This is my second post on The Avengers: Age of Ultron and it's going to be chock full of spoilers. If you want spoiler-free first thoughts on the film, read my earlier post.
Here beginneth the (somewhat random) spoilers:
The minute we were introduced to Hawkeye's wife and kids, I pretty much wrote him off as a dead man by the end of the film. After all it's a Joss Whedon film, someone has to die. Giving a character who in both the film and comic canon doesn't really have that much of a backstory a very loving family life is basically the equivalent of putting a great big target on his chest. So when he ran to save the trapped boy my first thought was "Yep, Clint's dead." I was very surprised that he didn't die and I have to give Whedon a lot of credit for not falling for the obvious trope.
Conversely I am surprised he killed off Quicksilver. It lacked the emotional oomph of the character deaths in his other work. We feel pain for Scarlet Witch over her brother's death but at least in my case it lacked a direct emotional contact for me. Maybe it's because I tended to view him as probably the most two-dimensional character in the film, just a smart-ass punk who wants revenge on Tony Stark that he just didn't click.
In my first post I complained that there were bits that seemed missing. One of the more important ones was when Thor went into the Pool of Light to get a better understanding of his dream. It felt like there was something missing in his conversation with Heimdall and how he realized the importance of the Infinity Stone was cut out. Yes, we get exposition when he helps bring the Vision to life but the first rule of good film making is show rather than tell.
I really liked Ultron as a villain and James Spader was spot on to play him. He's so good at evil and banal at the same time. And I very much like the fact that Ultron took control of Jarvis fairly early on in the film. Iron Man's reliance on Jarvis in combat had a tendency to make him rather omniscient and removing that crutch forced Stark to think for himself.
Another thing that I find confusing and I suspect is on the cutting room floor is just how does Nick Fury fit into this. He appears in the middle of the film, out-of-nowhere to give a pep talk then disappears to reappear as a deus ex machina in the final fight. Then in the denoument he's talking about the Avenger's as "my team". What does that mean? Has he rebuilt a new, proper SHIELD? Is he actively running the Avengers now?
I'm not sure how I feel about the romance between the Hulk and Black Widow. Granted Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanov are two of the more broken characters in the Avengers but being emotional cripples is not the basis of a relationship. And are we really supposed to believe that Nick Fury sending Black Widow to recruit the Hulk in the first film was him playing matchmaker? Ack!
Finally I am curious about how the Avengers are going to be going forward. The final scenes showing both Thor and Tony Stark leaving make a certain amount of sense as Chris Hemsworth has already stated he's getting tired of the part and I suspect the studio wanted to position themselves to write out Iron Man if Robert Downey becomes too expensive, so I'm good with that. Replacing Iron Man with War Machine also makes sense as Rhody took part in the final battle as well. But adding the Falcon, more or less out of nowhere strikes me as odd. At any rate, I look forward with where they plan to take this in the two part Infinity War film.