By now, anyone who cares has seen Avengers: Age of Ultron. If, for some reason, you haven’t and don’t want major plot points ruined, you can read this spoiler free review. You’d also be best served by staying off the Internet completely at this point. But now it’s out and people have had the opportunity to see it, I’d like to take some time to analyse some of the bigger plot points that I couldn’t include in the overall review.
Let’s talk about Pietro Maximoff. The character was always going to be difficult to pull off given that Evan Peter’s depiction of the character in Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past is widely touted as the best scene in the entire movie. I wasn’t as impressed as some people. The scene itself is neat but the circumstances surrounding it feel contrived to give us the scene. And the character quirk of the character thinking and speaking at superspeed became a little annoying. But Marvel had the challenge of distinguishing their Pietro Maximoff from Fox’s Quicksilver. I just didn’t think they’d meet the challenge by killing him.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson does a very good job in the role of Pietro Maximoff. Johnson is probably best known for his portrayal as costumed super-hero, Kick-Ass, in the film of the same name. Because of Johnson’s strength in the role, Pietro Maximoff never feels like Kick-Ass. It’s easy to believe that they are separate entities despite being played by the same actor so I really have to give kudos to Johnson for his work. That’s part of why I would have liked him to stick around. But I would also have liked to see more of the character. Imagine how his relationship with Wanda might have developed now that they were no longer waging an underground war against Tony Stark.
What bothers me more is that, of all the people who could have saved Hawkeye, Pietro’s death is the least sensible. One of the most poignant moments in the film is when Clint Barton takes the team back home to meet his wife and kids. Barton has a conversation with his wife about whether the team has his back as much as he has theirs. It seems like it is setting up a heroic sacrifice or that someone from the team will save him. But no one does. The guy that saves him is Pietro Maximoff, the new guy who never visited Barton’s wife and children. Sure, Pietro and Barton have something of a rivalry throughout the film but it would have been so much more meaningful if Captain America or Thor had taken the bullet. Instead all we got was a humorous one-line call back.
Of course, no one could have saved Barton and died except for the Maximoff twins or Black Widow. Wanda was otherwise preoccupied though and I can imagine the feminist uproar if Marvel killed Black Widow and replaced her with Wanda Maximoff. Such an action would seem to imply that there only needs to be one token female in the group to maintain diversity. So it had to be Pietro who died. Iron Man has his suit and Captain America, Thor and Hulk can all survive bullets. But even if Thor had taken the gunfire and just been out of commission for a while, the effect would have been the same. Barton would have realised how close he’d come to dying and seen that the team truly cared for him.
Speaking of diversity though, the largely male, all white Avengers team is no more. With the inclusion of Falcon, WarMachine and Wanda, the team has become much well rounded in terms of sex and race. Wanda is Russian too, so there’s some cultural diversity in there too, although some might complain about the actress not being a Russian national, but hey, baby steps. And the team is set to get a lot more diverse with the upcoming inclusions of Black Panther and Captain Marvel. You could also say that as an A.I. in a synthetic body, Vision rounds out the diversification by not even being human at all.
The new squad will create fresh stories and keep the drama interesting without relying on the same characters with the same powers. It seems like Pietro’s death was a necessity to create that new squad. Even with Stark and Barton retiring, Thor off doing research and the Hulk gone AWOL, the team is looking crowded. Captain America and new recruits, Ant-man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel are all getting their own releases. Had Pietro survived he’d likely have gotten lost in the shuffle, like Falcon or WarMachine might.
I like Falcon and WarMachine but they aren’t Tony Stark or the Hulk. Both are just normal men made super through technology. Unlike Stark though, both have a military background. They’re both known for their witty one-liners as well. I’d almost have preferred to have Pietro survive in the place of one of them because they’re so similar and the Avengers team doesn’t really need both of them. It’s entirely possible that they won’t stay that way for long with Captain America: Civil War just around the corner. Could we see Falcon take up the shield in future Avengers films?
Avengers:Age of Ultron was a good, enjoyable film. But I am disheartened that I won’t get to see more of Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Quicksilver and that the new Avengers have lost much of their scientific and otherworldly minds. Again though, and this really can’t be overstated, the new team will allow for fresh interactions and plots. Fans were worried about getting tired of the Avengers but if they keep refreshing and cycling through team members, Marvel have a means of bringing back audiences time and time again. Despite my disappointment, I can’t stay mad at Marvel.