Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth
Have I Seen it Before: I’m having a hard time remembering the last time I wasn’t in a theater during the first weekend in May watching some kind of Marvel movie. I’m relatively sure it was 2001. Kids, ask your parents.
Did I like it: This has generally been considered one of the entries in the series that worked the least, and I can’t say I disagreed with that assessment at the time of release.
But here, with the Infinity Saga now complete, I wanted to believe that it had a Back to the Future Part II (1989) vibe, and would feel more satisfying when the setups that this film is filled with are more completely paid off.
And in some cases, it does work better. The vision Stark (Downey Jr.) has of the Chitauri’s return has much more resonance now that we have all seen the Endgame and where Stark would wind up.
In other cases, the movie isn’t working all that great. Thor’s sojourn into the cave doesn’t even really feel like a good set up for the beautiful confection that is Thor Ragnarok (2017), and most of the other characters visions at the hands of Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) don’t quite hit like one might hope. While the aforementioned Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are interesting and watchable new characters, their introduction into the world will make a fuller exploration of the X-Men in this universe (now that Disney/Marvel has acquired 20th Century Fox and by extension, the entire Xavier brand) when that time comes.
Even the stuff that isn’t necessarily meant to set up other films fails to function completely. Nearly everything involving the Hulk (Ruffalo) and Black Widow (Johansson) never fails to connect. It’s a shame, as both actors have proved to be MVPs in other Marvel films. The less said about the sun down thing, the better. Future films were wise to drop those elements as quickly as they could.
But there are things that work by their own rights. James Spader as Robo-Alan Shore is a delight, and he deserves more credit. Vision (Paul Bettany) is a bizarre creation that gets better and better with every film in which he appears. Stark and Banner’s initial efforts to create Ultron (Spader) bring to mind the more thrilling creativity that Stark exhibited in the first Iron Man (2008). The party scene is low-key delightful. Robert Downey Jr., Robert Downey Jr., and finally Robert Downey Jr.
Ultimately, though, it is still a case of a film not quite successfully reaching for the ambitions it sets out for itself. It’s not an awful thing, but it can