4. We’re introduced to too many new (and old) characters, but not all the best characters.
There’s also the matter of an ever-growing cast of characters. That’s something of an unavoidability when you’re making something like the MCU (which, you know, is making an Ant Man film of all things.)
But still, it means we have a lot of divvying up of screen-time and not a ton of focus. We have Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (but not the X-Men version of Quicksilver!) as well as Don Cheadle’s War Machine, and Falcon (though black Avengers are still just getting cameos here and we’ll see if Scarlet Witch is anything other than a bit part in future films.)
Seriously, the X-Men look positively diverse compared to the Avengers. Nevertheless, we still have an overly-stuffed cast, with Nick Fury and many SHIELD agents also making an appearance. Meanwhile some of our favorite characters—or at least, Loki—don’t appear at all.
Which leads us to the most important new character in the entire movie: Ultron himself.
5. Unfortunately, the villain is lame.
Ultron is the funniest demonic robot I’ve seen in a film in a long time, perhaps ever. He’s a lot like his “maker” Tony Stark, but with a dark, demented side.
But he’s not as threatening as the Winter Soldier, or as interesting or funny as duplicitous Loki, or as ominous as perhaps, hyper-intelligent Ava from Ex Machina.
In fact, Ultron is a really terrible super-villain. He’s a “villain of the week” at best, and not even a very good one. He’s supposed to be this impressively powerful AI that can use the internet however he wants, still he hardly does anything other than find ways to blow things up. That doesn’t sound like a hyper-intelligent and adaptable being, it sounds like a cartoon villain.
So rather than using his tech to shut down global banking systems, hack military servers, start a nuclear war*, or do actually anything intelligent at all, Ultron builds a great big bomb that demands him to lift a whole city out of the ground in order to detonate.
*Note: I realize in the movie Ultron was stymied in his attempts to have access to nuclear codes. That does not mean a more clever villain couldn’t have used his technological capabilities to start a war. He didn’t bother to provoke any chaos nor any distractions for the heroes apart from the twins. A better villain would have thrust the world into chaos prior to his big destroy the world segment. Ultron failed to do anything particularly interesting in this regard.
This whole bad guy was devised so as to pull off a special effects gimmick. That’s the extent of thought that went into Ultron’s brain. Never once (or at least not for more than a split second if we watched a preview) do we think Ultron will be good. We aren’t given any time for him and Stark to form a relationship that could later turn to hatred.
There is none of the passion that makes a Frankenstein’s Monster actually work as a dramatic element. Stark is no Frankenstein, and Ultron is no Monster. They barely have any interaction at all. There is never that process that enable us to accept Ultron first as Tony Stark’s “child” and then as his rival. It feels so rushed, so pointless.
(Note: I’m definitely feeling a little extra biased here having just watched Ex Machina, but I think I would feel this way regardless. If you’re going to go for Frankenstein’s monster, go for broke.)
The villain poses very little threat, very rarely puts any of the heroes into any sort of bind (save once, with the help of Scarlet Witch) and fails to impress at every turn. And my god, the Pinocchio song that he sings in the previews, and again in the movie—let this go down as one of the greatest of MCU‘s mistakes since Disney acquired the comic book company.
All of these complaints aside, I still had fun at the Avengers sequel. Yes, there were some very infuriating parents in the crowd who brought kids far too young to a very long and violent film, but aside from that I had great fun. It was an entertaining sequel, but very much (one hopes) the middle-child of the Avengers films.
Let’s hope Infinity War and the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel fare better.
If I think of other things to add to this list, I’ll update the post.
Meanwhile, if you’ve seen the film and would like to chime in (with how astute and obviously correct I am, unless you truly must tell me what an idiot I am…) feel free to do so in the comments or on social media.