For a superhero movie that’s about the possible extinction of the human race, the funniest scenes in Avengers: Age of Ultron numbered pretty high. There are small moments you have to look for, but for fans of Marvel movies, the funniest scenes in Avengers: Age of Ultron are almost as important as the action sequences.
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Avengers: Age of Ultron is suffering the backlash that plagues anyone or anything that becomes successful. (Think Anne Hathaway.) The first Avengers took in approxmiately $200 million in its opening weekend, then went on to rake in over $600 million at the box office in the United States alone. Something so huge, so hyped becomes an easy target for haters. I’ve read some negative reviews of Avengers: Age of Ultron that seemed to have been written before the critic even saw the film. I’m here to tell you, those bad reviews are wrong. Avengers: Age of Ultron took up the baton from the well-received Captain America: The Winter Soldier and ran with it.
This time around, the movie runs like a well-oiled machine. Joss Whedon directed Ultron, although it was his last film with Marvel; the sheer enormity of it exhausted him. For the most part, critics enjoyed it.
Let’s take a look at fifteen of the funniest scenes in Avengers: Age of Ultron, in the order that they happen in the movie.
1. Shoehorn Much?
The only scene in the entire movie that made me cringe was during the “revels” when Maria Hill asks Tony Stark and Thor where their women are. Her question is so clearly an opening for exposition to explain why Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Jane (Natalie Portman) aren’t in the movie, that I inwardly winced. The dialogue between Stark and Thor, with their verbal competition as to whose babe is better (Thor has the last word), is funny, but again, Hill is shoehorned into the scene with her “Testosterone!” cough. The entire sequence felt like a standalone exchange that should have been left for the DVD’s deleted scenes.
2. Hurts So Good
Joss Whedon is brilliant at writing painful love stories. He is able to keep viewers hooked on relationships, even while he sets up numerous obstacles for the fictional couple in question. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the dance between Buffy and Angel was drawn-out over several seasons, but never once did fans give up. He is able to pull couples together, only to tear them apart, without alienating his audience.
Such is the case in Avengers: Age of Ultron. A romance is blossoming between Natasha Romanov (Black Widow) and Dr. Bruce Banner (the Hulk). It is sweet and endearing and everything it should be. However, the entire time I was rooting for this couple, I knew they would have some high hurdles ahead before they could reach the finish line. One of those hurdles is, obviously, the fact that Banner turns green and grows ginormous and crazy strong. The problem that such behavior can cause to a tiny female assassin is never more evident than in the scene when Ultron reveals himself at Tony Stark’s pad, and Banner and Natasha fling themselves behind the bar to take cover. He lands on top of her and she pleads, “Don’t turn green.”
Every relationship takes work, right? Then Joss gives us the scene when Natasha confesses her darkest, most painful secret to Banner. (The chemistry between Mark Ruffalo and Scarlet Johanssen is lovely.) Later, we see the two of them working together, saving each other. Just when we think the movie will end with them hand-in-hand, Whedon snatches away their happy ending. Whedon once said in an interview that a good writer should give an audience what they need, not what they want. Job well done.
My wish for the next movie, however, is that Natasha doesn’t go looking for Banner. She doesn’t strike me as that type, but the last thing I want to see from such a great, strong female character is that she’s tagging along behind a misplaced male. I want to see HER story, not his.
One of the other elements of Avengers: Age of Ultron that is deftly handled is Ultron himself. He was cast perfectly; James Spader conveys menace and humor at the same time. Even as he accidentally chops off Klaue’s arm he says, “I’m sure that’ll be okay.” Also,we don’t see too much of him. Too often movies show way too much of the villain. When we see the villain too much, he becomes familiar and comfortable. Ultron has plenty of screen time, but not so much that we know all of his secrets.
4. Seeing Double
Another criticism I keep reading of Avengers: Age of Ultron is that the action sequences are edited with so many quick cuts that you can’t follow the scene. I would like those reviewers to name an action movie that doesn’t have quick cuts. Do these people know how movies are made? Do they think Chris Evans is really flipping over cars, and Scarlet Johanssen is really riding a motorcycle under a truck? See, there are these people in Hollywood called “stunt doubles.” These are people who are trained in all sorts of physically demanding jobs, and who are no strangers to pain. These are the people who sorta look like the stars, but do all the heavy lifting. To make the action sequences look like the star is doing all the fighting, riding, jumping, falling and whatnot, the scenes need to be edited to go by quickly enough that our eyes don’t have time to land on a strange face. “Hey! That’s not Hemsworth! I call ‘foul!'” This is such a generic criticism that I, again, wonder if these reviews were written before the critics saw the film. The Hulksmasher sequence is so much fun you don’t have time to worry about the quick cuts. The whole audience laughed when Stark repeatedly pounded Hulk, saying, “Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!”
The dynamic between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner was fun to watch. Banner has the level-headed thinking that Tony sometimes leaves behind in his race toward brilliance. The result is that, several times, Banner says what the audience is thinking. When Tony starts laughing in front of his teammates, after Ultron has just caused a whole lotta trouble, Banner shakes his head saying, “Nope. No. Not now.” Later, when Tony’s wheels are churning after he gets his gloves on an embryonic Vision, it’s Banner, again, who tries to talk Tony out of creating another A.I. (“murder-bot”).
6. Boogie Woogie Woogie
It’s so much fun when Thor uses his hammer (without the others’ approval!) to juice up the Vision in his cradle. At that moment, I thought, huh, how practical! I like that kind of moment, when a superhero’s super power is used for something as mundane as a battery.
7. Farm Fresh
I hadn’t realized that when I watched the first Avengers, I didn’t get to see the real Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, until I read a (positive!) review that mentioned how much more we see of him in Avengers: Age of Ultron. We see more of his skills, his humor and his loyalty to, and affection for, Natasha. Sure, we had glimpses of him in the first movie, but he’s got a lot more screen time in Age of Ultron as himself, not Loki’s puppet. He’s the most human of the Avengers. He even comes right out and jokes about it to Scarlet Witch, saying, “None of it makes sense… We’re on a flying city… and I’ve got a bow and arrow.”
Seeing the other Avengers’ reactions to the secret he’s been keeping was delicious fun. I like how Whedon doesn’t dwell on the revelation, though. He knows we’re smart enough to get what’s happening, so he moves on.
That’s how Joss Whedon is able to pack so much into a two-and-a-half hour movie. Yes, there’s a lot of action, but there’s also a lot of talking. Not a lot of time is spent re-hashing exposition or plots for the slower folks in the audience (I’m looking at you, haters). You have to pay attention to what the characters are saying because they’re laying out what’s happening for you.
8. Witchy Woman
I sincerely enjoyed seeing the Scarlet Witch join the Avengers, and Elizabeth Olsen plays her beautifully. Her character ‘s story arch is very intriguing, about her transformation from an embittered refugee to a brave hero. I have a personal pet peeve about someone using powers in a movie or TV show, whose actions don’t fit the special effects. On The Daily Show, Olsen explained how she worked with a choreographer on her witchy movements during the shoot. The result is that her powers look that much more realistic, like there is a force she is working to shape and harness. One of my favorite moments in Avengers: Age of Ultron is when Scarlet Witch steps out and becomes an Avenger by blasting the Ultrons with her magic.
9. From Sokovia with Love
Just when you think the stakes can’t get any higher, Joss Whedon finds a way to raise them–literally. I thought things looked bad in Avengers when the Chitauri seemed unstoppable. Ultron’s evil plan to destroy humanity involves turning a small country into a meteor, by cutting out a chunk of it, raising it sky-high, then dropping it. I have to admit, I had no idea how our favorite superheroes were going to escape death, let alone save the civilians who were trapped on a flying hunk of earth. When Black Widow waxes philosophical, saying, “There are worse ways to go,” I was tapped out. Thank goodness Joss Whedon is smarter and more creative than I am, or everyone would have died and that would have put paid to any more Marvel movies! So, to all the critics who said in their reviews that Avengers: Age of Ultron was taken from the same old playbook that Whedon always uses, I say: IT WORKS. He’s good at what he does. That’s why the world loves these movies and they make gazillions of dollars.
10. I’ll Be There For You
I also enjoy watching the relationships between the various characters develop, especially as their friendships become stronger and their fondness for each other deepens. At the end, when Iron Man refers to Steve Rogers as “the old man,” it’s an affectionate jab, a nod to Cap’ that he was right, something Tony doesn’t do much.
11. One Little, Two Little, Three Little Avengers
Another criticism of Avengers: Age of Ultron that I keep hearing is that there were too many characters to follow. This “too many characters” criticism reminds of the quote in Amadeus, when the Emperor complains that Mozart’s opera had too many notes. Really? My school-age children had no problem following the story. Each character is like a puzzle piece that fits together to create a whole story. I wasn’t lost a single time, so I have to wonder, again, if these critics wrote their reviews before they even watched the film. Or, maybe they’re just stupid. Who doesn’t get goose bumps watching the wrap-around shot in the church when all the Avengers come together, smashing Ultrons?
12. Bam! Is this what you’re looking for?
Don Cheadle has one of the best moments when a clueless War Machine sees the Vision take down Ultrons in the air and says, “Okay, what?”
13. Mea Culpa
Joss Whedon is also very good at writing for characters who have a dark side, a very dark side. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Angel worked continually to find redemption. He was always seeking a way to forgive himself for everything he had done as a monster. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bruce Banner is ashamed and horrified at the destruction he causes as the Hulk, when Wanda messes with his head. Mark Ruffalo masterfully portrays Banner’s inner struggle of trying to deal with the consequences of the violence he’s capable of, but it’s Whedon who set up the shot that Ruffalo spikes. Whedon creates a near tangible push and pull between Banner wanting to forgive himself, and wanting to banish himself from the world. As we know, at the end of Age of Ultron, he chooses to banish himself (which also creates an obstacle for his relationship with Natasha). “Hey, big guy. The sun’s gettin’ real low.” Blip.
14. Seeing Red
The Vision is a Marvel comic book character that’s brought to life in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Vision has the voice of Jarvis because he was implanted with Jarvis as an operating system. Therefore, the actor who plays Vision is the actor who has played Jarvis all these years, Paul Bettany. He’s simply wonderful. He has a stillness, an understanding and a gravitas that is a welcome change of pace from the frenetic personalities of most of the other characters. He plays wisdom beautifully. A line that could have been campy, became a satisfying pay-off, “After all, I was born yesterday.”
Joss saves one of the best meta tricks for last. During the last shot of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America says, “Avengers…” then we cut to the credits just before he says, “…assemble.”
Thanks for reading! Be sure to download my free Guide to Marvel Movies, with a timeline, who’s who, post-credit scene info and Infinity Stone tracking.