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Avengers: Age of Ultron Avengers: Age of Ultron Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner Directed by Joss Whedon
Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk finds fast new company in a Marvel hit that won't quit Captain America actually says "shit." You heard me. "Language," scolds Iron Man, who can't hide his glee at seeing the Cap, a flag-wearing Greatest Generation war hero, dent his tightass image. You won't have more fun anywhere than losing your shit at Avengers: Age of Ultron. And you don't have to be a Marvel geek to get with the vibe. In this sequel to 2012's The Avengers, which helped writer-director Joss Whedon achieve world box-office domination, the movie swings for the fences, going darker and deeper into the bruised psyches of this dysfunctional family of warriors.SIDEBARThe Hulk: Inside the New Issue »Don't get me wrong. Age of Ultron is a whole summer of fireworks packed into one movie. It doesn't just go to 11, it starts there. But it's best when Whedon sins against the Hollywood commandment of playing it safe. He takes a few wrong turns, creating a jumble when the action gets too thick. But he recovers like a pro, devising a spectacle that's epic in every sense of the word.What do you need to know? That Tony Stark/Iron Man (quipmaster Robert Downey Jr.) has fucked up, big-time. His peacekeeping program, Ultron, has become a robotic force of artificial intelligence (motion-captured and voiced with honey and malice by James Spader) intent on destroying every human on the planet. That can't happen, so cue Team Avengers, including Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) for hammer-and-shield showmanship; Hulk (a superb Mark Ruffalo) for tempering rage with sexual healing from Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); and, best of all, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) for a startling backstory that Renner imbues with exhilarating humor and emotional heft.SIDEBARSecrets of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron': Joss Whedon Tells All »For added spice, Whedon brings on the newbies. There's the twins, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Someone points out that "he's fast and she's weird." That ain't the half of it. When Whedon and his FX team send the twins' fictional Eastern European country into orbit, you'll see why. Still, no one steals scenes from Ultron, except the Vision, an android played with touching gravity by Paul Bettany, who previously voiced Iron Man's A.I. confidant J.A.R.V.I.S. and who reps the film's moral conundrum.Wait, what? Moral conundrum? What kind of escapism is this? IMO, it's the best kind, the kind that sticks with you. Whedon is the true master of the Marvel Comic universe onscreen. He won't be back when Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 and Part 2 start shooting next year. The Russo brothers will take the helm. That makes Age of UltronWhedon's last Avengers hurrah. And the monumental battle between gods and monsters that he stages to end the film does him proud. Bravo.Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/avengers-age-of-ultron-20150421#ixzz3ZL2YxhS3 Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook
Watch the history of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in 13 minutes
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest and easily the most lucrative film franchise of our time. Marvel Studios hit a home run in 2008 with Iron Man, and has followed that up each year with bigger and bigger tentpoles. Avengers, or the One Where Everybody Teams Up and Things Explode, set an even higher bar in 2012, and Marvel has only to keep topping itself while the rest of the industry catches up. Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out tomorrow, and it's clearly their biggest effort yet. But with so many interlocking stories, it's hard to keep up with how things got to where they are and where they're heading. Frankly, there's no way to head into Ultron without having a general sense of the overall Marvel mythos, but unless you're willing to shell out a bunch of money to either rent all 11 movies on iTunes or sit through an endless marathon (we're not sure how Ross Miller will survive...), you're gonna be sorely underprepared heading into the theater. Luckily, we're huge nerds. Marvel was so kind as to provide a timeline that led up to the Avengers before its release. It's an excellent starting point, since it dives deeply into when things happened in the Marvel Universe and why: (video LINK) But 2012 was a long time ago, and these movies have only gotten bigger, weirder, and wilder. I teamed up with The Verge Video Team — who helped make our insane Fast and Furious recap, by the way — and, like Earth Mightiest Internet Heroes, we produced this 13-minute history lesson on Marvel lore and what it's all about. (It's war, you guys.) You're gonna wanna sit down. There's a lot to cover. (Note: We chose to leave out Agents of Shield and Daredevil in this recap since they don't affect much in the films.) Update: The video makes mention of the Kree homeworld in reference to Guardians of the Galaxy. That planet is actually Xandar. We apologize for the error.