The fear with the first Avengers film was that—with all the buildup—it would collapse under its own colossal weight. Once it succeeded and paved the way for more greatness, we all grew excited and impatient for the next outing of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. But now the long awaited sequel has arrived, and Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers on all fronts, giving the Summer Blockbuster season a magnificent start.

After Tony Stark tries to create a sentry program that would essentially get rid of the need for the Avengers, things go wrong when it takes on a life of its own and turns into the titular Ultron. What follows is a globe-trotting, action-packed thrill ride that does everything it can to be crowd-pleasing and succeeds in almost every way while only running a little bit out of steam during its second act.

With an enormous returning cast, some new arrivals, and a new role for one of the bunch (I won’t spoil it), Age of Ultron never feels like one characters’ movie. Every character, as in the first one, has their moment to shine, their zinger to deliver, and their chance to further develop their character in this ever-changing and alive world where everything grows to feel more consequential with each passing movie. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo all deliver with sass, camaraderie, and action. Joining them are Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olson as the Scarlett Witch, who—even though they are late to the game—become developed enough in such a short amount of time to feel more welcome than one would think. The true scene-stealer, though, is James Spader as Ultron. He is maliciously evil yet darkly humorous. He trumps the sly and fiendish Loki with his ability to sound so human despite his robotic body, even if his scheme is a little misconstrued. 

From the get-go the movie is a pure joy for action fans. Featuring some exceptional moments that show the Avengers at work, the battle scenes might not completely surpass the climax of the first one, but they do certainly come close. Around the second act Age of Ultron has to rely on some filler, and occasionally some forced moments, in order for there to be a reason to have a fight scene. These plot-lines feel a little contrived, but as much as this is noticeable, we don’t really care—because honestly, we just want to see them fight. 

While this one might not have as much of an effect on the Marvel Comic Universe like the first one did with its battle for New York, it does set the table for the upcoming two-part epic Infinity Wars in 2018 and 2019. Age of Ultron, despite being mainly about Artificial Intelligence, felt the most “human” out of all of the Marvel films recently because it succeeded in making all of our favorite superheroes feel vulnerable in some sort, and a lot of these scenes really hit hard at times. It is an odd shift in the atmosphere portrayed in these films, but it is one that really helps better understand the characters and their motives.

In the end, Avengers: Age of Ultron is everything its expected it be. It is a wholly crowd-pleasing spectacle with enough explosions and fights to appease any action-junkie, it is an impressive continuation of the ongoing MCU that delves deeper into the minds of its stars, and it is just a genuine feat of filmmaking to combine this many action stars into one movie without it feeling dominated by just one. Joss Whedon sure knows how to make a movie, and Age of Ultron definitely cements him as one of the best geek directors around. Go see it, though I probably don’t have to tell you twice.

All I have to say is this:

Good luck, DC, you’re gonna need it.

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