It’s apparent that making huge films like Avengers is exhausting. From the actors to the director, you can really tell that they put it all out there when making these films. That Ultron is a good movie is testament to the skills and dedication of those involved in making it. I applaud them. I’m not a “comic book” guy. I come at these superhero movies with only pop culture awareness. The only comics I can remember reading were Star Wars related. Anyway, that’s all just to say that I watch these movies as movies, with only a hint of “knowledge” of the histories of the characters beyond the films. So far, I can honestly say that Captain America The First Avenger is my favorite Marvel movie, and I think the reason why is that it has the most self contained and well executed story of all these Marvel films. Sure, there are still tie-ins with the “Big Picture,” but being set in the 40’s really helped it tell it’s own story. This is a long way of saying Age Of Ultron was too busy setting up stories we’re about to see, rather than having a laser focus on the present. Long form storytelling in film is great. But, the films have to back it up with strong focus on compelling stories. Keeping the excitement up is crucial, and, from about Thor 2 to this, my excitement for what’s coming next has diminished with each film. Of this current phase, Guardians Of The Galaxy is the clear standout, because again, it gets to focus mostly on it’s own story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Age Of Ultron. It has some very great moments. But there’s also some looming ethereal thing hanging over my excitement, since most of it concerns Vision. And, since we know what’s coming, his story probably won’t end well when Thanos gets around to taking that Mind Gem. If Vision can survive without it, I don’t know. They don’t make a compelling case for him to be sentient without it in this movie. It’s the catalyst of his creation, after all. Which brings us squarely to the elephant in the room: Thanos. I’ve talked to some very true comic book guys who happen to be good friends of mine, who assure me that Thanos is The Big Deal, but I sure don’t get a sense of his importance from the hints we’ve been given about him. He seems like a perfectly average foe, whose only concern is death. OK. Great. But, why? Why does he care about what happens to earth, when he has a whole universe at his disposal? What drives any good hero’s journey is an incredible villain. How does one attain “incredible villainy?” You make it personal. Conflicting personal ideals. We’ve had a few of these already. Loki in Thor and The Avengers, Ronan in Guardians, and here in Ultron. So far, Marvel has been great at telling us how big of a deal Thanos is, when the rule of film is to show. I get that’s probably what Infinity War will be. Our first look at all this character we’ll need. But, these little teases are just distraction from each film. Is it possible to build toward a spectacular finale without all the easter eggs? I think so. Look at something like the original Star Wars Trilogy. Each episode builds on what came before to reach a justified conclusion. With the MCU, we’re working the other way. They’ve established what’s coming and are building stories to accommodate that. It kind of wears you out, knowing what’s coming. It’s not like Thanos is going to “win.” I’m sure the MCU will be shaken up, characters may die, but the end result is that we already know how the story ends. It’s like the ultimate spoiler. I like this whole super hero thing, I really do, but if I’m honest, I’m just fatigued by it at this point.