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'Avengers: Age of Ultron' - Hulk vs. Hulkbuster

Writer/director Joss Whedon was under an immense amount of pressure on Avengers: Age of Ultron, not the least of which came from himself. The filmmaker pulled off the impossible with The Avengers, but now he had to deliver a sequel that appeased fans but didn’t simply coast on the goodwill of the first movie. It’s an equally difficult task that Whedon beautifully pulls off by approaching the film visually, tonally, and structurally from an entirely different angle. And while the third act “Battle of Sokovia” action set piece is certainly the most flashy, the film’s—and Marvel’s—best action sequence is the Hulk vs. Hulkbuster fight. It’s a beautifully choreographed battle that continually surprises, from the arrival of Veronica to the evolution of the Hulkbuster armor mid-fight. And yes, Tony punching the hell out of Hulk’s face is funny, but it’s the focus on character and emotion that really makes this thing sing. At heart, these are two friends beating each other to a pulp. Tony is trying to limit collateral damage to zero, while Hulk is raging from Scarlet Witch’s mind trickery and feeling more exposed by the second. Whedon masterfully crafts this action sequence to work on multiple levels, from thrills to sadness, and it’s for all these reasons and more that it’s the best Marvel Cinematic Universe action set piece so far.

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