I didn’t like it. Squee-harshing below.

For context, I entirely or mostly enjoyed both Captain America movies, The Avengers, and Iron Man I and III, and found both Thor movies and Iron Man II at least moderately amusing. So it’s not that I don’t like the franchise.

Spoilers! Squee-harshing! Tiny amount of squee regarding Jeremy Renner's biceps!

Things I Did Not Like

Every single action sequence. There was no wit or excitement or suspense or characterization in any of them, only stuff blowing up and then blowing up some more and then blowing up bigger.

Every single character who had their own movies didn’t jibe with their characterization in their own movies. Several of them additionally didn’t jibe with their characterization in Avengers either, which was quite a feat.

For example, I believe that Steve Rogers isn’t a potty-mouth. I don’t believe that he’s going to scold people for swearing. Tony Stark not only forgot everything he learned in his own movies, but also forgot everything he learned by the halfway point in this one.

Thor appeared to be visiting from a completely different movie, which he seemed understandably eager to return to.

Conceptually, Natasha/Bruce Banner is interesting. As portrayed, the actors had no chemistry and didn’t even seem to enjoy talking to each other. The ridiculous yenta-ing all the other characters were doing just underlined this. It was like the only way the audience would believe the relationship was if all the supporting characters kept insisting on it. Why create a relationship that requires that much insistence, rather than going with one that makes sense on its own?

“I’m a monster too” makes total sense if Natasha means her history as a brainwashed assassin. Slapping it on the end of a speech about being sterilized against her will makes it sound like being infertile makes you a monster. And while forced sterilization is bad, it’s also the only traditionally feminine bit of angst in her deliciously angsty backstory. She can’t be a monster because she was brainwashed and killed lots of people, oh no— that’s not gendered enough, apparently. In any case, that whole sequence was painful to watch. The actors looked like they were being forced to interact at gunpoint.

I did buy the Hawkeye/Hawkeye’s wife relationship, despite coming out of nowhere. The actors sold it, and they did have chemistry. It was convincing as the marriage between a military man who sees his wife and kids for about two weeks twice a year, and it sucks but they’re hanging in because they love each other. (Sucks to be them, though! Especially, sucks to be her. She seems to spend her entire life alone with her kids on a completely isolated farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. If she doesn't watch out, it'll be Yellow Wallpaper time.)

Here’s what I did not buy: that Hawkeye kept her and his kids secreted away on an isolated farm to keep them safe, and then when the team is being chased by over-powered baddies, he takes them to his helpless wife and kiddies, conveniently located so the enemy can follow his team, discover his wife and kids, swoop in the second he leaves, and kill them! Ultron didn’t actually do that, but he easily could have. Hawkeye seemed like a total idiot for not considering that as a very likely outcome.

I loved Bruce Banner in Avengers. I didn’t even like him in this.

Everyone sounded the same. You are not capturing character voices when every single character makes the same quips in the same way. This was most notable when Thor, Hawkeye, and a walk-on guy on the Helicarrier delivered virtually identical jokes on the theme of “I am supposed to be making a grand speech or important statement, but it's so stupid, I can’t even spit it out.” Actually, I think several other characters also made this joke, but I lost track.

On that note, I found exactly one quip funny. (It was the one about Tony creating a murderbot. The delivery was funny.) Otherwise, I did not like the dialogue at all. And normally I like Whedon’s dialogue! It was just so flat in this. It didn’t help that about 80% of the humor (and about 70% of the total dialogue) was meta-joking on the concept of “Gee, aren’t superhero movies stupid and implausible?” Well—this one certainly was!

Things I Did Like

Ultron’s first appearance. The swaying, partially assembled robot was genuinely creepy.

Vision. Everything leading up to Vision was stupid. Vision himself was cool.

Jeremy Renner. He had a comparatively consistent characterization and he sold the hell out of it, which was more than most of the cast managed. Also, Jeremy Renner’s biceps.

Hawkeye collapsing on a bench after the big finale. There was something real and human about that moment – a quality nearly entirely absent from the rest of the movie.

Wanda and Pietro, though I would have preferred something closer to their comic characterization and Wanda’s comic power.

Natasha shoving Bruce Banner into the pit.

The sculpture at the end credits.
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