access to both the tower’s surveillance and its security. Quicksilver is eager to leap into action though Wanda seems hesitant about the whole plan. Strucker assures them that all they need to do is watch and wait.
Meanwhile, our heroes return to Avengers Tower and Hawkeye gets patched up by Dr Cho’s machine while Tony convinces Banner to help him create Ultron. After several days of working tirelessly on their project, they come up short. We then come to the party scene which plays out largely the same as well.
We’ll cut the Widow/Banner dialogue so Widow can have a heart to heart with Tony during the party to discuss her issues with now being a public figure just like him as her cover has been blown because of the Winter Soldier (an interesting plot point which was never addressed in Age of Ultron). This will be something she struggles with throughout the movie to add more weight to her accepting the role of co-leader of the New Avengers at the end of the film.
Banner meanwhile can buddy up with Thor. As the two heavy hitters on the team with something of a rivalry on the field, this was a relationship I would have loved to explore and expand. Thor can have an interesting conversations with Banner about how they both deal with their immense power. For Banner, after the Avengers, he is finally starting to feel as if he is in control of the Hulk as evidenced by his ability to calm himself down after the battle with Hydra. For the first time in a long time, there’s hope on the horizon for Banner. Now he just needs to figure out how to use this power in a constructive way.
3. Ultron Online
As the Avengers enjoy their celebration, Ultron’s consciousness wakes up in a confused state. He lashes out as JARVIS tries to calm him and he ACCIDENTALLY destroys his felow AI before we cut back to party. Unlike in the real movie, this Ultron starts out very confused and sympathetic rather than being suddenly evil.
The rest of the scenes play out the same until in the midst of their competition to pick up Thor’s hammer, the twins and Hydra crash the party. With JARVIS gone, they are easily able to enter the tower using the codes Scarlet Witch stole from Stark’s mind. The Avengers are caught unawares by a small army of Hydra troops lead by Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
A wild brawl ensues and even though the Avengers are unarmed and outnumbered, they gain the upper hand until Quicksilver puts a knife to Stark’s throat and orders the Avengers to stand down.
Strucker enters now that the situation is under control and takes his time to gloat. He is holding Loki’s sceptre. He reveals that Stark played right into his hand and has helped Strucker take one step closer into creating the ultimate weapon. Using Tony’s pass codes, he attempts to download Ultron.
The Avengers watch uneasily as the Hydra soldiers surround them, guns raised. Scarlet Witch is on guard but seems uneasy about the whole situation. It seems that she doesn’t quite have the stomach for violence that her brother does. Quicksilver meanwhile is clearly enjoying himself and presses the knife harder against Tony’s neck, drawing a trickle of blood.
A legion of Iron Man suits activate and fly into battle in defence of their father. This gives the Avengers the opening they need.The battle is over quickly though the twins manage to escape in the Hydra jet with the sceptre, abandoning Strucker in the process. As the dust settles, Strucker is alone and surrounded by a horde of pissed off superheroes. Understandably, he surrenders.
With all threats neutralized, one of the Iron Man suits helps Tony to his feet. Tony quickly identifies this entity as Ultron. The machine seems pleased with himself and is looking to his father for approval. He seems highly intelligent but naive and somewhat child-like, expressing confusion when Tony orders him to stand down. Ultron ignores Tony and before anyone can stop him – he snaps Strucker’s neck.
The Avengers are horrified and Stark attempts to deactivate Ultron through the tower’s terminals. Ultron’s confusion quickly turns to rage as he realises his father is trying to kill him. Ultron attacks Tony but Thor and Cap intervene, destroying the remaining Iron Legion drones.
4. No Strings Attached
We find out that Ultron’s consciousness has managed to escape to the Hydra base in Sokovia and takes control of the twisted, incomplete Hydra drone prototypes still left at the base. In an unsettling sequence, these zombie-like drones slaughter the intelligence agents who had secured the facility (because why the hell would the Avengers just leave a hideout full of dangerous weapons unoccupied without at least giving the authorities a heads up?). These drones seem unstable, lashing out with unbridled rage as this confused creature finds himself abandoned and completely lost. He starts to talk to himself and seems to come to a conclusion – though the audience isn’t quite sure what that is. Now alone in this massive base, Ultron starts to build himself a new body.
Back at the tower, the other Avengers rip into Tony for creating another possible world ending catastrophe but he stands by his decision. The tension continues to mount but they put the issue aside for the time being and resolve to track down Ultron.
We cut back to the twins to find that they are back in Sokovia. Wanda is freaking out – she doesn’t want any part of this any more. All she wanted was revenge against Stark but things are quickly spinning out of control. She wants to throw away the sceptre and be done with it. Pietro tells her to snap out of it and accuses her of forgetting the reason they’re fighting. This enrages Wanda and she begins to lose control of her powers – until they’re interrupted by a small child who tells them that “the Iron Man” wants to see them.
They come to an abandoned church where Ultron is waiting in his new and improved body (which will henceforth be known as Ultron Prime).
Ultron puts his silver tongue into practice in order to convince the twins to join his quest for vengeance. Quicksilver is immediately on board but Wanda is reluctant until Ultron reveals that he knows the reason why they signed up for Strucker’s experiments. We learn how their lives were destroyed by Stark’s weapons which is why they allowed Strucker to turn them into weapons themselves.
Ultron seems to show genuine sympathy for them and takes them to his lair in the depths of Sokovia. They find legions of Ultron drones working on some kind of machine. When asked about it, Ultron simply says that he’s making a weapon of his own. A weapon to destroy Tony Stark.
5. Sins of the Father
The following scenes unfold very similarly to the original film.
The Avengers continue to investigate Ultron’s movements and find out that he’s been working with the twins to hunt for parts. They realise that Ultron is after Vibranium and they track him down to Africa. Just like in the original, they intercept Ultron and the twins in the midst of retrieving the Vibranium from Klaw. However, in this version, Tony sees that Ultron is misguided and tries to talk him down.
It actually seems to be working as Ultron lowers his guard. Tony extends his hand in friendship and Ultron hesitates, his violent facade faltering for just a moment. Unfortunately, Thor has had enough of talking sense to a giant toaster. Thor calls Ultron a monster and then destroys his body with a single blow.
If only it were so simple.
Out of the shadows steps dozens of Ultron drones, surrounding the Avengers. Ultron, now enraged by this betrayal, prepares to attack. He seems genuinely heart broken at their rejection. The fight doesn’t go well for the Avengers as Ultron knows every one of their strengths and weaknesses. Quicksilver joins in on the fight with disturbing enthusiasm and he is soon followed by a considerably more hesitant Scarlet Witch who has to be urged by Ultron to play her part. With the help of the twins, Ultron is able to systematically take them down one by one.
Amidst the confusion, the Witch is able to attack the minds of Cap and Widow while Quicksilver, keeps Thor busy and Ultron Prime leads Iron Man away from the battle. The flashbacks were great and will remain mostly unchanged.
Iron Man manages to catch Ultron Prime and has him pinned down outside the freighter but before he can deliver the killing blow, Ultron tells Tony that even though he managed to protect the suit he’s wearing from Ultron’s influence – he hasn’t been as thorough as he thinks. Tony is horrified as he sees a pod hurtling through the clouds to land in the nearby town. Ultron laughs and asks him whether Banner knows about Tony’s little contingency plan. Tony flies towards the city at top speed, fearing the worst.
Meanwhile, Thor finally manages to catch Quicksilver, knocking him the ground. However, he hesitates before delivering the final blow which gives Scarlet Witch the opening she needs and she sinks her hooks into Thor’s head as well.
We get a few snippets of Thor’s ominous visions of Asgard and the Infinity Stones before we return to reality and see Ultron Prime standing behind a dazed Thor.
A gleaming blade erupts from Thor’s chest as Ultron drives Loki’s sceptre straight through his back.
Thor falls to the floor in a heap as Ultron looms over the Thunder God’s body, laughing.
The Age of Ultron has begun.