*This post contains significant spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron is poised to be one of the most successful films of the year — if not all time — but its appeal goes beyond just being a big hit at the box office. It’s a legitimately enjoyable and worthy followup to the massively successful The Avengers (2012) that keeps the Marvel Cinematic Universe trucking along on its path to world domination (well, the box office part of it anyway). It’s a film that’s almost too busy, as it definitely takes more than one viewing to catch all the action and quips the film throws at the screen. Give that Age of Ultron is a huge superhero extravaganza, it goes without saying that it has a lot of cool moments — almost too many to keep track of, really — but the following 10 definitely stand out.
10. Avengers Assemble
Avengers: Age of Ultron gets bogged down at points due to setup obligations for the next films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but one scene in particular at the end offers some exciting prospects of where things are headed with The Avengers team. With Ultron out of the picture, the remaining Avengers and the remnants of SHIELD set up a new base of operations. This development isn’t really exciting in itself, but when Captain America and Black Widow enter a room filled with the current team of old and new faces (Falcon, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, and The Vision), it’s hard not to feel a jolt of excitement seeing The Avengers as a team evolve on-screen. In addition, the scene is capped off splendidly with Cap’s “Avengers, A-” line, interrupted in true Whedon fashion with a cut to the end credits.
9. Ultron Truck Chase
Age of Ultron has a number of memorable battle sequences that featured heavily in pre-release trailers, but one that doesn’t seem to get enough attention is the truck chase in Seoul. What’s cool about this fight is that the most underpowered members of the Avengers (Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) manage to take on Ultron without the aid of the more God-like members of the team. Seeing Cap go toe-to-toe with the much more powerful supervillain on top of a moving truck is awesome, while Black Widow gets some cool moments on a suped-up motorcycle. As cool as it is to see Iron Man or Thor’s brands of flashy heroics, it’s nice to see the human members of the team operate on their own and get the job done.
8. Hawkeye’s Safehouse
There were a lot of complaints, including from Jeremy Renner himself, that Hawkeye wasn’t very interesting in the first Avengers. Clearly, Joss Whedon and co. were aware of this and addressed these complaints by putting more emphasis on Hawkeye in Age of Ultron. The skilled archer known as Clint Barton is finally given a backstory of his own that ties in nicely with the thematic concerns of the movie. The Avengers find themselves broken and beaten by the film’s midsection, but Barton helps them through this difficult time by bringing his team to his safehouse, which is actually a farm where his wife and children live. It’s arguably the most interesting scene of the film from a character perspective, as it not only allows the Avengers to ponder their next moves, but also turns Hawkeye from just a guy with a bow to a character worth caring about.
7. Ultron’s Birth
It’s a bit of a shame that Ultron seems to become less threating as the film goes on because his introduction is absolutely menacing. Brought to life by the dulcet tones of James Spader, Ultron initially arrives on the scene formless, represented by a projection of code in Tony Stark’s lab. As Ultron quickly formulates his consciousness and develops a plan of attack, he evolves like a virus and cruelly dismantles Stark’s friendly A.I. program Jarvis. Things get even better once Ultron takes physical form, but he just might be at his most sinister when he initially gains life as a murderous computer program.
6. The Vision
The Vision is simultaneously utterly ridiculous and supremely awesome. The fusion of A.I. program Jarvis and the yellow “Mind” Infinity Gem is Age of Ultron‘s not-so secret weapon and represents the point where the Marvel Cinematic Universe truly embraces the lunacy of its comic book origins. Paul Bettany does a great job in his relatively brief appearance and remains an enigma by the end of the film. It’s not really clear just what his powers or purpose are, but his ambiguity is part of the character’s charm. Plus, he’s the only other Avenger who can currently wield Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, which raises some interesting questions about what his true purpose really is — definitely a great addition to the MCU.
5. Thor’s Multiple Combo Moves
One of the coolest things about having all of the Avengers on-screen together is seeing the creative ways their powers can be used in combination with each other. In the first Avengers, there was the crowd-pleasing moment when Iron Man used Captain America’s shield to deflect his lasers at a group of enemies. Age of Ultron ups the ante on these combo moves considerably, with the most memorable ones involving Thor. In the earliest battle, Thor slams his hammer into Cap’s shield to create a shockwave that takes out a group of Hyrda soldiers. Later on, Thor lends his hammer out to The Vision temporarily mid-battle, which leads to a hilarious mini debate over the hammer’s weight.
4. Party Scene
As fun as it is to see the Avengers battle the forces of evil, it’s almost just as much fun to see them cut loose and throw a big victory party, which is exactly what happens at Stark Tower in the first act. Not only are all the Avengers present, but practically the entire cast of Marvel’s supporting good guys turn up. We see Cap hanging out with his buddy Falcon, as well as more hilarious bickering between Tony Stark/Iron Man and James Rhoads/War Machine. It all culminates in a fantastic sequence that sees the various team members trying to lift Thor’s hammer (only Cap makes it budge). The party unfortunately gets cut short by the arrival of Ultron, but the scene could have honestly gone on for an hour and still been enjoyable. Hopefully future films in the franchise will have character moments like this.
3. HulkBuster Iron Man vs. Hulk
The showdown between Iron Man and The Hulk was featured prominently in trailers for the film, and deservedly so because the battle turns out to be everything fans could want and then some. Seeing these two powerful beings clash in a populated urban setting is thrilling enough as it is, but the real reason this scene works so well is because of how smartly it’s put together. Unlike a similar battle between Superman and Zod in 2013’s Man of Steel, Age of Ultron doesn’t simply forget about the innocent bystanders that are unfortunate enough to be close to the destruction. Iron Man goes out of his way to try and protect civilians while fighting the rage-induced Hulk and even verbally references his desire to try and get The Hulk away from the city. It’s also just a fun fight filled with humorous touches, like when Iron Man tells Hulk to go to sleep as he pummels him repeatedly in the face.
2. Opening Battle
While certain aspects of Age of Ultron have received mixed reactions, such as its lack of narrative focus and too much time spent developing future plots for the MCU, it’s hard to deny that the film’s opening is really strong, offering a suitably bombastic look at The Avengers in action. The heroes’ assault on Baron Von Strucker’s Hydra base is expertly designed, from the opening moments showing the Hydra forces preparing for an off-screen attack, to the reveal of the various members of the Avengers team, who all converge for a triumphant group shot before separating again. It’s a heck of a way to open the film and emphasizes how confident Marvel are at this point with their film properties.
1. 360 Degree Splash Page
Given how dominant the Marvel films are in the cultural zeitgeist, it’s easy to forget that these films are all adapted from and inspired by comic books. Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon, an unabashed lover of comics who’s written a few himself, treats this legacy with the respect and reverence it deserves, and includes a number of shots that honestly look they came straight from the comic page. The best of them all comes late in the movie when all of the Avengers converge to do battle with Ultron’s robot army. The result is a thrilling 360 degree pan that is an absolute visual treat as every hero fills the screen in action. The only downside is that it’s over much-too-soon.